Mohonk Mountain House: A Tranquil Escape

Mohonk lake
Rowing at Mohonk Mountain House

A Natural Setting with Excellent Service and Premium Rates for Hudson Valley, NY’s Mohonk Mountain House

By Tab Hauser

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Downtime on rocking chairs with a lake view at Mohonk Mountain House.

If you have been cooped up in your house or home office and need a safe and easy escape I recommend a few days of fresh forest air at the Mohonk Mountain House in New York’s Hudson Valley.

Mohonk Mountain House: A Tranquil Escape 1This 151-year-old historic resort sits on 1200 beautiful acres just 90 miles north of New York City.

Coming here is about walking the wooded scented trails and taking part in outdoor activities.

It is also about having downtime in the rocking chairs on the large terraces with lake or mountain views. Being here just feels good. It is time away from the outside madness.

Safety First

Traveling during the pandemic is possible if done right. Before I get into the fun stuff, it is important to understand Mohonk’s COVID-19 rules.

Sanitizing a phone
Spraying nontoxic sanitizer on touch services for added protection

One of the reasons we spent three nights here is because the staff and management do not want to get anyone or themselves sick. To keep the air fresh and clean the resort maximized outside air exchanges with their central air system and installed MERV 13 filters.

This helps protect the dining room and public areas. MERV 13 filters are highly rated and recommended by the state to reduce virus transmission. To keep surfaces clean, we constantly witnessed touch areas wiped.

There are mask signs and hand sanitizing stations all over the place. For added safety when entering our room we opened the doors, windows and balcony to let fresh air in.

We also sprayed all the touch surfaces in our room with www.puregreen24.com which is a non-toxic virus killer.

Temperature Checks and More

All guests must fill out an online medical survey 48 hours in advance. At the gate, there is a temperature check, and you are told that masks must be worn at all times in the building.

Masks may be off while outside or hiking except when you come across others within six feet on the trails.

For meals, guests sit at socially distanced tables. We felt comfortable eating here because of the tall ceilings and clean circulating air. All meals can also be arranged via room service at no extra charge if you prefer.

The Mohonk Resort

Mohonk Eagle Cliff View
The View from the Eagle Cliff trail at the hotel complex.

Mohonk Mountain House has 259 guest rooms, including 28 tower rooms. The imposing hotel, grounds, and its small lake abutting it, make it one of the most eye-appealing, rustic resorts in the world. It is both a National Historic Landmark and a member of the Historic Hotels of America (www.historichotels.com).

Rooms range from basic to those with wood fireplaces and balconies and include robes The resort has an indoor pool, swimming beach, spa area, and seasonal ice skating rink. Our rooms for four nights cost $2000 with a generous discount!

Hiking or Strolling

The Smiley family started the hotel in 1869 with 10 rooms on 300 acres. Their mission was “to provide opportunities for recreation and renewal of body, mind and spirit in a beautiful natural setting”.

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Naturalist guided hike about forests and trees

Today, the Mohonk Mountain House is located on 1,200 acres and is surrounded by the 6,500-acre Mohonk Preserve that the Smiley family donated.

Connecting the two properties is an 85-mile trail system used for hiking, biking, rock-scrambling, and horseback riding.

A favorite activity for guests of all ages is walking the trails. The hotel provides a good map with trail descriptions and the trails are well marked. Walks can range from an easy mile to several and can be connected for all-day hikes.

The most popular hike is a 15-minute stroll up to Sky Top where you can take the stairs to the top of the stone tower.

Here you will get views of the nearby Shawangunk Mountains, Hudson River Valley and the Catskill Mountains in the distance.

Our favorite trails included Eagle Cliff for its views of mountains, sky top tower and the lake.

The spring house hike was heavily forested and takes you to the original spring used by the hotel so bring a water bottle to fill up.

A good warm-up walk is .9 miles around the glacier-formed lake when you arrive.

Tomahawk throwing
Tomahawk throwing released a lot of tension

I recommend taking a few naturalist-led guided hikes.  Each walk specializes on a specific topic about the forest or its wildlife. We always came away learning something new.

Activities

Each day there is list of events posted. This includes different wellness classes such as yoga, stretching, meditation, core, Tai Chi and brisk walks in the woods.

For old-fashioned camp-style fun try archery, tomahawk throwing, rowboats, and canoes. For sporting people, there is tennis and golfing.

You can also hit the trails by bike or horseback. Horse-drawn carriage rides are available with advanced reservations.

Winter activities include skating, snowshoeing, micro spiking and cross country skiing.

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Pandemic era campfire and s’mores for a perfect evening

During the evenings, there may be a campfire with s’mores, movies and nature lectures.

For families, there is a kid’s camp. Activities may be space restricted due to COVID so check with the front desk. Many activities are included in your room rate.

The Barn Museum

When strolling around, visit the Barn Museum with items dating back to the 1800s.  Nearby is the Victorian Show Garden started by founder Albert Smiley.

If this above is not enough to keep you busy, download the 150 things to do from the resorts web site.

A favorite non-activity if the temperatures cooled down in the late afternoon was to go to the great room near the lake porch.

Here were would ask for the fireplace to be lit and sit on the couch by it while reading and relaxing.

Mohonk Dining

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A pretty view on a hazy day on one of the trails

Like most regional old hotels, all meals are included. Each menu had plenty of items to choose from. While dinners were not gourmet, they were good and the staff was very accommodating.

One evening I asked if they can throw a lamb chop on my plate of fish I ordered and it was not a problem.

The dining manager also went out of her way to accommodate a special allergy issue. There is also a good selection of tasty vegetarian dishes.

The Action Station

If you can’t get reservations in the dining room or want to take your food to a terrace, there is a modified buffet called the “action station”.

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Having a sandwich at a summerhouse with a view to Sky Top

The dining room breakfast was always excellent and lunch had plenty of options. In the summer months, there is an outdoor BBQ for lunch.

I  recommend taking out a sandwich and walking up to one of the summer houses on the lake or trails.

A summerhouse is a rustic mini-gazebo with a bench for two. There about 120 of these hand-built little structures. Some sit on the edge of a cliff and have great views.

Mohonk Mountain House Details

Click www.mohonk.com to read up on the history and people that have visited here since 1869. The web site is detailed on its rooms, grounds, and activities. There is also a link to book your stay.

Room rates for two with all meals and many activities start at around $900 including service charges and taxes

When you leave Mohonk consider stopping at some of the nearby farm stands Ulster County is known for. Some of these farms allow you to go to pick your own. For the latest click this link.

Another stop ten minutes down the road is to visit New Paltz and the Historic Huguenot Street with seven original homes from the 1700s.

Mohonk Mountain House
The Grand Mohonk Mountain House in NY Hudson Valley.
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