Your Lake, Your Newspaper

Re-Inventing Schroon Lake

Re-Inventing Schroon Lake June 28, 2023
Photo of Sonny Bonacio, Julie Bonacio, Andrea Crisafulli, Alan Ayers, the resort’s owners and developers.
Sonny Bonacio, Julie Bonacio, Andrea Crisafulli, Alan Ayers, the resort’s owners and developers.

The Lodge at Schroon Lake, the product of a $25 million conversion of a 36-acre, 125-year-old hotel and cottage colony to a year-round, multi-faceted modern resort, was scheduled to open this week, following a ribbon-cutting ceremony and reception held June 16.

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul, whose administration awarded the developers a $4.1 million grant, was among the state, county and local officials attending the transformed resort’s ribbon-cutting ceremony. 

“In the North Country, economic development means tourism. It’s a $16 billion industry,” said Hochul. “By investing in projects like this, we are attracting visitors not just to the High Peaks and Lake Placid, but also to unique and wonderful locations throughout the region.”

The Shared Vision of Two Prominent Couples

The property was purchased in 2022 by SpringCity Development Group, a subsidiary of Bonacio Construction, Inc, for $4.3 million.

Sonny Bonacio, the president of Bonacio Construction, his wife Julie Bonacio, broker and owner of Julie & Co. Realty, and another couple, Andrea Crisafulli and her husband, Alan Ayers, both of Crisafulli Bros. Plumbing & Heating, are responsible for the redevelopment of what was, until recently, a Christian conference center

“This site is an absolute gem. You can’t beat the location,” said Sonny Bonacio. “We have been looking in this area for a while to create a project like this, so when the opportunity presented itself, we couldn’t say ‘yes’ fast enough. We have been excited to work with Andrea and Alan in bringing our collective vision to life.”

“The Bonacios were becoming interested in the hospitality business, and when this property became available, they said ‘perfect,’” the resort’s general manager, Allison Barnett, said. “This community has nothing like this; it will be the largest resort on Schroon Lake.”

According to Barnett, who has managed hotels in New Orleans and Montana, “the owners are committed to maintaining and operating The Lodge at Schroon Lake as a genuine, authentic Adirondack retreat tied to this specific community. They had no intention of creating a monstrous tourist trap.”

For Andrea Crisafulli, Schroon Lake is home; the place where four generations of her family have spent their summers.

“We hope families will come, fall in love with the outdoors, the lakes and mountains, but most importantly, spend time with one another. We want to recapture the Schroon Lake that my father and I were lucky enough to experience in our youth,” said Crisafulli.

As soon as Andrea Crisafulli learned the Bonacios were interested in purchasing the property, she and her husband wanted to be a part of the project, said Sonny Bonaccio.

The Lodge at Schroon Lake

Built in 1917 as the Brown Swan Club, the resort now comprises 116 guest rooms, including those in the Main Lodge (reportedly a speakeasy during Prohibition), nine chalets, five cabins, three suites in Longhouse Cabin and 5 glamping sites.

“One of the great things about the property is the range of accommodations,” said Jennifer McVay, the resort’s Director of Sales and Marketing. “There is a little something for everyone.”

Amenities include a restaurant that is open to the public, a private waterfront area, a fitness center, indoor pool and, unusually enough, a miniature golf course.

A 600-seat theater, built by the previous owners, is in the process of being converted to the “High Peaks Ballroom,” a venue for weddings, conferences, meetings and corporate retreats that can accommodate as many as 300 people.

According to a press release from Governor Hochul’s office, the Lodge at Schroon Lake will create 47 full-time equivalent jobs at the site as well as 30 seasonal positions.

And, for the first time in decades, the property will be back on the town, school and county tax rolls, said Sonny Bonacio.

The Brown Swan and the Origins of the Seagle Festival

The Brown Swan Club, designed by the Glens Falls architect Ward Grover Shippey, was the business venture of a Warrensburg lumber baron, Phil Rice.

During a chance meeting in Glens Falls, Rice invited the renowned singer Oscar Seagle to open a studio on the hotel grounds, where he could conduct summer classes for the students who followed him from New York City.

The building still stands near the resort’s main lodge, said Richard Kagey, the Seagle Festival’s Director of Productions and its unofficial historian.

According to Kagey, Oscar Seagle liked to spend his evenings exploring the hills above Schroon Lake in a horse-drawn carriage. On one such excursion, he discovered the farms that would become what they are today, the home of the Seagle Festival.

Darren Woods, Artistic director of Seagle Festival, said he looks forward to working with the hotel’s new owners and managers, renewing a relationship between the resort and the Seagle Festival that began more than a century ago.

“We’ve talked a lot about the many ways in which we can collaborate – from Seagle Festival and Lodge at Schroon Lake packages to dining opportunities for our audiences before and after performances,” said Woods. “I think we’re just beginning to explore the wealth of opportunities available for partnering.”

Revitalizing the Local Economy

Woods, who is also president of the Schroon Lake Chamber of Commerce, said the Lodge at Schroon Lake would benefit not only the Seagle Festival, but the whole of Schroon Lake.

“It’s going to bring a new vibrancy to the town, introducing people to the area who will be discovering it for the first time, who will be shopping on Main Street and dining in our restaurants,” said Wood. “I see it becoming an integral part of our community.”

Support Local Journalism

We cover the Lake George watershed – the news, the people, the issues and, of course, the fun stuff. Please consider subscribing so that we can continue to bring you stories of Lake George – whether you're on the lake or just wishing you were.

Subscribe Today