The Lodge at Woodloch Reconnects Guests With Nature
What is Forest Bathing?
What comes to mind when you hear the words, “Forest Bathing?”
I admit I was somewhat confused and intrigued the first time I heard the phrase. Is it frolicking under a cascading waterfall or immersion in a cool mountain stream?
Actually, it’s neither. Forest Bathing, or its Japanese counterpart, Shinrin Yoku (forest bath), was developed in Japan in the 1980s as preventative health care that promotes healing as we absorb nature through our senses. The management at The Lodge at Woodloch, an extraordinary award-winning spa destination in Hawley, Pennsylvania, added Forest Bathing to its long list of services. Activities are centered on enabling guests to leave their worries behind as they unwind and reconnect with their true inner being. The management team and staff take their roles as hosts and concierge seriously to the point that every detail, from the decor, activities and classes, men’s and women’s spas, and dining areas, is purposely tailored to promote self-care. Forest Bathing is an ideal vehicle for guests to cast their worries to the wind.
Watch clips from my recent assignment at The Lodge at Woodloch to learn more Forest Bathing and this extraordinary destination in the Pocono Mountains Lake Region.
During a recent assignment at The Lodge at Woodloch, I bundled in layers of clothes as I set out on my first Forest Bathing experience with our enthusiastic guide, Derrick and an inquisitive, nature-loving husband and wife team who were also guests at The Lodge at Woodloch. Winter had already set in with below normal temperatures but the cool air was invigorating. We met at the lodge and after an introduction, we stopped along a path to enliven our sense of smell with a sprig of wintergreen.
Travel Note: Forest Bathing is not synonymous with exercises like hiking or jogging. The pace will vary but the focus is on nature as medicine. Your guide will likely stop periodically and encourage you to reflect on what you see, feel, hear, smell, and possibly taste.
Forest Bathing is one of the many activities, workshops, and events available to The Lodge at Woodloch guests. Whatever your passion, whether you’re artistic, love to cook, can’t get enough of the outdoors, I guarantee your retreat will be memorable and uplifting year-round. The schedule changes daily. You’ll find an up-to-date schedule here.
Before your stay comes to an end, you should carve out time for a spa treatment at the lodge’s newly renovated men’s and women’s spas. Couples can reserve individual “me-time” to unwind after a busy day.
Robert Baldassari, The Lodge at Woodloch general manager, said he is honored to receive many awards and accolades over the years and attributes each and every award to his “truly amazing team.”
Baldassari commented, “One thing that sets The Lodge at Woodloch apart from other destination spas is our motto of curating choice. Guests can choose to be as active or relaxed as they like, they can choose to enjoy our healthy and artfully crafted spa cuisine or splurge on a steak and wine. Furthermore, they can choose among dozens of offerings each and every day.”
Call 1.800.966.3562 to book your stay and schedule your appointment.
My visit was comped but my opinions are my own and based on my experience.
Settlers Hospitality Group Hails Carbondale’s History
Saluting Carbondale’s vast history is no easy task. This Pioneer City was founded on March 15, 1851, and is the fourth oldest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Settlers Hospitality Group chose to honor Carbondale’s coal-mining and railroading history when it refurbished the Hotel Anthracite.
Every piece of art that adorns the walls throughout the hotel tells a story. Consequently, you won’t find a stock photo in the lobby, restaurant, hallways, or guest rooms and each piece, whether it’s a framed photograph or another medium, is in some way related to the city’s rich anthracite and cultural history.
Settlers Hospitality Group is an award-winning hospitality company based in Hawley, PA, one of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s most endearing historic towns. The group owns and manages The Hotel Anthracite, along with the Settlers Inn, Ledges Hotel, Silver Birches Resort, and Sayre Mansion.
Settlers’ goal is to provide their guests with a one-of-a-kind tribute to the heritage that surrounds each of its properties. Equally as important to guests are the exceptional accommodations and cuisine and unwavering service.
“The key operating philosophy of the hotel arm of the Settlers Hospitality Group is to provide an independent and authentic lodging experience that is guest-focused, locally flavored, and pet-friendly,” Chris Simpler, Hotel Anthracite general manger, explained.
Simpler commented in detail about the hotel’s history during our lunch at KOL Steakhouse, the hotel’s signature restaurant. He delved into the features as I sampled the OUTSTANDING Baby Greens and Quinoa Salad, topped with grilled chicken and drizzled with a Champagne Blood Orange Vinaigrette. Suffice to say, the hotel has covered all the bases with style, creativity, and artistry.
Born and raised in the Hudson Valley, Simpler found himself back in Northeastern Pennsylvania to partner with Settler’s Hospitality. His wife Jenna (Simpler) runs the resort side of the Silver Birches Resort, a Settlers property that celebrates the history of the Lake Wallenpaupack region.
Jeanne Genzlinger, the matriarch of the Settlers Hospitality Group, served as the main designer. She selected a neutral color palette, which is an ideal backdrop for the history and outdoors’ themes. Jeff George, (artistic design), S. Robert Powell (Carbondale historian) and Juan H. Espino (artist: The Looking Glass Gallery) all played significant roles in the historical detailing within the walls of the Hotel Anthracite. Altogether, the decor is the best of all worlds. As you enter the Hotel Anthracite, you’ll find historical charm effortlessly blended with modern amenities guests expect.
Large chunks of official anthracite coal are displayed in the Hotel Anthracite lobby surrounded by photos of the Gravity Railroad and its first locomotive, “The Stourbridge Lion.” They’re your cue the decor is intended to educate, enlighten, and motivate you to discover more about Carbondale’s past.
“We have utilized that foundation to bring photography and recreated historical elements to Hotel Anthracite,” said Simpler.
“The feeling we were going for was to bring the hotel back to emphasize what’s out the windows. The neutral palette is great to work with because you have a lot of flexibility. It’s a clean and modern look but it also fits well with the historical theme we have,” he said.
Formerly known as the Carbondale Grand Hotel and operated as a Best Western until the Settler’s group purchased and renovated the building, the Hotel Anthracite averages 15,000 stays a year in their newly-appointed rooms. The management is in tune with their guests’ needs and expectations and delivers a high-quality package.
In the guest rooms, new beds are topped with standard and king-sized pillows. What’s more, towels, linens, curtains, and the sofas are also new. Certified botanical organic bath products are provided in dispensers rather than single-use throw-away bottles to reflect Settlers Hospitality’s commitment to conservation.
YES to Pets
Pets and their families stay in comfort with the pet program in place. Yes, the hotel has pet-assigned rooms to protect guests with allergies. But Simpler said, “We always do something personal to welcome the dogs to our property.” Be sure to inquire about the pet policy when you reserve your room.
Simpler’s way of thinking about The Hotel Anthracite is, “Why not make it a great experience that people talk about.”
KoL Steakhouse Dining: A Natural, Easy Fit
What thoughts does the name “Kōl” evoke? If your guess is a “play on words” reflecting Carbondale’s anthracite legacy, you’re correct, according to Simpler.
“It (the name) is a natural, easy fit,” he said. “It aligns with our history.”
Kōl Steakhouse is for diners who want a dining experience that’s different – fine dining in a casual steakhouse setting. Renowned Executive Chef Michael Bodner begins with locally sourced aged beef and then adds his own creative flair to the regional fare and daily specials.
My choice was the mouth-watering Chicken Milanese Anthracite, a moderately priced entree ($19) from the Chef’s Plates’ section of the menu. The savory breaded free bird farm chicken breast, seasoned with aromatic basil and arranged with tomatoes, harmonizes with the balsamic dressing, asparagus, and creamy risotto. I said “NO” to dessert because my palette was content. My meal was a perfect-sized portion and a combination of flavors.
The wine menu offers more than 100 different bottles of wine in a full range of styles and prices. A handful of local wines are available, thanks to the hotel’s sommelier who put the wine list together for all of the Settler’s Hospitality Group’s properties. Looking for a fresh, local beer on tap or in the bottle? Come to Kōl Steakhouse and quench your thirst. The bartender will accommodate your hankering with a variety of liquor and mixed drink concoctions.
“You need to deliver something more – a new experience,” is Simpler’s philosophy.
Simpler noted, “In the months I’ve been here (as manager), I’ve come to know the untapped opportunity and potential here in Carbondale is huge. Settlers Hospitality management and staff have proven that folks will drive from hours away to dine at their hotels because the experience and food are so fantastic.”
Community Partnerships = Endless Opportunities
Once you’ve taken an architectural and historical tour of Carbondale, venture into local communities and set your sights on Northeastern Pennsylvania’s four seasons. The Settlers Hospitality Group partners with local businesses in each of their hotels’ locations so guests have access to a variety of activities that range from skiing, cycling, hiking, to world-class fishing that will get your heart pumping.
Travel Tip: Hotel Anthracite is a mere 25 minutes from historic sites in downtown Scranton and less than 35 minutes from Honesdale and Hawley. Allow at least a half-day to explore each town.
The Lackawanna Heritage Trail, a popular multi-use trail system. exemplifies how a partnership is a win-win for all businesses and visitors. You’ll find the Carbondale Trailhead literally across the street and less than a half-block away from Hotel Anthracite. Simpler says guests can borrow a bike through the BikeShare program at the hotel and The Carbondale YMCA and ride to the New York border on a bicycle. The trail opened less than a week before my visit and you’ll find the link to my companion story here. Spend some time at the newly-built Riverfront Park along the Lackawanna River and stop in at The Chamber Gallery and view the latest exhibit.
Travel Tip: Buy your Pennsylvania fishing license and bring your fishing gear. The Lackawanna River awaits you with an assortment of cold-water and warm-water fish species. Depending on where you fish, the river is home to trout, bullhead, bass, perch, and bluegills.
History buffs should plan a self-guided walking tour and take in the architecture. Carbondale’s array of historic buildings has helped put the city on the map. Don’t miss the historic Memorial Square, City Hall, and the Trinity Episcopal Church and its extraordinary tiffany-windows. Similarly, guests who love snow sports like skiing will have no problems finding the perfect ski conditions at Elk Mountain Ski Resort. Inquire at the hotel about individual and family ski and rental packages. If you’re like me, combining business and pleasure does involve some advanced planning but your trips can be exceptional and memorable.
Conclusion: Whatever your reason for traveling, Hotel Anthracite is a first-rate lodging choice. Experience a small-town treasure in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the ideal base camp to explore a revitalized region alive with history and culture.
My visit was comped but my opinions are my own and based on my personal experience.