Northern Living: Redefining Vacations in the Enchanting Lake George Region | Katelyn Mosko...

Lake George is found in the picturesque Adirondack Mountains and has long been a cherished escape for vacationers seeking respite from the daily grind. However, in the wake of pandemic fatigue, the need for rejuvenation and family bonding has become paramount. Katelyn Moskos, a visionary entrepreneur and founder of Northern Living, started her business to help families make those meaningful memories.

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Katelyn Moskos Northern Living

With a remarkable journey that began with just one employee, Katelyn has transformed her business into a thriving enterprise, serving a region that swells with millions of visitors during its busiest months.

As the world gradually rekindles its love affair with travel and leisure, Katelyn has tapped into the growing desire for domestic experiences within the United States. Gone are the days of seeking adventures abroad; families now crave personalized and memorable vacations closer to home.

Northern Living offers luxurious rental homes in the Lake George region. Its smallest property sleeps three people, and its largest sleeps 38. Given a preferred budget, anticipated number of guests, and dates of travel, the team at Northern Living will assist each prospective guest in locating a property befitting their needs.

Before opening Northern Living, Katelyn worked in hospitality for over a decade. One of her favorite parts about working in the industry was meeting people from different areas and cultures.

“It was also witnessing that family time. It was seeing families when they were not in that crazy hustle and bustle of the daily grind. When you’re able to take a moment and absorb those memories you’re making with your loved ones.”

After some time in the industry, Katelyn wanted to take a leap of faith and start her own company. She felt like she could achieve more with the experience she had amassed.

“I always knew I wanted more than a typical 9 to 5 p.m. job. I guess that’s who I am. I love the challenge of creating something or doing something different and going through obstacles to get there.”

There was no better place to start her company than at home. The Lake George region in New York is named after Lake George— a pristine freshwater lake often called the “Queen of American Lakes.” The region is renowned for its 14 lakes, stunning natural beauty, charming towns, and abundant recreational opportunities.

Lake George itself is a major attraction, offering crystal-clear waters surrounded by lush forests and rolling hills. The lake is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, with boating, fishing, swimming, and kayaking opportunities. Its shores are dotted with beautiful beaches and parks, providing ample space for relaxation and picnicking.

The surrounding region features a diverse array of activities. Hikers can explore the nearby Adirondack Mountains, where they can find numerous trails ranging from easy strolls to demanding climbs that offer breathtaking vistas. Visitors can immerse themselves in nature and enjoy the tranquility of their surroundings.

While the region is a phenomenal place to visit, Katelyn felt that there was a gap in lodging options.

“The Lake George region has a lot of tourism. There are a lot of hotels, motels, and resorts. But there wasn’t that personal space someone could go to and have genuine family time.”

Resorts tend to have a lot of shared amenities, including shared lake access, communal pools, and so on. Katelyn felt there was a market for her to create a company offering a more personalized experience to help families spend meaningful time together.

“Staying at a resort-based destination offers common space for enjoyment, outside of your room. I wanted to offer families a more private setting where families can genuinely spend quality time together. I started brainstorming.”

She approached her husband in 2015 about purchasing their first lakefront property. “It took some convincing,” she laughs. At the time, her husband worked in medical sales and traveled frequently.

Nonetheless, he gave in, and he and Katelyn invested their entire 401(k)s and retirement funds into their first property. The decision to take the plunge was daunting.

“It was a big decision, but I was more than up for it. If there’s a will, there’s a way. It’s sink or swim. And there’s no option but to believe. If you have the drive, anything is possible.”

The couple moved with their kids into the property for 30 days and started to renovate. “It was definitely scary, but we just put so much of our blood, sweat and tears into that first house,” she says.

Katelyn’s family also helped with the renovation. Katelyn says if it was not for their efforts, they do not know if they would have “made it.”

“It was a rewarding success. The following year, we bought an additional property and continued to do so year after year. And about two years after our first purchase is when Northern Living was created.”

By then, they self-taught themselves the ins and outs of the industries.

“I knew right where this needed to go. We started offering it to people who want to come to the Lake George region but could not necessarily afford a secondary vacation home.”

The first hurdle was building a company from the ground up. Katelyn had a lot of connections from working in hospitality in the area. After leaving her previous job, she still stayed in touch with an old colleague who used to do website design for that company.

“When I announced that I was going off on my own and starting a business, he reached out to me and said, ‘I’d love to be a part of this.’”

The company went from having one employee to over 50 or more during peak season. Northern Living has now been named #1 in the Region in Vacation Rentals and Property Management for three years in a row.

“The biggest thing I’m the proudest of is the family network that we have in the company. We’re not like the average office workplace. We’re all very close, have each other’s backs and sincerely love each other. We go on vacation together every year. We genuinely are a great team.”

Northern Living also won Best Small Company to Work for by Post Star for two years in a row.

“From an owner’s perspective, we are all at the same level. I don’t expect anyone to do anything that I wouldn’t do. I continue to get my hands dirty every day and show them that. I think it’s about being a team player instead of just a leader.”

She believes that anyone who steps into the office can feel how tight-knit her team is.

“They get the feeling that we’re friends and family. We’re not just co-workers. We’re not just employees. When I’m looking to hire somebody, I hire them based on their personality and factors like that, as opposed to their skill level because I feel like you can train anybody to do anything.”

This company now caters to vacationers who come to the Adirondacks in all four seasons to marvel at the region’s natural beauty.

“What we offer that others don’t are those personal touches. We’re mixing the concierge service with the vacation stay. So, for example, if you’re planning a visit and you say, ‘It’s my mom’s 70th birthday,’ we can order a cake and have it here. We do things along those lines that just make it so much easier for people to enjoy their time.”

According to Katelyn, clients of Northern Living can also get help finding services from the likes of caterers, private chefs, dock space rentals, and so on. Planning trips that involve the region’s lakes, like kayaking or renting a boat, can also be assisted. Much of the information required for these questions is available on the Northern Living website; for those items not available on the site, office staff are willing and able to do additional research for the guests as needed.

“If you live in a different state, you have no idea where to go or who to call. We can refer you to people that have a good reputation.”

Northern Living makes the process simple. People who are looking for a place to stay can simply call about a house they saw on the website or have in mind and provide the number of people they want to house or the number of bedrooms to book. They can also provide a budget. Northern Living will then use their budget to send them a list of properties that fit their criteria.

“A lot of times, we get to know the families when they call just because we ask them so many in-depth questions that we know what they’re looking to do while in the area. We’ll either suggest things to do, or they’ll have a multitude of things they’re already looking to accomplish. From there, we will be able to point them in the right direction.”

Katelyn Moskos Northern Living-

Katelyn says that the company designs an experience on top of just a vacation for its guests. Along with the gallery of homes offered, some properties have three or four houses on one lot, which can be useful for people looking to host several families.

“Most of the time, when a guest calls us, they’re so relieved to have someone who is local and knowledgeable. We’re here to help them get that perfect vacation that they’re looking for, within budget, where they can create memories.”

Having everything prepared for a trip ahead of time removes much of the stress of planning, allowing more time for enjoyment and relaxation.

“Some guests will call and say, ‘My budget is X amount of dollars for the week, and we want to do XYZ over there.’ So, we look into what those activities are going to cost them to do and then what they will have leftover for rental. Then we find the best rental we can get them within that budget.”

Given the size of the Lake George area, vacation planning can require endless Googling and review-checking.

“They may not be familiar with the area or what to do or where to go, even for things as simple as, you know, dinner reservations. They may want Italian but are unsure which restaurants are good. We have that information available and are eager to share.”

The Lake George region is especially attractive for people who live in NYC, Connecticut, greater NY state, or Massachusetts by being located only a few hours’ drive away.

“You can walk around the streets, go shopping, visit restaurants. You can go skydiving, parasailing, and all that good stuff right from downtown Lake George. And then, a mile or two away, you can be surrounded by farmland at a winery. It really has a wide variety of options that you can’t always get from other places.”

The region is also beautiful to visit during all four seasons, with endless activities to take part in.

“So, for example, in the winter, we have the ice castle attraction, and we have three ski resorts. In the fall, we have apple picking and the hot air balloon festival. In the spring, there is a wine and food festival, as well as Americade.”

She says boating is the most popular activity, and most callers ask about it. “That’s what’s so helpful about having a lakefront home. Because then you have docks, and you can rent a boat to keep at your house or bring your own boat,” she says.

“The boats are delivered to your house prior to arrival and picked up after departure. We partner with multiple local businesses that offer the vacation experience to exceed any guests’ expectations.”

Northern Living also has several accommodations for travelers with young children who are coming from a great distance.

“We have highchairs, booster seats, full-size cribs, and accommodations along those lines available to rent. So, if someone travels from afar on a plane and can’t bring those and need them, we have them delivered to the house and set up appropriately for those families.”

Along with Northern Living, Katelyn also owns an interior design company, Lake George Design. She offers her services to clients of hers who purchase a vacation home Katelyn will rent. She helps them get it “renter ready, in Luxury.”

“The whole design element has always been just a fun aspect for me, but it’s also where I thrive. My husband and I buy a lake house, etc., almost every year and ‘flip it.’ It’s just like you see on TV. Only we get to have our guests enjoy it!”

Katelyn also assists people in acquiring their own rental properties and clients who want to purchase second homes in the area to be utilized as short-term rentals. She advises them on where to spend their money to get the best return on their investment.

Clients will often call her upfront, even before they begin house-hunting. Others may get in touch after years as homeowners when they find themselves using the house less frequently now that their kids have grown.

“We’ll go into the house and help them with all the blueprints to configure a home that best fits their needs, as well as a short-term rental’s needs. We offer design services, where I’ll take out the furniture, stage the whole house, get the rental ready and work with the owner as a team. We also do the interior design if someone wants to change things up a little bit in their house, maybe use new colors.”

Katelyn says she enjoys the challenge of assisting another person with a home renovation project. Seeing the fruit of her labors gives her a sense of fulfillment.

“I love the challenge and the gratification of going into a home and reconfiguring it. Giving it a new life. It’s just so satisfying and rewarding.”

And, of course, one of the best moments is standing in front of that final result.

“At the end, when you step back and look at something that you think is beautiful, that you made, it’s so rewarding. And my whole team gets involved in it. There are a lot of fun stories that come out of each house, with the before and after pictures.”

As part of the property management arm of her business, Katelyn and her team do all the photography, marketing, and advertising for the homes. They manage the renters and take care of maintenance and cleaning.

“Anything that you can think of that you would need for that property to become a short-term rental is what we offer. We customize each package for the homeowner based on what their needs and desires are.”

She says that this personalization is what sets her property management business apart, letting homeowners be as involved in the process as they want or having her business take care of all the details.

Katelyn also operates Adirondack Kayak Company. She says she could not do what she does without her team.

“The biggest thing I’m proud of is the team. Without the connection we all have and the commitment, it wouldn’t happen. Everybody genuinely loves their job and what they do and care about how we perform.”

She tells her team that the goal is not to secure a reservation with a caller but instead to make the caller feel valued and appreciated.

“And I practice the same thing with my employees. They are more efficient and want to come to work when they feel that from me. I’m open to listening to their thoughts and their opinions or changes that will make things better. I’m willing to try it even if I think it’s not going to work. I say, let’s go for it and try to make it work.”

In a different space, Katelyn founded the nonprofit organization Operation Share the Warmth, which holds a yearly drive “to spread a little love to those in need during the holiday season.”

“I was noticing in schools children were lacking basic items, and a lot of it was winter gear. So, I started an annual charity organization.”

The organization takes in winter gear for families. A family in need can call the organization and tell them their child’s age and clothing size. Operation Share the Warmth will bag the clothes up and drop them off to the family, or the family can come to pick them up. Families are able to call anonymously.

“We do care packages for soldiers as well. We will send out Christmas cards. It’s been a fantastic process. And over the years, it has grown so big that we will have families that call us annually, knowing that we’ll have those supplies for kids.”

From running so many businesses and organizations, Katelyn has come to learn some valuable lessons she now lives by daily.

“Any idea should be entertained. Take any risk as long as you are invested.”

Looking back at her journey, other than wishing to spend a few more days on the lake soaking in the sunshine, she would not have done anything differently.

“It sounds silly, but one day, I felt this was a good idea. I just went for it. I had no educational background in it, no experience, nothing. I just dove in and got my hands dirty.”

Something that brings her immense joy is that she was able to set an example for her kids.

“I have a 16-year-old and a 12-year-old daughter. So, for them to watch the growth of the business, watch us go through the journey and become successful, what I was showing them is a huge reward. For my kids to say, ‘I’m so proud of you, mom,’ it’s amazing to hear.”

Her advice for anyone looking to start a business, who is hesitant about taking the first step, is to take that leap of faith.

“For me, there wasn’t an option to fail. If you have passion, you can do anything. But you have to do it for the right reasons. I didn’t come in saying I wanted to make X amount of dollars. I came in with a goal, and every ounce of my body had that drive in it, that determination, that no matter what anyone says or what obstacles may come, it was still happening.”

Katelyn Moskos Northern Living