Crescent Lodge: a retreat from city life
Peaceful paradise in the heart of the Poconos
In 1947, Jack Dunlop and his wife, Minerva, traveled to the Pocono Mountains and found the perfect spot — a nine-bedroom former boarding house on 28 scenic acres along Route 191 in Paradise Valley.
Bob Dunlop, current Crescent Lodge owner, described his parents as typical “New Yorkers” who discovered their niche in the Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains.
Dunlop was 10-years old and growing up on Long Island, N.Y. when his father purchased the rooming house “in the country” as a retreat from city life. Family and friends gathered there on weekends and summers to play cards and unwind.
The Crescent Lodge, Paradise Valley, was a former boarding house. On a mid-summer evening, there wasn’t a seat available in the dining room. My table had a view of the pool and Dunlop’s collection of vintage cottages he and his father built, one by one, over a 70-year span.
As I scribbled notes in my stenographer’s notebook, I heard a male voice ask, “How’s everything?”
I gazed up and found Dunlop standing next to my table. Whenever he’s in town, he makes his evening rounds to each table. greeting dinner patrons and inquiring about their meals. From the brief conversations I overheard, I wasn’t sure if the customers were close acquaintances or new customers, but nonetheless, I heard rave reviews. Dunlop and his son, Wayne, have built their business by carrying on a tradition of personalized service, flavorsome cuisine, and plentiful portions. Part of their success is attributed to a hands-on approach. On that night, Dunlop’s son, Wayne, was the maitre d, but he also serves as the chef, according to Dunlop.
As I waited for my French Onion Soup appetizer to arrive, Dunlop gave me his undivided attention as he shared decades of stories about his life in the hospitality business.
“My father bought the property and came up often with his friends on the weekends,” Dunlop commented. “When they started the business, they did not charge guests. The guests felt guilty not paying to stay here.”
Patrons will find a touch of vintage charm, whether they choose to stay in the inn or one of the captivating cottages. Each accommodation at the Crescent Lodge has its own distinctive style and is adorned with ample furnishings covered in soft, comfortable fabrics.
Rather than dress his rooms in the most up-to-date fabrics and colors, Dunlop has chosen to retain a style that’s reminiscent of the late 1940s, intermingled with the amenities guests expect. Private bathrooms with a shower and bathtub, toiletries, hair dryer, ironing board, and iron are some of the comforts provided. Many of the cottages feature a fireplace and sunken jacuzzi built for two.
Dunlop has witnessed first-hand significant changes in the hospitality industry. One way to stay up-to-date with trends is the practical approach he has acquired after nearly 70 years in the business by staying in touch with his customers’ needs.
“I was just a kid when my father began to build the cottages in a semi-cirle,” Dunlop explained, referring to the cottages dressed in cedar shingles.
Years later, when he was absorbed in his own career, Dunlop, an architect, made a decision to take over the family business, but his design skills and training weren’t wasted. Upkeep often included building and renovation projects. Cedar is a key element in the cottages’ exterior facade and all but one of the bungalows has a fireplace.
“My parents didn’t know what to do with the (Crescent Lodge) business. So, I gave up my business and I took over,” he said.
While being in the hospitality business is at the very least demanding, Dunlop said a dedication to the business is a necessity.
Anyone who gets into the hospitality business needs to know it’s very time-consuming,” he quipped. “I’m like a doctor. If somebody needs something at three o’clock in the morning, we have to get up and do it, but it’s very rewarding.”
Dunlop draws his dinner clients from a variety of demographics. Folks passing through the Poconos or those with second homes dine with him on a frequent basis and many are faithful followers who have been fans for years. Overnight guests range from honeymooners seeking romance, privacy and outdoor recreational activities to the over 55 crowd, who shop, golf or kick back.
“I have to give my dad credit. He was very progressive for that era. We’ve had a really nice business and we’ve met all sorts of people. You make a lot of people happy. I don’t think we’ve made anybody unhappy,” Dunlop said.
Visit crescentlodge.com for more information regarding rates, menus, deals and packages. You can also find the best deal, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor.
My trip was comped but my opinions are my own.