Set along the shores of Seneca Lake in upstate New York, the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel, 16 North Franklin Street, Watkins Glen, New York, is in the perfect place for a vacation. Watersports? Check! Wineries, distilleries and craft brewers nearby? In abundance! Natural beauty? Watkins Glen State Park! Excitement? Watkins Glen International Speedway!
That is, if you ever want to leave the comforts of the hotel. Sometimes, an afternoon sitting on one of the lounge chairs next to a fire pit on the patio is the perfect thing to do. The Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel also has an indoor swimming pool and hot tub, fitness center, and 24-hour room service.
Rather leave your room to dine? Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and cocktails are served at the Blue Pointe Grille and, later in the day, there’s the Coldwater Bar. The Patio is available for al fresco dining overlooking Seneca Lake.
My guestroom had a sea blue and sandy beige color scheme. There was a handy mini-refrigerator, humongous flat-screen television, and free WiFi. Instead of the now-expected in-room coffee maker, the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel provides morning coffee and tea service on each floor opposite the elevators, and 24-hours a day on the first floor. There’s evening turn-down service, complete with chocolate candy on the pillow.
The bathroom has separate stalls for the toilet and the shower. Amenities are by Green Natura, which includes an intriguing notice that the packaging contains EcoPure organic plastic additives.
Just outside the hotel is the office for the Seneca Lake Wine Trail. Stop in, pick up a map, and spend an afternoon visiting a selection of the 34 tasting rooms and vineyards along the largest wine trail in the state.
If auto racing is your thing, the Watkins Glen International racetrack is about a 10-minute drive into the countryside. As a “civilian”, you can “drive the glen”. Yes, two laps around the speedway. In your own car. On almost any day of the week from early April to early November. (It’s prudent not to schedule a wine trail foray just before your turn on the race track.)
Watkins Glen State Park — “four minutes from the hotel” — offers a two-mile hiking trail through the Watkins Glen gorge, where the glen’s stream descends 400 feet past 200-foot cliffs, generating 19 waterfalls along its course. The gorge path winds over and under waterfalls and through the spray of Cavern Cascade. Rim trails overlook the gorge. It’s consistently rated one of the best parks in the state.
Three more must-see destinations are few miles south of Watkins Glen. The Corning Museum of Glass and the Rockwell Museum of Western Art are both in Corning and well worth a couple of hours each. American literature aficionados won’t want to miss Mark Twain’s Study on the campus of Elmira University.
The Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel, a AAA Four Diamond property, has 104 guestrooms and suites. It’s one of three Hart hotels in western New York State. Rates start about $200; you can book on their website, or via one of the usual hotel booking sites such as Priceline (tip: the “best” rooms have lake views and a balcony).
Below? One of those little touches that make a hotel stay memorable: the toilet roll was presented with a flourish.
(Photos courtesy of Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel and by Susan McKee, who was a guest of the hotel.)