Perhaps vacationing at a grand resort may be considered by some to be a thing of the past or only for the wealthy. But that would be a major misconception because this experience flourishes nestled deep in the Pocono mountains of Pennsylvania. Skytop Lodge, one of the area’s signature properties, is not only grand in stature but classically all-inclusive. Packed with onsite activities and gourmet meals, your stay can be as active or chill as you want it to be…anything from zip lining, fly fishing, and golf to simply lounging by the pool or out on the portico in a handcrafted rocker with your favorite book.
Winding up a long driveway to this huge granite manse, you immediately get the sense that you’re entering a different era. Besides its spectacular location on a high plateau three miles north of the village of Canadensis, every feature of this property from the vast lobby’s gleaming hardwood floors to meticulously maintained grounds take you back to 1928 when the estate was constructed. Now occupying more than 5,000-acres, Skytop is a member of the Historic Hotels of America. The service you receive from housekeeping to wait staff reflects genuine courtesy along with extreme attention to detail making families with antsy children and discerning world travelers equally at home here.
One of the best features at Skytop is that all meals besides alcoholic beverages are included in your room rate. This dining arrangement allows a more carefree approach to your daily schedule and sets you up with a mind-bogglingly diverse selection of dishes prepared by roughly 60 kitchen staff led by Johnson and Wales trained Executive Chef Steve Sundberg and Chef Christa Kuhar. On property for over 25 years, Sundberg has mastered the art of juggling multiple dining events happening each day on the Skytop campus.
Steve attributes his inspiration for becoming a chef to his multi-ethnic upbringing in Brooklyn with a Swedish father and Greek mother. Experimentation with flavors and other cultural influences continually shape dishes like pan seared boneless duck breast over warm lentil salad, lavender honey & tropical fruit salsa; and Grilled Mojito swordfishsteak & avocado-lime salsa served with smashed black beans and a roasted red pepper coulis.
Dinner at Skytop is a five course affair, complete with old-fashioned finger bowls and sport jackets required for men maintaining a genteel atmosphere. During my visit, I was able to try his tasty offerings including sauteed Chilean Sea Bass on a bed of sushi rice and broccoli rabe garnished by a light citrus aoli. Their Sunday Jazz brunches especially can't be missed for their wide variety of house baked goodies like mini petit fours as well as succulent lamb chops and fall-off-the-bone short ribs. All bread is baked fresh daily while fruits & vegetables are locally sourced whenever possible. “One thing I'm most proud of”, Steve says, “We give our guests a different culinary experience each night they are with us with menus never being the same.”
Working off the Calories
There are plenty of activities here at Skytop to experience the Pocono outdoors at its finest no matter what the season. Fun ranges from the more familiar like golf, hiking, and fishing to a plethora of other pursuits you’d be hard pressed to find at similar resorts. For instance, dog sledding…even during summer! 24 huskies live on site and are managed in partnership Snow Caps Sled Dogs. You can watch the dogs being hooked up to the sleds, learn mushing commands and actually drive the sled on their 1.5 mile loop course. Since these dogs are always champing at the bit to exercise, winter snow sleds are easily outfitted with wheels for dry ground runs.
Another activity I didn't get a chance to try but marveled at was lawn bowling. This sport has been an integral part of Skytop Lodge since the 1930s. Quintessentially an English sport yet considered to have originated when the Romans introduced the game to countries throughout their empire, stones eventually yielded to the weighted balls now used most closely approximating Italy's boccie.
With over 5,000 acres of grounds to explore, there are plenty of hiking trails to escape civilization for a while. From the very beginning, hiking at Skytop was integrated into the experience with blazed trails leading to all of Skytop's scenic areas. Onsite naturalist Rick Koval leads guided excursions identifying local flora and fauna ranging from porcupine, black bear and beaver, as well as some of the approximately 175 different bird species recorded on Skytop property alone.
Coverage made possible by participating in a sponsored visit.
Brunch Treats...Don't Worry, You'll Burn It Off
Skytop Chef Steve Sundberg
Lawn Bowling in Action
Pick Your Rocker