Photograph by Nancie Battaglia
A German-inspired hangout in North Creek
“We wanted a ski cabin but we bought a hotel,” said Matt Parobeck, 45, who owns Becks Tavern and Gore Mountain Lodge with his older brother, Mark, and younger brother, Douglas, all avid downhillers and devotees of Gore. “Once I brought my children here, the rest was history,” said Mark. “I fell in love with the glades from day one. And it is a perfect family mountain.”
The 13-acre Valhaus property in North Creek had been a roadside motel about as close to the state-owned ski area as you can get and was ripe for a whole new gestalt when the Parobecks purchased it in 2013. After extensive renovations that reconfigured basic units into rooms designed for a family of four, the lodge was launched six months later.
In June 2017 Becks Tavern opened, created from an old house and garage near the lodge. “Think of us as gardeners,” Mark said. “We like to plant things, nurture them and watch them grow. We expected skiers to be our primary market, but with the restaurant open all year we are a mini-resort.”
Describing the organic growth of this business, Matt added, “You don’t know what your traffic will be when you start up. We knew we were busy for the winter so we added a yurt. Then we realized we needed another yurt.” Now there are three communal yurts, the largest with a bar that’s open Fridays through Sundays in winter. These structures are not accommodations but playrooms for families, with two outdoor fire pits adding more places for guests to gather.
The resort is inspired by the Alpine inns Matt visited when his work as a pharmaceutical engineer took him across the globe. The cuisine at Becks is German, a nod to cozy rathskellers. In the dining room a couple of steps down from the bar, there are authentic biergarten tables for families, and the buzz of budding ski racers comparing runs fills the air. Another dining space close to the entrance is set up for couples and smaller groups. But there’s more to the place than bratwurst, spätzle and Spaten on draft; artwork by Mark hangs throughout the bar, dining room and hotel rooms. Though he has worked on numerous building restoration projects in Saratoga Springs, his passions are the arts, from writing and filmmaking to drawing and painting. “A lot of my imagination is on the walls here,” he said.
In the 1930s you could reach the property by car or on foot via many trails; to revitalize that network for cross-country skiers, mountain bikers, snowshoers and hikers, the brothers are working on easements with adjacent landowners and consulting with master trail designer Steve Ovitt. The goal is to formally connect this place to the North Creek Ski Bowl, Raymond Brook trail, Garnet Hill Lodge and beyond.
Matt is now a resident of North Creek, and he and Mark acknowledge the support they’ve had from the community since the very beginning. All kinds of local businesses—even restaurant competitors—have welcomed the venture. “Everything we do is possible because of the people who work with us,” said Matt. “The most important person some days is the dishwasher.”
Find Gore Mountain Lodge (855-846-7365, www.goremountainlodge.com) and becks TAVERN (518-251-5100) at 881 Peaceful Valley Road.