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Anitra Brown

Mohonk Mt. House #1 On Readers' Top Spas List

By February 19, 2013

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Conde Nast Traveler just released its 2013 Readers' Poll for "The 270 Top Spas" and Mohonk Mountain House near New Paltz, NY, is #1 on the list.

I have a soft spot for this 19th century hotel, one of the few authentic mountain houses still left in America. I live on the same mountain ridge, and when I drive up the valley at night it glitters like a glamourous cruise liner. There's something grand and thrilling about Mohonk, just 90 minutes from New York City.

Perhaps part of the allure is that it's still around in all its Victorian glory, against the odds. Albert Smiley purchased a ten-room inn by a sky lake atop the Shawangunk Mountains back in 1869. And though it's grown magnificently, over time, Mohonk is still owned by the same Quaker family. In fact, because of the Smiley's Quaker values (money isn't everything), the mountain ridge was preserved from development.

Mohonk Mountain House sits in the midst of a mountain wilderness, with 85 miles of trails from its doorstep. It's a hiker's paradise in summer and this time of year, a pleasure for cross-country skiers. I've barely begun to mention the things I love about it, (the fireplaces with real wood in the rooms...the views from the 1905 dining room...the sense of quiet that persists even when there are people around. And yes, the Victorian-style spa is lovely, but you can find a nice spa many places. All 270 spas on the CNT list are going to be pretty good. But there's only one Mohonk Mountain House, deeply authentic and deliciously unique.

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