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“Live like a Vanderbilt (almost)” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Great Camp Sagamore

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Great Camp Sagamore
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Sagamore Road, Raquette Lake, NY 13436   |  
Hotel amenities
New York, NY
Senior Contributor
26 reviews 26 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
“Live like a Vanderbilt (almost)”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 12, 2014

Here's a chance to stay in a designated National Historic site. The resort is on it's own beautiful private lake, You drive 4 miles into the woods, on a well-maintained, packed dirt road to reach it. The accommodations are in beautiful old log and stone buildings. It's really unique. This camp was owned by the Vanderbilts, built in the days when the robber barons decided that a summer stay in the wilderness, "roughing it" with an army of servants, was idllyic. There is no longer an army of servants - there is a pleasant young staff, but this is not a luxury resort. The bathrooms are shared (2 or 3 rooms per bathroom), you make your own bed on arrival. The accommodations are basic but comfortable and charming. There are fireplaces galore - and working fireplaces in the lounge areas. Build your own fires if you'd like - firewood is provided. Meals are included, served buffet style in a lovely rustic dining room right on the lake. The food is satisfactory - not memorable but more than adequate in quality and quantity. You don't come here for a gourmet experience. A nice touch -- the dining room is open all the time -- and there is always coffee, tea, cold drinks and usually fresh fruit available.
Warning - there is no tv, no telephones in the room, no wifi except in one building, no evening entertainment, no bar, no fitness center. You can buy bottles of wine (the 2-3 choices of NY wine leave much to be desired - suggest you bring your own. There are some jigsaw puzzles around, and in one building a large screen with a DVD player, and DVDs, and books to borrow. It is a place to read, to think, take walks, take a canoe or kayak around the lake, and soak in the complete peace and quiet. If that is the kind of vacation you are looking for, you'll love it.

Room Tip: Stayed in Wigwam - a building in the woods. Extraordinarily quiet. The other main accommodations b...
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  • Stayed August 2014, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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40 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (15)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
hamilton, ny
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 15, 2014

Visited Sagamore on a Road Scholar trip. Place is in a beautiful spot with opportunities to row or paddle on the lake, or to hike around it. Very peaceful surroundings. Accommodations are adequate, but basic--more like camping in a cabin. Beds are quite firm. Meals are tasty, and served buffet style in the dining room at large group tables. Staff is very helpful. Lots of interesting history to learn about, so be sure to take the tour. Black flies are bad in the spring and summer, so bring lots of bug spray, or plan a fall trip. We had a room in George's Left, which had a private bath, but many rooms have shared baths. Boat tours are available on nearby Raquette Lake, and the Adirondack Museum is about twenty minutes away--well worth a trip. Staff is very helpful.

Stayed October 2014, traveled as a couple
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Potsdam, New York
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 21, 2014

My husband and I stayed for the weekend at Sagamore great Camp and really enjoyed ourselves. It was the great camp of the Vanderbilts and there are historical tours available as well as a historical boat trip on nearby Raquette lake. We stayed in the Main Lodge on the lake and it was beautiful. There are hiking trails, kayaks, and canoes for guests' use. You eat three meals a day family style in the dining room. the food was very good. Mostly the Adirondack setting is fabulous. This is not a hotel, but an authentic great camp. The rooms are basic and the bathrooms are shared. You need to be prepared for that when you go, but it's worth it.

Room Tip: The rooms in the Main Lodge have lake views but Wigwam is a nice building as well, with a more cozy...
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  • Stayed September 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Southington, Connecticut
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 18, 2014

Just returned from a week at Sagamore where my granddaughter and I participated in the Road Scholar "Intergenerational experience". A (very) few bugs, some rain, cool nights, shared bathrooms, plain cooking...beautiful views, knowledgeable and accommodating staff, well-planned activities, great wooden and stone buildings, quilts on the bed...laughing and playing with my granddaughter, sharing the joys of being grandparents with wonderful new friends, feeling like a kid again...

It's really Great, Camp Sagamore...

Room Tip: Rustic experience. Don't expect amenities, just lifelong memories...
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  • Stayed August 2014, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Potsdam, New York
Top Contributor
235 reviews 235 reviews
67 hotel reviews
Reviews in 109 cities Reviews in 109 cities
113 helpful votes 113 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 17, 2014

With appropriately calibrated expectations I feel one must work very hard to not greatly enjoy a stay at Great Camp Sagamore. That is my view after spending nearly a week at Great Camp Sagamore as part of an intergenerational camping experience under the auspices of the Road Scholar Program. Of course, Mother Nature (weather, black flies, mosquitoes) can provide uncontrollable factors that negatively affect your experience, but the access the camp provides to canoeing, kayaking, swimming, hiking, or simply sitting quietly with a good book and all at a venue that is unsurpassed for classic Adirondack character is top quality. The accommodations do not duplicate those available at big hotel chain replicates distributed across our nation’s cities and interstate interchanges and they do not attempt to. Rather, they are somewhat spartan, and include some single beds and some shared bath facilities – but such was not uncommon in early Adirondack resorts; those at Camp Sagamore fully provide for all basic needs. We stayed in a duplex cabin that included a private bath; it was assigned to us, we did not request it. Meals at Camp Sagamore are served cafeteria style, more or less, and consist of typical camp foods, dishes that tend to be somewhat high in carbohydrates and low in salt but they have considerable variety in entrees; they are not necessarily for the gourmand, but they are good, wholesome, and plentiful. I could go on, but my positive tone would remain. We would like to return someday to Great Camp Sagamore, and we plan to. As an aside, the “we” includes my granddaughter who was 6 years old at the time of our stay.

Room Tip: Speak to the staff to gain clarity on the options and be prepared for what you receive.
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  • Stayed August 2014, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Syracuse, New York
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 19, 2014

Great Camp Sagamore is a haven for anyone who enjoys the outdoors, history and authenticity. Our numerous visits have treated us to everything we love about the Adirondacks: hiking trails, beautiful scenery that includes an inviting lake, and some of the friendliest people we have ever encountered. The loons calling at dawn and the mist rising off the lake in the morning often seem like they were sent in by central casting to create atmosphere, but this is the real thing. There is simply no place better for a peaceful getaway.

Room Tip: The room in Wigwam are the best of the best.
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed July 17, 2014

Call ahead and talk turkey with the sincere and caring staff. Tell them about your hatred of biting, stinging bugs and ask what the insect situation will be for the date of your intended stay.

On the 4th of July, the swarms of black flies -- as well as deer flies, and blood-thirsty mosquitoes -- made our stay a perfect hell. The staff gave out bug jackets which are hot, stifling anoraks made from insect mesh. They have drawstrings at the wrists, waist and a full face-covering hood. You have to wear them for even the shortest walks between buildings. Meanwhile you should be wearing long pants tucked into your socks, and liberal coatings of bug spray.

Other hapless guests who just didn’t get the whole bug-defense thing, were like bloody zombies, with horrid swelling bites on necks, ears, faces, arms and legs. It was shocking to see.

The staff explained that the winter of 2013-2014 had been particularly harsh with over 300 inches of snow, meaning a later and more intense bug season. “The black flies are usually gone by July 1st,” they opined. Our ancient cabin screens were torn and frayed, we had to use toilet tissue to block the holes.

This may have once been the playground of the rich and famous Vanderbilts, but time has put the “sag” into “Sagamore.” The place is a fire-safety nightmare, all-wood construction, with indiscriminate use of extension cords, loose electric plugs, no sprinkler system, and with only a ludicrous local fire alarm. “If the fire alarm goes off at night, guests should go into the office, choose line 2 and dial 37 to alert the staff who live in a separate compound and can’t hear the alarm,” we were told. That and the tiny kitchen-sized fire extinguisher on the wall of each room did not engender confidence. There is a strict no-smoking policy, except on the grubby tennis court, which apparently is the only fireproof spot in the compound.

Of course Sagamore Lake itself is fireproof so I suppose you could smoke there. But the camp’s swim area is a tiny, mucky, roped-off section with a dangerously rocky bottom (no diving from the float). The water is dirty iced-tea, apparently from all the tannin of the rotting trees, leaves, and needles in the lake. After an obscure tutorial on how to use a canoe (“use a J-stroke unless you want to turn in the opposite direction”) you are allowed to sign out canoes, rowboats and kayaks.

And then there is the food. 75 people shoulder-to-shoulder squash into the dining hall, and because there are no trays, have to make multiple trips to gather the cafeteria-quality food. Beer and wine are thankfully available at the office for a reasonable price to dull the misery of your camp experience.

Most of the rooms share a bathroom, even at this price point. It is inconvenient and a loss of comfort and privacy. The tubs stand so tall that it is hard to step in and out of them to use the shower, seniors beware. For someone with limited mobility, the baths and narrow stairs are a trial.

Now, if you are looking for a roughing-it, non-luxury experience, that is a step up from canvas tents, Great Camp Sagamore is the place to go. The staff and counselors are Adirondacks-lovers and do their best with the foundation’s limited funds to make your experience as enjoyable as possible.

Room Tip: Ask for a room with a private bath. It is an extra charge.
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  • Stayed July 2014, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jeff F, Manager at Great Camp Sagamore, responded to this review, July 26, 2014
I am sorry that you did not enjoy your stay here, Great Camp Sagamore is not an experience for everyone.
People come to Sagamore for many reasons. Two of the most common are nature and history. Sagamore's access to the natural world is unparalleled given that it is in the middle of over 100,000 acres of protected wilderness and wild forest land. Here wildlife including black bears, moose, deer, loons, eagles, and many other species outnumber the human population by several orders of magnitude. It is one of the few places in the continental United States where you can go bird watching in the morning in an Audubon designated Important Birding Area, canoe or kayak on a unspoiled lake with no one else in view during the day and look at the stars at one of the darkest sites in North America at night. Unfortunately, black flies and other insects are a part of this world that we cannot control, nor can we predict how numerous they are at any given time. We do provide complimentary bug spray and netting to make your stay as comfortable as we can.
Sagamore is a National Historic Landmark complex of buildings that was the wilderness retreat of the Vanderbilt family. Some of the leading lights in 20th century American history and culture stayed here including General George C. Marshall, Richard Rogers, Gary Cooper and Howard Hughes. This is one of the few historic landmarks anywhere that you can stay in and enjoy just as it was intended, a wilderness getaway to enjoy nature and the company of others. After 100 years of use Sagamore requires constant renovation. Our efforts have won awards from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Preservation League of New York State and many other professional organizations. However it should be noted that we are preserving the original context and materials of the buildings as a historic site. Sagamore is not converting the site to a conventional resort facility. This means that, like the original guests of camp, we have bathrooms down the hall, there is no cell service and internet availability is limited.
As the reviewer notes it is important that if you have any questions it is important to call ahead and "talk turkey" with the staff. We are happy to answer any questions and give you an honest appraisal of what life is like in camp at any given time.
--Executive Director
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Great Camp Sagamore

Address: Sagamore Road, Raquette Lake, NY 13436
Location: United States > New York > Raquette Lake
Amenities:
Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Specialty Lodging in Raquette Lake
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 35
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Sagamore, once the summer retreat of the Alfred Vanderbilt family, is now a National Historic Landmark that runs a variety of residential education programs from late May until late October. Neither a hotel, motel nor resort, we are instead a non-profit "living museum," one that attempts to allow as many people as possible to learn more about Adirondack history, nature and the Gilded Age amid the rustic beauty of our wilderness location. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Great Camp Sagamore Hotel Raquette Lake

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