It’s rare to find a luxury resort that can boast two generations of ownership, let alone five. But deep in the heart of the Hudson Valley lies a sprawling family-owned estate that’s been a travel destination for nature-lovers and adventure seekers who want to fully immerse themselves in the great outdoors. Yes, we’re referring to East Coast gem Mohonk Mountain House Resort which has helped guests “refresh and renew” both body and mind aside a glacial lake and miles of majestic forest as far as the eye can see for 155 years. Founded by Albert Smiley in 1869, the original 300-acre, 10-room property has since expanded to 262 rooms, with access to some 40,000 acres of land — not to mention decades of memories from its loyal clientele.
“We probably have about 40% of guests who are repeat [clients], which is high,” says Nina Smiley, Mohonk’s director of mindfulness programming, to TZR. “Often it's generational [...] I was talking to a guest one year and I asked, ‘How long has your family been coming?’ And she thought for a while and said, ‘We've been coming for five generations.’ I looked at her and said, ‘You started with us.’”
The secret sauce to Mohonk’s centuries-long success can likely be summed up in one phrase: location, location, location. The property is 90 miles outside of NYC, making it an easily accessible respite for those seeking an escape from the city’s hustle and chaotic energy. In fact, since the very beginning, Albert’s goal for the property was to let nature truly take its course in healing guests from the inside out. “Albert Smiley would take his guests out on the cliffs and out for hikes,” says Nina. “We have pictures of women in Victorian [long] skirts and they're outdoors, hiking. So that was always the opportunity, to be out in nature and be inspired by nature.”
The more things change, the more they stay the same. With each generation of Smiley leadership, the nature-driven ethos as well as many of the original recreational activities have remained in tact. Current visitors can still expect epic hiking excursions (with some 85 miles of trails to explore), fishing, swimming, kayaking in the half-mile long lake, and horseback riding.
But, like every other industry, hospitality businesses must evolve with the modern, and often demanding times. Over the past few decades, amenities like an indoor heated swimming pool, golf course, tennis court, and spa have been added to the property’s roster. And this spring, the latest experience, the Via Ferrata will be introduced to guests. The adventurous three-hour excursion “pays homage to the rich rock climbing heritage that has thrived on these mountains for decades,” according to an official press release. For $250 per person, visitors can expect to be guided by professionals from Alpine Endeavors as they traverse aerial bridges and sky ladders, “elevating climbers into a realm that feels suspended between earth and sky.” The adventure also offers prime views of the property’s majestic landscape, spanning across the picturesque Shawangunk Cliffs and the sparkling waters of Lake Mohonk.
In conjunction with the Via Ferrata, the on-site spa created a “contrast treatment” for visitors to enjoy post-hike. “It's called the Après Adventure Massage,” explains Nina. “It's for people who may have been hiking all day or they've done the Via Ferrata. It specifically addresses the muscles and the joints that have been used by your outdoor experience. It has heat packs and muscle cream with CBD — it's a curated experience. It's meant to go along with the outdoor things that you do.”
For those who want to up the holistic wellness ante, additional spa offerings also include everything from curated mindfulness retreats, lakeside immersion spa therapy, and the Lakeview Summerhouse experience, which allows visitors to enjoy their treatments in a unique cliffside setting.
When brainstorming new activities and developments for Mohonk, Nina says the team stays true to the family’s original purpose for the resort. “We circle back to the beginning, and we look at our mission statement, recreation and renewal of body, mind, and spirit in a beautiful, natural setting,” she explains. “We realize that guests are seeking resilience, they're seeking wellness, they're seeking an experience that gives some options. We look to nature as an inspiration.”
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