The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake
Prior to booking our stay at The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake, I hadn’t known anyone who had stayed there, but the photos on their website looked beautiful. Because it was booked solid for Saturday night, we chose to stay Thursday and Friday night, August 25 and 26, which saved some money.
According to Daisy Hall, Marketing Manager for the lodge, visitors from Pittsburgh are the third-largest group to visit the lodge, only trailing Cleveland and Columbus residents respectively.
The Lodge lived up to the photos on the website. It consists of a four-story hotel, banquet facility and meeting rooms, the Horizons Lounge and Restaurant, indoor and outdoor pools, and lovely landscaped grounds right on the lake with plenty of benches and communal fire pit areas for enjoying the magnificent views of Lake Erie.
The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake is managed by Delaware North, a hospitality management company based in Buffalo, New York, which operates at 10 national and state parks. The properties Delaware North oversees are some of the most breathtaking sites you can imagine. I’m adding them to my bucket list.
Also on the grounds of the lodge are 25 charming two-bedroom cottages that sleep six and face the lake. It appeared they were quite popular for bachelorette parties and girls’ getaway weekends from all the women sitting on their porches drinking coffee on Friday morning as I passed while riding my bicycle.
“While the lodge is ideal for a shorter visit, The Cottages are a great place to stay for a lot of days,” said Hall.
There are paved bike and walking paths that connect to trails at the adjacent Geneva State Park and complimentary bike rentals are offered for overnight guests of the lodge. In the winter the lodge offers complimentary snowshoe and cross-country ski rentals.
The Lodge also offers a variety of specials from romantic weekends to dinner theater packages. We chose the Two-Night Wine Excursion Package, which in addition to two night’s accommodations, included breakfast for two each morning, wine shuttle for two to four local wineries, a complimentary wine tasting at one of the wineries, and a wine flight in their Horizons restaurant. The package begins at $485 for a mid-week stay for a standard room. The room was spacious and attractive. We paid a few more dollars for a lake view and it was well worth it. One of the best memories I will take away from this getaway is the view of the glorious star-studded sky over the inky lake as seen from our cozy balcony.
After the downpour in Cleveland, we enjoyed clear, sunny days for our entire stay. When I was a small child, our annual vacation was a trip to Lake Erie. As I and my siblings grew older, we ventured elsewhere, and Lake Erie diminished in my mind as a vacation destination. The reputation of it being polluted didn’t help much either. Therefore, I had forgotten how impressive and beautiful this great lake truly is.
Lake Erie is the world’s 13th largest lake in terms of surface area, and we sometimes take for granted what a treasure we have only two hours from Pittsburgh. The lake’s water condition has improved much since the days of 1969 when the Cuyahoga River, a tributary of Lake Erie, caught fire due to all of the pollution. The lake’s water is regularly monitored, and you can check out the conditions at these websites: Lake Erie Waterkeeper and Beach Guard.
Outside of some snacks at one of the wineries, we ate all our meals at the lodge’s Horizon’s Restaurant. Their outside patio and stunning view of the lake, including spectacular sunsets, which attracted numerous photography buffs, were too appealing to dine elsewhere. On Thursday night, we opted to share their goat cheese and caramelized onion pizza. It was one of the best pizzas I’ve eaten and for the price ($19.99), we had several slices left that we were able to refrigerate in the small fridge in our room and nibble on later.
The breakfasts we had were buffets and featured a made-to-order omelet station, fried potatoes, stuffed French toast, bacon, and sausage as well as fruit and a pot of oatmeal and fixings for those seeking a less filling breakfast.
****TIP**** Make dinner reservations in advance. We made reservations a few weeks in advance for dinner on Friday night and were glad that we did. Thursday dining was not crowded, but the lodge was hosting a wedding on Saturday and the dining room filled up quickly.
For dinner on Friday night, my husband selected the walleye special, featuring the lake’s prized catch pan-fried and accompanied by couscous and vegetables. I selected the asparagus ravioli, which was a plate of enormous cheese-filled dough pillows, capped with not only asparagus, but also it seemed a selection of all the locally grown veggies from the surrounding farms spiked with a lemon butter sauce. We were both happy with our selections and mesmerized by the blazing sunset over the lake.
Besides the lake and the lovely lodge, the biggest draw to the area is the numerous wineries. There are more than two dozen wineries in Northeast Ohio, which you can explore yourself, but we didn’t want the stress of having to navigate unfamiliar country roads, and worrying if we were sampling too much wine to drive. Our package included two tickets to the lodge’s wine shuttle, a spacious, air-conditioned van that departed outside the lobby and took us to four wineries: M Cellars, Kosicek Vineyards, Ferrante Winery & Ristorante, and the Winery at Spring Hill.
***TIP*** Book your wine tour when you book your accommodations because you will have a better opportunity to select when you would like to schedule your tour.
This was a nice mix of establishments. M Cellars had a sophisticated, Napa Valley feel to it and a lovely deck that overlooked the rows of vines laden with purple clusters of grapes. Across the country lane from this vineyard, was the Red Eagle Distillery, a new addition to the scene, where you can sample the vodka and bourbon distilled on-site.
Our next stop, Kosicek Vineyards, was more of a family operation, and there we enjoyed a cheese platter and homemade strudel as well as a tour of the vineyard’s wine-making operation given by the owner.
Ferrante had a Tuscan feel to it with piazzas complete with fountains where you could sip their wine and make believe you were in Italy.
The Winery at Spring Hill had a farmhouse atmosphere and in addition to wines, they featured hard ciders.
***TIP**** Several of the wineries offered wine slushes, which puts the Slurpee to shame. They are just the thing on a hot afternoon.
On the weekends, many of the wineries have musical entertainment. Our amiable van driver even took us on a little detour so that we could traverse a covered bridge. This area of Ohio is also noted for its many covered bridges. The tour was a perfect way to spend a late summer Friday afternoon.
Behind Enemy Lines
We all know about the rivalry between Pittsburgh and Cleveland, so you may be wondering how a pair of Pittsburghers fared during this foray into enemy territory. We saw many people at the lodge sporting Pirates and Steelers T-shirts and no one seemed to care. There were three other couples on our wine excursion, all of whom were from the Cleveland-area. When they learned we were from Pittsburgh, one gentleman said that if we allowed him to root for the Penguins, he’d allow us to root for the Cavaliers. Several of the others had relatives or had at one time lived near Pittsburgh.
As we sat in the sunshine sipping our wines, we found common ground, lamenting the closing of Geauga Lake and Sea World, and one grandfather in the group mentioned how much he enjoys bringing his grandchildren to Kennywood.
***TIP**** The moral is, if you are not an overbearing jerk, you won’t be treated like one.
Friday morning, before we ventured out on the wine trail, my husband and I took advantage of the lodge’s complimentary bicycles and hit the trail to burn off the calories from our large breakfast. They had a nice fleet of bikes including several tandem bikes. The trail at the lodge connects to the one at nearby Geneva State Park and passes a picturesque marina and a well-kept sandy beach and swimming area. If you want to relax after all that exercise (or after all that wine), the lodge has both an indoor pool and hot tub as well as outdoor ones. There is also an on-site fitness center.
When we departed for home on Saturday, we drove through The Strip on Geneva-on-the-Lake, which was within walking distance of the lodge. It has a honkytonk, boardwalk atmosphere, which may appeal to some, but for my money, the beautifully manicured grounds of the lodge and the views of the blue lake outshined the glitz of The Strip.
In a little over two hours, we were back at our house late on Saturday afternoon, relaxed, refreshed, and ready to uncork those bottles of wine we’d brought back with us and to sip and savor and remember our getaway to Cleveland and Lake Erie.