By Rob Miola
Once regarded as a casual lodge for weary skiers and travelers, the beautiful Mount Airy Resort and Casino is completely re-imagined. The charming Pocono Mountain location coupled with lavish amenities and the ambiance of an Atlantic City gaming floor distinguishes this resort as a new regional must-do. Pennsylvania has emerged as the new second-to-Nevada gambling state in the U.S. What better way to embrace the new East Coast gaming Mecca than visiting the first casino resort in PA to be awarded AAA’s Four Diamond honor? None than I can think of.
Mount Airy stands six stories high, and stretches out wide across a gorgeous lake in the heart of the Pocono Mountains. Enter, and marvel at a neon fountain cascading from beneath a shimmering chandelier on the casino floor and into the lobby.
The Denaples family’s influence, credited for reconstructing the old Mount Airy lodge, is most evident in the new resort’s Spa & Salon. This is hardly a surprise, as there were five daughters in the family! I went to the Spa for a 55 minute facial, and was immediately entranced by the spa’s tranquility before my treatment even began. Making my way past a gleaming, crescent shaped fountain that jetted water onto a bed of rocks in the main waiting area, I found myself in the men’s locker rooms. I changed into a robe and laid out in the vastly unoccupied private men’s lounge, where tea and water were both available. I had my eyes closed when the fabulous and knowledgeable Nicole came to collect me for my facial.
She exfoliated my face, and rubbed in assorted moisturizing lotions while she explained the purpose of each step, also indicating where I had the most gunk building up as it rose to the surface. I learned a great deal about my skin’s temperament and how to best manage it, perhaps the most valuable element of my treatment.
Later, for dinner, I took in the intimate setting of another Denaples sisters inspiration: Le Sorelle Cucina, or ‘the sisters’ kitchen’ in English. This is one of two gourmet dining options featured at Mount Airy. It is adjacent to the second, Red Steakhouse. Both are connected at the lobby where patrons can enjoy drinks at a petite bar in the center and the occasional live tune at the grand piano while waiting for their tables. Inspired by the Denaples family outing to Italy, the walls are adorned with paintings of the Denaples children and their candid delight on the streets of Italy.
We began with the Antipasto Mediterraneo for Two, a colorful palette of Italian favorites: prosciutto di parma, imported salami, imported cheese selection, marinated olives, artichokes etc, topped off with extra virgin olive oil. This plate is definitely intended for a very hungry pair and wasn’t nearly finished when our entrees arrived. My guest and I love to eat Italian food family style, and shared both entrees: the Rigatoni with Sausage and Broccoli Raab & the Steak Pizziaola. The pasta was exceptional, covered in shavings of parmesan and red pepper. The steak was prepared medium well, and came full of flavor. It was a bit tough in texture but well complimented with broccoli raab and truffle fries.
For dessert we shared two Italian staples: a piece of splendid tiramisu and a cream-filled cannoli. The tiramisu piece was very large, almost guilt-inducing, and you simply cannot go wrong with cannoli. I enjoyed desert with a nice coffee while my guest sipped an espresso. Engorged after a feast for kings, we set off for the casino.
Mount Airy’s casino floor boasts a diverse range of gaming options, perfect for attracting both the younger and older crowds. Bets on slot machines begin at pennies but you can’t miss the high stakes slot machine room. There’s also a recently appointed poker tournament, making things extra dicey. The entire property has been made over to raise the bar in luxury and guest experience. With solid dining options, a first-class spa, regular celebrity headliners and exceptional gaming options, Mount Airy does that and more. Seasonal travelers rejoice! The pool is due to open in time for the upcoming summer.