Growing up in the Poconos, I never understood why tourists flocked to the area. I just didn’t get it. I lived in my parents’ house surrounded by mountains and looming trees, with deer and wild turkeys grazing in the backyard and the occasional black bear strolling through the region. As a kid, I did not see this landscape as tranquil or relaxing; all I knew was that the nearest McDonald’s was 30 minutes away, and there was never anything to do unless you hopped in your car and drove for an hour.
But now that I’m grown and have moved to a more populated area with much more traffic — and a lot fewer trees — I figured it would be interesting to view the Poconos from a different perspective.
I admit when I was invited for a weekend in Hawley, Pa., about 90 minutes from New York City, all I could imagine were those 1980s advertisements showing couples sipping Champagne while cozying up in heart-shaped tubs. But The Lodge at Woodloch changed my view.
I drove down winding roads past a few scattered houses and finally came to the entrance. In the middle of nowhere, nestled among the trees, the lodge was a hidden gem.
Considered a luxury destination spa, the lodge attracts people who seek to relax, connect with nature and renew mind, body and spirit. To help fulfill this quest, guests can choose from a whole menu of activities offered throughout the day; consider the benefits of Healing Sounds Meditation, Yoga for Restful Sleep and Aqua Toning.
I ate dinner outside under the stars that night. Later, I slipped into a rocking chair to sip cocktails around a fire pit while conversing with other guests before retiring to my very comfortable room. I opened the windows a bit to let the cool breeze and soothing night sounds lull me to sleep.
Energized after a good night’s sleep, I woke early to join a geocaching expedition at a nearby wildlife refuge. We searched for hidden treasures with the use of a handheld GPS. After the two-mile guided hike, I was finally ready to wind down, and my feet needed a break, so I headed to the spa where the soothing aroma of eucalyptus wafted through the air.
The private men’s and women’s locker/lounge/grooming areas each include a sauna, steam room and whirlpool. The showers and changing rooms offer plenty of space and privacy. The oversized showers have river-stone floors to massage your feet while you rinse off.
The spa features 27 treatment rooms, 14 massage rooms, six facial rooms, two couples’ suites and two treatment combination suites. All the public areas have large windows, so as you move from room to room, you feel as if you’re immersed in woodlands. The natural colors inside make a seamless connection to the outdoors.
I waited in the lounge, sipped my Bombay chai tea from the tea bar and read a magazine, something I rarely get to do in peace with a six-year-old at home. When it was time for my massage, a smiling therapist greeted me with a soft, soothing voice and the softest hand to shake I have ever felt, no doubt due to her use of warm oils every day.
Quiet, calming music was playing in the dimly-lit room, and a tray offered a choice of two scented oils: calming lavender or energizing sage. I already had plenty of energy — it was relaxation that I needed — so I opted for the lavender.
I chose the Lodge Massage, a Swedish massage, from a spa menu that included deep tissue therapy, native stone massage and craniosacral massage. Signature nature-themed body treatments — Natural Sage Gommage, Lotus Cleansing and Awakening the Senses Head to Toe, which is a multi-sensory body experience combining aromatherapy, chromatherapy and healing sounds — also caught my interest.
A wide selection of facials includes the Lemongrass and Rosemary Facial; White and Green Tea Facial; and even a Caviar Facial, an anti-aging treatment which uses protein-rich caviar to hydrate and firm the face, hands, feet and décolleté.
My massage lasted 50 minutes and ended with hot towels wrapped around my tired feet. I was totally relaxed, and my skin felt very soft.
After a treatment, guests can sit in the Whisper Lounge and sip cucumber water while their bodies come back to a normal temperature, but I declined — I was eager to continue my relaxation in one of the soaking pools.
I reluctantly washed off the sweet-smelling lavender oil, put on my swimsuit and moved to the Aqua Garden. This coed area has an indoor heated pool and two therapeutic soaking pools with hydromassage waterfalls. Outside, a stunning horizon-edge whirlpool allows you to enjoy the fresh air while relaxing in the 104-degree water. The deck is also heated, so guests can enjoy the outdoor whirlpool year-round.
After my weekend at The Lodge at Woodloch, I can honestly say, “I get it.” I now understand the appeal of getting away from the stresses of everyday life to a quiet place surrounded by nature. I see why people like to sit outside on a rocking chair and listen to the sound of spring peepers and crickets instead of ringing cell phones.
And now that I get it, I think I’ll try to get it more often.
THE LODGE AT WOODLOCH
109 River Birch Lane
Hawley, PA 18428
tel 866 953 8500
Since Cheval Blanc, an extraordinary, newly designed and refurbished 72-room hotel owned by Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey, launched in September 2021, it has been the talk of the town. Le Tout-Paris remarks about its WOW factor … and the hard-to-get reservations for the 30 seats at Plenitude, the intimate, first-floor gastronomic outlet headed by chef Arnaud Donckele, who earned three Michelin stars at Cheval Blanc Saint Tropez. Reservations are also recommended for Limbar, the ground-floor bakery/café/tea shop/bar where we watched Pastry Chef Maxime Frédéric preparing desserts and an absolute must-have for dinner at Le Tout-Paris, the 7th-floor, all-day brasserie. This brightly colored space, with its raised seating and Fauve-like floor tiles and the adjacent Milanese restaurant, Langosteria, both have access to terraces facing the Seine River, with amazing views encompassing Notre Dame to the Eiffel Tower.
IHG® Business Edge: Working Together with SMEs for a smarter way to manage travel
Nevada-based The Spa at Green Valley by Well & Being and The Spa at Red Rock by Well & Being celebrate the start of 2022 with new health, wellness and spa treatments available through March 31. Both spas offer an array of treatments for guests wanting to relax and unwind before 2022 kicks into full gear.
To allow visitors to safely and responsibly enjoy their trip to Barbados, the island announced streamlined port entry protocols. Barbados’ Ministry of Health and Wellness released the following protocols for all travelers planning on coming to the island.
Located in the South Pacific, The Islands of Tahiti are just eight hours by air from California. Surrounded by pristine, crystal-clear blue waters, the 118 islands and atolls offer natural beauty, authentic island culture and unique French Polynesian style. The Islands of Tahiti are world-renowned for white-sand beaches, stunning turquoise lagoons and varied landscapes ranging from coral atolls to volcanic mountain peaks. Privacy comes naturally in The Islands of Tahiti and offers visitors the space to relax and reconnect and to be Embraced By Mana. Mana is the life force and spirit that connects all things in The Islands of Tahiti.
Mar Del Cabo launched a new luxury beach fishing experience with an interactive paella workshop for guests. The Los Cabos-based hotel offers guests an immersive experience that takes them through the journey of creating paella, starting with a fishing session.
COJE Management Group raised the bar when it comes to cuisine and cocktails. The Boston-based group, founded by Chris Jamison and Mark Malatesta, offers guests the ultimate dining experience with old-world hospitality and an array of cuisines for every guest to enjoy. With culinary director Tom Berry incorporating the cuisines he encountered during his travels to South America, Cuba, Japan, Southeast Asia and France, each restaurant has distinguished itself as a must for anyone visiting Boston and each is designed exclusively in-house using inspiration from different regions and countries around the world.
Go ahead, take a nice, deep breath. Because a Seabourn voyage is all about this moment you’ve come so far in life to embrace. It’s not an escape, it’s an arrival.