Guest Author - Brenda Potter Reynolds
When I left my room at Geneva on the Lake one evening, I met the maid coming up the stairs. She asked if I would like my bed turned down. I replied that it wasn't necessary.
She smiled then, leaned in, lowered her voice, and asked, "Would you like a chocolate anyway?"
"I never turn down chocolate," I answered. She smiled again and handed me a chocolate "coin" wrapped in gold foil.
That incident pretty much summed up my visit to Geneva on the Lake. At the front desk, in the dining room, or anywhere, the staff is polite, attentive, and they treat you like a valued friend.
The historic inn built in 1914 as a private home, was modeled after Villa Lancellotti in Frascati outside Rome in Italy. Later, the building was used as a monastery by Capuchin Monks, who added a south wing, a north wing, and classrooms. The property was then purchased by Norbert H. Schickel, Jr., and in 1981, after two years of renovation, Geneva on the Lake began a new life as a small, elegant resort. The Schickel family sold the property in 1995 to Alfred and Aminy Audi of Syracuse, but the Schickel name is still connected to Geneva on the Lake. Bill Schickel is the general manager, and Marion Schickel, Norbert's widow, often hosts wine and cheese tasting events at the inn.
The 30 suites are all air-conditioned and furnished with Stickley furniture. The former chapel of the monastery is now a suite that boasts a red double whirlpool tub and Waterford crystal lighting. Some of the other rooms have fireplaces, canopy beds or two bedrooms
"Geneva on the Lake is an oasis, a little island of beauty, peace, and friendliness in a busy world," Norbert Schickel once said. It's as true now as it was then.
As I toured the surrounding grounds, I walked past marble columns, classical sculptures and formal gardens, making me feel as if I were a guest at an Italian villa. Guests can dine outside in the Colonnade Pavilion during warm weather, or enjoy the Lancellotti Dining Room with its marble columns, seventeenth century side chairs, candlelight and live music. I took dinner one night in the Parlor, a carpeted, comfortable room with the intimate feel of someone's luxurious living room. The food was delicious and the wine list, wonderful.
My suite was a wonderful retreat where I could shut the door on the world outside. I had a refrigerator and kitchen, comfy living room, and a beautiful view of the gardens and Seneca Lake. The canopy bed was piled high with pillows and was very inviting after a full day of activity. Thoughtful details like fresh flowers, a bowl of fresh fruit, and a welcome note in my room completed the picture.
Geneva on the Lake has fitness machines, a 70 feet long pool, a boathouse and dock. Guests can walk down to the lake to swim, tour the lake, or just enjoy the scenery.
Geneva on the Lake is centrally located in the Finger Lakes, and is right on the Seneca Wine Trail. The inn is only seven hours from Washington, DC, and six hours from Boston, Philadelphia and New York City. Visitors will find much to do, either on the grounds or locally. Some of the area's attractions within a 20-mile radius include the Waterloo Premium Outlet Mall, the National Women's Hall of Fame, and Sonneberg Gardens and Mansion.
The inn is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and has been the recipient of the AAA Four-Diamond Award for over a decade.
When I returned home, I fished the chocolate out of my purse to give to my son.
As I looked it over, I realized that it was not just any chocolate, but a Godiva chocolate. "Isn't that just like the folks at Geneva on the Lake," I thought. "Nothing but the best for their visitors."
To reach Geneva on the Lake, call 1-800-3-GENEVA or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Their website is located at Geneva on the Lake.
This article originally appeared in the July 2004 issue of Grapevine magazine.