The Tiki – Lake George’s Little Slice Of History

My most recent travels took me to Syracuse, NY to visit Todd’s family, and I figured that with it only being 3 hours away, The Tiki Resort in Lake George would be a great place for us to get a tiki fix. I know this is where the Ohana: Luau At the Lake event is held yearly, and I was told by my dear friend Tiki Kiliki that the resort was worth a visit. I didn’t plan to stay the night, as it was the week before back-to-school, and room rates were far more than I was willing to pay. However, I did make sure to make a dinner show reservation. The shows run through July & August only, so we made it just in time.

Seating for the show began at 6 PM, so we arrived a bit early to look around, and snap some photos. While it definitely has seen some modern updates, I was happy that there was still a lot of the original character that made it so special. So many tiki-themed lodging offerings have been either torn down, or have been bought up and re-modeled completely, with no trace of tiki left behind. There is a really neat stone Moai near the entrance, and the well-cared-for sign along side Canada St. is the original, from when it was called the Tiki Motor Inn. The A-frame main building is also intact, and a beautiful Witco plaque can be seen adorning the front.

Inside, there is a waterscape right next to the bar, which made me chuckle, due to the presence of a small decorative penguin. The long hallway on the opposite side led to the main lobby, where guests could check in if they had rooms reserved. The hallway was really neat, because there was a plethora of wall art that obviously came from Oceanic Arts. We also went downstairs to the door leading to the Waikiki Supper Club, and saw some awesome Witco outriggers. We originally thought about having a drink at the bar before showtime, but I opted out, as I was very turned off by the serving of drinks in opaque plastic cups. Had it been an event with lots of traffic, I could understand, but I felt that the management could definitely do better than plastic Dixie cups.

At 6 PM, we went down to be seated. I gave my name, but they couldn’t find our reservation, for some reason. Nonetheless, we were given plastic leis, and seated promptly, which was nice. We had hoped that there would be some different drinks at the supper club than at the bar, but there weren’t. Most of what they were offering was the type of stuff I imagine being served to tourists on cruise ships, or in Parrothead-type bars. They use mostly mixers to make their drinks; I didn’t see any fresh juices or syrups at the bar. I only ordered one drink, a Painkiller, and it was quite meh…but I sipped on it anyway. At least it was served in an actual glass – no tiki mugs here.

The interior of the Waikiki Supper Club had a very banquet hall feel to it; the furniture is pretty dated, but doesn’t look terrible. The decor is hit-or-miss, depending on where your eyes land. The wall art and Leeteg-esque velvet painting were lovely, as were the giant tapa cloth umbrellas above thexample tables. There were some tall tikis scattered about, which I suspected were Witco, but because they had obnoxiously bright string lights weaved around them, it was extremely hard to tell. I couldn’t even get a good photo, sadly. They could have been better appreciated had they not been embellished like that.

Dinner entrees are usually chosen when you book the reservations, and there are only few differences between each one. There is an entree for each kind of meat: chicken, pork, beef, and seafood, with an option for vegetarians. We went with the chicken entree, which came with a coconut sauce, glazed carrots, and rice. The rice was easily the best part; it had more flavor than the chicken. Todd asked for hot sauce, and we doused the chicken in it to give it some oomph, which did the trick. The salad was decent – it was spring mix, with pieces of watermelon, pineapple, and orange, and a strawberry vinaigrette. I would have to say that the chicken meal is about what I’d expect at a Luby’s…it was passable, but not very flavorful (unless you ask for hot sauce). Maybe we’ll pick a different one next time.

Coconut chicken
Our chicken entree…needed hot sauce, though

During the meal, the room was serenaded by two huge Polynesian dudes playing guitar and drums, respectively. Their repertoire consisted of Americanized tunes you’d hear during the tiki heyday. “Tiny Bubbles”, “Lovely Hula Hands”…you get the idea! They were very pleasant, though, and I enjoyed the music. It was not overpowering, and perfect to eat dinner to.

Finally, it was time for the show to start. There were three dancers: two ladies, and one young girl who looked like she could have been about 12. They went through a “Tour of the Islands”-type performance, while the gentlemen played their instruments. I really enjoyed their dancing, and the fun outfits they wore. The guitarist, who was also the MC, had a GREAT sense of humor. He had us laughing quite a few times with his deadpan quips and jokes. Without a doubt, the highlight of the night was the Samoan Fire Knife Dance. The guy who performed it did a fantastic job of moving the knife about without dropping it, and keeping everyone in awe. Afterward, we got to meet a few of the performers, and learned that they are a actually a large family, based out of Tampa, FL, who drive up to Lake George every summer to do the show, and then drive back home when the season is over.

I am hopeful that someday, we can go back to Lake George and actually stay in the resort itself. Places like The Tiki need to be preserved, as they are super rare in this day and age. I do think that the food and drink menu need to be upgraded a bit, to be more flavorful and diverse. I am very glad we got the chance to go, however, and experience this little gem in the unlikeliest of places!

The Tiki Resort
Photo with “Moana” from the Polynesian dance show!

Heading to Lake George next summer?

The Tiki Resort / Waikiki Supper Club
2 Canada St.
Lake George, NY 12845
(800)251-1962

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