Skaneateles is a Storybook Village. We know because we live here.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

"Secret Places"

This is Stella Maris, one of my Secret Places.

Thing is, besides being magnificent, it is stage center in the StoryBook Village and very few locals have ever set foot inside. BIG mistake.

Problem is their past. For years Stella Maris [was] a retreat Center for Catholic nuns. As a kid, I remember them [nuns, that is] down by the water; some in habits, some in [black] bathing suits. Wow! was that ever avante garde [and before the Vatican Council]

Today, Stella Maris is still a place for retreats, but muchmore. It is also a non-denominational Conference Center, and in part a hotel, and, in total a very cool place.

Visit to see their offering of programs, but for sure read their definition of "so what is a retreat anyway?". Recently, I spoke with Sister Rose about her view of what constitutes a spiritual experience; I was blown away. This is NOT your father's Oldsmobile woman.

They have offerings for divorce, and happily married couples, and AA, and a local Yoga group, even a strawberry festival.

But... the secret place is the Gift Shop. Ready for this? It is self-serve-self-pay-thank-you-very-much. And they have really cool stuff.

Next visit here, just go there and spend some money in the Stella Maris Gift Shop.


Places to Stay, other than us. HA!

Just about everything in Skaneateles is a little unusual. Here is the deal about Places To Stay.

The Sherwood manages reservations for 4 properties in the Village. Mirbeau has two.

We have 2, the Bungalows at Skaneateles Suites and the Boutique Hotel. We also have furnished apartments, condos, houses and Dockside vacation rentals. Find us at

So basically there are three of us who have most of the rooms. BUT, it goes on. The Chamber of Commerce has a "lodging" listing of everybody.

Here is the cool part: everybody gets along with everybody else. Don't get me wrong, in the winter when it is slow, it's a dog-eat-dog world and everybody sells their own room first. But after that, we all call one another all the time and refer overflow guests to one another all the time. People are really wowed that one hotel would call a competitor to find them a room. We don't think that odd, it's just the way we are. StoryBook Village!

By the way, there is a new B&B in the next town over, Call and ask for Katie Hess, we wish her well.

Dining in the Village

Eat at Joe's. Ha! Sounds like a joke but it's not.

Yesterday I spent the day with Hank Stark and his wife Cher, a travel and food writer. I took them to Joe's for lunch, and asked Jamie [the owner of Joe's to join us].

Understand that normally Hank wants to be anonymous when reviewing. That didn't last long. Within minutes the two of them were nose deep in conversation about sauces, and basil leaves and which varieties of blended red wines had the best character. Yawn!

All I know is the food is terrific at Joe's [I could care less how they do it]. Here is a hint: always order the Soup; it is always wonderful.

What I didn't know is that Jamie Hunt has a unusual technical background in culinary arts. I always thought he was just a good cook.

For Joe's menu go to

Conclusion: "Eat at Joe's", ask for Jamie to visit your table, tell him Curt said hello.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Dockside at WestLake

I am not supposed to say this [I am a professional property manager and I am supposed to be impartial]. But, oh well, I will. WestLake is my favorite property.

For sure, we have others; Gregory Landing is the home of USA Olympic Champion Scott Gregory. Robinson Crusoe is marketed because it does NOT have TV or cell phone coverage, Paul's cabin is a Million Dollar cottage at the end of Mr. Toads Wild Ride [by the way, visit Paul at ] and we have others.

Several years ago, Margaret and Angelo [my Owners] who are a [very cool] professional couple from downstate [with local roots] bought WestLake as a "placeholder" for their retirement home. Then they called us to manage and rent when they were not around.

It was our first managed property, and, my favorite.

Make no mistake, WestLake is an Estate Class 4-seasons Beach House less than a mile from the Village and it is NOT inexpensive. But, if you can pay the freight... WOW!

But, when the dust settles, here is why it is my favorite: Angelo has given me my marching orders. According to him, if the prospective Guests don't "fall in love" with WestLake I am not to rent to them.

Now, then, this is very cool. So cool I have included it in my sales pitch: "Angelo says: blah, blah". Not the first person has been confused, they instinctively like Angelo.

Here is the problem: Soon, M & A will cash in their chips and come to be our neighbors in the StoryBook Village. We will welcome them, of course, but we will loose WestLake as a signature rental.

Oh well. Life goes on. If you want to see more, go to and look fo the Dockside's.


Go Adworks

I really love the people who do business in this Village!

One in particular is Carol Brandt of AdWorks. If you would like to see what she does, go to or and check out all the logos: Suites, Boutique Hotel and Docksides.

Or, go to . If you are a business guy [or anybody else for that matter] who has used advertising agencies, you will know what I mean when I say they are [for the most part] a pain in the ass.

Much of what we need, day-to-day, is simple little compositions for some Goodwill Hockey Booster Club or Pancake Breakfast. My experience with ad guys is that they take longer telling you how busy they are than it takes to give you what you want.

Obviously not so with Carol. She is a small company, real busy, but always has time to talk shop or quick-get-out-the-door an ad that we need "yesterday". Geeze, customer service without an attitude; what a novel concept!

I almost forgot, the blonde in the Dockside photo is Carol.

Blog Skaneateles: It Ain't a Cathedral

Blog Skaneateles: It Ain't a Cathedral

It Ain't a Cathedral

For those of you who remember, a story about the original Community Dock Debate of yesteryear.

In 1968 Bill McCauley and I had a great idea for our last summer in Skaneateles before going to college and growing up [which neither wanted to do]. Indeed, we built a Tom Sawyer version of a "house raft" and spent the summer sleeping on it. Too bad there are no archived photos; it was quite the vessel; 12 x 36 feet she floated on used oil barrels and boasted an enclosed cabin and 12 masthead. Christened "It Ain't a Cathedral" in the spring of '68 a friend of my father [who owned a working woman's lingerie store] supplied us with a selection of very unusual women's undergarments which we proudly flew from the masthead.

At the end of each Hard Day's Night at Morriss we would invite whatever women were still standing to see our craft. We then rowed out in Bill's extremely leaky rowboat. So leaky that if the girl's decided they wanted to leave, the boat had sunk. Ha! Too bad, we said. Guess you will have to take off your clothes and swim to shore.

Here is the rub: The mayor's office [still does] overlook where we moored SS "It Ain't a Cathedral" and the mayor was a retired General [Marine, I think] and he was almost entirely without humor. The Mayor called the Sherriff to run us off, but it turned out we wern't breaking any laws.

The StoryBook Village was torn apart in the Great Civil Debate of '68. There was the "Boy's-Will-Be-Boys" Faction and the "I-Am-Agast" Faction. No-one was nuetral, and Bill and I spent all summer staying one step ahead of the Law as they vainly tried to catch us doing something wrong. In the End, faced with college and growing up looming, we scuttled and burned her in the tradition of the Steamboats of last Century.

Here is the Story: At the Community Dock Vote, one concerned citizen raised the issue of how the committee would control the problem of "Chinese Junks tied to the dock like we had some years ago". About half the audience and at least some of the Trustees knew perfectly well that I, a keynote speaker in behalf of the Dock's, was indeed Captain Emeritas of that "Chinese Junk".

There were some snickers, but nobody said a word. Ha! Whew! We got our Docks.


New News for Skaneateles

We have lot's of news in Skaneateles, and for that we welcome the Auburn Citizen's new newspaper the Skaneateles Journal. Not that the venerable Skaneateles Press and/or the Neighbors West don't do a good job [they do], it's just that we have so many issues we need more coverage.

Consider the most immediate pressing issues: charge for parking and sandwich board signs. [Fox and CNN just don't give us the coverage that these subjects deserve.]

After decades of struggling with too many cars and too few parking places it has occurred to us to charge a parking fee. Go figure! Local citizen Alan Dolmatch took two years to study this radical new Plan. My guess is that it took him 5 minutes to study and two years to get US to agree to it. For those of you who don't live here: We have a "Just-Say-No" Policy to anything that anyone wants to do.

As an example, 10 years ago I was asked to speak in support of the Community Docks for boat parking program. I did, as did others and then I listened as EVERY Board member spoke [as citizens] in favor. It was unanimously thought a good idea. They then [The Board] voted AGAINST the proposal. This is typical. [Of course a year later we are able to slip it through when nobody was looking. Ha!]

But this is all past tense. The more current raging debate concerns the proliferation of sidewalk sandwich board signs. Yup, we have a problem: they seem to be multiplying like mice, cluttering up our StoryBook Village.

Mr. and Ms. Village Board, listen up: Let's not throw the baby out with the bath water. Temporary, portable informational signs are a good thing. They just need to be managed.

Add some additional subjective language [we do that all the time] to the existing sign rules.

Cook up a review committee.

Pick "X" number of locations that are appropriate for portable signs.

Distinguish between not-for-profits and business's.

Charge a lot of money for a sign license, then everybody with a sign has to rotate the location from a predetermined caledar. Whew! This is heady stuff.

Welcome Auburn Citizen and your Skaneateles Journal, we have a LOT to tell the world about.

Lifted from

Set on a jewel-clear lake in central New York State, the Skaneateles area is home to a thriving residential and business community, and host to thousands of visitors and vacationers each year.

In the historic downtown district, shops and galleries are housed in restored buildings dating back to 1796. Browse for unique foods, distinctive fashions, original art, home accessories, or a special antique.

Relax at a restaurant or tavern; the atmosphere may be casual and lively or quietly gracious, but the menu is always tempting. Visitor accommodations include inns, bed-and-breakfasts, motels and cottages.

Editorial comment: Of course we recommend you stay with us. Skaneateles Suites is a collection of places to stay; overnight, extended stay or Dockside vacation rentals. Visit us at

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Toni, my wife

I am passionate about lot's of stuff: my community, wooden boats, my business [which you can find at ] and mostly, Toni.

I also believe that you need to re-invent yourself every 10 years. Hhmm! Maybe 5 as I get older.

My wife [Karen] died at an early age, leaving me as a single Dad with two kids. Then I married Toni [good move]. Between us we have six [count'em six] kids.

Whew! Thankfully, they are all gone, we are empty nesters, free to do re-invent stuff.

Here is the point: love your partner. So there. Just do it. Curt

FAMiliarization Tour

The Skaneateles Chamber of Commerce is extremely well by Sue Dove and her All-Things-Assistant, Candy. Mind you this is no easy thing in a Village like Skaneateles.

Most all the locals [of which I am one, but NOT one of the "most"] are irritated beyond description at the "tourists". Readers, take note: Toni and I are in the "tourist" business. They [the "most-of-the-locals"] are also irritated beyond description about their taxes. This is an interesting conundrum, since we have no jobs here outside the tourist trade.

Welch Allyn and Hand Held Companies, please forgive me here. You guys do a terrific job propping up the local economy, and buying room nights from us thank-you-very-much.

But in general, our Village would be blown-out and derilect rather than the cute-as-a-button StoryBook Village it is without the tourist dollars. So the question is: which came first?

When I was a kid, the Village was full of entrprenurial stores and shops; we were completely self-sufficient. Then came the Chain Stores and malls and the exodus of customers. I know, my familiy has been in business here for two generations. So, it was YOU "most-of-the-locals" who drove them out with your Big Box shopping and dis-loyalty.

But, back to Sue and her C of C: Sue has done a masterful job of blending the needs of the tourism business and the whining of the locals. The result is a winning combination.

If you want to visit here, and want to know more... call me.

If you live here and disagree, call your neighbor, or the Tax Man, don't call me.


Saturday, June 10, 2006

Paul's Cabin

Things have really changed from the Sin Cottage days. [read previous post] Today, we are the local managers for Paul's Cabin. Paul is a really cool guy, read on.

In his spare time, he dreamed up and built "Paul' s Cabin", notwithstanding everybody thought he was nuts [even me, at times].

The short story is Paul's is a Million Dollar Cottage at the end of Mr. Toads Wild Ride on Skaneateles Lake. Not the kind of place where you run out for a quart of milk. The longer story can be found at Paul's webpage It's worth a visit.

Meanwhile, I am thinking about this because in an hour I will be driving this weeks arriving Guest there [for a vacation memory, no doubt]. And recently, I rambled on about how things have changed from my Sin Cottage days.

So, if Paul's is a little over the edge for you, check out our other Docksides at But if you call Paul, tell him Curt said hello, and yes, we will take good care of his customers.

Blog Skaneateles: Sin Cottage

Blog Skaneateles: Blog Skaneateles, the beginning