Yurt Gonna Love This VenueJun 01, 2022 09:00AM ● By Karey Solomon
There are four ways to get to Plum Point Lodge in Himrod on the west shore of Seneca Lake. By car there are three roads, one of them conveniently named Plum Point Circle. By boat there is an expansive dock on the lodge’s waterfront for tie-up. However you get to Plum Point, you know you’ve arrived when you see the original, huge farmhouse painted the color of a juicy sapalta plum—more on that later—its many windows looking out over the lake above a series of broad terraces. A summery gazebo near the dock provides afternoon shade and a close-up lake view. Most weekends in season, the gazebo is busy with couples exchanging and renewing vows.
The old main house, following its tenure as a farmhouse, was the core of the property known for more than sixty years as the Rainbow Cove Motel and Resort. It now houses the Sapalta Restaurant (a farm to table eatery), along with offices, and a spacious “Farmhouse Suite” where members of the wedding party can commiserate as they prepare for the big event. Many newlyweds also reserve this retreat for their wedding night.
In 2018, its new owners, a consortium of the Bunnell family and friends, treated the lodge to a “take it down to the studs” renovation. And though the twenty-four motel rooms were updated, revamped, and restyled, wedding parties, their guests, and vacationers (many of whom have returned regularly for decades) continue to enjoy the relaxed “time at the lake” vibes.
Facility renovations included the addition of six “glamping” yurts at the rear of the property, with en-suite bathrooms, ‘fridges, and firepits.
“I thought the yurts were a crazy idea,” Jason Bunnell admits, “but they’re one of our most highly demanded room type after the suite. A yurt stay in the fall as the leaves are changing is the best kept Finger Lakes secret out there.”
Another addition is the Winston, a sleek and rustic banquet hall behind the main building, named after a winsome golden doodle belonging to Dave Bunnell, Jason’s dad. With fairy lights, a smooth floor for dancing, farmhouse-style tables, and two glass roll-up doors to let the celebration extend to a shaded patio, it’s a comfortable venue for up to 120 guests.
“We have done more elopement and intimate weddings,” Jason notes. “We can do larger, but we get a ton of smaller, more intimate weddings. There are several options on the property, but we have the Winston and we have a tent we can set up on the lakeside or next to the Winston. We have a lot of flexibility.” And it’s family-tested—last year Jason’s sister celebrated her covid-delayed wedding here.
“The venue itself is tucked back, so you might not even know it’s there,” says events coordinator Amanda King. “There’s very little traffic on the road. If you have a big wedding and people book out all the rooms, it’s like your own private space. It feels like there’s no one here but you.”
Last year a bridesmaid at a Plum Point wedding enjoyed it so much that she booked her own wedding here. Typically, those planning a large wedding reserve the space about a year in advance. Smaller, more intimate weddings might be booked with less lead time. Occasionally there’s an elopement with only the happy couple and a few witnesses. And sometimes, there’s no lead time at all.
“I swear this happened!” says Jason. In August 2019, a young couple, both in the military, came to Plum Point for the weekend. Like most tourists, they were planning a relaxing weekend of wine tasting and enjoying the lake. But, Jason relates, “The young man proposed around 4 p.m. and they married that night. It was an impromptu decision. It is a magical place, as corny as that sounds. It is chill on a whole ‘nother level.” On Plum Point’s Facebook page you can watch the newlyweds dancing.
The space is also used as a venue for milestone parties like engagements, anniversaries, retirements, and baby showers.
“We have happy events here,” Amanda says. “I like watching their visions come to life.” She sees her role as offering another perspective on planning for one of life’s big days. If, say, in the throes of a wedding planning morass, you discover you don’t yet have a DJ, photographer, caterer, or florist, she can recommend a few good ones. A calming “Have you thought of...?” from Amanda can be the prelude to a possible solution for a potential problem.
Plum Point’s on-site restaurant, Sapalta, has thrived under the creative direction of executive chef Brud Holland, formerly the executive chef of Red Newt Bistro. Using locally sourced ingredients, he continues to earn his nickname: the “mad scientist” of the Finger Lakes Culinary World. Originally, Sapalta handled all event catering, but in Brud’s hands the restaurant has become so popular that Amanda steers clients to other caterers. Of course, visitors can always come back for the amazing view of the sun rising over the lake as they enjoy their morning coffee, and have a celebratory meal at Sapalta for an anniversary. (Hint: on Thursday evenings, there’s music on the terrace.)
About those sapaltas: they’re a cherry/plum cross currently being developed at Cornell AgriTech (the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station) in Geneva. In keeping with their local-food ethic, the Bunnells planted one of the world’s first and largest sapalta orchards a few years ago—a dozen trees. Jason says plums are part of the food served whenever possible, but concedes “we can’t get our hands on enough plums fast enough.” To help bridge the shortfall, Brud taught Jason to make plum jam.
Find out more information at plumpointlodgeflx.com, on Facebook, or call (607) 243-7535.