“Basin Harbor Club” by Iris Halpern

Posted on August 17, 2014

“Basin Harbor Club” by Iris Halpern

Twelve years ago while reading Travel and Leisure magazine for families, I came across “Basin Harbor Club,” a resort on Lake Champlain, Vermont side. I can’t remember what intrigued me but I convinced my husband that this remote enclave was worth the effort.

Although other times of the year, we are very adventurous travelers, we will be making our annual trek to Basin Harbor again this August. Our twelve year mark is modest in comparison to other families who are second or even third generation guests.

What makes this resort such a treasure? Much of the reason lies in the fact that in its 127* year history of ownership by the Beach family, not much has changed. There are long-standing traditions that may appear antiquated and cumbersome in today’s fast paced casual world but are valued by my family as part of the “Basin Harbor culture.” For example, in the main dining room, boys over the age of 12 and all men must wear a coat and tie to dinner. Girls and women wear “summer cocktail” attire. A leisurely served dinner overlooking Lake Champlain completes this old fashioned picture. My daughter has grown up knowing that three hour dining room dinners are the “norm” at Basin Harbor.

Evening is in sharp contrast to daytime at Basin Harbor when the grounds are busy with kids at Basin Harbor “camp” while other guests enjoy tennis clinics, games and tournaments, golf, hikes, waterfront sports, bike riding or the best activity of all, sitting and reading in one of the many colorful Adirondack chairs that dot the property. The porch where engaging conversations take place is also a personal favorite. In addition, with three gourmet meals a day, eating seems to be a constant activity.

Each evening at Basin Harbor also offers long standing traditions. We know for example, that Wednesday is always Harbor Fair, Sundays the dock dinner, Tuesdays the story tellers come, etc. One year when the economy was a challenge and the Story tellers were cancelled, even the teens were distraught. You don’t make changes at Basin Harbor.

What you do make at Basin Harbor are memories. We have a Basin Harbor “family” as we meet the same people each year. We have celebrated the birthday of one of our members each summer, talked about upcoming bar/bat mitzvahs, planned for entering high school and as the oldest of our group are now college age, that topic looms large in our conversations. We have developed a special bond as we “live” together for one week each summer, a magical seven days where all our needs are provided and relaxation is our only goal. We have the luxury of enjoying each other, watching our kids pass through each Basin Harbor tradition and experiencing the beauty of Lake Champlain. Our kids have “graduated” from close supervision at “kids camp” (ceremoniously moving age groups each summer) to total independence on how they will spend their time. As our daughter heads out to breakfast at 8:00 am, we remind her that dinner is “our time” and we will see her again then.

I treasure these memories the entire year and although I long for our annual Basin Harbor visit, there is a moment of bittersweet feelings as we arrive and leave. The week goes too fast and I am reminded that life goes even faster. How fortunate we are that we found a place where technology free old-fashioned tradition feels so very right.