By Roger Sands
Skytop Lodge Poconos. The Pocono Mountains’ love affair with snow is legendary. Long before the first ski trails were cut at Big Boulder Ski Resort in 1946, tourists to the Pocono Mountains were experiencing a virtual smorgasbord of snow-related activities. Today, that tradition continues.
     Snow means big business for the Pocono Mountains, and not only for the seven ski areas scattered throughout the region. Stately resorts such as Skytop Lodge depend on snow, as do many of the quaint bed and breakfasts and country inns that are located within a stone’s throw of the ski areas. And when the first flakes fall, everyone rolls out the red carpet for winter enthusiasts.
     With 2,400 square miles encompassing the northeast corridor of Pennsylvania, the Pocono Mountains region is home to rolling mountain terrain, beautiful waterfalls, thriving woodlands and 170 miles of winding rivers. Winters offer guests the opportunity to ski, snowboard, snow tube and even snowshoe their way through snowy wonderlands encompassing over 163 ski trails.Other popular winter activities in the region include dog sledding, snowmobiling, ice skating, sleigh riding, tobogganing and more. Perhaps no other Pocono resort caters to the snow aficionado more so than Skytop Lodge.
     Situated on a picturesque mountaintop in the Pocono Mountains, Skytop envelops a serene setting and peaceful charm that has been attracting generations of guests since it opened its grand doors in 1928. It is widely considered the “crown jewel” of Pocono resorts.The stately Lodge at Skytop is the centerpiece of the resort. Built in the Dutch Colonial style, it began as a retreat for the recreation and enjoyment of Skytop’s original members and guests. With a magnificent fieldstone facade, the Lodge is mistaken by many first time guests as the hotel in “The Shining,” Stephen King’s popular book and movie.
     It stands as a beautifully maintained tribute of a bygone era and features 125 guest rooms and suites in three configurations. Each is uniquely furnished in English country-style designs, as well as charming accents like plaid wools and pillow shams. The inviting wrap-around porch provides guests with splendid views of the Pocono Mountains and Skytop’s 75-acre lake.The Inn at Skytop is reminiscent of a European ski chalet using the same mountain stone as the main lodge, with exposed beam ceilings and rich woods, while the work of local artists accents the walls. Guest rooms have private porches that provide views of the golf course and the surrounding mountains. Each room is spacious and modern, offering guests king-size beds dressed in plush comforters, wireless Internet access, gas fireplaces, hot tubs and more. The 18 guest rooms have 300 count linens and custom cherry wood desks.
     Benefiting from 5,500 acres of pristine landscapes, Skytop’s adventurous activities, such as skiing, ice skating, hiking, and a rock climbing wall, provide guests with an array of outdoor options. Indoor fun includes laser tag, pilates, ping pong, and even a miniature version of miniature golf. A true four season destination resort, Skytop offers more than 40 activities. Boredom is not an option, but the opportunity to merely relax by the lobby’s fireplace with a good book is always an alternative to the sporting activities.Looking for something out of the ordinary in the winter? Spend a very enjoyable hour dog sledding. Pulled along by four Alaskan huskies, guests whisk across Skytop’s snow covered golf course and even get the chance to “mush” the dogs during the ride.
Skytop Lodge, Luxury Accommodation in the Poconos
     After your mushing experience, schedule a Swedish massage. This classic European body massage technique uses a soothing, relaxing technique to increase circulation, improve skin and muscle tone and help you achieve total relaxation. It doesn’t take long to sink into total oblivion as the experienced therapists work their wonders.
     Food is serious business at Skytop, and everyone is treated to gourmet dining from morning to night. This is not your typical cruise ship fare for the masses. On the contrary, guests who gather in the stately dining room are offered an eclectic menu that includes such delectable entrees as sautéed fluke filet, pommes frites, bok choy, with lemon beurre blanc, or caraway and cinnamon rubbed pork loin mignon, smashed potato, asparagus, with tart apple whisky demi glace. There are normally seven choices of entrees each evening, which often include game, duck and venison. To maintain a level of classic elegance, men are required to wear jackets while enjoying the innovative cuisine.Begin you meal with a grilled vegetables appetizer of eggplant, fennel, portabella mushrooms, squash, roasted pepper and Asiago cheese wedge along with Torta di Granchio, a sautéed jumbo lump crab cake served over wilted baby arugula with basil aioli. The appetizers set the tone for the ensuing savory entrees. Choice of soups include Consommé with wild rice and fine herbs, sweet corn and lump crab chowder — a delicate blend that pleases the palette — or chilled cantaloupe and vanilla coulis. Throughout the evening, impeccable service is the standard.
     A word to the wise. Always leave room for dessert, especially such decadent creations as a white and dark chocolate truffle with puffed rice, green tea, cranberry cinnamon goat cheese creme brulee. This truffle is as close to a spiritual event as dessert can be and is paired exquisitely with Banfi Rosa Regale, Italy, ‘10, a sparkling red dessert wine. Pumpkin Pie Crisp is a mousse with almond sponge cake, gingersnap cookie crumbles, vanilla cremeux, caramel crème anglaise, caramelized zucchini leaves and candied walnuts. All desserts are made in-house.
     The Wine List is reminiscent of the property’s style, offering famously lavish old world choices such as Chateau Meraux, dating back to 1945, at $4,800 a bottle and new world choices, which are more predominant and priced at $45 per bottle and up. Skytop has won the Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator Magazine for ten consecutive years.Breakfast features traditional omelets and French Toast. Guests who want to arouse their taste buds can try Scrambled Tofu, scallions, tomato and spinach or Smoked Brook Trout with Crème Fraiche, Caviar and flat bread. Lunch is not merely an afterthought and includes a juicy Angus burger with crispy fries, Bucatini Corti pasta sautéed with extra virgin olive oil, shaved garlic, grape tomatoes, basil and Kalamata olives, or a three egg farm fresh omelet with smoked salmon and goat cheese.
     At night, don’t miss the Doug Smith orchestra. Smith and his six-piece band play a variety of classic dance tunes to the delight of the guests. On special occasions, such as weddings and several “big band” nights at the Lodge, Smith will bring his full 16-piece orchestra to the ballroom for an evening of sheer nostalgia as they play from the renowned American songbook of the 1920s-50s. You’ll swear you are transported back in time.Skytop is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. While nature provides a breathtaking backdrop, luxurious accommodations, attentive service and epicurean delights make Skytop an exceptional find.