This post is about a Mon-Wed trip to the justifiably famous MOHONK MOUNTAIN HOUSE (see details below) – a group of MWC MahJong’ers are already going and it promises to be a merry and very beautiful sojourn. October 22-24: It will be the perfect time for LEAF PEEPING! So while the MahJongers are busy with their game, a few others of us can enjoy the gorgeous setting and relaxing activities in this National Historic Landmark. 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. This is the East Coast version! However, since we’re doing this a bit last minute, there is a quick-quick one-week deadline on this – members need to sign up with a one-night deposit (go to Sign-Up!) to secure a spot. The cost is either: A) For your own room, $504 per night ($420, + .0875 NYS Sales Tax and a 12% Facilities Charge) or B) if you’d like to share a room, $384 ($320 + .0875 NYS Sales Tax and a 12% Facilities Charge). The room rate includes all meals but not gratuities, liquor or use of the spa facilities (although there IS a pool and an exercise facility included). Thanks to Karin S. these rates are considerably lower than standard as she is the early bird who was able to get us ALL a group rate.
People are often surprised by the 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 of resorts exist, although the star of them all was always 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 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 limited 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 the time late next month, try and give yourself this historic, beautiful experience. And if you can’t go next month, remember it for another time. Members, go to the Sign Up! tab to make your deposit. Once at Mohonk this will be applied to your bill which everyone will pay individually.