Take a walk around Lake Kora and enter an enchanted forest, teeming with small woodland creatures, lush greenery and trilling birdsong. Beams of sunlight shimmer along the surface of the still lake, and the wind gently rustles papery beech leaves out of their torpor. Lake Kora is one of the “Great Camps” built in the Adirondack Mountains, in upstate New York, after artists like Thomas Cole inspired a reverence for wild places. The Adirondack Park now encompasses six million acres of untouched wilderness and is deeded to stay that way forever.
Like other Camps masterminded by the Rockefellers, Astors, Morgans and other titans of industry in the Gilded Age, Lake Kora, built in 1898, is a secluded outpost where magnates of the day spent summers paddling on the 500-acre lake, hiking the woods and enjoying lavish banquets before a roaring fire in fireplaces big enough for a small woman to stand in.
Rooms in the main lodge and boathouse are rustic yet refined, some with hunting trophies from President Theodore Roosevelt’s day, while others offer wide-plank wood floors, mats made with pine twigs and other Adirondack touches. The famous Tree House room is built around a tree that grows out of one end. Gardener’s Cottage, a two- story dwelling with a private dock, is equipped with a loft bedroom, stone fireplace and kitchen. The Island Cabin, a secluded home on a nearby private island, was the first building at Lake Kora. Guests enjoy canoeing, kayaking, hiking, fine dining, lake swimming, an original bowling alley, plucking first editions from bookshelves, cognac and conversation around the firepit. Most unique is the exclusive booking arrangement: Only open in summer and fall, Lake Kora is a buyout for family, friends, business retreats—anyone looking to create the ultimate bespoke experience. Traveling to this remote location by seaplane is the quickest and easiest way, and by far the most thrilling. As the Fly the Whale seaplane ascends over New York City’s East River, the dramatic skyline view leaves your heart in your mouth. Dipping over the forested Adirondack acres offers a perspective both humbling— and life-changing. And that is just the beginning.