Destination Spas

Few things are as relaxing as a couple of days at a top-notch spa.


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The Lodge at Woodloch, Hawley, Pa.

How close is heaven? Well, one version of it is about 90 minutes from the state line in Danbury, where a new era—make that a new age—in spa life has arrived. That’s where the Lodge at Woodloch opened just over a year ago, combining the features of a true destination spa and the creature comforts of a $37 million resort—all in a serene natural setting down a country road in the Poconos.

When owners John and Ginny Lopis came up with the plan for the lodge, they brought years of experience to the task, including stints at the helm of the Doral Saturnia in Miami, Canyon Ranch in Tucson and Topnotch at Stowe. Their idea was deceptively simple: to bring together all the pieces that contribute to feelings of health and wholeness, mental acuity and physical vigor, earth awareness and sensual pleasure—and to present them with warmth and a personal vibe that crosses the line into friendliness.

Some of the Lopis desired pieces are broad and easy to notice, such as the lodge’s sweeping architecture and great expanses of glass that highlight and welcome in the surrounding panorama of woods and hills. The furnishings, from the chairs in the dining room to the couches in the spa to the mattresses in guest rooms, are deeply comfortable and all part of a soothing interior design.

The dozens of classes stretch participants in every direction, both physically (hatha yoga, kickboxing, hydro challenge) and in other interesting ways (watercolor painting, cooking demos, healing sounds meditation). Outdoor activities include hiking, trail biking, river kayaking and open kayaking on the lodge’s 10-acre lake. There’s even a championship golf course right across the road.

You’d be forgiven for wanting to spend your entire stay in the spa, however. These are truly splendid retreats—one for men and one for women—where the steam rooms are eucalyptus-scented and softly lit with changing colors, the showers are more like private suites, and the lounges—there’s both a denlike room with fireplace and a glassed-in porch—have a delightfully clubby feel. A co-ed area features an outdoor infinity-edged hot tub and indoor warm-water waterfalls that pour bliss onto necks and shoulders.

The spa treatments are many and marvelous. My “Awakening the Senses” body treatment included aromatherapy, chromatherapy, a full-body exfoliation, rebalancing wraps of warm citrus and seaweed, an application of antioxidant moisturizer, all topped off with a full-body massage. At the end, seated in the Whisper Lounge, biting into a chocolate-covered strawberry, I felt like a car that had just been quite thoroughly detailed (and whose odometer had just been nudged back a few thousand miles).

The cuisine goes well beyond strawberries, of course. Indeed, it’s fascinating to see how a talented chef creates meals that are tasty, satisfying and beautiful to look at, and still incorporate all the healthy, wholesome elements of spa cuisine. Our meals ranged from seared scallops to buffalo burgers, and from a divine little tuna/avocado cake to strikingly fresh breakfast omelets. Unlike many other spas, there is a wine list at dinner and full bar service. There’s even live music at dinner, including, one night, a guitarist who got my attention as he picked out “Hesitation Blues” on his 12-string.

Surely, I thought as he played, this is what it feels like at the end of a day when everything comes together.

Route 590 East, Hawley, Pa. Rates Nov. For more info, call (570) 685-8500 or visit

Destination Spas

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