The Otesaga Resort Hotel, standing on the banks of Otsega Lake since the turn of the 20th century first opened its doors in 1909. This grand lakeside historic hotel in Cooperstown, New York, overlooks the “Glimmerglass” waters made famous by author James Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales. Driving up to the sprawling estate with its imposing 30 foot columns gives the feel of arriving on a private liberal arts college campus, but is the over 100-year-old hotel a good fit for families? I can assure you The Otesaga Resort Hotel has a little something for everyone, and is not too full of itself to make even the youngest visitors comfortable. Continue reading for more of our visit to The Otesaga Resort Hotel and fall weekend getaway to Cooperstown.
Entering the Otesaga Hotel, we were greeted by the friendly bellhop and desk staff. Check-in was smooth, quick, and efficient, and the staff noted, we had a wonderful suite with view of the lake. The lobby was cozy and warm with a fireplace and plush couches & chairs arranged for intimate conversations. However, the key feature of the hotel is not the inside, but the sweeping veranda overlooking Otsego Lake.
You couldn’t help but be drawn to the porch, and there were always plenty of rocking chairs positioned for quiet contemplation of the surroundings or watching a wedding ceremony on the lawn (everyone on the veranda cheered when the new bride and groom kissed). The Lobby Bar serves complimentary afternoon tea with cookies, or you can grab a beer, wine, or cocktail, and pull up a rocking chair to take in the view before dinner.
The front desk staff wasn’t kidding when they commented we had a wonderful suite. I always hold my breath in anticipation of opening the door to a hotel room the first time. It’s like opening a present, what will it hold? Our very large lakeview suite included two soft, comfortable queen sized beds and a sitting area with fireplace and large flat screen TV.
Windows framed the views of Otsega Lake, the lawn, and 18th hole of the golf course. My wife loved turning around one of the arm chairs to sit and gaze out at the view. The room also contained a coffee/tea maker, complimentary water, and a writing desk.
My wife commented the bathroom was “like the historic bathrooms in our old apartments… but nice,” and it was nice and large with retro tile flooring and a large pedestal sink and shower/tub. The bathtub is always a great feature for families with young children who need to have that nightly bath before bedtime.
The Otesaga currently features Beekman 1802 bath products – soap, shampoo, and beauty items from “The Fabulous Beekman Boys” entrepreneurs and reality TV stars whose upstate New York shop is just down the road from the hotel.
The room had plenty of ports and outlets for charging all of our devices, and there is complimentary high speed Wi-Fi found throughout the resort.
Inside the Otesaga Resort is a formal dining option, Glimmerglass, a casual dining option, the Hawkeye Bar & Grill, the Fire Bar which serves small plates, and Leatherstocking Golf Bar & Grill (open seasonally). A large breakfast buffet is served in Glimmerglass each morning offering fresh made blueberry pancakes, waffles, omelettes, breakfast meats and plenty of pastries. Breakfast was included with our room. We fueled up each morning at the buffet, and had little need (or room) for lunches afterwards.
Glimmerglass is a fine dining experience for dinner offering steaks and seafood in the evening – dress is “resort casual” and denim, sports caps, shorts, t-shirts, swim or athletic wear are not permitted after 6:00pm. We lucked into a beautiful, warm fall weekend during our visit, and opted for dining outside on the patio at the more casual Hawkeye Grill. We loved dining al fresco perhaps one last time this year, and trying what the menu boasted were the best burgers in town.
Our dinner of wings, calamari, and burgers hit the spot, and the desserts were simply immense. The seven layer chocolate cake was definitely big enough to share even though our 16-year old attempted to consume one by herself.
The Otesaga boasts a picturesque outdoor heated pool on the shores of Otsega Lake. While the air was a bit nippy for a swim, the setting with its backdrop of irridescent maple trees was spectacular.
The fitness facility takes up the lower level of the Otesaga, and included cardiovascular equipment, free weights, and strength-training machines.
There is also the full-service Hawkeye Spa offering a variety of treatments including massages, facials, and body wraps.
Golf is a key activity at the Otesaga, and the resort is home to the 18-hole Leatherstocking Golf Course. Designed in 1909 when the hotel was built, the Leatherstocking Golf Course is considered one of the most challenging and scenic courses in the east.
In addition to golf, families will find a wide-variety of activities at the Otesaga including lawn bowling and cornhole games, canoes, rowboats, and paddle board rentals for the lake, as well as rental bikes to explore the area.
Of course Cooperstown, NY itself is home to world-class attractions such as the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Fenimore Art Museum, The Farmer’s Museum, and Hyde Hall. Our visit corresponded with one of New York’s Path Through History weekends, and many of the historic sites of Cooperstown hosted special events. Hyde Hall in Glimmerglass State Park hosted “Hyde and Shriek” candlelight ghost tours offering stories of haunts and spirit manifestations from the mansion’s 200 year history.
We’re not huge baseball fans in our family, but couldn’t visit Cooperstown without at least a brief stop at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. We very were impressed with the poignant American social history on display including women’s rights issues, the African-American Negro League experience, and role of performance enhancing drugs in sport. Even if you are not a baseball fan, there’s a ton to learn and appreciate inside the museum. Our 16 year old daughter had no desire to enter the Hall (she begged to stay at the hotel), and afterwards said, “that was much more interesting than I expected.” She even ended up buying a hat. So if you can please a teen, you can please anyone.
Our family loves history and living-history museums. We are frequent visitors to the Genesee Country Village and Museum near our Rochester, NY hometown that replicates the lives and times of America in the 1800’s. Therefore, we were thrilled to learn of and visit The Farmer’s Museum on land once owned by James Fenimore Cooper back in 1813.
Similar to the Genesee Country Village, The Farmer’s Museum shares a first-hand look at rural life in 19th century New York. One unique treasure is the Empire State Carousel with hand-carved animals representing agricultural and cultural resources, folklore panels depicting local legends, and portrait panels illustrating notable New Yorkers like Susan B. Anthony and Teddy Roosevelt. The carousel is a museum itself… that you can ride!
Welcoming guests since 1909, the Otesaga Resort Hotel has aged gracefully, but is not a “stuffy-old” hotel. It is open each year from mid-April to Thanksgiving, and has plenty to offer including golf, family vacationers, or couples looking to get away to its scenic lakeside surroundings. Cooperstown, NY has much to offer visiting families, and you can’t go wrong staying at the Otesaga Hotel.
DISCLOSURE: Dave Parfitt was hosted by the Otesaga Hotel and Cooperstown and received complimentary accommodations, breakfast, and attraction tickets. However, all opinions expressed are also those of the author. For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on instagram, twitter and “like” our facebook page too.