Travel Piece: (200-500 words): Mohonk Mountain House, New Paltz, NY


Written for: Hotels & Resorts

        Smiley’s Shawganunk Redemption: The Mohonk Mountain House

“You can’t build castles in the air,” the naysayers told Quaker brothers and hoteliers Albert and Alfred Smiley in 1869. One hundred and forty-three years later, the “castle” still stands—a resplendent  example of Victorian Gothic architecture perched defiantly on the edge of glacier-carved Mohonk Lake, amid New York’s spectacular Shawganunk Mountains.

A manse for all seasons, Mohonk’s 2,200-acre Adirondack retreat, with its superbly landscaped grounds and surrounding woodlands, stands at the heart of a magnificent natural preserve. It offers a Western Shangri-La for travelers who seek an abundance of comfort, hearty food and a menu of recreational activities geared for every member of the family.

Mohonk scores an easy “A” in all three categories.  For winter outdoor recreation, Mohonk beckons ice skaters into the  open-air 18,000- square-foot Pavilion, while cross-country skiers traverse tranquil trails carpeted with freshly fallen snow. In summer, hikers explore 85 miles of forest and mountain terrain. Golfers make their rounds on the 105-year-old Scottish-style Mohonk Golf Course, and stables provide guests with the option of a sunset gallop across the preserve, or the more sedate option of a romantic carriage ride for two.

For children, Mohonk Kids’ Club sticks to their philosophy of letting “kids be kids” by telling them to “go jump in the lake,” hunt frogs, scramble up rocks and squeal with childish abandon on summer hayrides. With their children safely occupied, adults take advantage of the new Mohonk Spa and Fitness Center, a 30,000 square-foot wing housing a full-size fitness center, indoor swimming pool, and spa.

After working up a healthy appetite, guests indulge their palate in Mohonk’s sunny oak-paneled main dining room where even strangers have been known to hold hands and sing. The resort offers three savory meals a day plus an afternoon delight of tea and scrumptious sweets, and in summer, their legendary lobster barbecues. Guests experience other memorable Mohonk moments from dancing to jazz festivals; language lessons to art and massage classes; and every woman’s favorite: The Art of Chocolate.

Exploring at Mohonk is not limited to the great outdoors. Travelers gravitate to the marvelously intricate design of this sprawling National Historic Landmark with its Arts and Crafts interior. With portraits of Smiley generations smiling down from the handsome woodwork walls, guests meander through the expansive halls, imagining themselves at a gentleman’s lodge or summering at their great aunt’s manse, with all its delightful nooks and crannies. Huge windows reveal pillows of snow banks in winter, award-winning gardens in summer (designed by Albert Smiley himself) and spectacular foliage displays in fall.

“Come to my house and talk it over,” Albert Smiley would say to everyone he met. Smiley knew a week’s sojourn at Mohonk Mountain, with its “library of good standard works,” artful diversions, and healthy recreation would bring clarity to the mind and serenity to the soul. No doubt that’s a prescription New Yorkers—and everyone else—should follow.

Location: 25 miles from Stewart International Airport at Lake Mohonk in New Palz, New York Accommodations: 251 rooms and suites; 4 cottages Meeting Space: 10,000 square feet
Recreation: Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice-skating, hiking, boating, tennis, golf, swimming, horseback riding, and carriage rides. Range of rates: Approximate US$226-735 (American Plan) Reservations: (800) 772-6646; fax (845) 256-2100
Mailing Address: 1000 Mountain Rest Road, New Paltz, NY 12561 Web site: General Manager: Jackie Appledorn

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