Best Hudson Valley Fall Getaways and Vacations in 2012

Seven historic hotels and fall getaways that make it easy to celebrate the season


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skytop lodge

Skytop Lodge (Skytop, PA)

Sprawling across 5,500 acres in the heart of Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains, Skytop Lodge is an all-inclusive resort that combines stunning natural beauty with a seemingly limitless list of activities and amenities. Built in the mid-1920s by a quartet of businessmen determined to create a grand resort playground, the site is now listed as one of the National Trust’s Historic Hotels of America. It is dominated by the Main Lodge, an imposing Dutch Colonial-style manor house made of stone and wood harvested from the surrounding property. The lodge includes 125 guest rooms, as well as the main dining room and other common areas; in addition, cottages of various sizes are available for family reunions and corporate retreats.
And those cottages get plenty of use, as multigenerational gatherings are very popular here. “It started after World War II,” says Robert Baldassari, Skytop’s sales and marketing director. “The soldiers came home, got married, and came here for their honeymoon. They liked the place, came back again with their kids, and then eventually with their grandkids. They just keep coming back, year after year. We have one family that brings four generations each year — about 30 or 40 people.”

It’s not difficult to understand how such loyalty develops. Located on a high plateau near West Mountain, surrounded by sweeping lawns, gardens, and deep forests, Skytop is physically spectacular. Our mini-suite in the Main Lodge was roomy and comfortable; large windows looked out on the formal garden, and the English country-style furnishings — overstuffed sofa and armchairs, tieback curtains, wainscoting on the walls — hinted at an earlier time period without in any way feeling “old-fashioned.”

golfGolf is only one of the many activities for guests at Skytop

Along with the beautiful landscape and comfy digs, the number and scope of activities available at Skytop is certainly a big draw. A (very) short list: swimming, hiking, biking, golf, tennis, archery, rowing, fishing, skeet shooting, lawn bowling, badminton. Keeping all of their multigenerational clientele happy is obviously a priority here: There’s a huge arcade/game room for kids; a brand-new adventure center with — among other pursuits — a zip-line course perfect for teens; a spa for harried boomer-types; and shuffleboard, a well-stocked library, and a board-game room for seniors. And in the winter, Baldassari tells us, you can even go dog-sledding with a team of huskies that has raced in the Iditarod.

But it’s the emphasis on tradition that gives Skytop its unique character. We opened our guest room door, for instance, with an old-fashioned skeleton key (no swiping of plastic cards here). Big Band music plays in the lodge’s Pine Room (an enormous lobby just made for lounging, chatting, and checking your e-mail). In the main dining room, guests are asked to “dress” for dinner: sports jackets for men, appropriate attire for women and kids, and no jeans, sneakers, or hats on anyone. Most noticeable, however, was the unfailing friendliness and attention paid to us by Skytop’s employees. From the smiling valet who parked our car to the bow-tie-clad waiter who poured our coffee at breakfast, we received exceptionally courteous, friendly, and unhurried service. The obvious goal of all concerned was to make each guest feel relaxed and well taken care of — and, when it comes down to it, what more could you want from a getaway vacation?

Room and cottage rates range from $390-$710 per night (based on double occupancy); prices vary with the seasons. Three meals a day are included; certain activities (such as golf and spa services) are available for an additional fee.

To get there: Off Rte. 390, near Canadensis, PA. 800-345-7759;

steak and shrimpSteak and shrimp is a typical entrée offered in the resort’s dining room

What to do

Along with myriad activities available every day, Skytop offers seasonal “themed weekends” all year long. This fall’s Film Festival (Sept. 7-16) focuses on the work of perennial funnyman Jack Lemmon; son Chris Lemmon regales guests with stories of his father’s life on Sept. 8. The traditional Harvest Festival (Oct. 5-14) features the nontraditional Lake Stroll (Oct. 14), an annual event in which local chefs offer samples of their tastiest fare at tasting stations around picturesque Skytop Lake.

Where to eat

Stays include three square meals a day. Unlike similar resorts we’ve visited — where the food is something of an afterthought — the fare at Skytop is top-notch, rivaling some meals we’ve had in the Valley’s finest restaurants. There are five different places on the property serving food, ranging from the formal Windsor dining room to the cozy Tearoom (don’t miss the freshly made milkshakes, which are to die for).

Fall Foliage Report: Lots of options here. The drive along Route 390 up to the lodge passes through two state parks, which offer miles of colorful flora. Guests can take guided hikes on any of the 30 miles of trails for up-close looks at the scenery; those seeking less exercise — but equally great views — head to the lodge’s rooftop observation deck, which offers a 360-degree panorama of the surrounding mountains and the nearby Delaware Water Gap.

Skip to:
» Skytop Lodge (Skytop, PA)
» Gideon Putnam Resort and Spa (Saratoga Springs, NY)
» Oheka Castle (Huntington, NY)
» Great Stone Dwelling (Enfield, NH)
» 1850 House Inn and Tavern (Rosendale, NY)
» Grafton Inn (Grafton, VT)
» Vanderbilt House Hotel (Philmont, NY)


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