Gadlinks for Tuesday 8.11.09

Welcome back to another Tuesday of Gadlinks. How does it work? We scour the best of the travel web and pick our favorite links of the day, summarizing them all in one convenient post. It’s like a big “travel smoothie” of goodness, except we don’t add any antioxidants. OK, ready to see this Tuesday’s picks? Keep reading below:

  • Snorkeling takes you to another world. Simply strap on a mask and some fins and you’re instantly transported to a world of brightly colored fish and other strange denizens of the deep. Here’s a list of the Top 10 spots to snorkel to make sure you get your money’s worth. [Via CNN]
  • Grant recently brought us an in-depth look at the Western African capital of Dakar, Senegal. He’s not the only one checking out West Africa lately – check out this writeup on African tourist hotspot Ghana. [Via The New York Times]
  • Jonesing for the great outdoors? You might consider upstate New York, where Adirondack Park offers visitors plentiful hiking and some icy cold mountain lakes where you can cool off afterwards. [Via MSNBC]
  • This past week we learned of the passing of legendary filmmaker John Hughes, a man who captured the essence of 80’s surburban youth and Chicago like no other. Here’s a nice tribute to the much-loved director. What’s your favorite John Hughes movie moment? [Via Intelligent Travel]

More Gadlinks HERE.

Adirondack escape updated, ready for guests

When summer arrives, New Yorkers tend to turn to the Hamptons or the Jersey shore – depending on tax bracket. Many forget that the Adirondacks are only a few hours away. When reminded of this, the usual response involves “family destination” … and maybe a sneer. It also involves a mistake. While this corner of “upstate” remains family-friendly, there are plenty of upscale accommodations and experiences, without the traffic and travel headaches that New Yorkers find to the east and south.

The Sagamore Hotel is in the midst of a $20 million renovation, a rarity in today’s constrained market. But, the benefits of this investment are evident upon arrival. Much of the property has been redesigned rebuilt to reinforce the luxury experience. The on-property spa has 13 treatment rooms, obviating the need to wait, and the indoor pool makes it possible to take a dip even in the meanest of northern New York winters.

While the regular guestrooms are perfectly serviceable, drop the extra cash, if possible, to upgrade to a suite. Spacious doesn’t begin to describe … the bathroom. The elbow room available in the living room and bedroom is even more profound. Even for an intimate getaway, you don’t want to be crammed together – that’s a choice you’d prefer to make on your own! The bed is the star of the guestroom experience. Again, the king-sized scale makes close quarters a choice rather than a necessity, and the mattress is soft without swallowing you. In fact, it’s probably the best “compromise” bed available. Both my wife and I were happy, and I prefer to sleep on a board, while she feels that beds should be comfortable.


As you wander The Sagamore Hotel, you get the feeling that something is somehow different. But, it’s hard to put your finger on it. The menu is carefully crafted, and the guestrooms are large and inviting. The lobby is spacious with natural pockets for larger groups to sit and have a sense of being separated from others. While this is all advantageous, it’s similar to what you’d find in any ex-urban resort. The Sagamore succeeds, however, in making it all hang together. It just fits. The mystery behind this connectedness can be traced to the general manager.

Tom Guay, who runs the Sagamore, was previously the property’s executive chef. It’s a strange route to GM – which I was unafraid to tell him. Usually, the top dog comes out of the sales department. Chefs are crazy people that you hide from the guests for most of the day, only occasionally letting them appear tableside for brief periods of time. Then, they return to the familiar insanity of a busy kitchen. Guay did get a chuckle out of my reaction (and handled it well). Apparently, the number of chefs rising to the top is increasing, and he credits the ability to multitask under hectic conditions as the driver. The attention to detail for which successful chefs are famous, I realized, is what brings the Sagamore together.

The sense of cohesion extends beyond the core property to the “lodges,” which physically constitute a property-within-a-property at the Sagamore. This part of the resort is more economical, ensuring that the traditional Adirondack constituency – families on a budget – can continue to enjoy the quiet natural surroundings. The large guestrooms in this corner of the Sagamore come with living rooms that have pullout beds in the couches and in-suite kitchenettes.

Jeopardizing the continuity of the Sagamore is the fact that there is still plenty of construction across the property: the $20 million is still being spent. The outdoor pools are being built, and guestrooms are in their final stages. A new rooftop deck is underway. While some guests may find these efforts to be a bit of an eyesore, consider the works in progress to be similar to the last multi-course meal you ate. Did the entrée suck because it was being cooked while you ate your soup? Of course not. The ongoing construction only impedes the guest experience if you choose to let it. I sat outside both nights I was on property and worked (wireless internet access is available in the rooms and in outside seating areas) and had no problems at all.

If you’re looking for a quick dash out from New York City or Boston, the Sagamore is a great alternative. It’s about the same distance from both cities, and you won’t have to deal with the crowds that plague the Hamptons and Cape Cod. Get in early, and stake your space while the renovations are being finished: the crowds are already starting to pour in!

Disclosure: The Sagamore Hotel picked up the tab for this jaunt, but the observations are all mine!

On Using “Antique” as a Verb

Spending the weekend in the Adirondacks region of New York (lucky me!), you can’t help but notice the numerous antique stores selling anything from dolls to furniture. That’s not the surprising part. After all, that’s what antique stores are supposed to do: sell old stuff. The surprising part is the following these place have, especially on weekends…people set out a day to go “antiquing“. (I love how Americans have the ability to make a verb out of just about any noun.)

The trouble is, I have a hard time seeing the appeal of antiquing. Does it go back to the good old hunter gatherer thing? See, I am a minimalist, so spending my weekend accumulating dust-catching objects is about my worst nightmare. Plus, I grew up in Europe, constantly surrounded by old stuff and hand-me-downs, so the idea of filling my house with them doesn’t sound cool at all. Yet, the tree-hugger in me appreciates the fact that all the stuff people buy gets “recycled” and reused by someone else.

As a tourist, I must admit I like seeing the roadside Antique sale signs. It’s an essential part of kitschy Americana that cannot be replicated other places quite the same way.

Foliage Dispatch from the Adirondacks

Greetings from the beautiful Lake George, NY!

Earlier this week, I was claiming that there is almost nothing better than riding a Harley through the winding roads of Sonoma Country, CA. Today, I am quite happy sitting on the porch, sipping coffee and watching the trees turn in the Adirondacks. My life sounds pretty good “on paper”, doesn’t it!

If you are headed this way in the next couple of weeks, make sure to check out the fall foliage reports. According to the reports, the Adirondacks region is near peak this weekend. The locals, however, will tell you they would still give it a week or two.