Monday, August 23, 2010

Skytop Lodge – Reveling in the Unexpected

It’s been a few years since I’ve been to the Poconos.  I had never been to the Skytop Lodge before.  Even though this was one of the few trips that I didn’t have a strict itinerary, I had planned the weekend in my mind.  There was a long drive to deal with from home and then I would arrive on time to enjoy a long, leisurely dinner, followed by some spirits and relaxation in the bar.  Sunday would be a light hike to the waterfalls, some canoeing or kayaking, yoga, and an hour or so relaxing by the pool.  I would finally get to unpack that bag with the bathing suit that had remained – untouched – in my suitcase for six months.  Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, none of that happened.

I’m sure the phrase “making lemonade out of lemons” is a familiar one, but as the child of two disabled parents, it was a motto in my household.  The drive turned into 14 hours and the dining room was closed.  For the first time in a month here, it rained (poured is more accurate) and the indoor pool was full of families trying to stay dry.  But, I was still in at a beautiful resort, a rare all-inclusive for the U.S., though not in the Poconos.  I may not have been able to explore the any of the 14 trails over 30 miles, boat on the lake that Skytop Lodge Activities Director Kim Matthews enjoys early morning for the quiet or at sunset for the array of colors and nature, like beavers ducks and even the appearance of a bald eagle.   I couldn’t play tennis or go dog sledding (yes, they have dog sledding in the summer).  The mountain bikes were put away and there wasn’t any Geo-caching or golf going on.  It was time for me to “make lemonade.”

After I settled the suitcases in my room, I headed down to The Tap Room.  Don’t let the pub-like atmosphere fool you, the menu is filled with more fine dining than burgers.  I winded down with a Santa Ema Sauvignon Blanc and some hummus, before my ribs arrived.  I was ready for the dessert menu full of treats (available in all the restaurants).  The waitress convinced me to go for the Cherries Jubilee.  Though it was nothing like the description on the menu, the (thankfully) small portion of cheesecake with cherries on top, covered in chocolate ganache, rates as one of the best desserts I’ve ever eaten.

I had breakfast in the Skytop Lodge dining room, a buffet that includes made-to-order omelets and a great selection of standard (bacon and eggs Benedict) as well as health-conscious fare.  I confirmed that the day was going to be rain-filled and then explored the main building.  It was filled with mostly families, some enjoying large reunions, a few playing (indoor) miniature golf, still others dropping off the kids at the camp so the adults could get some quiet time. I walked down past the large conference center and stepped outside to get a look at the grounds.  I was drawn in by the beauty and decided to put a raincoat on and explore.

I walked through the cabins (available if you need more space than a standard room) and down past the golf course to the Inn, which includes the golf center, the Lakeview Dining Room and the Deli, two more dining options on the all-inclusive plan.  I parked myself on the (covered) deck and enjoyed the lake view while I read some magazines, enjoyed a Deli sandwich and got caught in a downpour on the way back.  After a quick change to dry clothes, it was a relaxing class of Qi Gong, Afternoon Tea and then a bit more reading before dinner.

Dinner at the Skytop Lodge is like going to a great restaurant each night – without a bill.  There’s a menu full of specially prepared appetizers, soups, salads and entrees.  It was a tough choice, so I asked for a sampling of a few different items (no problem here). The Fresh Mozzarella, with basil, red peppers and caper berries in olive oil and balsamic vinegar was perfect.  I wasn’t thrilled with the Mesquite smoked duck in sweet potato puree and blackberry compote (much more smoky than sweet), but I did love the Honey Melon, Mint & Midori cold soup and the Tortellini with zucchini, spinach, basil oil and shaved Asiago (a Light Menu choice) was delicious.  Gillian Moore, the Public Relations Coordinator for Pocono Mountains, who joined me for diner, enjoyed the Grilled Frenched Chicken with whisky-peach barbecue sauce and macaroni & goat cheese.  Then we had, of course, that Cherries Jubilee.

I’m unable to stay and enjoy the sunshine activities of the Skytop Lodge this trip, but I did learn what the thousands coming here since the 1920s already knew – it can turn into any experience you want it to be.


  1. I've been going to Skytop every summer for the last 12 years I think. It's a wonderful place. The observation deck at night is really terrific.

  2. Sorry I missed that. I will make it a must for the next -- better weather trip!