Lake Placid is a small village tucked away in New York's Adirondack Mountains that is best known as the home of 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. Surrounded by thickly forested mountains and spread out over two lakes —  Mirror Lake and the namesake Lake Placid — this scenic little village today is valued for its proximity to world-class hiking and skiing as well as the numerous athletic training facilities, camps, and tournaments that utilize its left-over Olympic infrastructure. This town gets a lot of visitors and is packed with hotels, motels and B&Bs to handle the tourist traffic.

One of those hotels, the Golden Arrow, got in touch with me in the spring to tell me about their extensive environmental efforts and to invite me to visit to see the results of their work. I wasn't able to travel to the hotel when they first got in touch but arranged a later visit for me and my wife Lindsay to see what they are up to.

We made the five-hour drive from our home in Portland, Maine, to the Golden Arrow for a couple of nights of workcation. Here's what we saw and learned: 

The Golden Arrow goes green

The Golden Arrow, which overlooks Mirror Lake, has been owned and operated by the same family since Winifred and Stefanie Hoderied opened it up back in the 1970s. The hotel has seen some improvements and upgrades in the decades since, but the one thing that hasn't changed is the family running the show. Winifred and Stefanie passed the operational torch to their children, Jenn and Peter Holderied, and it's been the new generation who have overseen its emergence as a leader in green hotels.

Think green card on bed

They grab all the low-hanging green hotel fruit like encouraging their guests to use their towels more than once to cut down on unnecessary laundry loads and offer in-room recycling, but they take their environmental efforts a few steps further with their green roof, thermal solar panels, hot water heat recovery system, and crushed limestone beach (to counteract acid rain on Mirror Lake). We found a a lot of local and organic choices on the menu at Generations, the Golden Arrow's restaurant. That devotion to buying local extends to everything the hotel purchases and they try to reuse building materials whenever they renovate. Their kitchen grease gets hauled off by a local farmer who turns it into biodiesel. Hotel employees get a free lunch if they live within 10 miles and walk or bike to work. Those who live farther out receive a transportation stipend.

Green roof at Golden Arrow Resort

All their environmental work has paid off with lower utility bills, a hugely reduced waste load, positive media exposure, and certification under Audubon International's Green Lodging Program.

The rooms

We were booked into a top floor deluxe room that had a small common space connecting the bathroom and two bedrooms. One of the bedrooms had a king-sized bed while the other room had two doubles. Both had access to a shared patio overlooking Mirror Lake.

Hotel room beds

The bathroom had a large walk-in shower and clean and classy fixtures and features. The outer common room was brightly lit with a skylight and had your standard hotel fridge and Keurig coffee maker. I would have liked to have had real liquid creamer in the room instead of the powdered variety they provide, but you can't win them all.

Pre-season beach

We visited during the spring and the white sand beach hadn't been conditioned for the summer yet.

We chose to stay in the bedroom with the king-sized bed and had two great nights of sleep on the mattress. The hands-down best feature of the room was the view outside the window. Mirror Lake is well named; we woke up on both mornings to a shimmery and bright world reflected back on itself in the waters. Nearly every room at the Golden Arrow has a view of the lake, though obviously higher rooms afford a more commanding perspective.

Our room also had a fireplace that we put to use on the first night. It was nice to fall asleep to the flickering flames.

Hotel room desk at the Golden Arrow

The food

We had a lovely breakfast at Generations, the Golden Arrow's in-house restaurant. I wish I could say the same for the dinner, but I'll get to that shortly. For breakfast, I ordered all sides and got a cinnamon bun, home fries, and bacon. Lindsay got an omelet with fruit and toast. Everything was delicious and the service was friendly and attentive. We sat outside on the deck and had a clear view of the lake over the large green roof installed at the hotel a few years ago.

Breakfast at Generations at Golden Arrow

Dinner was not such a great experience. The main dining room was sparsely populated, which can be chalked up to it being a slow night in off-peak season, but the same excuse doesn't cover the overly bright lights and loud, but boring music. I ordered ribs while Lindsay got the salmon. Both were solidly non-inspiring. The salmon tasted like it had been frozen and the ribs were too fatty and grisly with too much spice. The side vegetables were soft and mealy. Both our plates went back to the kitchen heavy.

Of course, even good restaurants can have off-nights so it'd be unfair to label the dinner menu as sub-par with only one visit. I do appreciate their stated preference of using local and organic food and the service was good during both meals.

Green roof overlooking Mirror Lake at Lake Placid.

The service

Since the Golden Arrow first contacted me with an invitation to visit, they obviously knew that I would be writing a review on MNN of my visit, which introduces a bias into our experience as customers. I can say that every Golden Arrow employee who I met seemed to enjoy their jobs, which is always a good sign of a quality experience. The front desk staff was friendly (but not too friendly) and the waitresses and waiters sharp and professional.

Golden Arrow lobby

Hotel amenities

The Golden Arrow gym was perfectly adequate (and, as I was told, due for a refresh/upgrade this year) while the pool, newly refurbished with a high-efficiency bromine treatment system, was warm and comfortable. Just off the pool sits a sauna, steam room and massage table.

Golden Arrow pool

We didn't visit Roomers, their in-hotel night club, but I can imagine it can be a fun place to hang out on a busy in-season night, if that's your sort of thing.

A quick spin around Lake Placid

We took some time to walk around the village of Lake Placid. The business/tourism strip isn't huge and can leisurely banged out before lunch.

Bookstore Plus in Lake Placid

I love small town libraries.

Lake Placid Library

We had lunch at The Cottage.

The Cottage Restaurant in Lake Placid

You should too if you're in town. The food was as good as the view. Funny side story about eating at The Cottage: a passing bird pooped in my water during the meal. Luckily I noticed before taking a sip. That's good luck in some cultures, right?

The menu at The Cottage in Lake Placid

Horseback riding for good

The Golden Arrow set up a side trip for us to visit the Adirondack Equine Center for some horseback riding and I was glad for it. The center offers horseback riding trips, sleigh rides, and hosts camps to support its mission of rescuing horses from neglectful owners and the cruel world of live horse auctions. They're passionate about their work and good at what they do. Click over to their website to learn more about their mission and to book your own ride.

Horse at Adirondack Equine Center

Making a reservation

Despite our less-than-stellar dinner, I would gladly recommend staying at the Golden Arrow Resort to anyone who finding themselves in Lake Placid. You can check availability and book your room on their website.

View from the room at Golden Arrow

Full disclosure: The Golden Arrow comped us two nights of lodging, two meals, and the horseback riding trip.

Want to read more reviews of greener hotels? Check out these stories on MNN:

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Shea Gunther is a podcaster, writer, and entrepreneur living in Portland, Maine. He hosts the popular podcast "Marijuana Today Daily" and was a founder of Renewable Choice Energy, the country's leading provider of wind credits and Green Options. He plays a lot of ultimate frisbee and loves bad jokes.

The Golden Arrow resort in Lake Placid, N.Y., goes green
Read about all about the green happenin's at this resort hotel hugging Lake Placid's Mirror Lake.