The Point Resort – Oh My!

The Point, in Upper New York State, was designed and built for William Avery Rockefeller, a nephew of the tycoon. Situated amidst a pine forest on a peninsula jutting into Saranac Lake, it’s in the distinctive style of a private luxurious Adirondack Great Camp. In the early 19th Century, wealthy industrialists, the well-known families of this era, Vanderbilt’s and Astor’s, Guggenheim’s and Rockefeller’s built their summer Camps tucked into the tree line along this scenic lake. Log cabin mansions built of native timber and stone replaced their city mansions, truly ‘roughing’ it in rustic chic luxurious wilderness camps. Families would arrive to retreat for the summer and many still do to this day. The great Adirondack Park is a summer and winter paradise, a six-million-acre wilderness spreading from upstate New York all the way into Canada, a vast forest dotted with stunning lakes.

The Point Resort on Upper Saranac Lake

At this time of year as days get longer and the thermometer climbs higher, one might imagine the perfect day would include planing across an immense sapphire hued lake in a classic wooden boat. My recent visit to The Point Resort on Upper Saranac Lake provided several leisurely afternoons cocooned in a cozy corner of a classic mahogany Hacker-Craft. The timeless design of a traditional boat is indicative of the panache and polish of The Point Resort.

Speeding across Saranac Lake in this classic beauty!

The Point Resort Guest House

If you lack a perfectly outfitted Adirondack Camp, the only Forbes five star resort in upstate New York, is the picture-perfect solution for a decadent countryside escape. The ruggedly luxurious – this is an up-country resort in which two differing descriptions can be used to describe the eleven-room resort – the rooms are spread out between the main log-cabin mansion and several stand-alone cottages. Each room has a massive stone fireplace, lake views, hand built beds and private luxurious baths. Decorated with many original to the home, fine antiques, rustic log and twig furniture, 19th century oil paintings, rich fabrics, bookshelves stacked with reading material, honestly every comfort has been carefully defined. A fully inclusive resort, one should diet before arrival as No is not in the staff vocabulary. Fully stocked bars are scattered across the property, in the great room, along a trail, at the splendid boathouse, near the bonfire pit, tucked into a massive log… one will not die of thirst.

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The Point Resort- my cozy bedroom!

Enticed yet? We haven’t even discussed the gorgeous lake, and the beautiful mahogany boats for your pleasure. Several run about classic wooden electric boats with canopies are for guest use. Knowing my cell phone had limited coverage and not trusting my complete lack of direction on land, let alone a lake, I opted for lake cruising only with Captain Dion in the 12 passenger great power boat. Plus the ice bucket brimming with Champers would certainly have created additional navigation difficulty. Captain Dion is the local expert, pointing out the old guard Great Camps of the Robber Barons, tucked into the pine coves, you might actually just view the handsome ‘garages’ used to house the summer boats.

The Point Resort- Guest Boating!

Although The Point is a summer and winter resort, due to the size of the lake, you are unlikely to encounter much traffic. Summer activities swim, fish, canoe, and water ski, or merely explore the lake in one of the resort’s swanky teak electric inboard boats. In winter, the rates include a variety of activities such as curling on the lake with a full ice bar and bonfire, outdoor snow barbecues each Saturday.

The Point Resort Dining Room

There is a genteel casualness at The Resort – in that doors don’t have locks and there is a no-tipping policy; however, refined customs are observed, as in the grand dinner served at eight pm, cocktails always precede, of course; change attire or not for the after dinner bon-fire up on the hill with a lake view. True to my must do everything when I perform site inspections, lit by moonlight, I traversed the rocky path up the hill to a roaring fire after dinner for S’mores. You might imagine a Gatsbyesque atmosphere. We, of course, didn’t refuse cognac, made successful attempts with the S’mores, but declined the baskets of truffle fries and truffle popcorn…well, maybe one nibble…but really – unfailing hospitality and beyond generous meals, it never ends here! The ever-gracious staff is extremely willing to please and is constantly offering drinks and endless delicious snacks before you even ask – they are mind readers!

On most nights, a jacket and tie is suggested attire for men for dinner. Ladies, glam up, you won’t be the only one who prefers to dress for dinner! On Saturday and Wednesday nights, regardless of the season, formal attire is de rigueur, black tie!

There isn’t a gym on property, however if you ask for workout equipment, it will be delivered to your room – for a buy out, consider using a room for a gym, hospitality, is their specialty. Drop in to the kitchen to see what Chef Loic Leperlier and staff are preparing, no problem – want a cooking class, of course! Take a well-marked hike through the fragrant pine forest and find a box of chilled water along the trail, discover Camp David, a small cottage on property and nosh on the cookies and fruit left for your arrival. Slip out of your room and multiple snacks are delivered, just in case you didn’t fill up at the barbecue lunch. Can’t say enough about the food, simply delicious, innovative cuisine.

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The Point Resort Boat House Suite

My favorite room is The Boat House, it is an airy, open hall above the boats and water where a lofty, beamed ceiling vaults over a story-book canopied bed in the very center of the room. Wide porches front the suite with swaying hammocks on each end for afternoon snoozing!

I’m sure none of my clients enjoyed this luxurious lifestyle in 1933, relish it now, at The Point Resort! A five hour drive from Manhattan, but only a 60 minute puddle jumper flight from Boston!

An incomparable Resort, quite decadent, just like Summer Camp should be!

A Great Camp along Saranac lake

Highly recommend!https://i0.wp.com/thepointsaranac.com/images/gallery-01.png?w=584

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dia de los Muertos Mérida

This is a combined post based on activities for the upcoming Dia de los Muertos in Merida, and a post which I wrote after a visit to the  Cemetery in Merida. Even if you can’t visit this year, do make a note to visit next year, traditions and local food provide such an intimate exposure to this culture.  And we have some of the best guides available in Merida and the Yucatan Peninsula.

Every year, the Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, is celebrated Oct. 31 through Nov. 2 throughout Mexico, in the Yucatán it’s called Hanal Pixán, Mayan for “food of the souls.” This holiday coincides with the Catholic All Souls Day and All Saint’s Day, the local indigenous people combine the holiday with their ancient belief of honoring their deceased loved ones. Offerings to the ancestors entail elaborate preparations, and we can combine several outings to commemorate this yearly auspicious event.

The Mayas venerate their deceased as they believe the soul is immortal and the dead are allowed to travel back to this world once a year, during the designated dates. The name for this celebration in the Yucatan Peninsula, receives the name of Hanal Pixan (Food for the Souls) and unlike the rest of Mexico, it lasts 3 days instead of 1 – it is celebrated every year from Oct 31 to Nov 2. All the families set up altars in their houses with special tablecloths, combining the ancestor’s favorite foods, flowers, candles, photographies, incense, liquor for the grown-ups and candies and  toys for the kids. This is a celebration of love, for being reunited with those who have passed-away. But also, it’s a culinary celebration. The star at every house is the “mucbil pollo”, which is only eaten during these dates and is not available the rest of the year. This unique and delicious meal is a large tamal made with corn dough, filled with a kind of sauce, seasoned with spices and mixed with chicken and pork meat, wrapped in banana leaves – all cooked in an underground pit. In main cities, such as Merida and Campeche, hundreds of colorful altars line in the pedestrian streets, along with music and a celebration vibe. The Hanal Pixan is a unique opportunity to be part of a living Maya tradition, learn about this ancient culture and taste incredible food.

Some of the activities than can be experienced in Merida with our esteemed guides include:

Explore Merida, the city that preserves its rich architectural heritage like no other. Travel its shady avenues, lined with exquisite mansions from the end of the 19th century, when henequen (sisal) wealth reached its zenith and the fiber’s producers sought to reaffirm their prestige and world-view in architecture. You will also visit the cathedral and famous restored buildings in the city center. Then we will head to the market and the main cemetery for an introduction of Hanal Pixán, or “Feast of the Spirits”, a tradition that combines food and death in an ancient ritual in which ancestors are revered

Full immersion in a Maya town – Today we head to Yaxunah, a living Maya town, a tunnel of time, to be fully immersed in the celebration of Hanal Pixan. We’ll be greeted by the community and we’ll learn how farmers are committed to the harvest of several type of maizes and how Maya traditions come with it.

Later, we will be welcomed by a local family that will explain how this feast is characterized by flowers, chocolate, stewed chickens and of course, the Mucbilpollo, cooked in a pib – the Maya underground roasting oven. The category of “buried foods” is enormously important in Yucatecan cuisine as foods that are “buried” and then “resurrected” and ingested carry an obviously symbolic resonance.

We will participate in the whole process of making the mucbilpollo, the iconic dish of this celebration.

While it gets cooked underground, we will explore the nearby pyramids and ride a bike through the town to visit two Maya workshops. Haciendas del Mundo Maya Foundation supports the founding of small community businesses that keep traditional arts alive by rescuing techniques and materials used since pre-hispanic times. For women in these communities, producing handcrafts with their own hands helps them to generate income and provide better opportunities for their families.

LUNCH: Lunch today is mucbilpollo, set in the setting of a traditional Maya village. At the end of the day, your driver will bring you back to your hotel.

The Mayans truly believe their loved ones return to visit for three days every year, graves and tombs are elaborately decorated. Folkloric music is usually played in the streets of Cementerio General and on stages near the town plaza.  

Luis Ronzón, chef at Chable Resort provided this authentic recipe for Muc Bu Pollo:

MUC BI POLLO

 Ingredients

1.100 Kg                   Corn dough

0.250 Kg                   Lard

0.100 Kg                   Achiote paste

0.005 Kg                   Epazote

0.010 Kg                   Cilantro

0.500 Kg                   Pork meat

1 Pz                            Whole chicken

3 Pz                            Banana leaf

0.020 Kg                   Salt

0.007 Kg                   Ground pepper

0.500 Kg                   Tomato

0.400 Kg                   White onion

0.010 Kg                   Habanero chili

0.004 Kg                   Allspice

0.004 Kg                   Whole black pepper

0.002 Kg                   Laurel

0.020 Kg                   Garlic

0.040 Kg                   Salt

 

Method of preparation:

Mix 1kg corn dough with the lard the 20gr of salt. Cook the whole chicken in water with half the portions of laurel, whole black pepper, allspice, salt garlic and white onion. Carve the chicken into whole pieces. Cook the pork meat in the same way as the chicken.

Col: Place in a saucepan 100gr corn dough and 300gr chicken stock and cook in medium heat for 10 minutes, add epazote, cilantro and achiote paste. Season to taste. Mix with the chicken.

Place one banana leaf flat over a surface and make a base with the corn dough leaving a hole in the middle. Stuff with the chicken and pork meat mixture, on top place some slices of tomato and habanero chili. Place a thinner corn dough mix layer and use this to cover the first layer. Cover both with a banana leaf and tie it with a string making sure that the whole dough keeps its shape.

Cook in the Pib, or oven, for approximately 2 hours.

A post from May when I visited the enchanting city of Merida. As we drove toward Plaza Mayor, we slowly passed through a vast cemetery, the oldest Cementerio General. If you like moseying through old cemeteries, this one is a particular treasure. It is the largest and oldest in Mérida and is graced with a few spectacular headstones and mausoleums of wealthy Hacienda owners, historic figures, groups of musicians, hemp workers, a complete gamut of the locals, albeit deceased locals.

American Alma Reed Headstone – Cementerio General – Mérida

Rosa Benet, gazing at her husband, Alvaro Medina Rodriguez, Cementerio General – Mérida

Rosa Benet, gazing at her husband, Alvaro Medina Rodriguez, Cementerio General – Mérida 1905

Humberto, my guide, led me to another remarkable mausoleum, a shrine to a wealthy Hacienda patron. An enormous full size bed, layered with rippled linen sheets of hand carved marble, is elevated about five feet off the ground. Standing alongside the bed is a elegantly dressed woman, Rosa Benet, gently lifting the corner of the sheet to gaze at her husband, Alvaro Medina Rodriguez, who passed away while she was at a gala. The story is that he had persuaded her to go and enjoy the evening, she protested, but went and missed saying a last goodbye to her beloved husband. The work was an Imitation of the work of Mexican sculptor Almo Strenta.

The Cementerio mimics community life, the wide main avenue is lined by the houses/mausoleums of the wealthy, the casta divina families. Many historic people are buried here, and its memorials are built in Greek, Gothic or French neoclassic styles, often from stone or granite brought from Europe by local wealthy families. They range from classically beautiful to over-the-top displays of wealth, and deeper in the back you will find simple but colorful houses of the dead, all filled with restos – remains.

If you walk deeper into the Cementerio, under the enormous shade trees, you will also discover more modest houses for the deceased, small tomb-houses that seemed to be devoted to just one person. On closer inspection, you will see stacks of osarios, boxes full of bones. The bones of generations, buried one on top of the other. In a family-owned plot, the most recent body will be buried in the ground. That usually involves digging up the old bones from previous generations and adding new family members. The little houses, built by the living for the dead relatives, are kept for visiting purposes. Simple replicas of houses, some are very colorfully painted, others remain white, bleached by years of blazing sun; some have windows or doors and are topped by angels or crosses and inside each house, may be a small memento of the deceased. The living place these trinkets to honor their ancestors, you may see statues of saints, candles or bits of flowers and plants.

Every year, the Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, is celebrated Oct. 31 through Nov. 2 throughout Mexico, in the Yucatán it’s called Hanal Pixán, Mayan for “food of the souls.”

Once, historically held at the beginning of summer, Day of the Dead was moved to coincide with the Christian festivals following the Spanish colonization of Mexico in the 16th Century. On Oct. 31, All Hallows Eve, children make a children’s altar to invite the angelitos – children to visit. Nov. 1 is All Saints Day, and the adult spirits are invoked and invited. Nov. 2 is All Souls Day, when families go to the cemetery to decorate the graves and tombs of their relatives. The holiday and celebration has evolved over the years and is a complex celebration of the deceased relatives and a celebration of life.

Cementerio General – Mérida

Look skyward to view the many cherubs or angels, many missing wings or body parts, spirits guarding the families from above.