Mohonk Mountain House is the legendary upstate New York castle where five U.S. presidents have vacationed. Built on the Shawangunk Ridge in New Paltz, the resort is famous for cozy ski weekends and fall foliage appreciation hikes. However, in recent years, Mohonk has endured a nostalgic and at times antiquated image that might have put off more glamorous, luxury-loving visitors. A change was needed, but it was no easy feat to amend the original Mountain House, a National Historic landmark resort. Instead, Grove Lodge, a smaller, updated version, was built, housing six luxurious private suites.
“Families want to be connected when they want and able to lock each other out when they don’t,” said Tom Smiley, the vice president and director of Properties at Mohonk Mountain House. Smiley was speaking of Grove Lodge, the first new addition to the resort in over 100 years.
While Grove lodge’s collection of rocking chairs match the ones at the Mountain House, the smaller building offers a pleasing contrast to the original—being spacious and contemporary in style. All six rooms are available for rental at once, making multigenerational travel uncomplicated. And yes, the suites make it simple to lock grandma out but only when necessary.
Similar to the pre-existing resort, there are no kitchens; guests are expected to enjoy the property’s activities, instead of holing up inside. But don’t worry: They don’t exclusively offer outdoor pursuits, although there is cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. For those who don’t enjoy traipsing around in the sometimes-frigid climate, indoor activities include Pilates, yoga and spa treatments. The entire experience is similar to a wellness retreat, only with Wi-Fi and lengthy, luxurious massages.
Without in-room kitchens, guests gather in the main dining room, reminiscent of a mess hall found at a ritzy sleepaway camp. But instead of peanut butter and Fluff, there are cocktails and mountain views. The resort feels like a throwback to Dirty Dancing, especially when sitting in the rocking chairs overlooking the lake. While there are no Patrick Swayzes hot shoeing around the place, a peaceful view of rowboats completes the sylvan scene.
Grove Lodge was built using natural, local materials, including wood and stone from the Shawangunk Ridge under the building. “Anyone can build a modular building…it is not really what Mohonk is about,” explained Smiley, whose family has owned the resort for 147 years. “Grove Lodge was custom designed a fair bit.” The new lodgings boast geothermal-heated floors, enormous clawfoot tubs and sprawling private porches. They’re much more peaceful than the smaller, noisier rooms inside the main house.
In the spacious great room of the lodge, visitors can gather around a tremendous table built from old timber, constructed by Robert Dellay, a local craftsman who lives at the bottom of the mountain. Collectively, Smiley and Dellay chose the wood for the table, agreeing on a black walnut tree Dellay salvaged in nearby Kingston. Dellay rescued the fallen tree from being turned into wood chips a decade ago and finally found a use for it, by fashioning it into a table big enough for multiple guests, along with matching chairs.
Other materials were repurposed from older buildings onsite and remilled to fit the space. The rooms are sparse but rustic, with vaulted ceilings, modern chandeliers and immense fireplaces. The simple two poster beds are much larger than the ones found in the main house. But the most luxurious feature is the bathroom, with marble floors and enormous soaking tubs and separate showers. The bathroom alone offers its own spa-like retreat.
Mohonk’s longtime interior designer Jim Kattman focused on introducing details in contrasting finishes, for a handcrafted aesthetic. “Our plan for Grove Lodge was for it to carry through the charm, comfort and hospitality that guests feel in the main mountain house, but for it to have its own customized qualities that modernize it and personalize the experience,” Kattman said about the update. “The colors and patterns in Grove Lodge are more muted and modern, whereas the mountain house uses mixed colors and patterns that reflect the era in which it was built,” he explained, referencing the lush, graphic rugs in each room, providing a pop of color.
Kattman and Smiley wanted to make sure the interiors would be timeless and appealing to the many generations passing through. “The paint schemes were light in tone, resisting trendy or bright colors to create a serene, relaxing, timeless ambiance,” Kattman explained. Because of the prevalence of multigenerational travel at the resort, Smiley wanted the new lodge to be tough enough for skating and skiing kids after a day on the slopes while retaining a glamorous edge.
“The team picked things that are going to stand the test of time, and children, and someone who had a little too much to drink last night,” Smiley joked. With visitors coming back from hikes and the nearby ski slopes, the wooden floors need to be able to withstand slush and soil.
Grove Lodge somehow looks like it has been there for a hundred years, easily blending into the scenery and fitting with the original house. But a century ago visitors didn’t expect enormous soaking tubs, a rustic fireplace in every room and access to an open skating pavilion larger than Rockefeller Center a short walk away. The new suites serve as a retreat, only with all of the luxuries found in Manhattan…and a bit more timber.