Your visit to Mohonk Mountain House begins as soon as you drive up to the gatehouse. They’re expecting you, so drive on through and continue the last few miles of your journey. It’s here that you get your first notion that this is no ordinary place. As you make your way up the one-way road – the return trip back down is also by a one-way road – boulders of conglomerate rock line the drive and signs remind visitors: “Slowly and Quietly Please.”
Mohonk Mountain House is a 140 year-old historic resort hotel in New York’s Hudson Valley, just 90 miles north of New York City. Mohonk has been owned and operated by the Smiley family since 1869, when it opened as a 10-room summerhouse. Guests arriving by air can fly into Stewart International Airport, just 25 miles away in Newburgh, NY.
If you’ve seen the stunning iconic photography of Mohonk, you’ll be expecting the breathtakingly beautiful setting. But seeing is believing – it’s even more magnificent in person than the images let on. And if staying at Mohonk isn’t special enough, guests visiting in 2009 are treated to programming unique to the 140th Anniversary celebration.
In 2005, The Spa at Mohonk Mountain House opened to the delight of guests and the finest spa and travel publications in the world; the list of awards, honors and accolades just doesn’t quit. In the 30,000 square foot spa wing, you’ll find an indoor heated pool with shallow children’s area and underwater sound system, a fully equipped modern fitness center with motion studio and an award winning eco-friendly spa.
Spa Reception and locker room:
The Spa at Mohonk Mountain House is located on the 3rd floor of the spa wing. Guests enter the spa through a retail shop offering spa products, clothing and gift items. After checking in at the reception desk, the guest is invited to complete a spa intake form near the fireplace before being led on a tour of the spa.
Keyless lockers contain your robe, towel and a bag to store wet swimsuits. In the showers, Rosemary Mint Shower Gel, Shampoo, and Conditioner from Essentiel Elements. Vanity amenities are supplied – like razors, combs and brushes, body lotion, hair products and hair dryers – everything a guest needs to get ready to enjoy the resort after their spa visit.
Chilled bowls of thinly-sliced cucumbers invite ladies to relieve puffy eyes; chilled chamomile facial spritzer refreshes skin after the heat of the steam room or sauna, located in the men’s and women’s locker room.
There are 16 treatment rooms including four facial rooms, three wet treatment rooms and two couples rooms, one with a fireplace. As an added feature, the wall between one of the couples rooms and an individual treatment room slides open to allow three guests to enjoy treatments together – a popular option for the multigenerational families who frequent Mohonk and want to enjoy massages together.
There are endless places to relax at The Spa at Mohonk. Separate men and women’s verandas and a co-ed veranda feature self-service tea bars and bowls of fresh fruit. Walls of windows in the verandas let the outdoors and abundant natural light in. You can nap in the sunshine or shade on cushioned reclining lounge chairs covered in a cozy chenille throw blanket, while sipping one of five blends from TeaSpa: Romance, Energy, Purify, Earl Gray Jasmine and Immuni-Tea.
Step out onto the co-ed outdoor terrace and settle into a relaxing lounge chair or enjoy a soak in the clover shaped heated mineral pool. The half-moon shaped co-ed solarium features an impressive stone fireplace with mosaic tiling above the mantle, cushioned wicker furniture and a reading rack with newspapers and magazines.
The spa décor is so warm and simple, with touches of Mohonk’s signature colors of green and ivory and richly stained custom woodwork. The Smiley family’s private art and photography collection hangs on the walls for the enjoyment of guests. Green plants grow in just about every corner.
The Spa at Mohonk Mountain House is a full-service spa and salon featuring massage, body treatments, skin care, hair styling and nail treatments. Many of the treatments go beyond basic, making use of indigenous ingredients offered by highly trained practitioners. Teens, gentlemen and couples have their own treatment menu, as do the 6 to 15 age group (services are performed in the salon only).
Private meditation instruction for one or two can help you alleviate stress, lower blood pressure and promote general well being. Dr. Nina Smiley, co-author of The Three Minute Meditator, is also available for private meditation sessions.
Created in honor of the 140th Anniversary Celebration, the Signature Elements of Nature – Indigo Herbal Poultice Massage (80 minutes, $186.90) is a keeper that will remain on the menu even after the celebration ends. As described in the treatment menu:
“This powerful, deeply soothing treatment is ideal for those who are looking for immediate relief from the stresses of modern life. This new treatment is inspired by the Indigo plant grown locally, and features a steamed Indigo Herbal Poultice (muslin pouch) to ease tension, loosen sore muscles and increase circulation. A combination of Royal Thai Massage, acupressure, aromatherapy, and herbal heat detoxify the body and provide an overall sense of well-being. Our Guided Power Nap ends the experience, leaving you refreshed and renewed. An elixir of the day and a special gift conclude your session. “
The indigo poultice is filled with wild herbs and spices. It’s a warm stone massage minus the stones; the herbal pouch is more flexible and aromatic than stones but equally soothing. Techniques from The Three Minute Meditator inspire the guided power nap. As the treatment ends and your therapist settles you into a comfortable chair in one of the relaxation rooms, you’re served grapes and a refreshing elixir – how does Pomegranate and Acai Berry antioxidant fruit extract from Pure Inventions sound?
Learning how this uniquely Mohonk treatment was inspired from Spa Director Barbara Stirewalt was a real treat. The leaves of the Indigo plant, found locally on the Mohonk preserve, yield the distinctive blue dye that was commonly used in denim before synthetic dyes were invented. In this treatment, indigo supplies the dye for the muslin pouch.
For a treatment that brings the outdoors in, literally, try the Signature Elements of Nature – “Shawangunk Grit” Mineral Body Treatment. Your skin is gently exfoliated with the resorts signature “Shawangunk Grit”, quartz minerals that were excavated from the conglomerate rock found on the property, finely ground and applied to the skin.
An 18% gratuity is added to all spa treatments.
Remember that fitness center? You’re going to need it. Room rates at Mohonk include breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, plus the very popular afternoon tea and cookies. The food is abundant with an emphasis on high quality ingredients that are fresh and locally sourced.
A continental breakfast is served in the Lake Lounge overlooking Mohonk Lake. It’s the perfect place to grab coffee and a light bite before heading out for an invigorating morning hike around the grounds. When you return, head to the Main Dining Room for the heartiest of breakfast buffets. The tender, freshly made Belgian Waffles topped with walnuts and bananas in caramel sauce are more like dessert. The freshness, selection and variety are impressive.
Seasonally, a barbecue style lunch with all the trimmings is served at The Granary, a shady lakeside picnic grove with lovely lake and mountain views.
Dinner is a four-course seated affair in one of three candlelit dining rooms – the spacious Main Dining Room, and the more intimate East and West Dining Rooms. The Main Dining room boasts gorgeous wood floors, an enormous brick fireplace and high ceilings.
Choose two courses from the appetizer section of the menu – gourmet soups, salads, artisan cheese plates and hot and cold appetizers are available each night. For the entrees, fish, perfectly cooked steaks, poultry, vegetarian dishes and nightly chef specials delight guests from a rotating menu. Desserts are so rich and decadent; you can’t help ordering one even when you think you can’t possibly have room.
If you’re looking for less rich and decadent, the Sound Choice menu provides selections that are lower in fat, cholesterol, calories, and sodium, yet full of flavor and creativity. As an alternative to the dining rooms, the Carriage Lounge serves cocktails and light fare in an intimate setting with a fireplace and cozy seating.
If you can’t stay for lunch on the day or your departure, order a trail lunch “to go” at breakfast. Pick it up at the Main Dining room on your way off the mountain and you’ll enjoy a gourmet picnic lunch for the ride home. Going hiking during lunchtime? Take your picnic lunch on your hike with you.
Guests can choose from four types of room accommodations at Mohonk Mountain House: Tower Rooms, Suites/Junior Suites, Victorian Rooms, and Traditional Rooms.
Room 567, a Victorian style room, featured a King Size bed, working fireplace, balcony with wooden rocking chairs and a spectacular view of the Shawangunk Mountain Range. Everything you’ll need to enjoy a fire is provided: wood, matches, fire starter and instructions. Need more wood? Guest services will bring some right up.
Victorian style guest room 567 at Mohonk Mountain House
Spa touches are carried through to the guest rooms with Rosemary Mint bath products in the bathroom and terry bathrobes. You’ll find the accommodations cozy and comfortable, with individual climate control, ceiling fans, and plenty of in-room lighting for reading. Beds feature pillow-top mattresses, silky sheets, matelasse bedspreads and fleece blankets; extra pillows and blankets are in the closets.
While you won’t find televisions in the guest rooms, you can book a fireplace room and watch the crackling fire instead. You’ll never miss it!
Craving outdoor adventure? Mohonk’s got it all. Ice-skating, snow tubing, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing beckon winter guests to explore the acres and acres of grounds. During the rest of the year, mountain biking, rock climbing, tennis, golf, boating and fishing are among the countless recreational opportunities. Mohonk is a hiker’s paradise, with over 85 miles of marked trails for hikers of all abilities.
For the brave and adventurous, try The Labyrinth, a difficult 45-minute rock scramble that takes climbers up a 300-foot ascent to Sky Top Tower. The reward for your efforts? 360-degree vistas from the observation deck at the top of tower. But you’ll have to descend by less challenging means – the Labyrinth is a one-way only upward path.
A daily activities schedule highlights recreation options, exercise classes, nature programming, dining locations and hours, kids activities, evening entertainment and special theme events. The schedule serves as a complete guide to everything that goes on at the resort.
Mohonk offers a variety of theme programs to please every interest. The Hudson Valley Harvest, Apple Festival, Halloween-themed events, Mystery Weekend and wellness themed programming are just a few of the events held throughout the year that keep guests coming back time and again.
Mohonk is an outstanding destination for families (large and small), couples, solo travelers, business retreats and girlfriend getaways. You can celebrate a special occasion here or no occasion at all. But one thing is for certain: as you descend the one-way road for your return trip back down the mountain, you’ll be planning your next trip back again before you reach that gatehouse.
1000 Mountain Rest Road
New Paltz, NY 12561
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary lodging, spa service and meals for the purpose of writing this article. While it has not influenced this review, we believe in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. Thank you to Mohonk Mountain House for inviting the writer to experience their property and for seeing the long-term benefits of a neutral review for their business and for their guests.