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March 2016

Fishing Fishing Destinations

The Tailwater Lodge is a fly angler’s haven

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  • March 14, 2016

Woodbine Group breeds new life into orphaned buildings

The Tailwater Lodge, Altmar, NY 

Only steps away from The Tailwater Lodge is a lush, green shoreline along the Salmon River.

Tom Fernandez was traveling to fish in the lower fly zone of the Salmon River when he saw a “for sale” sign on the former Altmar Elementary School.

Fernandez said, “The rest is history.”

He’s an avid fly angler and a representative of The Woodbine Group, a privately-held, family-run commercial real estate holding, and development company based in Syracuse, NY. The school was built in 1935 as the Altmar Elementary School and was vacant for approximately six years when The Woodbine Group purchased the two-story, 32,000 square foot structure from the school district in March 2013. Following an eight-month construction process, the Tailwater Lodge opened with a project cost close to seven million dollars.

The design team included Edwin I Harrington Architects; Charity Buchika, interior design; Lan Co., site work; and interior hardwood and case goods by Artistry in Wood and Cab Fab.

Fernandez’s step-father, Norman Swanson founded the business in 1978. The Woodbine Group breathes new life into abandoned buildings like elementary schools, abandoned Jewish temples and former medical arts’ buildings through adaptive reuse projects.

“As my step-father says he finds ‘orphans’ and then breathes new life into them,” Fernandez explained. “That’s our business model. We are very sustainable. We have a very environmentally centric way of developing…”

Rather than tear down old buildings and start from the ground up, Fernandez said his family feels it’s necessary to revitalize this area of the country to bring new growth.

“There are some amaTailwater 3zing buildings that have been abandoned and we choose to embrace that history and show what the northeast has to offer.”

The renovation of the building was more of a facelift with changes and updates made to the façade and the reappointment of space. Contractors were also able to utilize the majority of the windows and interior doors. Reclaimed timber conjures a “lodgey” feel, but don’t let the word “lodge” fool you. The Tailwater offers 42 guest rooms with unparalleled comfort and style and is one of two Orvis endorsed lodges in New York State.

“The large doors into the foyer, bar, birch walls, front desk pods were all reclaimed timber,” Fernandez says. “I think the restaurant and bar really stand out. Walking in and seeing the painting by Bob Ripley across the wall really brings the ‘lodginess” of the Tailwater out.”

Pulaski 2015 Rosangela Freitas
Rosangela Freitas, Trout Unlimited member, casts into the frigid water of the Salmon River in Altmar, NY.

Following an afternoon of fly fishing in the Salmon River, or any year-round outdoor activity, the Tailwater’s rustic décor, superb gut-pleasing meals served in the former gymnasium, over-the-top comfortable mattresses, custom-made in upstate New York, and bathrooms with large shower units and plentiful hot water will beckon you to come inside.

A refrigerator, free high-speed wireless internet, flat-screen cable TV, and a hearty, complimentary hot breakfast will prepare you for a day of searching for fish in the surrounding waterways or snowmobiling on the C5A Trail groomed trail system. Guests can don their gear and find onsite direct access to the Salmon River only footsteps away and upon their return to the lodge, can rinse their gear in the wader wash area and then store them in the facility’s locker area.

Fernandez noted, “The Tailwater Lodge caters to individuals and groups looking to tailor their experience.”

For more information, visit tailwaterlodge.com.

Read about my fishing guide blog here.

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Kalahari Resorts and Convention Center

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  • March 12, 2016
Resorts

Kalahari Resorts and Conventions Pocono

A Treasure trove 

of fun and African culture

Kalahari Resorts and Conventions’ Pocono Mountain location is a cultural treat for children and adults alike.

The resort is a treasure trove of African culture and folk art that offer endless educational opportunities for the youngest to the oldest guest. While children will be eager to check-in and head directly to the waterpark and arcade, each photograph and sculpture tells a story and is certainly worth your time to tour and ponder.

resorts
Art abounds at Kalahari Pocono.

Take time to experience art 

Kalahari is museum-like and the careful attention to detail reflects the Nelson family’s fascination and respect for indigenous African art, folklore, and culture. The resort provides an impressive and thoughtful selection of artifacts, photographs, and statuettes the family collected during their 11 or more journeys to the continent.

Head to the waterpark

No doubt the draw for kids is the family-oriented 100,000 square foot indoor waterpark. Even the names of most of the water park attractions: Anaconda, Lazy River, Crocodile Cove, Indoor/Outdoor Family Whirlpool, Wild Wildebeest, Lost Lagoon, Tanzanian Twister, Thirsty Turtle Swim Up Bar, Rippling Rhino, Zimbabwe Zipper, Splashdown Safari, Barrelling Baboon, Tiko’s Watering Hole evoke a sense of adventure. There’s an attraction for every age and when patrons need a break, they can find relaxation in one of the private indoor cabanas fitted with a flat screen TV, chaise lounges, and refrigerator.

More fun awaits you

And then, outside the water park, there’s the arcade with a whopping 30,000 square feet of video games and contests, Blacklight Mini-Golf, Mini-Bowling, and the NEW XD Dark Ride 5-D Theater. Kids and adults can move from one game to the next and effortlessly spend hours getting their visual fix.

When it’s time to refuel… 

The eateries within the resort are particularly geared towards kids and families, but older children and grown-ups can also dine peacefully. Servers are well-trained and eager to please.

Your choices are Brandberg Food & Drink, Great Karoo Marketplace Buffet, Ivory Coast Restaurant, Felix’s Bar, The Last Bite, Java Manjaro, Café Mirage, Waterpark Dining and Pizza Pub. You’ll want to make a dessert stop at Last Bite Candy & Ice Cream and Java Manjaro, Kalahari’s signature cafe that features handpicked Rwandan coffee beans that are brewed on-site. In the background, recorded drum music from the streets of Cape Town resonates and enhances the African theme and helps to set the stage from the moment you arrive at the main entrance.

After your Safari adventure…

When you’re ready to call it a day, Kalahari offers 457 African-themed rooms and suites that are equipped to meet the needs of traveling families. The two-bedroom suite is equipped with one king size bed, two queen size beds and a queen size sofa sleeper that provides ample room for adults to relax without disturbing sleeping children. A coffee maker, television, refrigerator, flat screen televisions, and free Wi-Fi are a few of the standard amenities.

What to bring

Don’t worry about packing a suitcase full of clothes and gear. A swimsuit, cover-up, flip-flops and casual attire are all you’ll need for your overnight stay at Kalahari Resorts and Conventions Pocono.

A weekly special Character Breakfast is held on Saturday morning beginning at 10:50 a.m. at Brandberg Food & Drink. Breakfast gets underway at 11:00 a.m. The cost is adults/$25 and children/$15 and includes visits with character friends, family style dining, games, music, coloring contests, and great photo opportunities. Reservations are required and must be made in advance.

For more details regarding lodging and activities, visit kalahariresorts.com/pennsylvania.

To read my full recap at visitpoconos.com, click here.

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Pocono Mountain Retreats Spa Destinations Yoga

Yoga Journey at The Lodge at Woodloch

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  • March 12, 2016
Spa

Tune into your body

Spa
Kimberly Matthew teaches Chakra Yoga at The Lodge at Woodloch.

An award-winning Spa destination offers self-discovery activities

Find your reprieve at The Lodge at Woodloch

Imagine a world-class Spa destination where you can leave your troubles behind.

“Some people need more room in their bodies, some people need more room in their mind. Some students simply need to relax and move at a different pace from everyday life.”

                                   Kimberly Matthew, yoga instructor

Kimberly Matthew’s goal is to turn people on to the world of yoga.

Open level yoga

Matthew teaches beginner to intermediate Chakra Yoga, one of many self-discovery activities offered to guests at The Lodge at Woodloch, an award-winning luxury adult-only Spa destination in the lake region of the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.

A perfect start to your day

Her morning Chakra Yoga class provides a perfect start to your day and is perhaps the first step on your personal journey to total mind-body revitalization. A large glass window overlooking a portion of the woodland retreat is in and of itself, sedative. Matthew’s class began with moments of meditation to prepare the mind and body for 50-minutes of beginner to intermediate yoga asanas designed to stimulate and balance your energy centers for physical, spiritual and mental wellness.

Focus is on the seven energy center of the body 

Joan Mead-Matsui Tree Pose
Yoga class bright and early

“Chakra yoga focuses on the seven energy centers of the body,” Matthew said, but she also noted, “I think all styles of yoga help people connect with their bodies, their breath, and their energy body.”

Alleviate or eliminate lower back pain

Her personal journey with yoga began when she was experiencing acute sciatica. When different modalities failed to ease the pain, Matthew turned to yoga, which can alleviate or eliminate pain in the lower back and leg associated with sciatica.

Matthew chose teacher training to help other people out of their pain cycles. She completed her training and certification at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Lenox, MA, and has been teaching yoga for 18 years to students with dramatic brain injury and Parkinson’s to well, able-bodied people.

“I love to people watch and it helps everyone,” she said. “I even have a dear student who is 94- years-old, who flows through sun salutation and forward bends to grab her big toes. I tell her, ‘Lorraine, I want to be like you when I grow up.”

What are some of the benefits of yoga practice?

Matthew said, “Yoga brings on a sense of well-being by creating awareness, by opening soft tissue so joints move more freely…” and her goal for each class is “to connect with each student individually and give them exactly what they need.”

Students are encouraged to participate at a level that is right for them.

“If they have any pain or discomfort they need to back off and if they have to work at breathing, they need to ease out of the stretch a bit. Some people need more room in their bodies, some people need more room in their mind. Some students simply need to relax and move at a different pace from everyday life,” she said.

In addition to Chakra Yoga, Matthew also teaches several styles of meditation from labyrinth walking to mala meditation and meditation 101.

Visit thelodgeatwoodloch.com for more information.

IMG_9796
A morning yoga class at The Lodge at Woodloch
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Mount Airy Casino Resort

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  • March 12, 2016

Rustic decor, fun dining

at Guy Fieri’s Mount Pocono Kitchen

Mount Airy Casino Resort eateries sure to please

The rustic decor at Guy Fieri’s Mt. Pocono Kitchen, Bistecca, By IL Mulino, a combination of steakhouse and Italian cuisines;  Lucky 8 Noodle + Sushi Bar, The Buffet, Red Mango Yogurt Café, Starbucks, and Nostalgia Candy Store all offer distinctive cuisine. You won’t need to walk more than a few feet when hunger pangs set in because the restaurants are situated along the perimeter of the casino floor. Light fare is also available at the Get Wet Pool Bar, a 52,000 square foot, indoor/outdoor, four season pool complex and entertainment venue.

Mount Airy Casino Resort offers its guests an award-winning dining experience. Best Ambiance, Best Service, Most Romantic, Best Special Occasion are among the awards the restaurants at the casino resort have earned. 

Guy Fieri followers might ask, “So, what’s the atmosphere at Guy’s Mt. Pocono Kitchen?”

“Relaxed and fun,” is how Bill Goeke, front of the house manager at the Mt. Pocono kitchen described the atmosphere at the restaurant.

The interior was designed to offer a rustic feel and while the rough-hewn lumber used throughout the restaurant could easily be found in other eateries, there’s simply no denying the decor at Guy Fieri’s Mount Pocono Kitchen is distinctive and has received the thumbs-up from Guy Fieri, the iconic star of the Food Channel’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

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Every item on the menu is approved by Guy Fieri and his people, according to Goeke. Chef Devan Gerhart came up with the ideas for the menu selections and then presented them to Fieri and his staff.

Among the new items on the menu are “Hall of Fame” Brisket Tacos that feature house-smoked brisket, topped with citrus slaw, avocado, chipotle creme and pico de gallo on white corn tortillas and the Ultimate Asian Chicken Wrap, filled with minced chicken, Southeast Asian Spring Rolls, Thai Skewers, and paired with three sauces: Chipotle Peanut, Sesame Ponzu, and Sweet Thai Chil served with six crisp lettuce cups. Guy Fieri’s Mount Pocono Kitchen has the largest in-house smoker in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

To view the breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, click here.

Customer service is also a priority. The staff makes frequent stops at each table to be sure customers are satisfied and Goeke circulates from table-to-table to be sure customers are pleased with their meals.

He said, “I go around to the tables and ask ‘How’s everything?’ I get feedback and I want to hear about their experience. You can get a burger anywhere, but here, you can get a burger and have a fun time.”

Guy’s restaurant is open 24 hours.


Luxury lodging, a 16,000 square foot spa, and salon, 24-hour exercise facility, lakeside 18-hole golf course, gaming with more than 1,600 slot machines and 70 table games, a variety of restaurants, and nightlife equal a vacation getaway you’ll savor.

Learn more about Mount Airy Casino Resort at www.mountairycasino.com

Click here to read my spa and complete wrap up stories at visitpoconos.com

Congratulations to the Lisa DeNaples, Mount Airy Casino Resort Owner and her staff for yet another AAA Four Diamond Award® Designation. 

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A twist on French cuisine at The French Manor Inn and Spa

  • By
  • March 4, 2016
French cuisine

French cuisine with a twist

lighter flavors and seasonal vegetables

The French Manor Inn and Spa

French cuisine
Adam LaFave, The French Manor Inn and Spa executive chef

Executive chef Adam LaFave’s menus feature French cuisine with a twist.

LaFave recently launched his spring-summer menu and two of his favorite courses on his new menu happen to both be appetizers.

“The French Manor is an atmosphere where you can come in and enjoy the food. Even when you’re coming up the driveway, it feels like you’re in another world. ” Adam LaFave 

“The first one is a foie gras torchon rolled in crushed pistachios, with Brulee peaches and a sweet wine gelee finished with a shallot jam. The second is escargot with beef bone marrow, roasted garlic brioche crostini, grilled oyster mushroom, parsley, lemon powder, onion marmalade and finished with a fig and port wine reduction,” said LaFave.

If your mouth is watering at the thought of decadent French cuisine, read on.

Anyone with a hankering for succulent beef will delight in Chef LaFave’s aged NY strip steak rubbed with a black trumpet mushroom powder and accompanied by a crispy potato rose, sautéed Swiss chard and finished with maître d’ butter as an entree. A roasted Cornish game hen dish accompanied by mushrooms, Boursin Polenta and Glace de Poulet is another addition to the menu.

What’s his first step when he’s planning a new menu?
French cuisine
Chef Adam LaFave put the finishing touch on an appetizer.

Months before, he said, “The first thing I think of when I create a dish is to highlight. If I use halibut, I think about what works well with halibut. I love truffle risotto and I think that compliments the dish. The richness from the risotto and the mushrooms cut well with the little bit of acidity from the Blood Orange Beurre Blanc.”

 

“Experimenting is definitely fun. I get smaller amounts of ingredients and experiment with them. If I like how it goes together, I’ll feature it.” 

LaFave crafted his French cuisine inspired spring-summer menu with lighter flavors and seasonal vegetables and whenever possible, he supports local growers.

“Currently, we are buying oyster mushrooms from a local grower,” LaFave explained.

Herbs grown on the premises will be cut daily and used to flavor and accentuate his dishes.

LaFave began his career at The French Manor as a dishwasher when he was 16-years-old. After two years, he was allowed to do kitchen prep work and soon realized his affinity for the culinary arts.

“I worked with the chef for a while and I went to Marywood University for criminal justice,” he said. “I worked here cooking full time for a year and enrolled in Johnson & Wales culinary arts program in Providence, RI.”

After graduation, he was a chef at several local restaurants before finding his way back to The French Manor. One of the things he loves most about his work at the manor is the laid-back atmosphere.

“It’s not as fast-paced as some restaurants, so there’s more time for making sure the plate looks really appealing and adding more components. We don’t have to hurry to get the food out. I like the artistic side and that’s a lot of fun for me.” 

If you’re in a quandary about what to order, chances are the staff has sampled each item and is eager to answer any questions about ingredients used. Feel free to ask your server for his recommendations.

“The staff will come in two hours earlier than they regularly do to go over the new menu. I explain everything and go back and cook one or two of each dishes so they can try them,” LaFave said.

Even the least adventurous diner will find a palate-pleasing selection because there’s literally something for everyone: meat, poultry, fish, seafood and vegan and vegetarian dishes.  Be sure to let the staff know if you have food allergies or restrictions and LaFave said he’ll come up with a dish based on your dietary needs.

“After you get to the point where you know how to make food taste great, then it’s really fun to experiment and you can do different plating designs to enhance the appearance. We try to find a balance. I try to accommodate everyone.”

Breakfast and dinner are served daily in the historic dining room and Hanna’s Cafe. Visit thefrenchmanor.com/dining for more information.

 

 

French cuisine
The French Manor Inn and Spa, South Sterling, PA Photos by Joan Mead-Matsui

The French Manor Inn and Spa is an enchanting full-service, family-owned inn modeled after a chateau in the north of France.

I enjoyed a memorable overnight stay at the inn two months ago and had an opportunity to experience a full course meal prepared by Chef Adam.

French cuisine
Sliced strawberry with feta cheese, candied orange, micro greens, and finished with a 30 year aged balsamic vinegar

On a late winter evening in February, I was seated in a comfortable upholstered chair listening to Frank Sinatra tunes by the fireplace as my server delivered each course of this outrageously delicious meal to me.

  • Sliced strawberry with feta cheese, candied orange, micro greens, and finished with a 30-year aged balsamic vinegar
  • red beet salad with feta, candied pecans, orange supreme, pickled shallots, candied orange slice, and spring mixed tossed in a ginger-citrus vinaigrette
  • apricot sorbet
  • pan seared halibut accompanied with truffle risotto, sautéed black trumpet mushrooms, and shaved truffles finished with a blood orange Beurre blanc

Read more about The French Manor Inn and Spa at visitpoconos.com.

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