Recently, our family took a short vacation at a new resort up in the Finger Lakes region of NY State. It’s about a 4 hour drive from me, traveling west on Route 80 through Pennsylvania and up to New York. Scranton is at the midway point. 

The resort is set among gently rolling hills and farmland. It’s sort of a surprise when you come upon it in the midst of such an unassuming setting. Nearby is the downtown of Cortland where we stopped for lunch as soon as we got there. All over town were signs welcoming the NY Jets–they were in town for their training camp at the SUNY campus. 

We lucked out in our lunch spot. Definitely check out Pita Gourmet on 41 Main Street. They have really good Lebanese dishes like falafel, gyros, and kebabs. My kids liked their fish sticks and fries. Prices were reasonable too. 

At the resort we were greeted by their super friendly staff who gave us wristbands for our stay. This was our waterpark pass and room key. It was nice not to have to worry about your keys all the time and they’re pretty laid back at the water park–they didn’t check our wrists for them. 

The entrance and lobby are beautiful–high arching ceiling and woodsy touches. It reminded me of the hotel we stayed at when in Disney World–Wilderness Lodge. They only just opened in December of 2009 so everything is brand spanking new. 

There are 106 units with full kitchens and fireplaces. Our first room had a spiral staircase to a loft with two bunk beds. I knew our kids would be climbing that staircase (which had openings between the stairs) and I wouldn’t be able to relax. So, we changed to a room that had just one floor and a Murphy bed in the living room. 

I thought the rooms were comfy, clean, and more than adequate for our needs. It was nice to have a full kitchen, too! I don’t think they were as luxurious as Grand Cascades Lodge but definitely better than Mineral Springs (see my review of Crystal Springs here). 

After a quick change we headed to the 41,000 square foot indoor waterpark. It was much cleaner than the ones I’ve been to in NJ. Also, there were numerous lifeguards patrolling the area. Lifevests are provided for the kids. There is a water play structure (with the huge dump bucket on top), a smaller area for kids with slide, wave pool (mimics swimming in the ocean), and a pool that goes outdoors. In the back is a basketball area. The waterpark never got really crowded so it was really relaxing for us and the kids had a great time in the water. 


It’s heated to 84 degrees so no need to worry about getting cold. There are also the 3 story slides for the adventurous. Outside the waterpark are the typical arcade games. Also nearby is the Bearfoot Den Kids Activity Center. It was a very nice room with Wii gaming system, toys, etc. They will watch your kids for $10/hour per kid and they also have activities nightly from 6-8pm. That night they had a PJ and ice cream party. They are open every day from 9am to 5pm M-F and Sat/Sun 8 to 5:30pm. This is great if you want some alone time or if you want to hit the ski slopes in the winter. 

While we were there they also had a local theater group come perform Alice in Wonderland on the back patio. In addition: a bouncy obstacle, table/lawn games, and storytime at night. Very kid friendly! 

Nearby is Hope Lake Park where you can rent a boat, do some fishing, or play on the beach. We walked towards it from the back of the hotel but could not get to it. It’s a pretty long trail. I suggest you drive there if you want to check it out. 

The only dining besides fast food at the waterpark is Acorn Grill. We had some clams and a salad. The food was good but a bit pricey. If you go into town on the main drag you can find Friendly’s, Ponderosa, a fish fry place, etc. The restaurants on Main Street (where the Pita Gourmet is) are more upscale. 

While my kids caught the show, I headed over to the onsite spa. I chose the Micro Exfoliation cascading waterfalls treatment first. Basically, you lie down on this souped up tub and get scrubbed with microbeads while water comes down from jets to wash it off. I felt silky smooth all over afterward!

Then, I had the 5 Element Aromatherapy massage. She used 5 different scents that were heavenly and very relaxing as she worked at my sore muscles. It was bliss for this mommy of three!

I highly recommend this place if you want a staycation that’s very kid friendly. I imagine the fall is beautiful with the leaves changing all around. The Cortland apples are from this region and you can do apple picking at an orchard near there. The locals are so friendly and really accommodating. That was one of the nicest aspects of the trip! 

In the winter you have a ski slope literally across the street (Greek Peak) so there’s plenty to keep you occupied year round. I had the sense that the lodge is still “under the radar”….but once word gets out I’m sure they’ll be busy. If your kids like water and you like cleanliness then this would definitely be worth the 4 hour ride!

Disclaimer: Our family was provided complimentary accommodations and spa services at Hope Lake Lodge. However, all opinions stated above are my own!

Hope Lake Lodge

2000 NYS Rt. 392 Cortland, NY 13045