This spectacular mountain castle offers an extraordinary wilderness resort experience.
Ninety miles north of New York City, one enters a silent nature preserve at the ridge of the Shawangunk Mountains. Perched in this 1,000-acre oasis is the tranquil Mohonk Mountain House, with 85 miles of hiking trails to call its own. Unlike many Victorian-era mansions, this one has not only maintained its original splendor, but it has upped the ante several times over. It is run by the Smiley family, descendants of twins Alfred and Albert Smiley who built this National Historic Landmark in 1869.
The resort offers a Full American Plan, complete with meals in the elegant Main Dining Room (jackets for men) and seasonal outdoor barbecues and lobster cookouts. Spirits on the Sunset offers drinks and light fare overlooking the Catskills, and the Old-Fashioned Soda Fountain is a charming spot for coffee or milkshakes. Given that there are more than 300 fireplaces, many of them gorgeously hand-carved, it's hard not to feel relaxed and comfortable here, especially in the guest rooms. While tower rooms are pricey, they come with sweeping views and verandas. Individual cottages are surprisingly economical and have a rustic, homey feel. With six bedrooms, Grove Lodge, set in a scenic fern grove, is a top choice for family gatherings.
While the accommodations are welcoming, guests are generally found outdoors. Recreation abounds, including ice skating (at the resort's own Skating Pavilion), daily hikes, fishing, carriage rides and golfing on a 9-hole course inspired by Scottish greens. Best of all, most of this is included in the price. In addition, the resort's 30,000-square-foot spa wing features 16 treatment rooms, a solarium and an outdoor heated mineral pool. There are also an indoor heated pool with an underwater sound system, a comprehensive fitness center and a yoga/motion studio. Seeking a little something extra on top of all these extras? Programs include culinary courses, tango dancing, rock climbing and gardening lessons, as well as comprehensive kids and teen programs.