To be or not to be PAMPERED? To be!

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Looking for an awesome gift for that special someone this holiday season? How about a gift certificate to the spa at The Lodge at Woodloch?

It’s the middle of a cold northeast Pennsylvania winter. Close your eyes and imagine the transcendent sensation of swimming in a pool surrounded by an infinity of waterfalls, a warm revitalizing massage infused with summer citrus, and a room that beckons just with its name—the Whisper Lounge. The Lodge at Woodloch offers all of the above and more year round.   Billed as a “sanctuary for the senses,” it boasts 27 rooms for body treatments, facials, pedicures, and salon services in luxurious yet unfussy surroundings, including “soaring walls of windows (that) invite the outdoors in to bring you in harmony with nature.”

Voted one of the ten best destination spas in the United States by readers of Conde Nast Traveler, The Lodge is an experience designed to quiet the mind and invigorate the body while tingling the senses from beginning to end. And, it’s in our own backyard, just minutes from Hawley and Honesdale and a mere 40 miles from Scranton.

Throughout the year, the Lodge caters to the local community with open houses and invitations to sample and explore its offerings, yet many myths persist about its operations–it’s too expensive, it’s not for locals, you have to be an overnight guest or use other services to dine at Tree, the gourmet restaurant on the ground floor opposite the spa.

None of these are true, says Brooke Jennings Roe, the Lodge’s director of Marketing, adding, “Our staff knows the best way to dispel any myths is by personal touch. But don’t take our word for it. Check it out for yourself.”

And so we did. Two friends and I discovered The Lodge’s personal touch begins with a “concierge” who tailors your desired experience to your specific needs, giving you choices ranging from fitness classes (such as Body Pump or Kickboxing) to culinary (wine pairings! Chef-hosted dinners!) to basic spa services—a moisture drench facial, eye rescue treatment, Blues-be-gone massage, etc. As part of the Kiesendahl-family-owned Woodloch Resort, The Lodge also offers shared amenities such as kayaking on a 15-acre private lake and golfing at nearby Woodloch Springs. And the Woodloch/ Kiesendahl brand of doing business pervades The Lodge—it is indulgence dispensed with down-home friendliness, or more simply put, no pretensions.

“For the last 5+ years, John Kiesendahl of the Woodloch family of resorts has taken over management of The Lodge to filter in the warm and genuine hospitality they are known for,” says Roe.

My friends and I enjoyed a host of services— full body massages (one pre-natal), pedicures, and a haircut and styling in the Lotus Salon. Many of the personnel hail from nearby towns, and they all admitted freely how much they enjoyed working at The Lodge. In addition to their expertise, they were respectful of privacy and conversation—they talked easily but only if prompted by the client. Between services, our concierge invited us to sip from glass pitchers of cool cucumber water or visit a sauna or steam room. Time disappeared. There was no hurry…and it was appreciated!

Pricing at The Lodge is “in line with most local upscale salons,” Roe told us, “and we offer an added benefit at no charge: usage of spa facilities (water/relaxation—saunas, steam rooms, pool) for one hour before and after your service.”

The Lodge’s signature 50 minute massage is $135, similar to the Sapphire Spa at Mohegan Sun which offers a 60 minute massage with hair shampoo ritual and style for the same money.   Canyon Ranch’s signature massage in Tucson, Arizona, is $150 for 50 minutes. Closer to home—Alexander’s in Scranton or Apple Day in Honesdale for example, both fine establishments—prices are lower, but they are not “destination spas.”

So what is a destination spa? Generally speaking, it’s a residential facility, such as a hotel, where like-minded individuals engage with highly trained personnel in a combination of exercise, healthy eating, wellness education, spa and well-being treatments. In contrast with a “spa resort,” where many activities are engineered solely for pleasure, a destination spa is focused on lifestyle improvements.

In addition to “beauty” services, The Lodge has a cardio weight studio, a dedicated Pilates training area, yoga, meditation, aerobics, aqua classes, water volleyball, and paths for bicycling, walking and running.

And, despite the ‘residential” part of “destination” spa, staying overnight is not required for guests to use The Lodge’s services.   Anyone can enjoy a single service, even just a meal at Tree. On our visit, we enjoyed, respectively, grilled southwest shrimp with black bean salad and honey chipotle vinaigrette, a roasted turkey sandwich and butternut squash tartlets. Gluten-free cranberry cookies and chocolate chip ricotta cookies were available on a buffet that also had fresh kale salad.

Roe describes Tree as delightful for anyone. “The amazing atmosphere, live-music nightly- acoustic guitar, healthy meal options, and impeccable service—and oh, did we mention the award-winning wine list?—makes for a very memorable night out,” she enthuses.

The Lodge lists many different spa packages for the day—a Demi Day, a Day Away, or an Evening Escape— or for overnight—Midweek Magic or ONEderous Weekend, for example, in a 57-guest room hotel where each room is adorned with down comforters, a refrigerator, marble bathroom, and an oversized shower.

The Lodge has won many awards—Travel & Leisure World’s Best, Conde Nast Traveler, Organic Spa Magazine, SpaFinder and TripAdvisor to name a few. But it is often the word of friends that carries the most weight… do you know someone who has experienced The Lodge at Woodloch?

When we arrived at The Lodge, my friends and I were harried and full of chatter. We left relatively serene. The experience seemed to have dispelled the “Maggie May” effect—no morning sun will show our age because now we felt ageless. Refreshed. Isn’t that what a spa is supposed to offer?

Legend tells us that the powerfully-scented herb, rosemary, was draped around the Greek goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite, when she rose fully-formed from the sea. It’s no wonder then that rosemary is the signature scent of the Lodge at Woodloch. Can you smell it even in the dark middle of an NEPA winter? You should—it’s not that far away!