If you remember the Pennsylvania Poconos as an outdated collection of ski resorts and honeymoon havens, you're in for a pleasant surprise. I visited this region of rolling hills tucked in the state's northwest corner for the grand opening of the Skytop Lodge Conference Center. I found a great meeting resort, and a Poconos that had reinvented itself as a posh getaway for New Yorkers and Philadelphians. The area is just a two-hour drive from both cities.
Built as a luxury mountaintop retreat in 1928, the 125-room lodge at Skytop complex is an impressive Dutch Colonial — style stone mansion. A 10-year plan, kicked off in 1998, added the Inn at Skytop and several cottages, giving the resort a total of 193 guest rooms.
The newest addition to the 5,500-acre resort is the Executive Conference Center. Replicating the Dutch Colonial style of the main building, to which it is attached, the conference center accommodates up to 260 for meetings, and includes a 30-seat executive boardroom and 150-seat dining room/meeting room.
Rated by Golf Digest magazine as one of its “Best Places to Play,” Skytop's 18-hole golf course has long been a big draw for the resort. Other amenities include a new full-service spa, a fly-fishing school, skeet shooting, downhill and cross-country skiing, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a 75-acre lake, archery, and tennis.
Nick Jr. magazine has named Skytop Lodge one of America's top family-friendly resorts, and I couldn't agree more. There are lots of daily activities for kids, and the resort makes it easy for parents to enjoy an evening out by making child care easy and affordable.
The resort uses the American Plan, which includes in the room rate three meals in the grand dining room. “Old-world” touches, like requiring men to wear jackets to dinner, seems just right for a resort that respects tradition. One more Skytop tradition my family and I loved: the 16-piece big band that still plays on week-ends. We never even turned on the TV!