Garnet Hill Lodge is now owned by Don Preuninger and Mindy Piper, and Don gives us the scoop on the old and the new at this Adirondack Inn. The four season lodge rests on historical property, located in North River, New York. Built in 1936, it was originally conceived as an Adirondack Camp retreat for artists. In the past, the area was known for garnet mining and logging. Today, Garnet Hill Lodge is a premier cross country ski resort with endless acres of trails, meadows and mountains, waiting to be explored.
1. Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to own Garnet Hill Lodge.
My name is Don Preuninger and I purchased Garnet Hill Lodge in December of 2011. Along with my partner Mindy Piper, we intend to run the Lodge much as it has been run in the past but with some enhancements to the guest experience. Garnet Hill Lodge is a place where people come to escape the pressures of daily life and to experience a different side of living. We both have a passion for nature and outdoor activities as well as for good food, the arts and entertainment. So for us, the Lodge is a perfect undertaking where we complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses to create what we think is a pretty effective team.
2. As new owners, what are your goals for Garnet Hill Lodge?
Well we aspire to make Garnet Hill a place that stands out for our guests in that we offer a natural and authentic Adirondack mountain experience reminiscent of simpler times and more down to earth living. We offer many completely homemade foods with fresh, locally grown ingredients. Our amenities are simple yet elegant and comfortable. The activities and entertainment we offer are wholesome and rewarding, and the Lodge itself, which was built from logs in 1936, is styled in the same vein as the fabled great camps of the early 20th century.
3. I understand you offer several lodging options at Garnet Hill Lodge, can you tell us about them?
The Original Log House has 16 rooms, 8 with balconies offering spectacular views of the mountains and the 13th lake. Each room is unique in decor and has a king, queen, or double bed, and many with single trundle beds to accommodate families. The Birches and Tea House are separate lodges on the property and we offer “dog friendly” rooms in each. Four rooms in the Birches are larger and have beds to sleep families of four to six plus a large common living room. Our five Tea House rooms can accommodate two to four people per room. All Lodge rooms are individually decorated in traditional Adirondack camp style.
4. Is Garnet Hill Lodge kid friendly?
Yes, we are family friendly. After an active day of hiking, biking, kayaking, swimming, skiing or snowshoeing, children of all ages can enjoy our family room in the Log House with ping pong, foosball, pool tables, and a variety of board games. If kids really feel the need to “get connected” to modern media, we have a big screen TV with satellite & movies plus a computer with internet service. Making s’mores at the bonfire overlooking the lake is another popular family activity. We are developing some additional summer activity programs for kids for outdoor adventure, nature and Adirondack crafts.
5. When staying at Garnet Hill Lodge, what kinds of activities are offered on the property and in the surrounding area?
Your stay at Garnet Hill entitles you to use of the 50k of cross-country ski & snowshoe trails in the winter and those trails transition to mountain biking & hiking trails in the summer (rental equipment for skiing, snowshoeing & biking available). In addition, we have kayaks and canoes for the guests to enjoy out on 13th Lake, trail maps for hiking much of the adjoining NYS lands and tennis courts. If relaxation is more your style, enjoy an Adirondack chair and a good book out on the front lawn or at the beach.
Garnet Hill Lodge can be your home base for exploring the Adirondack Park. You can visit the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake, take a lunch cruise out on Raquette Lake or tour one of the many “Great Camps.” There is golf, whitewater rafting on the Hudson River and the Garnet Mine tour at nearby Barton’s. Many people like to get in touch with history at Fort Ticonderoga, Fort William Henry and Crown Point. Our location feels remote, but is very central to most every type of activity.
6. The Log House Restaurant at Garnet Hill Lodge has a very unique menu–is there a signature dish? And Preuninger’s Pub–what’s the most popular specialty drink?
Chef Andrew Bulmer created a winter menu blending traditional Adirondack lodge fare (duck, trout, chicken & dumplings) with international and vegetarian selections. The menu offerings are reflective of the diverse guests we host. Some of our more popular dinner items include the Apple-Onion Pork, Ginger-Maple glazed Salmon, duck, and our Mountain Strip Steak with Montreal seasoning. Favorite winter appetizers included Chef Andrew’s signature Cajun spiced shrimp “Crevette D’el Acadian” and Mary Jane’s Onion Pie. Mary Jane Freebern had been baking for the Lodge for nearly 40 years and has returned to us baking the fresh pies, cakes & cookies for dessert that the lodge is known for. Chef Andrew is creating our new summer menu to introduce with the warmer weather in April…anticipate delightful summer fare as he incorporates the fresh herbs, fruits & produce of summer’s bounty. Preuninger’s Pub is only traditional in its offering of draft beer and liquor. You will find a very nice selection of wines to choose from by the glass or bottle to pair with your dinner.
7. Do you have any special events at Garnet Hill Lodge?
Music is a must for us! I am a classically trained pianist and entertain during dinner with a variety of easy-listening, jazz & show tunes. We’ve had several bands and will continue to schedule special events over the course of the year. A Wine-tasting dinner on March 31st, Easter Sunday brunch & dinner, “Cinco De Mayo” celebration, and of course, Mother’s Day Sunday brunch & dinner are current calendar listings. We post upcoming events and specials on our website and blog. With the lodge turning 75 this year, we certainly will be planning a special celebration sometime later this year. So stay tuned!
8. What is the best thing about Garnet Hill Lodge?
The unique, individual experience it offers for each guest. The warm welcome, breath-taking view, a comfy chair, the creak in the floor, new friends and laughter. This lodge embraces you. You discover another purpose for your visit – not just the skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, biking, or reading, but a sense of time halted, and you become truly present in the experience.
9. Is there a way to get to Garnet Hill Lodge without having to drive?
Train service is available to North Creek from Saratoga and new connections from New York City via Amtrak will begin this summer.Shuttle bus service is offered to take passengers to and from the Lodge. The Saratoga North Creek Railway provides a beautiful scenic ride along the Sacandaga & Hudson Rivers as you arrive for your Adirondack experience at Garnet Hill Lodge. You may visit for the day, an overnight, a weekend or a week this summer with the train running 7 days.
10. What would you most like people to know about Garnet Hill Lodge?
As the new “Innkeepers” of this magnificent 1936 Log House, it is important that past and prospective guests understand that we define our role as “keepers of the Inn” not only to preserve and care for the structure and the property, but to be open to and create new ways for our guests to enjoy the Lodge and all of its’ beautiful, natural environment. We want people to arrive as guests and leave as friends.
I’ve been going to Garnet Hill Lodge for years. Great memories of the lodge and surrounding property. The smell of the fire when you walk ink, the creek of the floors and the warmth of the history and atmosphere wrap around you like a warm blanket. I can still remember waking up as a child, smelling the bacon cooking downstairs, and watching the mist lift off the lake each summer morning. I’ve stayed in just about every room in the main lodge and can’t think of a place I would rather be than sitting around the fire, eating a piece of MaryJanes apple pie and talking with new friends.