Winter Retreat

by Josephine Cusumano | Dec 27, 2017
Winter Retreat ...From the Pages of South Jersey Magazine...

Need to get away? We all do— especially during these upcoming winter months when monotony craves adventure. To satisfy that craving, we stepped out of our comfort zone to experience new luxuries in the form of ski lodges, boutique hotels, resorts and spas in neighboring states for a weekend getaway that will feel worlds away.

Yet, if the upcoming holidays have you second guessing your much-needed escape, these retreats also feature a bevy of seasonal activities that promise to make the holidays feel like home. So pack your bags, this trip is going to be worth your while.

Gaylord National Resort
National Harbor, Maryland  
Just 15 minutes outside of Washington, D.C., and in the heart of waterfront destination National Harbor, the Gaylord National Resort is in the sweet spot of the area’s most popular attractions. From Washington to The Capital Wheel and MGM National Harbor, visitors will truly experience the bustling region.

PLAY: Aside from the Gaylord’s amenities—five on-site boutiques, an indoor junior-Olympic size pool, a fitness center and arcade—it offers transportation to connect to various mustsee spots, including bus tours to Washington’s memorials and monuments and water taxi service to Old Town Alexandria and Mount Vernon.

RELAX: The 20,000-square-foot, full-service spa gives guests—men and children, too!—all the necessities to unwind. With 11 treatment rooms, plus steam rooms, saunas and whirlpools, the menu features signature therapies including an ocean wrap and massage, facials and manicures.

EAT: Savor local fare at three of the resort’s full-service dining options—a steakhouse, an alfresco restaurant and a sports bar and grill—in addition to grab-and-go options from their Harbor Marketplace and the Cocoa Bean café. Guests can also imbibe at the resort’s Belvedere Lobby Bar and Pose Rooftop Lounge—which is exclusive to overnight guests.

SEASONAL: Don’t miss the Gaylord’s annual ICE! attraction, which features more than two million pounds of ice turned into colorful ice sculptures, and this year tells the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Additional live holiday entertainment is set within the resort’s 19-story atrium and includes a Tree Lighting Show, performances by Gaylord National singers, indoor snow flurries and more.

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Approximate travel time: 3 hours, 11 minutes

Grace Mayflower Inn & Spa
Washington, Connecticut 
Perfect for a romantic country retreat or a girlfriends getaway, the Grace Mayflower Inn & Spa is a 30-room boutique hotel nestled in the town ofWashington and nearby Litchfield Hills, also known as “America’s Antique Capital.”With one of the finest spas in the New England area, along with delectable seasonal fare, it’s enough to extend your weekend trip.

PLAY: Aside from snowshoeing or guided tours of the Mayflower’s 58 acres of gardens and woodland, Stonybrook Golf Course and Fairview Farms Golf Club are close enough to putt around. For the ski enthusiasts, neighboring Mohawk Mountain features 23 slopes for beginners and experts. Guests can also visit Devil’s Den Nature Preserve, Mount Tom State Park, Short Beach Park, the state’s oldest art house movie theater or the city of Kent, known for its galleries and outdoor cafés.

RELAX: Find restorative peace inside the 20,000-square-foot spa, replete with signature massages for couples or facials utilizing exclusive organic skin care lines. You’ll also find sound healing, reflexology, holistic health and nutrition counseling therapies. What’s more, the Mayflower offers private fitness lessons from pilates reformer, yoga and fencing to aquatic sessions, in addition to group classes.

EAT: The two on-site restaurants—The Mayflower Dining Room and The Tap Room—each serve seasonal and locally sourced fare. Spearheaded by Executive Chef Isaac Olivo, he also uses various vegetables and herbs from the inn’s very own kitchen garden. For a weekend nightcap, The Tap Room is the best spot to enjoy a cocktail with live piano music every Friday and Saturday night.
Approximate travel time: 3 hours, 14 minutes

Lansdowne Resort and Spa
Leesburg, Virginia 
For an all-inclusive resort, the Lansdowne has enough to entertain a couple, family or a furry friend. Located on 476 acres overlooking the Potomac River, it’s surrounded by 45 wineries, 20 breweries—not to mention nearby downtown Leesburg, historic Virginia locales and the National Air and Space Museum. Additionally, the resort features pet-friendly packages and amenities like a park dedicated to four-legged visitors.

PLAY: When there isn’t snow, try your best game at The Golf Club at Lansdowne, featuring three courses designed by Robert Trent Jones II and Greg Norman—including a 9-hole course. Guests can also enjoy s’mores by the fire pit in addition to winery excursions, hiking or biking along the Potomac Heritage Trail and Ale Trail.

RELAX: Aside from traditional services, Spa Minérale is known for vinotherapy treatments, where local Virginia wine is incorporated in signature facial, hair and nail treatments— in addition to a wine pairing. For the fitness buff, Lansdowne also has a health fitness center, featuring classes spanning total body workouts, yoga, meditation, spinning and personal training plus an on-site oncology program.

EAT: With four on-site restaurants, each is dedicated to fresh and traditional fare. From Coton & Rye, Pub46, Riverside Hearth and Piedmont’s Table, the cuisine ranges from fresh Chesapeake Bay seafood and homemade Virginainspired recipes to an upscale prime steak and seafood chophouse.

SEASONAL: As the holidays approach, the Lansdowne has various programming to help celebrate, including a Thanksgiving brunch buffet, brunch with Santa, holiday activities including cookie and ornament decorating, plus Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Day brunch.
Approximate travel time: 2 hours, 54 minutes

Skytop Lodge
Skytop, Pennsylvania | 
Considered one of the Poconos’ luxurious hotels, Skytop Lodge sits on 5,500 acres with the promise of countless trails along Skytop Lake, waterfalls, forests and neighboring mountains. The resort is also robust with activities for families of all ages, making it the perfect getaway with the kids or just a party of two.

PLAY: To start, there’s hiking, horseback riding, archery, fitness classes, a paintball course, an indoor pool and a 33- foot rock climbing wall. For winter fun, there’s snow tubing, ice skating, snowshoeing, tobogganing, skiing for all levels of experience, cross-country skiing and ice fishing.

RELAX: The Skyview Spa’s services include an array of massages including cryotherapy and deep tissue, body treatments from scrubs and wraps to facials and nail care.

EAT: With several dining options, guests can pick and choose based on their palate. At the Windsor Dining Room, fare is seasonal as it’s sourced from local farmers and ranchers. The Lakeview Restaurant serves à la carte dinner, while the newly renovated Taproom offers pub fare, dinner and a latenight menu. For the grab-and-go eaters, the Tea Room has finger food from breakfast sandwiches, muffins, grilled cheeses to their famous milkshakes.

SEASONAL: Thanksgiving and the holiday events include special menus, wine tasting, marshmallow roasts and campfires, hayride tours, live entertainment, a tree lighting ceremony and breakfast with Santa—not to mention the chance to cut down your own Christmas tree at a local tree farm. Guests can also ring in 2018 with Skytop’s New Year’s Eve celebration complete with a fireworks display.
Approximate travel time: 2 hours, 45 minutes

Water’s Edge Resort & Spa
Westbrook, Connecticut
For a true escape along the shores of Long Island Sound, Westbrook’s very own resort not only houses a luxurious spa and fine dining options, it’s also the pinnacle for entertainment by the sea—even in the winter time.

PLAY: A bevy of performances are set to take place in the Westbrook Ballroom during the winter months, including a Billy Joel and ABBA tribute, the tree lighting and Bocelli Christmas Show starring Franco Corso and the Jersey Four, a tribute to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Did we mention the ballroom hosts monthly cabaret-style dinner performances?

RELAX: Skilled massage therapists and estheticians can expertly tailor your own spa experience with a variety of services available. From facials, body wraps, overnight spa packages and more, you’ll want to spend more than an hour here—especially with a designated relaxation area, indoor pool and hot tub.

EAT: Dinner with a view has a whole new meaning inside the resort’s Dattilo Fine Italian restaurant as it overlooks the water. Along with the Sunset Bar & Grill and Seaview Bistro, late-night bites, classic Italian entrées—not to mention fresh New England seafood—dining runs the gamut here, plus who could forget their award-winning brunch?

SEASONAL: While facilitated outdoor activities cease in the winter months, access to the beach and grounds is encouraged for those who prefer a walk on the sand—no matter the temperatures.
Approximate travel time: 3 hours, 40 minutes

Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 14, Issue 8 (November, 2017). 

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Author: Josephine Cusumano


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