As we left Plattsburgh and headed into the Adirondacks, we weren’t sure what to expect. Our destination was the Lake Clear Lodge and Retreat. Our mission was to interview owners/operators Cathy and Ernest Hohmeyer.
The Lodge, built in 1886 along a stagecoach route, served as a trading post, post office and inn. Over the years it became a Cure Cottage* and eventually a grand hotel. In 1965 Ernest’s parents – German immigrants – came to the North Country in search of a new life and a business opportunity. The Hohmeyers bought the Lodge and introduced German food to their Adirondack friends and neighbors. Ernest, a teenager at the time, worked in the family business. Also working at the lodge was high school student – Cathy Fisher — who lived a few houses down the road. The two were co-workers but not close friends.
After high school Cathy went off to Utica College, earned a degree in Occupational Therapy and worked in Washington DC for a couple years before coming home to join two other therapists to create a private practice to provide Occupational Therapy for the first time in the local schools and nursing homes.
*Before 1946, when a cure for tuberculosis was found, the Saranac Lake area was a renowned center for the only known way to cure tuberculosis — fresh air and complete bed rest. The Cure Cottages were buildings, many still present today, that became private sanatoriums for those sick with the disease.
Ernest Hohmeyer was the founding director of the Adirondack Economic Development Corporation, a sustainable development organization whose innovative ideas led to a national Small Business Agency award and New York State Non-Profit of Year recognition, as well as local government and environmental accolades.
Cathy Hohmeyer is a Real Foods and Super Foods Nutritionist, Holistic Health Activator/Energist and Executive Chef. She offers wellness retreats that teach groups and individuals how to take foods to the next level with proper preparation and nutritional consciousness. Want to know more about Cathy? you can find her on YouTube and www.nourishing9d.com
Ernest attended Eisenhower College, earning his Bachelor’s degree in International Relat ions and a Master’s degree in International Economics from St Rose. He had ambitious career plans, but when his father became ill, he returned to Lake Clear to help his Mother prepare the Lodge for sale.
That plan was upended when Cathy arrived with an interesting proposal. Believing the Lodge had too much history to let it go to strangers, she was determined to preserve its legacy – to keep its spirit alive. She set about learning Elsbeth Hohmeyer’s Old World cooking techniques which fit perfectly with her passion for health and wellness and a deal was struck. Ernest agreed to stay on to help Cathy get on her feet but, to their mutual surprise, he never left. A few years later they married and, in 1990 the couple finalized the purchase of the property from Ernest’s parents.
The next three decades was an era of expansion for the Lake Clear Lodge which is part of the St. Regis Region, the largest intact wilderness area east of the Mississippi. Today, you will find 12 buildings spread out on 25 acres of woods and water, a private swimming beach, nature trails, and a conference center that can accommodate groups of up to 100. Nearby, the historic Saranac Inn golf course, rated by Golf Digest as the best in the Adirondacks, is available in season.
All the new buildings on the property, as well as the furniture in the center and dining room, were constructed by Ernest, along with a family friend, and trusted staff plus the couple’s three children, Gretchen, Yurgen and Dieter.
Accommodations include rooms in the main lodge, sunset lake view suites and individual chalets, some with kitchens and fireplaces. Guests and restaurant visitors dine in the Adirondack Alps restaurant that offers a cuisine that can best be described as a blend of Old-World European traditions and Adirondack fusion.
No visit to the Lodge would be complete without an opportunity to enjoy its authentic 1920 Speakeasy with its hidden beer and wine cellar stocked with the Adirondacks’ largest selection of craft import beers and sustainable wines.
In addition to its gracious accommodations and fine food and drink, the Lodge offers seasonal adventures to make your visit unique. Winter experiences, available each weekend from mid-December to early March, include lantern-lit sleigh rides pulled by Percheron draft horses and cross-country skiing on its groomed trails. Longer excursions are available that allow guests to ski one way on the newly created Excelsior Trail. If you’d like to try snowshoeing, you can take a back-pack lunch from the Lodge and join the Jack Rabbit Trail nearby.
If your interests are more sedentary, the Lodge offers History of Adirondack Food Tasting Events, traditional cooking classes with Chef Cathy, special experience dinners, and History of Beer Workshops. And there is always room in front of a crackling fire in one of the artisan lodgings.
When asked about the COVID pandemic’s impact on the Lodge Cathy gave a surprising response. “While we lost all our weddings and retreats, we had an amazing summer season,” she observed. “Our accommodations are laid out with plenty of room for privacy so social distancing is not a problem. Food from the kitchen is available for pick up or delivery, ensuring the safest possible dining experience. For those who prefer to dine-in, we have the conference center which is large enough for them to distance and the staff is well trained in all the ways necessary to keep guests safe. Regardless of what is going on in the world, this is a place to rejuvenate and people value that.”
The Hohmeyers were gracious hosts and we can certainly understand why the National Geographic awarded Lake Clear Lodge & Retreat its “Keeping Its Sense of Place” award. Looking for an historic Adirondack winter experience? This is the place.
Lake Clear Lodge & Resort
6319 NY Route 30
Lake Clear, NY 12945