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18 Best Travel Destinations of 2018 | Where to Travel This Year!

  • By
  • June 12, 2018

Where should YOU TRAVEL in 2018? Watch this video and find out! We share the 18 Best Travel destinations of 2018.

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Eagles Mere Inn – a Romantic Dose of History

  • By
  • January 10, 2018
romantic Eagles Mere Inn

A World of its Own

The Eagles Mere Inn

Eagles Mere, Pennsylvania

Eagles Mere Inn romantic evenings
Dusk falls on the fairy-tale-like Eagles Mere Inn. All photos by Joan Mead-Matsui, travel writer, photographer, and videographer. 
What draws someone to a particular location varies from person to person but The Eagles Mere Inn, a Sullivan County landmark, is a favorite among folks who yearn for a peaceful country setting.

 

After several visits to Eagles Mere, Pennsylvania over the course of 20 years, I can’t understand how anyone could forget the timeless beauty of “the town that time forgot.” In 2017, I had an opportunity to experience Eagles Mere as a guest at The Eagles Mere Inn.

“..Let’s Not Forget…The Town That Time Forgot..”

The inn is far enough from the busy Route 42, the main road through the borough, yet only a short walk to the center of town and Eagles Mere Lake – two prominent hubs for year-round activities.

Eagles Mere is a family-centered hamlet that was founded in the early 1800s as a glass factory. By the late 19th century, the town had evolved as a mountain resort community renowned for its grand turn-of-the-century Victorian summer homes or “cottages.” The population grows from 120 full-time residents during the off-season but as summer arrives that number can grow to more than 3,000.

Eagles Mere Inn

 

Romantic Eagles Mere Inn

The Eagles Mere Inn was built in 1887 and each guest room highlights historic places, events, and people prominent in the borough’s history. 

historic Eagles Mere InnThe Lewis Glass Suite is named after the George Lewis Glassworks Era from 1804 to 1830. Located on the second floor of the inn, this two-room suite features a painted iron and brass queen bed, five delightfully large windows, sitting room with a sliding door partition, love-seat sleeper couch, 24″ smart television, comfortable chairs, and a private bath with a shower.  All but two rooms have a television but you can certainly bring a book to read, a journal, and/or a drawing pad and pencils as a much-needed break from electronics. Eagles Mere is a haven for environmental preservationists and birdwatchers so be sure to tuck a pair of binoculars in your suitcase. All four seasons afford opportunities to catch a close-up glimpse of the wildlife that roams on hundreds of acres of nearby land. 

Lewis Glass suite Eagles Mere Inn

Eyelet, handmade quilts, and soft cotton linens are all part of the appeal. Each guest room has a signature style that’s in keeping with the era and name given to each accommodation.

By day, the light floods in and in the evening, the sitting area is a comfortable retreat after an activity driven day. 

historic Eagles Mere Inn comfort
Open your windows and allow the sheer curtains to sway with a delightful country breeze. Guest rooms are air-conditioned in case you decide fresh air is not your bag. 
romantic Eagles Mere Inn
Each guestroom has its own color palette and furnishings that reflect a simpler time.

The Whirlpool Room, standard king and queen rooms, junior suites, deluxe suites, select king rooms and standard full rooms are your lodging options. Accommodations range from $129 to $199 and a hearty country breakfast is included in the room rate.

Romantics can explore Eagles Mere for the entire month of February thanks to a special Valentine’s Day offer. Celebrate Valentine’s Day with a “romantic weekend package” when you book a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday stay. That package includes the room, breakfast, 3-course dinner, wine, roses, and chocolate.

Call the Inn (570)-525-3273 to book your stay.

Dining

The Eagles Mere Inn home-cooked meals
Ordering from the small plate menu allows guests to sample a bit of this and a taste of that.

Taste testing is a fantastic opportunity to sample and share a variety of menu items. Sometimes, choosing one entree is daunting if you can’t decide what suits your taste buds.

romantic Eagles Mere Inn
A.C. Little Drinkery at Eagles Mere Inn pub appeals to a wide range of tastes.

Romantic Eagles Mere Inn

A.C.Little’s Drinkery, located on the inn’s lower level is pub-style and casual and an ideal setting to relax or catch your favorite sporting event on television. Dinner is available from the inn’s small plate menu and you can find your perfect brew from among the selections from local wineries and micro-breweries. A current menu is available at this link. The same menu is also available for diners who choose to have dinner in the dining room located next to the lobby.

romantic quaint Eagles Mere Inn
Be a part of The Eagles Mere Inn history. Sign the guest book located in the lobby.

Book Your Event

Couples planning to marry or individuals looking for an intimate, picturesque venue can also reserve the beautifully manicured grounds for parties and events of all kinds. Eagles Mere offers many scenic vistas and locations for photo ops.

romantic Eagles Mere Inn
Vintage quilts and antiques at Eagles Mere Inn

Nearby Activities

What do snow and ice bring to Eagles Mere?

The famous toboggan slide has entertained residents and visitors since 1904. Created by the volunteer fire company, the slide is especially fun for thrill seekers. Sledders have been known to race down the hill at speeds up to 45 mph, according to townspeople, also known as “cottagers” who own second homes. Eagles Mere provides the setting for anyone with an affinity for winter. Details can be found here.

Eagles Mere Lake covers 114 acres and is surrounded by hundreds of acres of forest. Inn guests receive complimentary lake passes that can be used to swim at the beach or paddle their way around the lake in the innkeeper’s two kayaks.

Golfers can get in a round of golf during their stay at The Eagles Mere Inn. Reservations and an overnight stay are all you’ll need to enjoy the inn’s membership benefits at the Eagles Mere Country Club. Learn more about the club’s rich history that dates back to 1911.

Eagles Mere is a treat to visit. We all need a healthy dose of yesteryear and history to fully appreciate life today. Specialty shops, a noteworthy bookstore, the old-fashioned sweet shop, museums, an enchanting selection of country inns, cottages, and rentals; and a private golf club are a few of the reasons why Eagles Mere continues to draw thousands during peak tourist season.

quaint historical Eagles Mere

When you want to venture out of town, on the outskirts, you’ll find spectacular waterfalls and plenty of nature on hiking trails.

During the winter months, one might see Eagles Mere as a ghost town but rest assured, that’s merely an assumption and not entirely true. Don’t let that stop you from planning a romantic fall, winter, or early spring getaway.

Follow this link for more information about Eagles Mere.

 

The Eagles Mere Inn is located at 29 Mary Ave., Eagles Mere, PA. You can reach out to the innkeepers at 570-525-3273 or visit eaglesmereinn.com/inn.

Read the companion story: joanmatsuitravelwriter.com/eagles-mere-innkeepers-preserve-the-past

My stay was comped but my opinions are my own.

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Kalahari Resorts and Convention Center

  • By
  • 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.

resorts

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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
DISCLOSURE:

 I recommend this destination based on my experience and not because my visit was comped. My opinions are my own. 

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