The sprawling facility, which features 233 guest rooms, overlooks Lake Mohonk
Mohonk Mountain House Resort and Spa in New Paltz, NY, reflects one family's continuing commitment to the environment.
Nearly 140 years ago twin brothers Alfred and Albert Smiley pooled their resources to buy a piece of property in New York's Hudson Valley near New Paltz. A small tavern overlooked Lake Mohonk, while the Shawnagunks—a rugged mountain range with precipitous crags and overhanging quartz rock formations—rose up in the background. Just 90 minutes from New York City, it was, and still is, the perfect location for a resort hotel. Because they were Quakers, the brothers banned alcohol, dancing and card-playing at the resort, suggesting that instead guests partake of daily nature walks, boating, bowling, horseback riding, fishing and evening concerts. The emphasis was on direct contact with nature and conversation with others. It still is. For example, there are no televisions in any of the guest rooms. "We'd rather people get out of their rooms and participate in outdoor activities," says Nina Smiley, director of marketing at Mohonk Mountain, which is still owned and operated by members of the Smiley family, who have been doing their part to protect the environment since 1869.
The boat dock at Mohonk Mountain House
A composting program provides fertilizer for the extensive flower gardens on the property.
The Solarium, with its stone fireplace, is one of the guests' favorite places to relax after spa treatments
Several signature spa treatments were also developed to connect spa guests back to the earth. The Shawangunk Grit Body Treatment uses indigenous quartzite rocks crushed to a fine powder in a body scrub that exfoliates and improves circulation. Guests can directly feel the benefits of the earth in this ultimate "eco spa" treatment. The Mohonk Red Massage was created in honor of the Mohonk red witch hazel grown on the property. The treatment begins with a relaxation breathing technique and aromatic inhalation of calming evergreen. Massage techniques include traditional Thai stretches, Swedish massage and Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage. Warmed towels infused with witch hazel cocoon the face and feet as the experience concludes with a guided power nap. Guests are also given a flacon of the signature oil to take home with them.
Meditating on the green roof-garden terrace
To help sustain the surrounding land, Mohonk Mountain House has supported the revival of a century-old farming tradition by providing land for the nearby Brook Farm Project. Vegetables such as squash, beans, cucumbers, carrots, greens and tomatoes are grown in the organic garden, which supplies hotel guests with seasonable farm-to-table produce. An on-site composting and recycling program has reduced waste sent to landfills by 50 percent. What's more, the compost is used to fertilize the extensive flower gardens on the property. Smiley points out that employees at Mohonk are encouraged to participate in eco-friendly activities, as well. Not only is a composting receptacle located in the employee dining area, but employees also participate in the annual Mohonk Mountain House "Clean Sweep" event. Oh, and to eliminate the use of Styrofoam cups, each employee has been given a reusable mug.
Mixing the Shawangunk Grit for a body treatment that exfoliates and improves circulation.
Other green initiatives at Mohonk include nature and interpretive programs, such as walks, slide shows and lectures hosted by Mohonk's staff naturalist; an environmentally friendly wastewater treatment plant; use of biodegradable laundry products and nonaerosol cleaning materials; a recycling program for office computers, batteries and fluorescent lightbulbs; and the donation of a regional headquarters for the Student Conservation Association, a national association dedicated to developing conservation leaders of the future. Last June, Mohonk introduced the Junior Naturalist Experience. Designed for children ages four to 12, the program includes a variety of nature-based activities, like climate lessons at the resort's boat dock and expeditions to observe the many types of flora and fauna that make up the spectacular natural environment at Mohonk. "This is one of the ways that Mohonk Mountain House is seeking to nurture children's delight in nature and to create future generations of environmentally aware adults," Smiley says. —MARIANNE DOUGHERTY
The Women's Veranda features energy-efficient windows that afford a spectacular view of the woods behind the spa
The indoor pool is also surrounded by windows that virtually bring the outdoors in.