Catskills Weekend: Mohonk Mountain House

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Picture the opening scene to Dirty Dancing—Baby and family pull up to a swanky mountain resort with affluent guests playing silly games and enjoying the great outdoors. You now have a pretty good picture of Mohonk Mountain House.

If you’re in a darker mood, the hotel in The Shinning would also paint a good picture, but personally, I think I’d rather stick with Dirty Dancing.

Greg and I were feeling the urge to get away from the city and spend some time outdoors, so over Labor Day weekend we escaped to the Catskills. Mohonk Mountain in New Paltz, New York—only about two hours outside the city—was our first stop.

Sadly, there was no sexy Patrick Swazye teaching dance classes, but luckily, no one was playing goofy games on the lawn. Instead, guests here get to take advantage of beautiful gardens, hiking trails, a lake with a beach, and a spa.

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 The house is a beautiful Victorian building—more of a castle than a house—with many cozy common rooms and an long porch overlooking the lake.

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In the 19th and early 20th century, resorts like Mohonk were really common in the Hudson Valley near the foot of the Catskills. But as Max Kellerman muses at the end of Dirty Dancing, at some point ‘it all seemed to slip away,’ these resorts fell out of fashion, and now only a handful are left. (Incidentally, I found out that the resort used in the movie is actually a place in Virginia called the Mountain Lake Hotel.) 

Nowadays, a stay at this lovely retreat starts at $340 single occupancy/ $580 double occupancy and climbs up from there. Grrrr.

While I'd love to be able to hide here for a weekend, we were on a budget getaway, and it was just not in the cards. 

My brilliant and frugal hubby, however, figured out that one can take advantage of the grounds as a day guest for $25 per person on a weekend, or better yet, if you're willing to pay slightly more for a meal ($55/person at the time of our visit -- $57/person in October) you are granted full access to the grounds, the lake, and the house. A spa trip will also gain you the same access. (All this is info is right there on the website, but Greg was the one who actually took the time to do the homework. Note that any of these day options require a reservation.)


We stopped in for lunch, which was fine.  The food was pretty good for it was, but subject to some of the problems of any large format buffet—meats slightly overdone with sometimes indifferent flavors, and a somewhat impersonal feel. The sides and cold plates were pretty tasty. There were a couple of stations that prepared items à la minute, but alas, I did not see these until I'd already filled my plate. 

After our meal, we took full advantage of our access to the grounds.

We walked through the garden and took a hike.

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We took a boat ride on the lake.


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And we even took advantage of the tea and cookies that are served to the guests every evening on the deck.

Tea and Cookie Time

Truly, a lovely afternoon.

We really didn't want to leave. And while we knew we'd gotten a bargain by just going for the afternoon, we did contemplate trying to hide in one of those beautiful common rooms for the night.  We really thought about it. We didn't actually do it, but it did kind of put a slight damper on our otherwise very adequate room at a HoJo for the weekend. 

*Sigh* Maybe someday. 

For even more, you can check out my flickr album.

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