By Stephanie Ila Silver-Silberstein
If you’re looking for a great all-inclusive family vacation destination, a short drive from NYC, look no further than Skytop Lodge. This warm and inviting resort full of traditional charm is conveniently located in the Poconos, amidst sprawling mountains and an expansive landscape that will instantly relax you and put smiles on your kids’ faces.
Our 2-night, 3-day getaway over Christmas began with a huge buffet lunch, a candy cane hunt, a visit to the life-sized gingerbread house (my kids loved eating the Hershey Kisses they got right off the walls), a petting zoo and a scavenger hunt. After relaxing in front of the fireplace in our mini-suite (located a short shuttle bus ride from the main lodge), we headed to the main lodge for an arts and crafts project (Santa hats, anyone?) and then feasted on a gourmet dinner delivered by the friendly wait staff in the dining room. My kids loved the children’s buffet and other kid-friendly menu items offered with every lunch and dinner and my husband and I enjoyed scallops and filet mignon respectively. We had a yummy dessert with our 4-course meal but made sure we saved room for roasted marshmallows at Skytop’s nightly campfire. Our kids were more than thrilled to stay up late (8:30pm) to enjoy this delicious treat. Besides, there is an onsite spa and a fully equipped arcade, complete with mini golf, ping-pong, air hockey and video games to keep kids of all ages entertained for hours.
Our second day at Skytop included a walk over to the ice-skating rink where my kids tried this timeless winter sport for the first time and my husband and I strapped on skates for the first time in over 10 years (FYI, it’s sort of like riding a bike). My 3-year old daughter opted to wing it on her own whereas my 5 year-old son chose to use the ‘walker’ for some extra support. Skate rentals and helmets are available right there at the rink – as is hot chocolate. After lunch and some more relaxing by the main lodge’s fireplace, we changed into our bathing suits and spent the afternoon in the indoor pool. You won’t find the water park that Great Wolf Lodge is known for, or even a slide or diving board, but after a cold and snowy December, we managed to have a blast frolicking in the heated pool and baby pool, and my husband and I took turns relaxing in the Jacuzzi. With towels, a fitness room and an adjacent locker room, a trip to the pool is easy and convenient even if you’re not staying in the main lodge.
After a huge breakfast buffet, we spent our third and final day hitting the slopes. My kids enjoyed a semi-private lesson while I tried skiing for the first time in years (happy to report that like ice-skating, it was much like riding a bike). For better or worse, the unexpected heat wave a couple of days prior to our arrival closed down most of the ski trails, sledding on the golf course and dog sledding (though you can opt to do the latter activity on a wheeled sled on land) but there was still plenty to do and my kids were none the wiser.
All in all, I’m thrilled to have discovered Skytop Lodge and would recommend it as a great destination option to both families and couples (the Treetop Zipline Challenge course looks pretty awesome, by the way). The Internet connection was painfully slow and the rooms and overall décor could benefit from some updating but overall, it was so nice to escape to the mountains with my family for a few days and revisit some favorite winter pastimes. And I’m sure Skytop has plenty of new and delightful activities to complement each and every season throughout the entire year. I’m looking forward to my next visit!