By Malerie Yolen-Cohen
Special to Newsday
Every winter, many Long Islanders look forward to enduring traditions away from home: skating on frozen lakes, bonfire gatherings, sipping hot chocolate beneath a dusting of snow, playing board games beside a roaring fireplace. This pandemic winter, we seek these cherished, bonding activities more than ever.
Whether traveling with your beloved or in the company of a family-friend bubble, the following resorts and retreats are suited for these uncertain times. From a Tibetan healing retreat to a French-chateau-like resort, to clusters of individual homes and cottages, these getaways allow you to unpack once before eating and playing without ever having to leave the property.
Mohonk Mountain House
The Mohonk Mountain House. Credit: Mohonk Mountain House/Mary Buttolph
DISTANCE FROM LI 2 hours
On a small lake framed by thousands of acres of hills and forests, the resort appears like a European château in the Hudson River Valley. Families have been scrambling on 1,200 acres of its boulder-strewn trails for more than 125 years.
With its 85 miles of hiking trails and a collection of outdoor programs, including cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the wintertime, Mohonk encourages guests to experience the benefits of being in nature year-round. For those who’d like some assistance doing so, Nina Smiley, Mohonk’s director of mindfulness programming, leads “forest bathing” and meditation classes.
The Spa at Mohonk Mountain House, open through the winter, features a solarium, outdoor heated mineral pool, and a stunning indoor pool. Its spa menu offers nature-inspired massages, rejuvenating facials and body treatments. In addition, guided yoga and fitness classes are available with limited number of attendees and physical distancing between guests. (Outdoor venues will be used whenever possible).
The resort has themed weekends planned through winter including focuses on music, yoga and more.
RATES From $820 per night for two people includes three meals a day plus afternoon tea, guided hikes, cross-country skiing, yoga, lectures, and more.
Cedar Lakes Estate
DISTANCE FROM LI About 2 hours
Opened in 2011, the ultra-luxe Cedar Lakes Estate features individual cottages that are chic quarters to cozy away freezing winter days and nights — all while splurging on splendid farm to table cuisine and participating in noncontact sports on 500 acres of winter wonderland. Daily complementary activities include snowshoeing, sledding, ice-skating, curling, bonfires and board games.
RATES Four-night stays from Thursday — Monday $1,580-$3,000 starting Jan. 7, 2021, plus an additional $185 a person resort fee per night ($740 a person for 4 nights) includes most activities and all meals. Beer, wine and cocktails are a la carte.
People enjoy an outdoor fire at the Cedar Lakes Estate. Credit: Cedar Lakes Estate
DISTANCE FROM LI 3 hours
Menla offers a serene and spiritual escape from crowds on 300 acres in the Catskills. Book a spa treatment, dine on vegetarian meals (lunch and dinner are included in room rate) and choose from private qi gong, yoga, and meditation sessions. Try to awaken new senses with sound baths and sound therapy techniques said to release stress through harmonic vibration.
Menla’s strong suit during COVID times is its far-from-the-city forest mountain setting offering a variety of nature-immersion experiences. Fresh air, light, water, movement and sound envelop your senses in the mystical act of forest bathing. Book a guided hike or explore on-site and nearby trails, ranging from easy to advanced, on your own. As a wildlife refuge and Audubon bird sanctuary, there are numerous opportunities to catch a glimpse of your favorite species. When the sun goes down, outdoor bonfires send large blazes alight affording views of the Milky Way on clear nights.
Though not plush, guest rooms are upscale and immaculate — plus, they are sealed for 24 hours between guests.
RATES From $628 a person for two nights in a deluxe queen room, including three meals and use of property.
Inns of Aurora
A fire pit at The Aurora Inn. Credit: Inns of Aurora
DISTANCE FROM LI 5 ½ hours
The five Inns of Aurora, collectively a luxury Finger Lakes boutique resort, offer travelers tranquility and seclusion overlooking Cayuga Lake. Situated in the “less than one square mile” village of Aurora, these restored historic homes have 54 total guest rooms, come complete with resident innkeepers, in-room fireplaces, private balconies and of course, stunning views of the lake.
Wellness-seekers can create their own program with Laura Coburn, the resort’s Serenity Director, that might include restorative yoga and meditation sessions, or essential oil and organic tea blending classes. Before heading to bed, guests can cozy up by one of several on-site fireplaces to enjoy a glass of Ayurveda-inspired Nighty Night Milk while Coburn hosts a group for a private tarot card reading.
Activities include painting, stargazing and bird-watching — or taking private hiking, fishing and archery lessons.
For dining, try farm-to-table cuisine at 1833 Kitchen & Bar before warming up by an outdoor blaze at the Fargo Fire Garden, featuring several firepits with socially distant Adirondack chair seating, local wine and a selection of campfire bites including s’mores dip served in a cast iron skillet.
RATES From $255 weekend nights Jan.-Feb. include in-room breakfast from local purveyors, afternoon wine and cheese hour, and amenities including a yoga kit, easels and paint sets, binoculars and birding guides, use of telescopes and star gazing guides. Guests can also borrow a pair of Hunter Boots for rustic outdoor activities.
OTHER WINTER HOTEL DEALS
Think Big: A Tiny House Resort
DISTANCE FROM LI 2 ½ hours
Do you have a fascination with “Tiny Houses” and baby goats? Then you’ll love this cluster of 11 modern-designed, large windowed, fashionably decorated little homes in the Catskills. These scaled-down versions of midcentury modern homes sit on 40 acres with waterfalls. Each tiny house comes with cozy heating, a contemporary bathroom with flush toilet and pressurized showers, galley kitchen (stocked with 6 eggs from the resident chickens upon arrival), deck and outdoor firepit. In winter, borrow sleds, tubes and snowshoes to clomp around the property. Or take a “Goat Walk,” which is like goat yoga without the exertion. Rates from $275- $800 a night.
Buttermilk Inn and Spa
DISTANCE FROM LI 2 hours
The luxury inn is a fantastic grounds-to-table restaurant, animal sanctuary and farm (rescued alpacas!) and spa. It’s also just 6 miles from the Walkway Over the Hudson State Park, which is open daily all year for breathtaking views of the Hudson River Valley. While there are no special packages this winter, the Buttermilk Inn remains a perennially popular respite for New Yorkers who just want to chill out upstate without a lot of hoopla. Rates start at $250 per night and include a made-to-order hot breakfast.
Thayer Hotel @ West Point
Toasty Travel Package
DISTANCE FROM LI 90 minutes
The “Toasty Travel Package” invites you to watch the plebes go through their paces at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point from the on-campus Thayer Hotel. Also in the works: A fun scavenger hunt expounding on West Point’s history, with clues at both the hotel and the West Point Museum. Package rates from $129 per night, through March, 2021.
DISTANCE FROM LI 4 hours
The Sagamore, a four seasons resort on Lake George, will be open weekends only through the winter. The Glacier Ice Bar, 18,000 pounds of crystal-clear ice transformed into exquisite ice carvings, will be open (rain or shine) Jan. 22-23 and 29-30. After sipping cocktails, step inside and warm up next to the cozy fireplace at Caldwell’s Lounge or mingle over hors d’oeuvres and authentic Italian specialties at La Bella Vita. Guests can check in as early as 7 a.m. on Friday and check out as late as 4 p.m. on Sunday. The Ice Bar package starts at $329 a person for two nights and includes a $100 resort credit per stay, and a ceramic souvenir Solo cup.
Sleep in an architecturally significant B&B, or book a room at a nationally known hotel. Casual travelers as well as visitors looking for luxury will find a wide range of properties to consider. There are lodging options for everyone – Try our user-friendly lodging search below and come stay with us in Orange County, NY.