Simple Pleasures.

Simple Pleasures.
Irish soda bread on its way up North with Noah.

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Break During a Dark Winter

I don't think I'm alone in my feeling that this is one heavy winter we're slogging through. It's cold cold cold--at least up here in the Northeast--and the dreary economy is adding an extra chill. I know that in this house, my husband and I have been working overtime, making every penny we can before the oncoming train hits us. We've passed on making vacation plans and have been eating in a whole lot. I am absolutely positive we are among those who--by virtue of our fearful cutbacks--are only making the economic disaster worse. It's that self-fulfilling prophesy thing.

Anyway, DH had to take yet another trip out of town last week, which meant the boys and I would be alone over their February break. Usually, I'm okay with hanging out at home but I think I had just had enough. I needed to get out of the house and they had to get away from the Playstation. I started looking into airfares to any place warm, but it all ended up costing too much. I thought about taking them skiing, but I'd already done that solo with them once this season and macho I may be, but I'm not macho enough to tackle that endeavor twice in one year. Plus, I've been just plain pooped lately.

So, on a lark, I dialed up Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, NY, just to see what a room might cost for a couple of nights. As I expected, it was pricey--a total of about $500 per adult per night. But when I started rolling the numbers around in my head, it began to sound sorta doable. Here was my thinking: That $500 was the charge for me, the adult. The kids (both under 13) were free--as part of a package the resort tends to offer when it's not high season. The charge included everything--all meals (including afternoon tea, a fancy pants dinner each night, dinner the night of our arrival, and breakfast and lunch on the day of our departure), all activities (and equipment) including skating, cross country skiing, hiking, swimming in the gorgeous indoor pool, and full run of the sprawling resort. That price also took into account all tips and taxes the hotel automatically adds to your bill.

Now, if DH had been around, this little jaunt would have been a thousand dollars a night, since we'd have to pay another $500 for an additional adult. But because I was alone with the boys, $1,000 for a full, three-day vacation all-in seemed very fair. I signed on and was psyched.

We took off in the morning on Monday and spent the early part of the day at Hyde Park touring FDR's family estate (perfect for President's Day, huh?). We arrived at the resort just in time for tea, which we snarfed down before heading up to our room. And what a beauty it was: Fully renovated with a working fireplace, deep carpet, a full bed and day bed, and a balcony overlooking Mohonk's mountaintop lake and famed stone tower. This was a HUGE improvement over the last time I had stayed at Mohonk about 9 years ago, when their upgrading endeavors had begun but the still-extant kinks didn't merit their already high room rates. Those old scratchy sheets and blankets have finally been replaced. The doors to the terraces no longer leak cold air. The good news only got better: We headed to the new indoor pool, located in the new spa wing, and found ourselves in a spectacular vaulted structure that spared us that icky, soggy, chloriny feeling you usually get when swimming indoors. We came back to the room and dressed for dinner, which turned out to be not just acceptable resort food. It was truly excellent--I had a 2-inch -thick piece of snapper in a horseradish crust that can rival just about any fish entree I've had anywhere lately. After dinner, we played a little Ping-Pong, stopped in at the evening Victorian Lantern show (just okay, don't even ask me to describe) and headed for bed. The next day was equally lovely--highlighted by hours upon hours in the new outdoor skating pavillion. Long a skating hater, I have found a new love. I just wonder if skating indoors at our local hockey arena will have the same magic. I was able to squeeze in a brisk walk while the boys hung out and explored the resort and its countless game and sitting rooms. Because check out time the next day was at 2 PM, we truly felt like we had another nearly full day at the resort before we left on Wednesday, fully rested, fully fed, and very very happy.

My final thoughts? Mohonk has really found its way. I grew up visiting New Paltz and peering around the grounds of the hotel, which always looked a little worn at the heels and stodgy. I can say now that, though the price tag is high, this resort finally delivers on all its promise. It has one of the most spectacular locations anywhere, on a mountaintop in the Shawangunk Mountains, surrounded by acres of trail-laced nature reserve. It is unbelieveably close to home (1 hour, 15 minutes from our NYC surburb) yet feels like true mountain country. It has tons to offer, day and night, cold weather and warm, rainy or sunny. The service was terrific. The food was very good and bountiful. I'd say it's a particular value for a single parent who wants to get away with his or her young kids--since, if the resort is offering the package I got, you're only really paying for yourself. But any time of year, for anyone who has a little cash to spare, Mohonk is a treasure and a true value that's not be missed.


  1. I don't know if this is true, but I've always heard that Monhonk provided some of the exterior shots for The Shining. Arguably another reason to make the trek.

    The last time I was there was pre-skating, pre-pool, pre-great food -- we mostly spent our time running after our toddler on the hiking trails to keep him from plummeting down the mountain. And still, it was a great time.

    Jeez, this blog is so good, I think I'm going to follow it! :)

  2. You made my day. And now, I'm following you. I hated 14, too. 13, 15 weren't so great, either.

  3. Peg, Love all your stories. I, as you know, would never escape the Jersey cold for NY cold...but at the end of the day an escape is an escape. Will definately check in on your blog often and hopefully encourage you to leave your computer monitor for a walk with the pooches! Love ya Gorgeous! Meridith

  4. Hey Peg
    This is one way to keep up with you on a regular basis. Good luck. Looking forward to the blog.


  5. Hi, Peg -- Your writing is as lovely as ever. Thank you for doing this! Now, can you help me figure out how not to have this link to the lame blog I started and didn't do anything with a year ago? xo Pat

  6. I always wondered what this place was like. So what did you wear to fancy-pants dinner?