Standing on the banks of the glassy Delaware River just a stone’s throw from the Pocono Mountains, you’ve just traveled 70 miles away from a loud, Starbucks-stuffed concrete jungle to a property offering Bourbon Porter, an artistic aesthetic, and a weekend of true, uninterrupted peace and quiet—and you did it without a car.
To enter Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort’s main house, you have to follow in the footprints of Jackie Gleason, Perry Como, President Eisenhower, and Lucille Ball. Climbing the red-carpeted stairs, it’s hard not to think about the celebrities and PGA tournaments that have been hosted here since the resort’s opening in 1911. And yet once inside, the grand century-old characteristics start to merge with the most unexpected and unique elements.
Arts and Crafts
While the more than 80 rooms share similar signature touches like the bowl of river stones, the luxury pillow menu, the pet plant (potentially named “Devon” or “Ashley”), and a veranda with breathtaking views, the Legacy Collection accommodations, a newish addition to the resort, have the “wow” factor. Taking its cue from the arts and crafts movement that grew out of the late 19th century, TLC was envisioned by the Kirkwood family owners, who have spent many years living in Thailand and Japan. The Asian-accented quarters each offer a Zen environment, and from the bed frame to the bedside table, to the cupboards, desk, coffee table, and couch, each beautiful, hand-crafted piece of furniture is available for purchase. The Legacy Collection, comprised of five king suites, one queen suite, and two cottages, could not be farther from the Pocono stereotype of kitschy, impersonal décor and heart-shaped tubs. TLC amenities do include a jacuzzi tub, fireplace, iPod dock, fully-equipped kitchen, binoculars for bird watching, as well as breakfast, snacks, and cocktails; rates range from $300 to $800.
Local State of Mind
From the marzipan lotions to the vegetable garden on the golf course and beekeeping, Shawnee Inn makes the effort to lighten its carbon footprint and support the local culture. All of the rooms display paintings (and delightful early-mid 20th century photos of the hotel) done by artists from the Delaware River Valley—stop in to The Shawnee Gallery adjacent to the Legacy Collection apartments at Worthington and pick up a memento, be it a beaded bracelet, sculpture, or winterscape. Open year-round, the Shawnee Playhouse showcases a wide range of well-reviewed performances by a professional theater group (many actors hail from Broadway); upcoming shows include It’s a Wonderful Life, The Music Man, The Importance of Being Earnest, and Moments, written and directed by Shawnee Inn general manager Rob Howell.
In September 2009, the Gem & Keystone opened for lunch and dinner, and features fresh local and regional fare, live music, and its own homemade 99% organic brew. Also brand new, the ShawneeCraft Brewing Company operates out of an old ice skating rink behind the main lodge, and has already won accolades from Philadelphia Magazine for the Best Pumpkin Ale of the season. If you can find the time, ask for a tour of the microbrewery with brew master Leo Bongiorno, who cranks out 1,000 pints per week between the seven different types of house ales. Before heading back to the city, taste the blue cheese fondue and beer braised pulled pork sandwich, and take a growler of the Bourbon Porter to go (note: it should be enjoyed by at least two people).
Go Off The Reservation
When you’re not lounging in your hand-crafted den, going for a dip in the pool, or getting a chemical-free spa treatment, you are off on a much-needed outdoor adventure. Originally settled by the Lenape Indians (specifically, the wolf, the turtle, and the turkey clans) in the 11th century, the 250 acres of private property are nestled against the government-protected Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, which amounts to 70,000 acres of woodlands. But even better, Shawnee Inn staff will shuttle guests to hike the nearby Appalachian Trail—with prepared gourmet picnics, if you please. In the warmer months, the river overnight package is a popular activity, or in winter, skiing the beginner-friendly Shawnee Mountain. (In the warmer months, you can choose from kayaking, rafting, fishing, golf lessons at the Tillinghast Golf Academy, and a round at the 27-hole championship island course or nine-hole lighted Tillinghast Approach Course.) While the vacation will have done the trick, the weekend will have gone by too quickly. On the bus ride home, you’ll be dreaming of a return to the banks of the Delaware River, perhaps during a different season next time.
How to get there: Take the 1.5 hour bus ride on Martz Trailways from Port Authority to East Stroudsburg Station. Then take a 5-minute taxi ride to Shawnee Inn. To review a list of upcoming special deals and events, click here. Regular mid-week room rates start at $99/pp; $137/pp for weekends during winter. (Shawnee Inn, 1 River Road, Shawnee on Delaware, PA, 570.424.4000, shawneeinn.com)
The co-founder and editor-at-large at offMetro, Lauren is a sustainable travel specialist and freelance journalist with frequent bylines in National Geographic, Bicycling Magazine and Shape. Follow Lauren’s adventures at @laurenmati.