by: Lori Knowles

How would a ski hotel have looked in the heart of the Victorian era? White, one imagines, with evergreen boughs and ruby red bows, gas lanterns lighting the paths, and the soft hue of candles glowing through the windows. Welcome to Mirror Lake Inn. Dateline: Christmas, 21st century.

Standing silent on the banks of pretty Mirror Lake, the inn anchors the community of Lake Placid, N.Y. It’s been a refuge since 1883—first as a private family home, next as an inn, and finally as one of the Adirondacks’ most prestigious ski hotels with 25 years worth of AAA Four Diamond Awards and a restaurant applauded regularly by food and wine critics.[easyrotator]erc_96_1393602348[/easyrotator]

As the story goes, the home debuted as an inn in 1924 just as phone lines were introduced to the Adirondacks. Weary engineers knocked on its door looking for a place to rest. Climena Alford Wikoff let the workers in, offered them her family’s beds, and herded her own brood of Wikoffs up into the attic. Born was the original Mir-a-Lac Inn.

No word on whether Climena Wikoff was a skier, but Ed Weibrecht certainly was—a 1970s MCI executive in White Plains, N.Y. who trekked to Whiteface Mountain to teach skiing every winter weekend. When MCI transferred Weibrecht to D.C., he resigned and moved to Lake Placid to work as a ski instructor. “Except you can’t live on teaching skiing two days a week,” admits Weibrecht. On food stamps and out of a job, he went looking for a project. His friendship with the Wikoffs led to his 1976 purchase of what is now known as the Mirror Lake Inn. His link with Whiteface Mountain and Lake Placid’s status as host of two Winter Olympic Games (1932 and 1980) helped morph the inn into one of the region’s grandest ski hotels.

Credit is due to Weibrecht’s wife Lisa for the hotel’s Victorian vibe. Once she succeeded as the 1977 U.S. national luge champ, Lisa (née Clune) Weibrecht turned her talents toward hotel management and design. Today, her efforts have created a splendid, jolly vibe.

Every year for the holidays, 300,000 white lights are strung, 70 trees decorated and bedazzled, the halls and 29 fireplaces are decked with evergreen boughs and surely Santa would approve—warm cookies are offered to guests each evening at the front desk. Guest rooms in the main inn are Christmascard perfect; below them is a network of cell-phone-free drawing rooms, verandahs and mahogany-lined libraries where afternoon tea is served daily around 3 p.m.

But it’s the suites in the waterside Lake and Colonial Houses that teleport this hotel into 2014: modern Adirondack elegance reigns here with deep sofas, warm wooden paneling, fireplaces in nearly every room, views of the lake (with its private skating rink), and just beyond—the Adirondacks, snow-capped nearly every season.

Visit on a winter Saturday and you may spy the entire Weibrecht clan catching up on World Cup alpine ski racing. Ed and Lisa raised five children at this inn including Andrew Weibrecht, a bronze medalist at Vancouver’s 2010 Winter Olympic Games and a member of the Sochi-bound U.S. Ski Team. If you see Ed, don’t be shy. Ask him if he’ll meet you at Whiteface to go skiing…