Mohonk Mountain House

Romantic and Regal Retreat Within Reach

Author: James Meyers
Posted: Thursday, January 20, 2011

Residents of the Hudson Valley might not be aware of how close they live to an actual castle, which Conde Naste has named as one of the top-twenty resorts in North America. Travel expert, Anthony Bourdain, calls it, “A magical place that defies logic, reason and the 21st century.” The Mohonk Mountain House is also an ideal destination for a romantic day trip, weekend escape or Valentine’s Day dinner.

Kiss travel hassles good-bye

There’s no need to drive to an airport or deal with the inherent hassles of long distance traveling to enjoy a Valentine’s getaway at this world class facility. Located at the top of Mohonk Mountain just outside of New Paltz, the resort is easily accessible by car and just 15 minutes off the New York State Thruway.

Old world charm

My wife Juliet and I recently spent a remarkable afternoon at Mohonk and were entranced by the charm and romance of the resort. The imposing and impressive Victorian façade of the hotel immediately delivered us from the mundaneness of the modern world. Juliet described the building and grounds as, “Hogwarts Castle for adults” referring to the school where Harry Potter learned his “wizarding” ways.

Think romance

Upon entering the hotel, the crisp cold of the outside immediately melts away as visitors are delivered into the warmth of several wood burning fireplaces. The rooms have a welcoming woody aroma that permeates the plush carpets, wood paneled walls and Victorian furnishings. It’s an intense sensory experience that makes visitors aware that they are about to embark on a uniquely romantic adventure. 

The philosophy

Mohonk’s main entrance consists of a rather an intriguing series of parlors, rooms and nooks that encourage a sense of exploration. Nina Smiley, director of marketing and a member of the Smiley family that founded the hotel in 1869, says the meandering twists and turns help make Mohonk such a romantic destination. “The sense of discovery and wonder, turning a corner and finding something new. This also applies to relationships, and Mohonk nurtures that part of the partnership,” says Ms. Smiley. A similar aura of intrigue extends to the grounds, which feature 85 miles of winding trails dotted with over 100 gazebos or “summerhouses,” as the resort prefers to call them.

For foodies

Day visitors are encouraged to enjoy the culinary delights offered during breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are also weekend and holiday brunches. Reservations are required. The dining room is dominated by an enormous stone fireplace. Huge floor to ceiling windows offer stunning panoramic vistas. The bounty of the lunch buffet was as staggering as the views were breathtaking. There was a carving station, seemingly endless salad selections and a variety of succulent dishes. The feast ended with a trip to the decadent dessert buffet that featured such tantalizing treats as a heavenly spice cake, a delicate pistachio mousse and fresh fruit. After lunch we visited the Carriage Lounge, which offers wine, beer and cocktails in a rich, warm, and relaxing wood paneled room. We both marveled at the quality and quantity of the food and immediately began planning a return visit, when we would be able to spend the weekend. One afternoon was not nearly enough to explore all of the romantic possibilities and treasures available here.

Weekend stays and specials

Couples who do opt for a weekend stay may be pleasantly surprised at its affordability. Of the 268 rooms, 138 come with wood burning fireplaces. Many rooms have balconies overlooking the lake and mountains. Turn down service and room enhancements such as champagne and chocolate covered strawberries are also available. The Mountain House is offering a special Valentine’s rate starting at $165 per person. The rate includes breakfast and dinner, afternoon tea and cookies, access to the resort’s tranquil and relaxing heated indoor pool, which is housed in a glass solarium. One of this season’s highlights is ice skating at the outdoor skating pavilion. The pavilion has a large fireplace to keep skaters warm. Visitors who come to watch the skaters and sip hot cocoa can also get cozy by the fire. The resort’s award-winning spa offers romantic specials such as a couples massage. Mohonk offers a tranquil and meditative atmosphere that makes it an ideal destination to spend Valentine’s Day with the one you love.

James Meyers is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to Hudson Valley Life magazine. He has written for Spinner,, and Shelterpop.

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