After a three-month voluntary closure in the spring to mitigate the COVID-19 spread, the AAA Four Diamond Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa in Lake Placid reopened on June 26 with a cadre of new protocols to ensure the health and safety of its staff and guests.
The property in Upstate New York, always known for its attention to cleanliness, spent $400,000 initially to emphasize its current mantra: Safety is the New Luxury. The resort led the way within the local lodging industry by integrating hospital-grade Ultraviolet C (UV-C) light disinfection and cleaning equipment, along with state-of-the-art electrostatic sprayers into their already extensive cleaning protocols.
Going a step further, the Inn also launched a new app allowing for remote check-in and check-out capabilities, upgraded their door locks to RFID technology allowing for keyless entry via smart phone, installed touchless hand sanitizers around the property and at all points of entry, redesigned and renovated its upscale restaurant, “The View”, to enhance social distancing, expanded outdoor seating capacities around the hotel and restaurants, added thermal imaging cameras so that all staff are screened prior to the start of their shift along with all patrons in the restaurant and Spa. The end result was a safe and healthy summer and fall season.
“We are fortunate here that we are enjoying strong business, and doing it while keeping our guests and staff safe and healthy,” remarked Mirror Lake Inn owner Ed Weibrecht. “One of the reasons is that people perceive the Adirondacks as a safe place to visit, and in that, people are perceiving that the Mirror Lake Inn is the safest place they can go to.
“We have incredible protocols in place which I would say are second to none, and we can come as close as possible to guaranteeing a safe environment for our staff and our guests. The reason we’ve put all these protocols in is that we don’t want our staff to be at risk and we don’t want our guests to be at risk.”
Weibrecht and his employees, who proudly claim the AAA Four Diamond Award of Excellence for the past 36 consecutive years and offer an authentic Adirondack experience, have never been ones to settle for a level of excellence when there’s a higher reach available. In recent months, Weibrecht says an additional $100,000 has been spent to help staff and guests be as safe as practically possible.
The total of all these efforts has led to the Inn’s recent acceptance of the GBAC Star. The accreditation is presented by the Global Biorisk Advisory Council, recognized as the cleaning industry’s only outbreak prevention, response and recovery accreditation for facilities. It is the gold standard of prepared facilities, and means that a site has:
- Established and maintained a cleaning, disinfection, and infectious disease prevention program to minimize risks associated with infectious agents like the novel coronavirus.
- The proper cleaning protocols, disinfection techniques, and work practices in place to combat biohazards and infectious disease.
- Highly informed cleaning professionals who are trained for outbreak and infectious disease preparation and response.
WHITEFACE MOUNTAIN GONDOLA CABINS ARRIVE AT THE COTTAGE CAFE
Some of that additional expenditure was used very creatively. When Whiteface Mountain replaced its gondola cabins this fall with a brand-new fleet, the Olympic Mountain announced that the originals would be available for sale. That’s all the Mirror Lake Inn had to hear as it recently purchased two such units and placed them at its hip Cottage Café.
The lakeside pub offers indoor and outdoor dining in the warmer seasons, but with these heated cabins now in play, diners will enjoy a very unique experience in a socially distanced manner on the deck of the establishment.
The concept has opened to rave reviews – the cabins are perfect for families and parties of up to eight guests who can remove their jackets in 72-degree indoor comfort. Complete cleaning and sanitizing processes follow each use of the Whiteface/Cottage Café gondola cars.
On the opposite side of The Cottage, a new heated tent offers guests comfortable outdoor dining with full views of Mirror Lake and the Adirondack High Peaks.
CLEAN AIR IS A MUST AT THE MIRROR LAKE INN
While the Mirror Lake Inn staff continues to be vigilant about surfaces and common areas like the library and the lobby, the lion’s share of recent infrastructure investment has focused on the disinfection and sanitization of the property’s air.
“While we acknowledge the continued importance of disinfecting touch points and surfaces, my team and I have let the science guide us and the science says air is the primary vector for virus transmission,” continued Weibrecht. “Where the science goes, we follow and make the necessary investments. At the end of the day, it is our responsibility to keep our guests and staff safe and we take this responsibility very seriously.”
Recognizing UV-C technology is the gold standard in air sanitization, ownership recently procured Haiku UV-C ceiling fans and HoMedics standing air sanitizing units which employ UV-C, ionization and HEPA filtration technologies.
Haiku ceiling fans are billed as the world’s first smart fan with built-in automatic adjustments, while HoMedics is a known innovator in health and wellness technology. These latest additions supplement the UV-C filters installed in all air circulation systems (HVAC) prior to reopening on June 26, 2020.
The Inn’s owner then detailed how the process actually happens.
“The new ceiling fans have been installed in the living room, library, lobby, conference center and View Lounge. These units are designed to pull the air through the room and over the top of the fan. As that occurs, the virus is killed by the UV-C light integrated into the fan’s design. These fans have also been installed in The Cottage Cafe, in addition to the implementation of UV-C filters in the air handling systems. Finally, UV-C lights have been added to the top of the beams in The Cottage’s vaulted ceiling so that as air moves throughout the entire building, it is constantly being sanitized.”
Similar attention has been given to the Four Diamond The View Restaurant.
“In addition to constantly sanitizing The View through the UV-C filters in our ventilation system, we use industrial grade UV-C devices to additionally clean the air in our dining room on a daily basis.”
Of course, the Adirondacks that surround the Inn provide some of the cleanest and purest air on our planet. Management wholeheartedly endorses this natural environment and urges guests to partake in our Great Outdoors. Ski, skate, hike, snow shoe, walking, running – whatever your preference, you’ll feel much better at the end of the day.
To make that more enticing, the hotel has introduced a new outdoor skating rink on the Inn’s tennis court. This new rink will complement the skating and hockey surfaces that the Inn creates on Mirror Lake once temperatures allow. You can then warm up outside at one of four fire pits recently procured.
If chess is your game, guests can play the Inn’s oversized version outside on the snow-covered lawn of the Mountain View building.
MLI HELPS YOU AVOID CROWDED SKI AND RENTAL SHOPS
Skiers will be happy to know that the Mirror Lake Inn is the only lodging property in Lake Placid with its own ski shop. It comes with personalized service from brothers Andrew and Ethan Weibrecht, sons of Ed. Andrew won Olympic silver and bronze medals in super G, and is a member of the U.S. Skiing Hall of Fame and Museum. His younger brother, Ethan, is a former NCAA Division I collegiate skier and Freeride World Qualifier Tour Member.
Leave your gear at home and leave your equipment needs in their capable hands. With a fleet of performance adult skis, boots, poles and helmets including top of the line premium skis from the Head Ski’s 2021 line, they’ll hook up guests with a world-class fit to best match each skier’s abilities. However, if you wish to bring your own equipment from home, Andrew and Ethan offer complete ski preparation to get you carving and arcing down Whiteface Mountain.
In addition to the convenience factor and expert advice available from the brothers, the Inn’s ski concierge services give guests the peace of mind of knowing they can avoid potentially congested commercial ski shops and rental areas.
OWNER’S ADDRESS TO STAFF OFFERS WISE WORDS FOR EVERYONE
In a video address to hotel workers, Ed Weibrecht beseeched his employees to be vigilant in combatting COVID-19 when away from the Mirror Lake Inn, encouraging them to take control of the situation and help themselves. Yet, his words are a good reminder for everyone.
“We’re doing just about everything humanly possible to try and guarantee the safety of the staff and of our guests. But there’s more than just that. We need employees to participate. I feel we are probably protecting the staff better than anybody in the country while they’re at work, but we can’t guarantee protection when employees are not here. That’s where the staff have to be diligent and smart. If an employee picks up the virus, they can bring it home to their parents, siblings, grandparents, friends and neighbors. That’s irresponsible. That’s how it spreads. That’s why it gets out of control. We all need to do our part. When coming in contact with other people, wear a mask, use hand sanitizer, practice social distancing, and wash your hands frequently. It’s best to avoid congregations of large numbers of people. Don’t go to a party. No one’s immune from this. Everyone has to take charge of this themselves.”