Mohonk Mountain House: A Hudson Valley Retreat

Mohonk Mountain House stands like a Bavarian castle on the Hudson River. (Photo by Jennifer Fauci)

High up in the mountains of New Paltz, lies a dreamy lodge in a quiet, rustic landscape. But what may look like a Bavarian castle is Mohonk Mountain House a historic spa and resort surrounded by 40,000 acres of forest and wildlife. Founded by the Smiley family in 1869, the Victorian Castle Resort is in the midst of celebrating its milestone 150th year. And just because it’s nestled deep in the Hudson Valley doesn’t mean you’ll be short of activities.

History

In 1869, founder and hotel proprietor Albert Smiley purchased a 10-room inn on Lake Mohonk, eventually expanding it into the sprawling, marvelous Mountain House that exists today. Smiley’s vision was to preserve a natural paradise for guests, a place for rejuvenation from the stresses of work and city life. His twin brother Alfred also played a heavy hand in the success of Mohonk but it was Daniel Smiley, the younger half-brother, who became the key figure in the entrepreneurial development of the home’s buildings and grounds and overall financial survival.

The holiday season is magical at Mohonk Mountain House. (Photos courtesy of Mohonk Mountain House)

Then, Albert Smiley purchased 300 acres and a 10-room inn by a majestic glacial lake in the Hudson Valley. Today, the fourth and fifth generations of the Smiley family are still involved in Mohonk, truly making the house a family-style resort. History tours are available for guests to learn more about the family and the home, a recommended activity for first-time visitors to Mohonk.

Also new for media lovers is Hidden Histories, an augmented reality experience that immerses guests in the history of the storied resort. A mobile app was specifically developed for Mohonk and sends visitors on a journey to locate 12 pieces of artwork that act as trigger points for the app.

Dining

Come hungry and leave full. The National Historic Landmark resort offers delicious farm-to-table cuisine during a multi-course meal. The main dining room with its lofty ceilings and cozy ambiance is where guests can find the breakfast and lunch buffets, serving traditional fare such as waffles, pancakes, omelets, a salad station, carving station, sandwiches and sweet treats.

Watch chefs prepare your meal in the open plan kitchen. (Photo by Jennifer Fauci)

Guests can partake in the Surrey Brunch in the fine dining room where the culinary journey begins with salads, soups, a yogurt parfait bar and selections from the hotel’s pastry chef. But save room for more as you venture into Mohonk’s newly renovated state-of-the-art kitchen to discover fresh seafood and egg specialties. Watch first-hand as chefs prepare your entrée to order and indulge in exquisite desserts like made-to-order crepes, bread pudding and chocolate mousse to complete this one-of-a-kind experience.

An endearing tradition, every day at 4 p.m. guests can head to the lake lounge for afternoon tea and cookies as they cozy up by the fire to play board games, read a book or enjoy each other’s company before getting ready for dinner. Once again, you’ll head into the main dining room for the Modern American Dinner Menu, a three-course dining experience that offers a wide variety of options to satisfy the entire family. Choose between in-house dry aged beef, house-made pasta specialties, fine seafood and classic desserts.

Activities

One hundred and fifty years means 150 activities. The most popular time to visit Mohonk is anytime, however, many guests come for the fall foliage, winter landscape and plentiful activities in the summer. A lakeside nature hike with naturalist Michael Ridolfo educates guests about pond and forest ecology, geology, as well as natural and cultural history. The one-mile hike is an easy pace, but those who want more of a challenge should head uphill to the iconic Skytop Tower, Copes Lookout or Eagle Cliff for stunning vistas of the property.

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This is also a favorite spot for photographers as they can get that classic shot of the entire resort that has become so well-known. For extremists, rock scramble through boulders and cliffs in the famous Labyrinth and Lemon Squeeze.

Have some fun with outdoor sports and recreation activities like tennis, golf, archery, tomahawk throwing and a horseback riding. Once warmer weather hits, take a canoe or kayak out on the lake or fish off the dock as you try and count all the 120 summer houses peppered among the mountains.

In the winter, hiking boots turn into snow shoes and trails turn into cross-country ski slopes. Guests can also enjoy ice skating and curling at the grand open air, which along with the entire resort after Thanksgiving, is beautifully illuminated in twinkling lights. And don’t forget to pamper yourself in Mohonk’s award-winning spa where guests can relax with a facial, massage, body therapy treatment or manicure at the salon.

Take a moment to enjoy the view. (Photo by Jennifer Fauci)

Looking for more fun? Try a flight of local craft beer in the Carriage Lounge. Take the kids to the gift shop, which has been around since 1884, and pick out an ornament to take home and adorn the family Christmas tree or stop by the Soda Fountain for a delicious hot or iced beverage. Early riser? Watch the sun come up from a rocking chair on the front porch or wander around the house as you marvel at historical photos and items from Mohonk’s past.

Whenever you decide to visit Mohonk Mountain, one thing is certain: you will be treated to an experience that you’ll never forget.

Mohonk Mountain House is located at 1000 Mountain Rest Rd., New Paltz. For more information regarding special prices and packages, or to book a stay, call 845-765-3286 or visit www.mohonk.com.

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Jennifer Fauci
Jennifer Fauci is the former managing editor of Long Island Weekly, Anton Media Group's award-winning special sections and Anton’s local magazines. Her passion for literature, travel and the arts lend to the unique content in her publications. In her time at Anton, she has received first place in the Folio Awards, second place for the NYPA awards and is the recipient of six PCLI awards.

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