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The Lake House on Canandaigua: Your Next Winter Weekend Getaway

Escape to a vibrant spa resort in the middle of wine country this freezin' season.

The Willowbrook Spa's sauna barrels offer a one-of-a-kind experience on the shores of Canandaigua Lake.
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What if we told you you could get a Scandanivian spa treatment, a French-inspired dining experience and a Colorado-caliber ski vacation, all smack dab in the middle of New York’s wine country? Oh yeah, and on the shores of a gorgeous fresh water lake, no less? That’s exactly what The Lake House on Canandaigua, a new resort on the north shore of the fourth largest Finger Lake, has to offer.

While the Lake House on Canandaigua officially opened for business nearly two years ago, it wasn’t until this time last year that all 124 guests rooms and suites became available. And it wasn’t until June 2021 that the onsite Willowbrook Spa welcomed its first guests. That makes this the very first winter visitors can get the full Lake House experience. And trust me—if you’re making the three-and-a-half hour trek from Saratoga Springs to Canandaigua, you’re going to want to go all in for the full experience.

Upon arrival you’ll be greeted with a warm welcome and a glass of champagne. “We treat you genuinely like you’re a guest in our lake house as opposed to a customer who bought a room in our hotel,” says GM Chris Pulito. “It’s a small nuance, but it really describes the level of service we provide.” After checking out your room or suite (you’ll have to fight the urge to cozy up and stay in all weekend), head to the hotel’s renowned Rose Tavern, one of three onsite restaurants open through the winter. A true open-kitchen-concept restaurant, the Rose Tavern features new American cuisine with a farm-to-table twist; partner farms from which the tavern sources ingredients like dairy, protein and produce are proudly listed on a chalkboard for all to see. Afterwards, grab a nightcap at the cozy Library Bar; head out for a moonlit ice skate at the Rink at the Lake; or take a late-night dip in the heated, lakeside pool.

Day two starts early—pack up the car and head for nearby Bristol Mountain, the largest ski resort between the Adirondack and Rocky mountains. With two high-speed quads and 1,200 feet of vertical, you’ll feel like you’re in the Green Mountains of Vermont—not the wine country of Western New York. After a morning on the slopes, you’re going to want to warm those cold bones…and what better way to do just that than with a trip to a barrel sauna, one of Spa Willowbrook’s main attractions. Inspired by the traditions of indigenous Northern Europeans, the barrel saunas feature an hour-long treatment regiment that includes flavored waters, scrubs and tinctures. Afterwards, when you emerge, you’re encouraged to rub snow on your body to close up your pores. Follow up that experience with a massage at the spa, and feel all your ski-day aches melt away.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper Finger Lakes getaway without wine. Canandaigua is home to the country’s first craft beverage trail, which features some 30 wineries, breweries, cideries and distilleries all located around the lake and in the hills that surround it. You’ll also have to check out the downtown business district, which is within walking distance of the Lake House. “There are 52 businesses within about a five-block area, including courtyards for outdoor dining both in the winter and the summer,” Pulito says. “You’re walking along what would be a normal main street and all of a sudden there are flowers and banners in the summertime, or wreaths and light-wrapped telephone poles in the winter. It’s almost like being in a vibrant promenade in a major city right in the town of Canandaigua.”

Before you know it, your winter weekend getaway will be coming to a close. The good news? You can do it all again next winter.

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