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The Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania


If “luxury Pocono Mountain vacation” sounds oxymoronic, you haven’t been keeping up with developments in Northeast Pennsylvania’s outdoor playground. Sure, there are still rustic motels by a lake throughout the area, and a few of those kitschy couples resorts are hanging in there, but those who know where to look will also find fine dining, world-class spas and distinctive small hotels.

The Hotel Fauchere in the town of Milford, near the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, is the perfect home base for a pampering weekend. The Gilded Age hotel once hosted luminaries such as Teddy Roosevelt, Mae West, Babe Ruth and Andrew Carnegie. Restored in 2006 to its former glory and modernized with touches like radiant floor heat and iPod docking stations, the Relais & Chateaux hotel has 16 elegant rooms with hardwood floors, marble bathrooms and comfy bedding.

Grey Towers After browsing Milford’s boutiques and galleries, weekenders can head to nearby Grey Towers to tour the French chateau-style mansion (a National Historic Landmark) that was once the home of Gifford Pinchot, first chief of the U.S. Forest Service and a two-term governor of Pennsylvania. The dramatic entrance hall and dark wood interior are impressive, but the real reasons to visit the home are the dramatic exterior spaces, including the wisteria-covered outdoor dining room where food was served on wooden platters that floated on a water-filled table.

For dinner, the chef-owned, farm-to-table restaurant at the Settlers Inn in nearby Hawley offers locally raised chicken or lamb accompanied by an impressive selection of wines that, year after year, earn the inn the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. The inn is a 1927 mission-style lodge with Arts and Crafts decor throughout. A perfect evening ends back at the Hotel Fauchere, where the staff will build a fire in the outdoor pit for any guest who asks. The marshmallows are ready for roasting.

Hotel FauchereThe following day should be devoted to pampering at the Lodge at Woodloch, a six-year-old spa that’s been named the No. 6 destination spa in the world by Travel & Leisure magazine.

A day spa package, in addition to chosen spa treatments, gives guests access to select fitness classes and all the spa facilities and lunch in the Treetop restaurant. (poconos.org)