The first thing seen upon entering the Lodge at Woodloch lobby, a room with a 34-foot cathedral ceiling and floor-to-ceiling windows looking out on a woodsy scene, is a trio of super-sized crystal bowls, the largest 24 inches in diameter.
The bowls sit on pedestals, with a wooden mallet beside each. If you take the mallet and run it along the rim of each "chakra bowl," a lovely cacophony of melodies and vibrations fills the air. In Eastern philosophies, the tone is deemed to balance the body's energy centers, or chakras.
This is the beginning of the mind/body experience at the Lodge at Woodloch, a secluded getaway located in Hawley, in northeast Pennsylvania.
Just 90 miles from New York and a one-hour drive from Scranton Airport, the Lodge at Woodloch rests on 75 acres of woods and is flanked by a 15-acre lake.
Owners John and Ginny Lopis, founding members of the International Spa Association, spent more than two decades developing their vision of what a spa should be and opened the Lodge at Woodloch in 2006.
The couple has worked with leading properties, including Doral Saturnia International Spa Resort, the PGA National, the Diplomat, the Watermark, Turning Stone and the Top Notch Resort & Spa.
The Lopises, who started their vision in 1981 when they bought 40 acres in Vermont, took the best of their accumulated wisdom to create a getaway so special that TripAdvisor.com named it one of the Top 10 Spas in the World for 2008 and Conde Nast Traveler magazine placed it on its 2007 Hot List.
Seasoned spa-goers will appreciate the attention to detail that make this adults-only property so unusual.
Some of the well-thought-touches are a changing light spectrum that rises with the mist in the steam room; outdoor porches with heated floors for relaxing in the dressing room; black river-rocks that line the shower floors to prevent slippage and massage the feet; and the apricot dipped in honey that therapists hand guests after a treatment.
Children under 18 are not allowed at the resort. There are also no calorie counts on the menu, which includes imaginatively prepared organic food, fresh local ingredients and naturally raised meats and fish. A sample menu might include marinated elk chop, scallop ceviche, roasted parsnip soup and whipped potatoes with horseradish.
To add to Woodloch's philosophy that you shouldn't deny yourself the better things in life, the bar and restaurant serve wine and alcoholic beverages. Cranberry martinis are a house specialty during picking season. (The lake on the property is a natural cranberry bog.)
The resort prides itself on intimacy and taking great care of guests. Thus, staff are friendly and accommodating.
There are only 58 guestrooms and suites, each with a small porch and a wall of windows looking out to the lake or a rock garden waterfall.
The large bathrooms have a twin-sink vanity, a marble shower and a private water closet.
Each bathroom is also equipped with a purified-water filter. The filters have recently been installed to eliminate the need for plastic water bottles, for environmental and health reasons.
Rooms come equipped with a flat-panel TV and high-speed wireless Internet. WiFi is also available in the common rooms.
The lodge blends classic Western and Adirondack decor with high, lofted ceilings and walls of windows. There is a cozy living room with a stone fireplace, a 100-seat restaurant and bar overlooking the lake, two meeting rooms, a library, an art studio and an outdoor fire pit surrounded by comfortable benches.
Championship golf and tennis courts are available at the adjacent Woodloch Springs Country Club.
The 40,000-square-foot spa has 27 treatment rooms, a salon for beauty treatments and private men's and women's "retreats." Besides having large changing areas with private shower rooms, the retreats offer fireplace lounges with juice/tea bars and snacks, saunas and steam rooms and screened porches with radiant-heated floors.
Spa treatments range from traditional to holistic. The White and Green Tea Facial, 50 minutes for $115, uses antioxidants from tea and flower extracts and essential oils to increase circulation and brighten skin.
Mineral Bodywork, also 50 minutes for $115, incorporates healing stones to activate and balance energy centers of body with polarity work to help align the mind, body and spirit.
The Aqua Garden, a high-ceilinged room with walls of windows, is surrounded by woods and overlooks the lake.
The garden has coed therapeutic soaking pools with hydro-massage waterfalls and a large, indoor pool for swimming laps or water aerobics. For soaking outdoors year-round, there's an infinity whirlpool with a heated deck.
The 3,500-square-foot exercise studio has state-of-the-art aerobic and cardio equipment. There are three exercise studios for classes that range from the low-key Pilates Mat and Inner Smile Meditation, to the high-energy Cardio Pump and Body Bars and Bands.
For the most part, there are activities every hour from 7:15 a.m. until 6:15 p.m., which could include anything from a yoga session to an outdoor hike on the one-mile, paved nature trail.
The Lodge at Woodloch also offers an ever-changing roster of seminars and classes that are given by visiting writers, professors and artists.
The workshops cover subjects that include nutrition, relationships, drumming, watercolor, past-life regression and cooking demonstrations. There are also hikes in local parks and wildlife sanctuaries, kayaking in the lake and fishing.
The price of relaxation
The Lodge at Woodloch's Complete Spa Plan includes three meals daily and nonalcoholic beverages, a daily spa service allowance of $115, use of all spa and fitness facilities, guided adventure excursions and a personal spa concierge.
From Sundays to Thursdays, rates start at $525, based on double occupancy. On weekends, prices start at $575, double occupancy.
The lodge also offers an Intro to Spa Plan that includes the same as the above, excluding daily spa service, priced from $425, double occupancy, Sundays to Thursdays, and from $475, double, on weekends.
Rates are per person, per night and are subject to change. Rates do not include a service charge of 18% and applicable state and local taxes.
For more information or to book, call (866) 953-8500 or visit www.thelodgeatwoodloch.com