Whenever I’ve been asked about my favorite spa, I usually reply, “The next one, I like to discover what’s new.” That was true, when I first visited The Lodge at Woodloch, which spa-sphere-star-consultants, Ginny and John Lopis, conceived and developed. These days, with Covid-era protocols to consider, I trust familiar places, which is why I drove from Long Island to Woodloch, in northeastern Pennsylvania, which I had visited with my late husband, Bob, not long after its 2006 launch.
The contemporary Adirondack-style wellness retreat introduces the mood in the garden entry, with an interactive display featuring three oversized crystal “singing” bowls atop a circular, sculpturally-carved wooden base. And, impressive architectural details determine its ambiance: poplar and maple woodwork, oak floors, slate walls, high coffered ceilings, and soaring window walls that view the private 15-acre lake and some of the 500-wooded acres. The predominantly window-walled complex sprawls from the bi-level hospitality core to two tri-level wings—one, a 58-room hotel; the other, a 40,000-square -oot spa/fitness area with 27 treatment rooms, lounges, and a fitness facility with a 3500-square foot cardio-weight space, spinning, and rowing studios. Gracious and spacious his & hers lounges each include steam and sauna and a hot tub and lead back to an appealing, co-ed, window-walled, multi-sensorial indoor pool area, called the Aqua Garden. Here, a bi-level waterfall cascades from an upper whirlpool to a lower one, adjacent to the large, heated indoor pool. (A heated stone patio, outside, leads to another whirlpool, all maintained at 101 degrees) It’s all even more lovely, now, with the recent addition of a new living-room lounge, an art studio, and some decorative updates.
My mid-week escape was the rare chance to feel somewhat “in touch” with the world . . .
Bob particularly appreciated the bar at TREE Restaurant, which is a rare amenity at a spa; and, we both enjoyed the meals. It’s still the fine dining venue that I remembered, with 17.5-foot vaulted window walls and grand wrought iron chandeliers; at dinner, the tables are dressed with Frette cloths and napkins. Beautifully presented, four-course menu choices feature organic, local, farm-raised and “best quality” ingredients and a myriad of gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan options. Freshly pureed juices, poached eggs, salads, grilled fish, chicken, and a variety of vegetables are available; so are temptations for indulgent carnivores—a Korean Steak Bowl, with tender top-cap beef; a big, tender pork chop, and a 10-oz strip steak. And, yes, desserts, including brownies, fruit tarts, cheese cake, and crème brulée are tasty!
Covid-era protocols place the Maitre d’ behind one plexiglass barrier; the marvelous musician, Marc Von Em, who serenaded us at dinner, behind another; covered plates are carried by an all- masked waitstaff to well-spaced tables. Room service and fresh towels are delivered to a table next to the bedroom door, because only the occupant enters a room.
My stay started with a temperature check in my car; we were well-spaced in the dedicated Demo Kitchen, where the Demonstration Chef, Brooks, taught techniques for making Clams Casino, Oysters Rockefeller, and Mussels Marinière; and I was alone in the pool for the Aqua-Jog class and for my walk, when I explored some of the five-miles of well-marked trails, outside. I never reached all three gardens, nor the labyrinth, orchard, apiary, and Blackmore farm, where produce is raised, yet, it was an idyllic hour alone, walking amidst tall trees and a snow-covered lake and watching ice spread its lacy fingers on a little pond.
My mid-week escape, with its natural beauty, indulgent water features, marvelous meals (that I didn’t have to cook), a cooking class, and a so-very-much-needed facial, was the rare chance to feel somewhat “in touch” with the world, while remaining safely socially distant.
I am grateful.
Irvina Lew is an award-winning freelance contributor to a variety of travel books, lifestyle magazines, and websites. As a dedicated spa aficionado, the Long Island, New York native has been introducing readers to the world’s best spa venues and experiences for decades. A Travel Classic alumnus, Lew is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Society of American Travel Writers. Readers can find many of her published pieces posted on her website: irvinalew.com and by following @sipsupstayspa.