If the thought of cross-country skiing around the grounds of a grand old estate is appealing (and why wouldn’t it be?), Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, NY, about two and a half hours from the Island, may just be the place to visit. The 265-room Victorian castlesque resort is a National Historic Landmark. This place is unique, both in its grandiose yet homey style and the stunning site. It’s perched on a bluff that’s part of the Shawangunk Ridge above a glacial lake, the half-mile-long Lake Mohonk. The expanse of the grounds and the building itself allows guests to spread out on even the busiest weekends, yet has plenty of interesting nooks and crannies to explore. The same family—the Smileys—have been running it since 1869, and even in 2017, it all feels very gilded age. Here are what winter visitors tend to remember most.
Cross-country skiing in a quiet, spectacular setting. Guests have more than 30 miles of groomed trails, with sweeping views of the Catskills to tackle. Two of the more popular are the ones that run alongside the lake and go up to the stone Sky Top Tower, built nearly 100 years ago in honor of one of the resort’s founders. And no need to schlep skis. The ski shop loans overnight guests skis at no charge, as well as maps and tips on what trail(s) is best suited to their skill level. Guests who don’t want to go it alone can easily arrange for an instructor to lead the way.
Feeling like a kid again. Mohonk is quite likely to make one feel that they are back in their childhood camp days (cue the after-dinner guitar singalong; note the lack of TVs in the rooms; gobble up the gratis big cookies served every afternoon in the Lake Lounge). Or maybe a school field trip to Sagamore Hill. The property is circa Teddy Roosevelt, and pays homage to nature in its decor. An example of one of the family programs run in the evenings, is a local naturalist showing off her collection of “pets,” some cute and furry, others, well, snakes.
Sky-high hiking. After a day of cross-country skiing, it will likely be tempting to hunker down in the cozy pub or the quaint library, next to the fireplace, but save some energy for hiking. One of the most scenic hikes is a relatively easy trek up to Sky Top Tower. Other easily-walkable hiking trails offer high-up views of the lake and plenty of nature photo opps. The immediate grounds are worth poking around as well, including the historic barn museum, the arbors and the rock scramble, an intriguing maze of boulders. Not in the mood for hiking? Consider ice skating in the beautiful pavilion (with a huge fireplace!), snowshoeing or tubing.
The Standout Spa. The spa here has won several high-profile awards. The 80-minute Mohonk Red massage gets its name from the red witch hazel that grows right on the property. It’s a Swedish, Hawaiian and Thai massage hybrid that wraps up, literally, with the guest being treated to a hot towel, steeped in the local witch hazel, wrap and a “guided power nap.” Guests can take a dip in the outdoor 100-degree mineral pool infused with Dead Sea salts, surrounded by a stone patio and towering trees. Two glass-enclosed verandas connect to a solarium with a stone fireplace and a lovely tea bar. There is also a 60-foot long indoor heated pool, as well as a eucalyptus-scented steam room. Facial treatments are done with Éminence, an organic herbal fruit skincare line from Hungary and Naturopathica, another natural brand, from New York State.
The convenience. The Victorian-style rooms come with breakfast and lunch buffets (Don’t be scared off by “buffets.” They’re really good), a three-course, served farm-to-table dinner, afternoon tea and cookies, children’s and teens’ programs, guided nature hikes, yoga, meditation, fitness classes, evening entertainment, gratuities (and, in the warmer months, kayaking and paddleboarding).