HERSHEY, Pa. -- Visit Hershey today and it's hard to overlook that
sweet smell of chocolate and that even sweeter smell of success.
Both permeate this central Pennsylvania town and have for nearly
a century since Milton Hershey opened the world's first modern
chocolate factory in 1905 and built the model town that bears his
A theme park followed. Today, the theme park, the chocolate
factory, a museum and lodging, meetings and recreational facilities
fall under the umbrella of an enterprise called Hershey
Entertainment and Resorts.
Those who don't live in the Middle Atlantic states know the
Hershey name, certainly: Hershey's Milk Chocolate bars, Hershey's
Kisses, Hershey's cocoa to name a few sweet examples; but how many
have heard of Hersheypark?
Constructed in 1907 as a "picnic and pleasure grounds" for the
families who lived and worked in this chocolate world, Hersheypark
has 65 rides (10 roller coasters) and attractions. Historically,
the park has driven the summer season here.
But Hershey isn't just a theme park, a chocolate factory and a
town with street lights shaped like Hershey's Kisses anymore.
It's also the home of Hershey Resorts, the company's lodging
arm, which is working to broaden its reach and build an identity as
an upscale, year-round destination for people of all ages.
"When you ask, 'Have you been to Hershey?' the answer often is,
'When I was a kid,' " said R. Lynn Berkholder, director of
marketing for Hershey Resorts. "So we give them the brochure on the
spa, on the golf courses. If you haven't been to Hershey in the
last five years, you haven't been to Hershey."
The resort now boasts the Hotel Hershey and a 17,000-square-foot
spa now under expansion to nearly double its size; the Hershey
Lodge and Convention Center, with 100,000 square feet of meetings
space; a sports and entertainment venue; and the Hershey Golf
"We reacquired golf courses that were sold in the mid-'90s,"
Berkholder said. "Hershey has one of the best public courses in the
state, and it has a course for children just learning to play."
Enter Southwest Airlines
Traditionally a drive destination, the resort's goal until
recently was to sell beyond Philadelphia, a market it had
cultivated with success, and extend its reach to Washington, 140
miles away, Berkholder said.
Today, the sky's the limit, with the coming expansion of
Southwest Airlines into Philadelphia.
"We're thrilled," said Kim Schaller, chief marketing officer for
Hershey Entertainment and Resorts. "We're 75 to 90 miles away from
Philadelphia, with great access to the New Jersey Turnpike. We can
see this making a big impact on Hershey. It's clearly a bonus for
Harrisburg Airport is 12 miles from the resort and is opening a
new terminal, she said.
"As we grow, air travel will be very important for us," she
said, adding that Southwest also flies into Baltimore. "We say, "Go
The Hotel Hershey
The hotel was built in the 1930s on a hilltop above the town.
It's said that its Mediterranean design prompted the late world
traveler, Lowell Thomas, to describe it as "a palace that
out-palaces the palaces of the Maharajas of India."
The Fountain Lobby is a re-creation of a Spanish courtyard. The
Mediterranean theme is carried into the 232 guest rooms and 25
suites. In the main building, 130 rooms just underwent a $2 million
The Circular Dining Room was built to ensure unobstructed views
of the gardens. There are cafes and coffee shops, and the Iberian
Lounge offers live music and chocolate martinis.
The three-story, European-style Spa at the Hotel Hershey expects
to grow to 30,000 square feet by December and add 23 treatment
rooms, for a total of 53.
Spa packages include the Hershey Sweet Retreat, a one-night plan
that ranges from $438 to $588, double; the Hershey Getaway, a
two-night plan, $786 to $1,086; and Heavenly Hershey, a three-night
plan, $1,134 to $1,584. Rates are per package, valid to Sept.
All packages include the Hershey Rain Shower; a 20-minute
massage; and a whirlpool tub experience with a choice of soaks,
including whipped cocoa.
The Hershey Getaway offers a $75 spa credit per person. Heavenly
Hershey includes a $150 credit.
For appointments, call (877) 772-9988. The spa is on the Web at
Recreational facilities feature 72 holes of golf, including a
nine-hole course at the hotel (packages are available); a fitness
center; two swimming pools; and nature trails.
The Hershey Lodge
The Hershey Lodge and Convention Center is undergoing a $5
million refit set for completion in spring 2005. The majority of
the rooms have been finished and are in use, according to a
spokeswoman. The 665 guest rooms, including 28 suites, are
appointed with regionally crafted furnishings and local
The lodge has three restaurants, two lounges, a sports bar and a
coffee shop plus business, convention and concierge services.
Amenities include a game room, an indoor pool, two outdoor pools, a
fitness facility, a whirlpool and a sauna.
Room rates at the Hotel Hershey start at $329 from May 28 to
Sept. 5, single or double. Rates at the Hershey Lodge begin at $229
per night, May 28 to Sept. 5. Children age 17 and under stay free
at both hotels.
Hershey Resorts guests enjoy access to Hershey Golf Club
courses, admission to Hershey Gardens and Hershey Museum and
shuttle service to Hersheypark. Commission is 10%.
For reservations, call (800) 533-3131. Hershey Resorts is on the
Web at www.hersheypa.com.
To contact Destinations editor Margaret Myre, send e-mail to