By Hannah Joseph
For me, Valentine’s Day has always seemed oddly misplaced. By February, early-winter festivity has surrendered to mid-winter frost, finding me bloated, dieting and anxious to shed some layers in the warmth of spring. February is rarely what I would consider to be a “sexy” time of the year. And this year, that feeling was compounded by the fact that my long-term boyfriend and I had spent the previous six months studying and working full-time, falling into a routine that even the truest of Virgos would detest. For us, a successful V-Day escape would need to include three critical Rs – rejuvenation, relaxation and romance. I not only had to get our relationship back on track, I desperately needed to get myself back on track.
The heated Edge Horizon Whirlpool overlooks the beautiful woods at Woodloch
Gazing upon a photo in Metro, New York’s commuter newspaper, I knew it was love at first sight when I saw an advertisement for the Lodge at Woodloch in Hawley, Pa. As I later delved into the Woodloch website, I realized that I had unknowingly hit the luxury destination spa jackpot. Praised as one of the “10 Most Luxurious Spas in the U.S.” by Forbes.com, and placed on both National Geographic Traveler’s “Stay List” and Conde Nast Traveler’s “Hot List,” the Lodge promised to be a memorable stay. We packed up the car and left on a Sunday afternoon.
If you hail from the city and must travel the 90-some miles that lie between New York and Hawley, I recommend that you schedule a spa service to be received upon check-in. Woodloch is renowned for its treatments, which range from caviar facials to soothing body wraps and winter wake-up body polishes, mani-pedis and hair styling. I reserved a rejuvenating customized facial for pore and fine line minimization for myself and the Lodge Massage, of the classic Swedish genre, for my significant other.
Overnight guests can relax before and after spa treatments in the Whispering Lounge
We were welcomed to the Lodge by a cheery concierge who gave a short explanation of the lobby’s main installation, a set of three crystal chakra bowls. Running a mallet along the circumference of each, he noted that their tones would help to activate and harmonize distinct energy centers within our bodies. Soon after, we were each escorted into our respective treatment rooms. Following a long, stress-inducing commute, (do not get lost in New Jersey, do invest in a GPS) a facial was the perfect thing to help ease me off of Manhattan time. Also, Woodloch’s spa personnel are a testament of its dedication to superior customer service. My aesthetician, who, when not at Woodloch, works at a cosmetic surgery salon in upstate New York, was well-versed in both homeopathic and western beauty solutions for all skin types. Likewise, my significant other was ecstatic about his massage. Relaxed but starving, we retired to the Woodloch’s Whispering Lounge to snack on some gourmet nuts and cucumber-infused water before dinner.
Food, I have to admit, is often my weakness – and when I learned that the Lodge’s restaurant, Tree, had merited a five-star rating, I nearly died. At the time, I was on a calorie-counting diet that made fine dining admittedly difficult. In anticipation of a “restaurant” dinner (fatty, salty, carbohydrate heaven), I had diligently put in extra hours at the gym. When I received my meal, a crab cake appetizer followed by duck in homemade cranberry sauce, however, I was most pleasantly surprised. The food was rich and flavorful, the portions satisfying but not over-indulgent. All of the food at Tree is made from local, seasonal, organic produce and the berry martini I had was simply divine. Also of mention is the Tree’s goat cheese cheesecake and barbeque chicken pizza.
Guest room at the Lodge
In just the few hours between our arrival and bedtime, we’d been pampered, fed and catered to. Content and relaxed, my boyfriend and I capped off the night with a fireside chat under the stars.
The next morning, I felt like a new woman. I had enjoyed a romantic evening with my boyfriend and was ready to spend some quality time alone. After breakfast, I went up to the hotel’s Fitness Studio for a guided yoga session. Woodloch is host to a myriad of classes led by highly regarded professionals. While there wasn’t enough time to attend as many as I would have liked, Yoga Sculpt was comparable to the most expensive of Manhattan studio lessons. Other classes at Woodloch include Cardio Kickboxing, Zumba, Aqua Boot Camp, Qi Gong, Watercolor Painting, Pilates Mat, Intro to Drawing, Geocaching, Snowshoe Sojourn, Cooking Demo, Meditation, and many more. There are also MindBody workshops to help you achieve ultimate balance and health.
The Aqua Garden indoor pool
With a few hours to spare before our inevitable departure, I rejoined my partner to check out the spa’s wet rooms. We started in the indoor Aqua Garden and then made our way to the outdoor Infinity Edge Horizon Whirlpool. As we gazed out into the woods, we each tried to memorize a view that we knew we would miss. There we were, in the picture that had initially drawn me to the Lodge at Woodloch weeks ago. I had come full circle. And for the first time in a long time, I felt really connected – to him, to myself, to everything.