If you remember the Pennsylvania Poconos as an outdated collection of ski resorts and honeymoon havens, you're in for a surprise. I visited this region of rolling hills tucked in the state's northeast corner for the grand opening of the Skytop Lodge Conference Center. I found a great meetings 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 the Skytop complex is an impressive Dutch Colonial — style stone mansion. A 10-year plan that kicked off in 1998 added the Inn at Skytop as well as 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 style of the main building, to which it is attached, the center also echoes the main lodge in its use of pine paneling, and arts-and-crafts — style furnishings. The center accommodates up to 260 for meetings, and includes a 30-seat executive boardroom and 150-seat dining/meeting room. Tech amenities include wireless Internet access, built-in projectors, and wireless microphones.
Rated one of Golf Digest magazine's “Best Places to Play,” Skytop's 18-hole golf course has long been a big draw. 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 … the list goes on and on.
Nick Jr. magazine named Skytop one of America's top family-friendly resorts. There are lots of activities for kids, and the resort makes it easy for parents to enjoy an evening out by making child care easy and affordable.
I also liked that the resort uses the American Plan, which includes three meals in the grand dining room in the room rate. The food was high quality and imaginative, and the Old World touches, like requiring men to wear jackets in the evening, seems just right for a resort that respects tradition. One more Skytop tradition my family and I loved: the 16-piece big band that plays at the resort on weekends. We never even turned on the TV!