Everythingspa’s Blog

CNYSPAGIRL blogs about all things spa

Review of The Lodge at Woodloch (Hawley, PA) June 7, 2009

 

http://www.thelodgeatwoodloch.com/Welcome14.html

109 River Birch Lane, Hawley, Pennsylvania 18428

866.953.8500

First off, I’d like to thank InnerRewards for making my visit to The Lodge at Woodloch possible.  I won $1,000 gift certificate to the spa of my choice in the InnerRewards Mom and Me contest.  I visited the lodge with my mom for one night on May 31st through June 1st, 2009 with very high expectations.  I’d been following the property since before it opened and have looked forward to visiting “someday” since the opening in June of 2006.

Spa Overview:

The Lodge at Woodloch is a luxury destination spa in the lakes region of Northeast Pennsylvania.  The Lodge is the vision and reality of John and Ginny Lopis, a husband and wife team who are noted in the spa industry for spa design, development and management.

Reception:

The front desk, located at the Spa’s entrance, is spacious and was empty each time we passed through. The receptionists were casual, yet professional and incredibly warm. The furnishings reflect the same oversized and casual feel of the rest of the resort – a sort of casual, yet upscale country club.  We were signed in and on our way to the women’s retreat in no time, led by a friendly spa attendant who promptly gave us a tour, spa sandals and assigned us to a locker which was already stocked with a robe.

Bathrooms/Changing Area:

Large locker room with keyless entry wooden lockers.  There were 10 private shower rooms with their own changing area and vanity, each stocked with towels, bath mats, and shampoo, conditioner and shower gel.  Shower caps, razors and feminine hygiene products were readily available in the general locker room area.  Products used throughout the spa were Gilchrist & Soames Essentiel Elements Wake Up Rosemary. Everything from the hand soap to the lotion to the shower products was an invigorating blend of rosemary and mint.  The area was super clean and spacious.

Treatment Rooms:

Minimally decorated rooms are average size and painted in light colors.  Many of the treatment rooms had in-room showers. There are no windows in any of the treatment rooms that I saw.  The salon had windows with great views.  The treatment rooms were clean.  Guests can choose from 5 soundtracks of music.

Amenities:

Cucumber and lemon infused water. Mighty Leaf hot teas.  Fresh fruit.  Trail mix with nuts, seeds and dried fruit.  Bottled orange and apple juice.  The hot and boiling water for the tea dispenses directly from the faucet.

Other Spa Facilities:

The best part about the spa:  the Aqua Garden, Sun Terrace, and outdoor horizon-edge whirlpool.

The Aqua Garden is a co-ed indoor pool area that can be used for swimming but is also the location of the water classes.  This area also features two massaging waterfall whirlpools – one at a height of 6 feet (harsh and surprisingly windy) and one at a height of 3 feet (perfect, I could have stayed there all day).

Just outside the Aqua Garden is the sun terrace.  A beautiful, natural setting with lounge chairs, radiant heated concrete floors and umbrella tables.  I sat out there one morning and counted the squirrels and chipmunks that came within a few feet of my chair.  This is also the location of the horizon-edge whirlpool – the water seems to flow over the edge and into the landscaping below.

In the women’s sanctuary, there is a eucalyptus steam room, a dry sauna and a whirlpool, all with views of the outdoors.  A screened-in relaxation porch with lounge chairs is the perfect place to curl up with a good book before or after a treatment.

After your treatment, your therapist leads you to the co-ed Whisper Lounge on the first floor of the spa.  This is where all of the treatment rooms are located.  There is a tea bar, lounge chairs facing a wall of windows, a fireplace, magazines and blankets to warm up under.  The best part?  Doors leading to an outdoor area with rocking chairs facing the forested area behind the lodge.  We encountered one small problem: we got locked out of the Whisper Quiet lounge when we went outside to the porch.  Fortunately, a maintenance worker let us back in and we didn’t have to walk around the outside of the lodge in our robes and slippers.

There is a fully equipped fitness center and 3 studios for body classes.  The entire area was clean and well maintained.  We had a little trouble finding the fitness center, which is located upstairs from the main spa.  This seemed a little disjointed and a bit of a distance away from the locker rooms and other spa facilities.

Deals:

No deals were offered on spa treatments, but we took advantage of a Midweek Magic deal and a lodge credit promotion where guests staying before 5/31/09 were entitled to $50/person/night in Lodge credits that could be used toward spa treatments and other purchases at The Lodge.

Treatments:

My first treatment was a Natural Sage Gommage.  Here is the treatment description from the website:

Dry Brush, Polish, Moisturizer. 
Gentle but invigorating, dry brushing fosters the perfect conditions for the massage application of warm Seaweed Rebalancing Serum. Concentrated algae extracts remineralize, detoxify and rebalance. Freshly powdered sage is applied in gommage fashion to further exfoliate your skin. The warmth of sage-infused towels and the massage application of antioxidant body lotion will leave you feeling cleansed, vibrant and oh so soft. 
50 minutes $120

Loved this treatment!  The dry brushing was a new experience that I’d been curious about.  It doesn’t hurt, but it is slightly abrasive and very invigorating.  The “gommage” was also new to me.  My therapist, Sherie, crumbled sage over me, and then rubbed it over my skin.  She removed the exfoliant using warm towels that had been soaking in sage oil.  The smell of the fresh sage combined with the sage towels was heavenly.  Only a more thorough full body massage would have made this treatment more heavenly. 

For my second treatment, I had the Lodge’s signature Awakening the Senses Facial.  Here is the treatment brochure description:

Experience the synergy of our signature facial, as aromatherapy, chromatherapy (color therapy), healing sound, choreographed two-disc stone massage and delightful flavors blend with profoundly effective skin care. Designed to increase the skin’s capacity to function more efficiently, a gentle marine peel, age-defying complex serum and two nutrient-rich masks restore the skin and promote moisture balance, tone and clarity. A facial experience you will long remember! For all skin types.  75 minutes, $175

The treatment name and description sure did sound interesting, but the reality of the treatment was less than impressive.  For the aromatherapy, I was given a choice of two massage oil blends to be used during the facial massage portion of my treatment.

For the chromatherapy, Danielle had 6 colored fabric discs arranged on the treatment bed when I entered the room.  She asked me to choose a color – I choose purple.  She read a description of what the color purple signifies (creativity, for one).  She then told me that we would bathe the room in my color choice.  The fabric disc was placed over a light, but it really just made the room darker and not bathed in purple.

For healing sound, I could choose among the 5 tracks of recorded music according to my preference.  I chose traditional spa music.  My therapist, Danielle, told me that there used to be a CD associated with this treatment.

The choreographed two-disc stone massage was a facial massage using the aromatherapy oil and two small discs with the centers cut out.  Danielle massaged my face using the oil and the stones.  It felt nice – but I wondered if so much oil on my face would negate the effects of the facial.

The delightful flavor was a wrapped chocolate covered strawberry.  This was certainly a welcome treat that completed all the senses, but there was also a tray of chocolate covered strawberries in our room upon arrival. 

Overall, the treatment was a little hokey.  I left feeling it wasn’t a great value and that the components didn’t really add up to my senses being awakened.  I can’t say that my skin has shown any improvement in the days post-facial.

My mom had two treatments also:  A European Deep Cleansing Facial ($120, 50 minutes) and a pedicure ($85, 50 minutes).  Her opinion?  Both treatments weren’t as enjoyable as the facials and pedicures she receives at less expensive local day spas back at home.  Certain components of these basic treatments seemed to be missing.

At checkout time, the hotel front desk staff asked how we enjoyed our stay.  Sincere and honest feedback is important to me.  I filled out a comment card indicating my thoughts on the treatments and on the value of the treatments and told the front desk staff that there were a few things that I mentioned in my comment card.  They assured me that they would share this feedback with the owners and with the departmental staff. 

Cuisine:

At a destination spa, meals are typically included in your package.  The Lodge at Woodloch is no exception. The Intro to Spa Package and the Complete Spa Package include 3 meals daily, plus snacks from the tea bars located in the spa and near the front desk.  Dinner on the day of your arrival, plus breakfast and lunch on the day of your departure is included.  Since we arrived mid-morning, we were given the option to purchase lunch on the day of our arrival for $87 for two.  ($35 per person = $70 plus 18% gratuity and taxes).  Since we planned to leave at lunchtime the next day, the front desk staff suggested that we substitute our departure day lunch with our arrival day lunch.  It was a Sunday, so the dining room (Tree) was comfortably occupied with guests who had spent the weekend and were checking out. 

We were offered menus with 2 appetizer choices, 2 entrée choices (Bison Burgers and Veggie Burgers), 2 juice blend choices and 3 smoothie choices.  We also learned that we could help ourselves to the buffet instead of ordering off the menu.  We checked out the buffet and opted for that instead of ordering off the menu.  There was a printed menu of items on the buffet, but most individual items weren’t labeled and some could not be identified.  There were a number of salads, a salmon wrap, soup, vegetables and very small portions of desert – chocolate mousse in a shot glass and single bites of cake.  If it sounds like I’m complaining about the portion size, I’m not.  I really liked the concept of small bites of dessert to end the meal.  It also gave me a chance to try a variety of items without being wasteful as is common with a buffet.  But the problem was some of the food was tasteless.  The bite size rolls had no taste.  The broccoli was browned, yet crispy.  Overcooked, yet undercooked.  The salmon wrap was tasteless.  The cake was stale.  I can’t really even remember what we tried – it was that unmemorable.  

We left lunch feeling disappointed and really thankful that we hadn’t been charged $87 for the meal.

Dinner was a bit better, but still not what I expected.  I had been craving scallops and crab cakes and was thrilled to find just that on the menu.

The chef sent out amuse bouche (small appetizer) of sushi.  Neither my mom nor me are sushi fans, so it was hard to judge.  The menu consisted of 4 appetizers, 4 entrees, and 4 or 5 “opportunities” – vegetable side dishes.  My mom had the crab cake for an appetizer at my urging.  I had a spinach salad with blueberry Stilton, pears and walnuts with vinaigrette dressing.  It was a great salad, but the pears were browned – maybe from the vinegar?  For our entrees, my mom choose the same salad and the server offered to have a dinner size portion prepared.  My scallops were good, but missed the mark a bit on the citrusy sauce.  The entrée was served with a julienne of zucchini and carrots with an Asian style sauce.  

Service was spotty and generally inexperienced.  Since the resort was practically vacant at this point, we shared the dining room with only 2 or 3 other tables.  There were plenty of servers, but they seemed to trip over each other.  We asked to hear the desserts, but the server couldn’t recite them.  She offered to send over another server to tell us about the desserts, but the second server never came over.  The original server returned to ask if the second server had offered us dessert.  She hadn’t – so the first server recited the desserts to us.  When describing the chocolate chili flan on a cookie crust, she was lost for words.  “…just a cookie, I don’t know what else to say about it.”  When we seemed to have trouble deciding among the 4 choices, the server offered to bring us a sampler platter.  We accepted and looked forward to trying a bit of each.

When our dessert didn’t arrive, we checked on it with one of the dining room staff.  When it was finally brought out, the sorbet and gelato was melted – likely the result of sitting in the kitchen long after it was plated.

Breakfast the next morning promised a new beginning.  Again, we could order off the menu (more choices this time) or choose from the buffet.  It was a nice touch that the items from the buffet were listed on the printed menu to aid us in our selection. I wanted a simple breakfast of fruit, yogurt and granola.  Sliced fruits (raspberries, strawberries, cantaloupe, pineapple).  Plain yogurt and probably the worst tasting granola I’ve had – it tasted more like trail mix than granola.  I know that granola is high in calories in fat and tends to be very sweet.  The granola served at The Lodge is none of those things.  I was pretty confident that it was some healthy stuff, but it didn’t taste very good.  

I expected the spa cuisine to be one of the highlights of my visit, but it turned out to be the biggest disappointment.  Admittedly, I had high expectations going in.  I was looking forward to light, flavorful, fresh and tasty gourmet food in controlled portions. What we got instead was not always fresh and not always flavorful.

Pleasant Surprises:

  • At check-in, we were provided with tote bags and water bottles with The Lodge’s logo
  • A spa portfolio contained our spa treatment itinerary for the length of our stay, the monthly class schedule and a guide to treatment and services
  • A hand written note from the owners in our room upon arrival.
  • A tray of chocolate-covered strawberries and a plate of tiny ginger cookies.
  • At checkout, we received letters from the owners thanking us for our stay and offering a 3rd night free when paying for 2 nights during the next 4 months. 

Accommodations:

The Lodge has 58 guest rooms – 46 Veranda Deluxe rooms, 10 Veranda Junior Suites, and 2 Veranda Suites.  We were assigned to room 207 with 2 double beds.

Guest Room Amenities:

Private, spacious verandas with woodland, lake and rock-garden waterfall views

Flat panel LCD televisions with DVD player

Luxury bedding with down comforters

High-speed wired and wireless Internet

Telephones with voice-mail message system

Refrigerator

In-room safe, and safety deposit boxes at Front Desk

Elegant bath amenities

Plush terry robes

Hair dryer

Iron and ironing board

Room service

Maid service twice daily

Complimentary morning paper

Complimentary self-service laundry facility

Dry-cleaning and laundry service available 

We were pleased with our room – it was clean and comfortable with plenty of amenities.  We kept our “privacy” sign on our door and didn’t utilize room service or the turndown service during our visit.

Activities:

The Lodge has a full schedule of activities starting early in the morning and ending late afternoon.  Mind and body classes, kayaking, hiking, art classes, chef demonstrations and power/fitness/nature walks are just of few of the offerings. 

We took the kayaks out for a spin on the small lake and had the whole lake to ourselves.  We attended a guided 75-minute fitness walk around the golf course across the road from The Lodge.  We were the only guests in attendance at 6:30 am.

My mom tried the Zumba Gold class and the Muscle Toning Class.  Both were satisfactory and attended by only a few other guests.

The spa and fitness facility closes at 7:00 pm.  We would have loved to use the workout room in the evening and to use the water features (pools, whirlpools) before bed. When we asked an employee about this, they explained that guests don’t utilize the facilities beyond the late afternoon and that is why they aren’t kept open. 

At dinner, a local musician was playing the keyboard.  Once dinner is over, there were no planned activities for guests.  There is a fire circle and the website promises story time, but an employee told me they didn’t have this.   An evening activity would have been a nice way to end the day.  Our stay was Sunday through Monday – so maybe there are additional activities planned on the busier weekends.

Payment Time:

Payment is handled at the front desk in the hotel, not in the spa.  Guests are automatically charged 18% service charge on top of all treatments, including the $120 treatment credit that is included in the Complete Spa Package.  There was no mention of being able to adjust this gratuity up or down.  It certainly took the guesswork out of tipping, but doesn’t leave the guest any choice.  Additional gratuities are “not required or expected”.

Final Words:

During our stay, we had The Lodge almost to ourselves. We saw very few other guests.  At breakfast, we were the only guests in the dining room.  At dinner, we shared the dining room with 2-3 other tables.  Our fitness walk guide told us that this is not unusual, although the weekends are much busier.  I enjoyed the spa for several hours on Monday morning and hardly saw anyone.  Yes, this can make the experience amazingly private, relaxing and intimate, but it also felt eerie at times.  The Lodge is such a beautiful place, but so unaffordable for most.

Go Again:

I don’t think so.  Although the spa facilities are amazing, the treatments and the therapists weren’t standout.  The food and dining room service left a lot to be desired.  The Lodge is very pricey and not a good value, even with the Midweek Magic special and lodge credit promotion.

Recommend to a Friend:

I wish I could say yes.  No recommendation, good or bad, could have kept me away.  But really, I can’t recommend this to a friend without mentioning some of the things that could have been improved.

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One Response to “Review of The Lodge at Woodloch (Hawley, PA)”


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