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24 HOURS IN THE POCONOS

I have a few favorites in life and one of them is when someone opens everything for you. Welcome to The Lodge at Woodloch.

The Lodge at Woodloch in Hawley, Pennsylvania

This luxurious spa resort has garnished so many awards and accolades over the years, I'll just go with this one: Condé Nast Traveler's Gold List: "World's Best"

After cruising the winding country roads (sunroof wide open of course) of the Poconos en route to The Lodge at Woodloch, I was initially greeted by the attendant opening the gated entrance welcoming me onto the grounds of the exclusive spa resort.

Next, the valet opened the door to the A5, whisked my blue Samsonite off and held the French doors open as I passed this striking chandelier on the way to reception.

The Lodge at Woodloch

The Lodge at Woodloch

Check-in was a breeze and Debra, the front desk associate, gave me a quick tour of the resort. My room wasn't ready just yet, as I had arrived earlier than expected—so I headed across the lobby to their restaurant, TREE. Lunch was sounding like a great idea.

Coming from New England, it must have been engrained in my mind to start off with the "New England Crab Roll." A fresh, healthy approach to the crab cake, served similar to a lobster roll—the dish incorporated sesame-encrusted avocado, Napa cabbage and was served with a side of steamed edamame. Finished, I decided to sip the rest of the Pinot Noir amidst the fresh spring air on a nearby balcony.

The Lodge at Woodloch

The Lodge at Woodloch

My room was ready. The spacious veranda deluxe guest room screamed relaxed elegance with that luxurious nature-inspired feel to it, an envious master bathroom with separate water closet, dual vanity and a marble walk-in shower. The oh-so comfortable king poster bed overlooked the secluded woodlands and Little Lake Teedyuskung—all from my private veranda.

But, perhaps my favorite moment upon entering the room, could have been this..

The Lodge at Woodloch

The Lodge at Woodloch

Just as I was unwinding, I remembered an itinerary had been planned by Woodloch's personal concierge. This was amazing. As someone who is an ADD, anxious, OCD-toting individual, this made me feel carefree and overly pleased.

First on the agenda.. a caviar facial. I wrapped myself in the plush bathrobe and headed over to the spa.

Welcomed by the spa concierge, I was shown to the men's spa retreat, where the spa attendant gave me a brief overview and set me up with my personal locker. The retreat is complete with private showers, a sauna, steam room and whirlpool. As I had arrived early (am I always early or what?), I laid back in the fireplace lounge to enjoy some cucumber-infused H2O while waiting for my esthetician to retrieve me.

Shortly after, Lindsay introduced herself and guided me to a private treatment room for my luxurious Kerstin Florian caviar facial.

I have nothing but applause to give Lindsay, as she was so well-mannered, making me feel completely at ease with both my surroundings and well-being, totally enlightened—I was on the verge of telling her my life story, but stopped myself as I didn't want her to cut the treatment short. 😉

The 8-step, nearly 2 hour long facial was absolutely what the doctor ordered. In between the heated, hand and foot moisture wraps and mini-massages, I left the spa with radiant skin, feeling reinvigorated and renewed.

With a few hours before my dinner reservation at TREE, I knew exactly where I was headed.

The Lodge at Woodloch in Hawley, Pennsylvania

The infinity spa overlooks the Pocono's dense forestland, even complemented by frolicking whitetail fawn. It's kind of out of a storybook; you'll have to see it for yourself to believe it. Feeling content, I was quite lucky to have it all to myself. I'm not selfish, I swear. Ok, maybe a little.

It was finally that time and I rushed over to TREE to indulge in the restaurant's fresh, farm-to-table cuisine.

TREE at The Lodge at Woodloch in Hawley, Pennsylvania

Sounds from the crackling fire lured me in.

TREE at The Lodge at Woodloch

TREE at The Lodge at Woodloch

First things first, a seasonal cocktail. I went with the "Purist." This hand-crafted martini is concocted with Purus organic vodka, TreeHouse-infused mint syrup, Thatcher’s organic cucumber liquor, fresh cucumbers, limes and garden rosemary-finished with Spindrift lemon spritzer. Yum!

The amuse-bouche shooter, teamed with wild mushroom and crème fraîche, found its way to the table and was a perfect start when coupled with the mouthwatering pretzel roll. Prepping for beach season, I only savored one.

TREE at The Lodge at Woodloch

TREE at The Lodge at Woodloch

For the 1st course, I requested the Roasted Lato Sud Farm Carrots. 2nd course: Pomegranate & Citrus Salad. 3rd course: Red Wine Braised Boneless Beef Short Rib.

TREE at The Lodge at Woodloch

TREE at The Lodge at Woodloch

The heirloom carrots with mandarin orange were a hit; the earthy and citrus flavors meticulously melted in my mouth when paired with maple syrup, cinnamon, sage and arugula purée.

TREE at The Lodge at Woodloch

TREE at The Lodge at Woodloch

Topped with crispy mushrooms, the tender boneless beef short rib was over smashed potato and confit baby carrots with a red wine braising jus.

I immediately took note of and appreciated the portion sizes. They were just right! For dessert, the Apple Chai Tacos were loudly whispering my name.

TREE at The Lodge at Woodloch

TREE at The Lodge at Woodloch

Served taco-style in a tuile shell, they were filled with decadent apple chai compote and topped with almond slivers. The warm caramel sauce was the icing on the cake!

Service within TREE was relaxed, yet refined and as expected, very well-orchestrated.

TREE at The Lodge at Woodloch

TREE at The Lodge at Woodloch

But seriously, with a view as serene as this—it left me craving a 5th course. Oh wait, I have chocolate-covered strawberries waiting for me in the room!

Before the evening was over, I had a decorative birdhouse-making class to attend. Not knowing what to expect, I started off feeling overwhelmed with the endless choices, but ultimately chose my favorites. The majority of the all-natural accompaniments, such as tree bark and pussy willows—came directly from the property.

The Lodge at Woodloch

The Lodge at Woodloch

With a hot glue gun by my side, I went to work..

I literally couldn't have been any happier with the way my project came out! It's whimsical and magical. After taking a deep breath, I let my imagination come to life. I'll be jealous of the lucky bird that gets to call this home.

Returning to my room and ready for bed, I was excited to see turn down service had occurred. My curtains were closed, bed lamps on and a special note awaited, "A certain darkness is needed to see the stars." I woke up early the next day to take a jog on the trails which the veranda overlooked.

The Lodge at Woodloch

The Lodge at Woodloch

Knock, knock and breakfast room service has arrived. The attendant found the perfect spot for me to enjoy breakfast right on the veranda—being a much warmer spring morning. From the lip smacking goat cheese, shaved Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and tarragon omelet to the quinoa, kale and red potato hash—every selection was to die for.

The Lodge at Woodloch

The Lodge at Woodloch

The healthful smoothie, side by side fresh pineapple, carrot, basil and ginger juice was just what I needed to energize my body for the Lake Wallenpaupack hike I would soon be headed to.

And that's exactly where I was headed next, to hike the Lake Wallenpaupack trail!

Lake Wallenpaupack in the Poconos

Lake Wallenpaupack in the Poconos

Lake Wallenpaupack is the 3rd largest lake in Pennsylvania with 52 miles of shoreline and is a majestic sight in the Pocono Mountain's Lake Region. You may have seen it on NBC's The Office. Hiking and recreational opportunities abound, check it out!

It was time to check out of The Lodge at Woodloch, feeling enlivened and totally refreshed, I needn't be sad because I knew that the spirit of Woodloch would follow me home.

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