by Kevin Allen
You would never know that it’s taken only about three years for Jim and Cheryl Santos to garner recognition for their Cayuga Lake Cabins from both the local press and the popular online travel hub, TripAdvisor, for the cabins’ outstanding amenities and pet-friendly policy. In person, the two cabins appear to have been settling nicely into their natural surroundings for decades, and exude an old-timey friendliness that quickly wins over any guest that books a stay there.
“We opened in August of 2015, and the other one opened in October, and ever since then, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s we’ve always had guests there. So it’s pretty nice, even in the holidays,” Jim says. “Once May hits, it starts to fill in pretty good.”
Since 2002, Jim has been acquiring more and more acreage around their home on the west side of Cayuga Lake, near Ovid. Since the cabins are open year-round, Jim and Cheryl have noticed an uptick in bookings during the winter holidays. People want to take advantage of the idyllic scenery that comes with being surrounded by steep hills, a placid lake, and snow-laden tree branches.
Still, summertime remains the most popular time of the year for couples and families, or really anyone, who desire a few carefree days in the outdoors. With Taughannock Falls State Park to the south and Sampson State Park to the north there are plenty of trails to satisfy avid hikers. Across the way and through Jim and Cheryl’s property, guests can walk to the beach and swim in the lake, or launch a kayak from the wooden pier and glide into the calm waters. At night, guests can sit around the community fire pit in the front lawn and enjoy the cooling lake breeze and musical crickets.
Possibly the biggest draw for most guests to the cabins is the pet-friendly policy that Jim and Cheryl are particularly proud to maintain. Jim estimated that about 30 percent of their guests own dogs. With plenty of sticks lying around to be thrown and fetched, and a big body of water nearby in which to take a dip, any dog would have a grand old time vacationing there.
Due to the increasing demand and their desire to not keep turning people away during the prime summer vacation period, the Santoses are planning on having a third and slightly larger cabin built within the vicinity of the first two cabins; possibly starting this fall. The reputation of the cabins themselves has certainly earned Jim and Cheryl a prominent mention in the Finger Lakes Times “2018 Explore! Finger Lakes Vacation Guide” and TripAdvisor’s “Certificate of Excellence.” Each cabin can comfortably accommodate up to six people. There are two private bedrooms, each of which boasts a queen-size bed, a roomy armoire closet, a chest of drawers and a nightstand. In each of the living rooms there is a queen-size pull-out couch for two additional people. As the saying goes, the devil is in the details, so each room of each cabin features air conditioning and ceiling fans to help cool you down on those hot and humid summer afternoons. Radiant floor heat warms your toes on those chilly winter nights.
Not only do the Santoses offer charming outdoorsy cabins, they also take pride in their wine tours. “We let our guests decide what kind of winery experience they want to have,” Cheryl explained. From local breweries to local cheese shops, from state parks to both the Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lake wine trails, guests can plan custom tours of the region and be driven in the Santoses’ 14-passenger van from place to place. Even more novel, and especially exciting for those who are still kids at heart, Cheryl mentioned the beginnings of an ice cream trail in the region.
No doubt about it, there seems to be something for every visitor who is willing to spend more quality time in the Finger Lakes area.
Jim and Cheryl have poured their heart and hard work into the cabins and the land that immediately surrounds them. For them, attending to each of their guests’ needs and desires, and maintaining the warmth and effervescence of the cabins is definitely a fulltime job. And it’s a calling that they wouldn’t trade for the world.
Cayuga Lake Cabins is located at 6472 State Route 89, Ovid, New York, 14521. Call either Jim or Cheryl at 607-738-9288 to make a reservation.