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HOTELS & SPAS SPA

The Lodge at Woodloch: A Destination Spa in the Poconos

December 12, 2014
The dock on the Lake
Entryway to The Lodge at Woodloch

Driveway at The Lodge at Woodloch

A first visit to a destination spa dispels some of a skeptic’s misperceptions.

Although I’ve occasionally popped into a spa for a facial, massage or pedicure while staying at a luxury hotel or resort, I had never before stayed at a destination spa—one housed in a setting focused exclusively on promoting health and wellness. For me, visiting a spa was never the main attraction of traveling; rather, it was more of a sybaritic footnote after active days exploring cities or relaxing on sunny beaches.

When my husband and I received an invitation to spend two nights at The Lodge at Woodloch, a destination resort spa, I worried that it might be a bad fit. Even though I didn’t really know what to expect, I thought I might feel like a fish out of water among very mindful health and wellness aficionados or, worse yet, that I might be signing up for a stay at a boot camp with rigid rules and restrictions. Even the idea of packing was daunting. I wouldn’t know what to wear.

Yet, the brochure’s description of an all-inclusive getaway at an “award-winning destination spa resort offering an extraordinary respite for mind, body and spirit“ was compelling. A getaway close to home didn’t sound all that bad and the photos of the beautiful property were the clincher. I succumbed and made a reservation.

Getting there

The drive to The Lodge at Woodloch in Hawley, Pennsylvania was about two hours from our home in Westchester County, New York (The spa is about the same distance, 95 miles, from New York City). On a crisp fall day, we first crossed the Hudson River and then the Delaware Water Gap into Pennsylvania before we reached the winding country roads close to The Lodge that were sprinkled with summer camps and mostly seasonal cottages. With a population of just over 1000 people in the town, I must have blinked when we passed downtown Hawley.

The Lodge sits on a gracious 150-acre property adjacent to a private lake, Little Lake Teedyuskung. Once we approached the treed circular driveway, a jovial gatekeeper signaled us inside. Soon after that, any lingering anxieties slowly began to dissipate. A valet parked our car, and our bags were efficiently whisked away by a bellman who delivered them to our room before we opened the door. At the front desk, after a quick credit card impression, a friendly woman welcomed us by name and handed each us key cards, large canvas totes and eco-friendly water bottles labeled with our names.

Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all.

Entrance

Entrance (Photo credit: The Lodge at Woodloch)

The Grounds

The Grounds

The layout

Built in 2006, The Lodge has two wings. The one on the left houses all the guest rooms and the one on the right, a 40,000-square foot, multi-level spa. In-between them are inviting common areas including a living room, other relaxation spaces, and the 100-seat TREE Restaurant and Bar where meals are served three times a day. Expansive windows throughout the building almost bring the outdoors in.

We were assigned to Room 212, one of 57 spacious (400-square-foot) guestrooms with a private veranda overlooking a garden. Although the property is intimate in size (numbers of guests), it also has eleven junior and one-bedroom suites with either lake or garden views.

Our room

Our room

P1120905Fortunately, despite my fears, our room was not a technology-free zone. While cell phone use is discouraged in public areas “to cultivate an environment where nature nurtures,” our room had wireless Internet access and a flat-panel LCD TV. I don’t think I could have gone cold turkey overnight.

Our room was clean, attractive and comfortable with double granite-topped sinks and a marble walk-in shower in the large bathroom.

Our days 

Our days were our own. Although activities are scheduled from morning to early evening (about 25 different ones each day), this is no boot camp. You can pick and choose what you want to do amongst the many activities offered daily, both at the spa and outdoors. Most instructors accept walk-ins, although a few require guests to sign up in advance with the concierge. An Outdoor Exploration Center offers open biking and geocaching between 9am-5pm.

The dock on the Lake

The dock on the Lake

Bicycle Stand

Bicycle Stand

We signed up for a cooking demonstration offered by executive sous chef, Zach Smith, which was held in the modern chef’s kitchen next to the dining room. The dishes Chef Smith prepared were ones that could easily be prepared at home; they relied on healthful, local ingredients. As he cooked, he also shared helpful hints and information about technique (“Dijon mustard is a great emulsifier; Freekah is a nutritionally dense young grain; Use what you have in your kitchen; If you make your own salad dressing, you’ll know what’s in it). All the participants were able to sample the dishes and take printed recipes home.

Cooking Demo

Cooking Demo with Chef Smith

Pan Seared Salmon with Warm Farro Salad

Pan Seared Salmon with Warm Farro Salad

Worrying about what to wear turned out to be utterly unnecessary. Most people walked around, attended classes, and even dined in workout attire or in the plush white terry robes they found in their rooms. Everyone was carrying canvas bags with their program of classes, lectures and activities. Wallets and other valuables can be put away in room safes because, like a cruise ship, cash isn’t needed during a stay at The Lodge. 

The rules weren’t as stringent as I feared they would be either—the only welcome exception being that classes uniformly started and ended on time (Instructors were flexible and sensitive to the diverse needs of their heterogeneous attendees.). The three meals per day (included in the daily rate) were also forgiving: The gourmet spa cuisine menus had something for every type of eater (including those with food allergies and aversions). There were vegan dishes, gluten-free foods and even sinful desserts for the chocoholic. This wasn’t a “dry” spa either: Guests could purchase drinks at the bar or order them during meals.

The Rules

Rules at the Spa

But “When in Rome,” travelers tend to follow suit. We did, too. We generally made healthy food choices, exercised in the 3500-square-foot Cardio Weight Studio each day, and joined beginner yoga and stretching classes. We spent time outdoors walking the two miles of paved and unpaved nature trails around the property. I still regret not having the time to sit on the Adirondack chairs and roast S’Mores with new friends around the picturesque outdoor fire pit.

Morning Yoga Class

Morning Yoga Class

Gym

Gym

The Firepit

The Firepit

Spending time in the spa was a wonderful indulgence after an active day. I had time for one facial but guests can schedule massages, and other health and beauty treatments all day long in one of 27 treatment rooms. For those who love water: There are co-ed soaking pools framed by hydro-massage waterfalls; the indoor pool is designed for classes and lap swimming; and an outdoor whirlpool has a radiant-heat deck for year-round use.

In the end 

Over the two days of our visit, we were just able to scratch the surface in terms of doing all that was available at this four-season property, a place where nature always changes the views and the possibilities. I learned that a destination spa like The Lodge at Woodloch is a great place for relaxation and rejuvenation. Regardless of your age, weight, physicality or stamina, you’ll return feeling like you comfortably stretched your body and elevated your spirit.


IF YOU GO

The Lodge at Woodloch, 109 River Birch Lane Hawley, Pennsylvania 18428


Also on More Time To Travel:

A review of Woodloch Pines Resort by boomer Suzanne Fluhr:


Disclosure: Our stay was hosted by The Lodge at Woodloch but any opinions expressed in this post are our own.

  • Reply
    Muza-chan
    December 15, 2014 at 1:26 am

    Beautiful place..

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      December 16, 2014 at 9:34 am

      And the pictures don’t even convey how beautiful it was in person!

  • Reply
    Sand In My Suitcase
    December 15, 2014 at 11:20 am

    It must feel a little strange to wander around and eat in your bathrobe :-). But that solves the “what to where” dilemma and makes for a lighter suitcase. A restful way to spend 2 days, we’d say!

  • Reply
    Betsy Wuebker | PassingThru
    December 15, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    What a beautifully serene setting. I would have wanted more than a couple of days, too! These escapes can be a good reminder to take better care of ourselves.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      December 16, 2014 at 9:35 am

      So true, Betsy! Need to make time to capture the peacefulness of every day!

  • Reply
    Elaine J. Masters
    December 15, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    Sigh. What a lovely mix of indoor and outdoor programs for a spa. I’m not a big spa-going gal but the few experiences I’ve had have been so nurturing I long for more. Lucky you!

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      December 16, 2014 at 9:36 am

      It’s very easy to succumb to a good massage:-)

  • Reply
    Donna Janke
    December 15, 2014 at 9:24 pm

    The Lodge at Woodloch looks and sounds wonderful. Although I fear I may be a bad fit and I always say I don’t have a bucket list, a few days to a week at a spa is on my bucket list.

  • Reply
    Doreen Pendgracs
    December 15, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    Looks like a terrific place, Irene. Like you, I’m not one who goes seeking the spa experience. But like you, I’ve learned that each spa will have its own character, and a destination spa with such variety is pure bliss indeed.

  • Reply
    santafetraveler
    December 15, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    When I saw Poconos I thought of heart-shaped bathtubs. This is 180 degrees from that. I like the idea of a wellness spa.

  • Reply
    Anita @ No Particular Place To Go
    December 16, 2014 at 7:42 am

    I’d love to visit a spa for a few days, especially one in such a beautiful setting and I imagine the scenery on your drive to the spa was also lovely. Sounds like the whole emphasis was placed on the guest’s comfort (how nice not to worry about what you were wearing!) and relaxation. That’s my idea of a great time!

  • Reply
    alison abbott
    December 16, 2014 at 8:29 am

    We used to ski in the Poconos when i was growing up. Plastic rain boots and push down bindings-yes it was quite a while ago. The Lodge at Woodloch looks like a wonderful spot to reacquaint my self with the area. Would love to borrow one of those bicycles, I like resorts that offer that option.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      December 16, 2014 at 9:38 am

      Although I wasn’t there, I remember those “vintage” advertisements, too~

  • Reply
    Michele Peterson ( A Taste for Travel)
    December 16, 2014 at 9:32 am

    The Poconos look like a beautiful spot for a healthy retreat and the Lodge at Woodloch seems to offer everything a wellness fan would be interested in. For me, the morning yoga, cycling and cooking demos sound ideal. Good too that it’s not too strict as I’ve been to destination spas where the vibe has been more boot camp than bliss and that can be a real adjustment.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      December 16, 2014 at 9:39 am

      Yes, loved that the vibe was flexible enough to feel very comfortable.

  • Reply
    Mike
    December 16, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    This sounds fantastic, Irene! I wouldn’t need a suite but I’m curious what the lake view looked like. The cooking demonstrations would be right up my alley. Back in the 70’s when people walked around in white robes in a comfortable setting we called it a toga party LOL…a little joke! 🙂 Good post and have a great day! 🙂

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      December 17, 2014 at 9:41 am

      The picture with the Adirondack chairs above shows the view of the lake, Mike!

  • Reply
    A Cook Not Mad (Nat)
    December 17, 2014 at 6:14 am

    Looks like a great way to spend a couple of days!

  • Reply
    Suzanne Stavert
    December 17, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    Oh my goodness – I would do that in a minute! The photo of the chairs on the lake looks like a postcard! Lucky you!

  • Reply
    Carole Terwilliger Meyers
    December 18, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    The Lodge at Woodloch sounds like a great destination spa with all the perks! Thanks for introducing it to me. I stayed at one in Southern Utah that I really enjoyed. You might want to check it out for when you’re in that area, http://travelswithcarole.blogspot.com/2012/08/where-to-stay-ivins-utah.html

  • Reply
    Karen Warren
    December 22, 2014 at 7:46 am

    I’ve often worried I might get bored at a place like that but the woodland walks and the cookery lessons could keep me interested!

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