Northeast Spa Resorts, Northeast Gold Resorts
Best Resorts Near New York City
Who said New York City was the heart and soul of the Northeast? These lavish resorts may have you rethinking your next Big Apple getaway.
But in recent years, new resorts and upgrades to older ones have juiced Gotham’s hinterlands with world-class getaways. Finally. So if you live in the Northeast—or if you’re visiting Manhattan and want to see the countryside before heading home—here’s where to go.
Crystal Springs Resort & Golf Club
Barely 50 miles from Manhattan, Crystal Springs is catnip for golfers. Its seven(!) courses include two by Robert Trent-Jones and Tom Fazio, and another two on national top 50 lists. Thanks to northwestern New Jersey’s endless forests, a birdie here means a red-tailed hawk. Great—but what about us non-golfers?
First, the resort includes two separate hotels: the family-friendly Minerals Hotel and the new, more upscale Grand Cascades Lodge—plus condos of all sizes. I like choices.
Second, Crystal Springs’ 12 restaurants and pubs include LaTour, a Wine Spectator Grand Award winner. I recently saw an MRI machine in the wine cellar. “Practicing medicine without a license?” I asked manager Rabih Younes. “No,” he explained. “The MRI tells us if an old bottle is still good. That’s why no customer has ever had to return a bottle here.” My eyes fell upon a bottle of Haut-Brion from 1900 …
Third, each hotel has a serious spa/fitness center and a vast, light-filled swimming complex. I actually used sunscreen at Crystal Springs; the special glass roof lets the rays in. The Minerals Hotel offers year-round tennis, daycare, horseback riding, entertainment and organized activities.
Fourth, this insomniac will tell you that the Tempur-pedic beds in Grand Cascades’ rooms are pure pleasure.
Crystal Springs Resort and Golf Club. Route 94, Vernon. Tel. 973-827-5996. Summertime rack rates start at $194 at Minerals Hotel and $269 at Grand Cascades Lodge. Candidly, I’ve never driven the 50 miles from Manhattan in just one hour, as advertised—but you probably knew that. www.crystalgolfresort.com
Mohonk Mountain House
I first visited Mohonk Mountain House, near New Paltz, N.Y., because its hiking-biking trails—85 miles of them—offer glorious cross-country skiing. That was 30 years ago, but don’t assume this Shawangunk Mountains getaway was new then. Albert Smiley opened the hotel in 1869, and since then his descendants have expanded it into a sprawling castle with 265 rooms and a National Historic Landmark.
Communing with nature was and is central to Mohonk. The hotel owns 2,200 acres, including a blue mountain lake with granite walls rising on one side. The lake has wooden rowboats, not powerboats, and that’s the way this crowd wants it. Similarly, guestrooms offer Wi-Fi, not TVs. Unchained from American Idol, I thrive.
Mohonk’s interiors feature museum-quality carved woodwork and furniture, and, everywhere I look, fireplaces. The Victoriana continues outdoors, where I gladly forego golf, tennis and a carriage ride to stroll with my lady through woods and gardens interspersed with gazebos.
Mohonk’s Theme Programs are almost as central to the place as the nature and fireplaces. “We once went to Mohonk for a Mystery Weekend,” says one guest, “and now we keep coming back.” Themes range from cuisine to jazz, meditation to ballroom dancing, triathlons to crossword puzzles. One other Mohonk tradition: families with 8-year-old kids reading at 12th-grade level.
But here, as at Shawnee (see next page), I’ve also seen changes. Whereas the food was once OK, it’s now sophisticated fare. It used to bother me that Mohonk didn’t serve alcoholic beverages; now there’s an award-winning wine list. A new 30,000-square-foot spa offers myriad treatments and classes; the underwater sound system in the heated pool entices me to swim extra laps. And an ice-skating pavilion has replaced skating on the lake. I loved the lake, but now the ice is a sure thing—smoother, too.
Mohonk Mountain House. 1000 Mountain Rest Road, New Paltz. Tel. 845-255-1000. Rates through late October start at $510 per couple, including meals and most activities. Look also for 140th anniversary packages. www.mohonk.com
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