This post is about a Mon-Wed, September 16-18th, trip to the justifiably famous MOHONK MOUNTAIN HOUSE (see details below) – a sizeable group of MWC MahJong’ers are already going and it promises to be a merry and very beautiful sojourn. So while the MahJongers are busy with their game, others may want to enjoy the gorgeous setting and relaxing activities in this National Historic Landmark. And then we can join up with them for dinner or other socializing! If you’ve never been, it’s an extraordinary place – right up there with the famous landmarked EL TOVAR HOTEL on the edge of the Grand Canyon and the also designated AWAHNEE HOTEL in Yosemite. A number of years ago this originally Quaker resort was gussied up a bit to also include a spa. This is the East Coast version! If you think you would like to join the group, pls. go to SIGN UP! to indicate your interest and you will be sent detailed information about room rates, Mohonk itself, use of the spa and spa services. See you in September?
People are often surprised by dramatic, naturalistic splendor so close to NYC – apparent in the Hudson Valley and nearby Catskills and Poconos Mounain areas. About a century or so ago the region was dotted with resort hotels (think Cliff House, Wildmere, Skytop …etc) for city folk seeking relief from the heat, dirt and congestion of the city. Now, of course, hardly any mountain resorts exist, although the grand exception is the MOHONK MOUNTAIN HOUSE located on the Shawangunk Mountain ridge at the southeastern edge of the Catskill Mountains. It was created as a small-ish enterprise in 1869 by the twin Quaker brothers, Albert and Alfred Smiley, primarily for family and friends. But for the next 40 years it was continuously enlarged until it became the almost-300 room facility it is today.
It’s located on the edge of the MOHONK PRESERVE which at one time had been part of the hotel’s holdings, and there are beautifully kept trails used in all seasons (fantastic snow shoe-ing!) which wind up the mountains to offer astonishing views. The Smiley’s Quaker precepts made them first-wave conservationists and naturalists and earlier in its history, there were definitively Quaker-ish aspects to a stay at Mohonk. For most of its history, no liquor was allowed on the premises (a “lounge” was added in 2006; wine with dinner started in 1970), and no dancing was allowed. There had been a Sunday afternoon religious service. There still aren’t televisions in the rooms. Instead, Mohonk has always chosen – with a few carefully considered updates – simplicity, nature, contemplation and conversation. There are always board games being played in the landmarked lounge and lots of reading going on. There are carriage rides and nature tours and canoeing and archery and … There are also often week-long thematic programs. Almost 30 years ago I stayed at Mohonk for an entire Geology Week. It happened to be a week my husband and I were available and even though we had zero interest in geology it was FANTASTIC and I’ve been (semi-)interested in geology ever since!
But of particular interest to current guests is both the addition of a spa and an amazing upgrade to the hotel’s culinary offerings. Mohonk added a spa and wellness facility in 2006 which offers a wide variety of treatments as well as a swimming pool, an outdoor mineral pool, a steam room and a veranda and solarium (with a fireplace). Guests who have not booked a treatment have access to the spa facility for $40 per day. Both Conde Nast Traveler and Travel & Leisure magazines have, multiple times, ranked Mohonk’s spa as one of the best in the country – and gave it the top spot in 2013. Also not very Quaker-ish – the rethinking of Mohonk’s dining experiences is a dream come true. Honestly, a trip to Mohonk used to definitively NOT be about the food which was, at best, pretty utilitarian. But those days are long gone and they have jumped onto the farm-to-table bandwagon to take advantage of the Hudson Valley’s bounty of fine foods and wines.
So, if you find you can squeeze in some fabulous me-time in mid-September, try and give yourself this historic, beautiful experience. Members, go to the Sign Up! tab to let us know you’re interested (no obligation at this time) and we will send you all the details.