7/28/13

Mohonk Mountain House


One can never be so far from idyllic bliss even for a big city like New York. Only 90 miles north - just outside the charming town of New Paltz and near my favorite hiking nirvana in the Shawangunks - is Mohonk Mountain House. Built between 1879 and 1910, this all-inclusive resort is a perfect haven where the woodlands meet old world vibe. But there is much more beyond its creaking wood floors and the astounding beauty surrounding this Victorian mountaintop property.

During the gilded age (from 1870s to early 1900s), weary wealthy New Yorkers found a quick respite from the summer heat by escaping to mountain resorts nestled in New York's Hudson Valley region. Here, other wilderness retreats like the Catskill Mountain House, the Laurel House and the Kaaterskill Hotel were also favored by moneyed vacationers. A lot has changed of course ever since the arrival of cars and airplanes.


While its rivals in the area have all burned down to ashes, Mohonk Mountain House still gracefully stand today on the shores of  Lake Mohonk. Its floors still creak and groan, its turrets still pierce the sky, its kitchens still serve afternoon tea, even its gardens feel like part of Downton Abbey. One might just be forgiven for expecting to meet the Earl and Countess of Grantham in the library.

Now considered a National Historic Landmark, this resort is remarkable for being continuously owned and managed by the same Smiley family since the Mohonk Mountain House was built over a hundred years ago. Responsible stewardship of their land from its beginnings in 1869 have already shown "sustainable development" even before the words became the catch phrase of the environmentally-conscious.


The Smiley family's efforts surely paid off. Awards and accolades came from Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure and Luxury Spa Finder among others. The guest list all these years can't be sneered at: four American Presidents (T. Roosevelt, W. Taft, R. Hayes & C. Arthur), industrialists Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, and many of Manhattan's high rollers and socialites. Fading old black and white photos of famous past guests hanging on one hallway - while a bit creepy - is a testament of its solid reputation from a bygone era.

Some of my friends wanted me to join them on a day trip so I merrily tagged along. Staying overnight of course would have been better but midweek summer rates for, say two people staying overnight in one room (which includes 3 meals and afternoon tea) comes up to a whopping $863! We're certainly not up to par with the budgets of its many affluent guests so visiting it for a day was fine enough for us. Price with lunch is $57.75++.


Unlike in the past when guests arrive by horse carriages, we drove from Manhattan all the way into its busy parking lot. With lunch already reserved in the resort's main dining room, we sought activities possible for day guests. Being surrounded with wilderness, there's a lot of outdoorsy stuff to do in the summer: hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, horseback riding, carriage rides, boating, fishing, swimming, golf, tennis, croquet and shuffleboard. Winter has its own menu of activities too.

Having seen some photos of the resort taken from a vantage point, we asked concierge and was given a trail map to the so-called Sky Top, a moderate 1.1-mile slog up the cliff. Up there on the tower, great vistas all around unfurled before us: the Catskills range, the Shawangunks and a visible carpet of greenery among six states. That alone made it worth the day trip. No wonder this resort keeps people coming back all these years - I know because we will.


16 comments:

  1. i find that price for an-all-day-tour plus lunch so reasonable! with an incredibly beautiful view like that, i could stay all day long in a corner doing nothing in awe.

    how's the meal, btw?

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    Replies
    1. Look at that, I forgot the food haha! It was buffet-style with several healthy choices but just average over all. Didn't take photos in the dining room as it was very busy.

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    2. Cynthia9:46:00 PM

      I was there in October last year, and lunch was a big disappointment; however, the spectacular scenery made up for the lackluster lunch.

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    3. Hey Cynthia! thanks for dropping by. Now that I think about it, I see why I forgot to write about the food: it was really forgettable that all I can think of were just the views outside.

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  2. $863 for a night's stay! Unless the 3 meals and the afternoon tea comes with a blonde I'm not ready to take a 2nd mortgage on my house to afford it LOL.

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    Replies
    1. hahaha! your wife might just throw you in that lake next to the hotel :) But guess what, many times this summer the hotel was sold out!

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  3. Hi Dennis!
    Hope you’re keeping well!

    I’m Ella an avid reader and a blogger.

    Your blog Nomadic Pinoy is the most interesting one I have come across in the recent times, Kudos!

    Your blog awakened the writer in me I thought an article from a reader like me could be an interesting addition to your site.

    Awaiting your reply.


    Regards,
    Ella James
    ellajamesgp@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks Ella! I never had any guest postings here and I'd like to keep it that way.

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  4. Wow, $800+ for a day's stay? I can never afford that haha What you paid for the tour is good enough though. Your pics look terrific. That's why they're charging to high eh? I mean how many hotels are there which are declared as a national historic landmark?

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Aleah! The fact that it's historic has definitely made it more expensive although New York generally isn't known as a destination with cheap lodgings.

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  5. I'm resolved with the 60 USD day trip. But man the view is amazing! Would love to just sit on those rocking chairs with the view of the lake. But then considering the many activities, I'd rather go swimming or kayaking. Dapat sulitin ang budget! hehe

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    Replies
    1. The terrific views outside actually kept us from exploring the hotel interiors (there's a guided tour!) and yet despite the many things to do, we ended up just sitting on one of the benches after doing the hike.

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  6. HI Dennis,
    Oh how I love the Mohonk Mountain House. It's one of my favorite places upstate. I love visiting it in the fall. Lovely shots.

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    1. Hey Marisol! My friends and I are actually planning a fall visit. When I went hiking in adjacent Shawangunks one late October, the colors were astounding!

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  7. I don't know if I'll ever get the chance to go here. So, thanks for sharing!
    I'm in love with the stair carpet print!!!

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    Replies
    1. Hi IndieEscape! Besides the intricate carpet design, the creaking of wooden floors really give the hotel a distinct character.

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