Follow along as this family gets swept up in the all the fun available at this friendly, lakefront resort in the Poconos.
As we raced back to our room to pick up an Ipod, a cellphone and some lipstick for vampire makeup, our 12-year-old paused. “Mom, quick, help me!” he panted. “We need three pine cones and three maple leaves. What’s a maple leaf look like?”
We were participating with Team Pumpkin in the Scavenger Hunt at Woodloch Pines’ annual Halloween Weekend. MC Joey had inducted us into a Woodloch rite of passage with the following tips: Clue gatherers should beware of decoys (my husband was totally fooled by false clues); stuff gatherers should not steal from guests; intelligence gatherers should complete this season’s quizzes and riddles. Fortunately for us newcomers, MC Joey asked some repeat visitors (five-timer-grandparents Clara and Andy, and eleven-timer-in-laws Mary and Bill) to join Team Pumpkin for moral support. By the time we were through running around, placing 7th among the 12 teams competing, we knew the resort almost as well as the regulars.
All in the Family
Woodloch’s old-fashioned logo proclaims a “tradition of excellence” – I can vouch for the quality in every detail – and “warm hospitality” – and everyone, from our dedicated waitress (dressed as Princess Jasmine for Halloween) to smiling generations of Kiesendahls (owner-managers who shook our hands at every opportunity), was hospitable. Woodloch, recently voted among the “Top 10 Places to Work in Pennsylvania,” really does have friendly veteran staff, 30 percent of whom worked there 10 years or more. Additionally, in 2015, it was selected by Trip Advisors Travelers’ Choice Award as the #1 Family Resort in the USA.
That’s why, according to a spokesperson, “The Woodloch Family” has seen infants become toddlers, and kindergartners become teens, and adults return as parents to see the kids they grew up with. They’ve noted guests who have fallen in love and been married there; guests who have married staff; guests who have quit jobs to return as employees; and staff who have become the godparents of guests’ children.
Another special aspect of this family resort is that throughout its long history, Woodloch has never had a supervised children’s program because the Kiesendahls believe adults can turn into kids again when they’re having fun. The ubiquitous “There Is No Substitute For Parental Guidance” signs have been posted near the Go Kart track, bumper boats, basketball court, waterslide, indoor pool, crafts room and other activity centers, despite the presence of uniformed attendants and lifeguards, because the Kiesendahls believe that is what family is all about.
Reunions & Togethering Welcomed
For groups, such as the 50th anniversary party of nearly 60 people (some of whom we met on a scenic boat tour of the lake), or the three families totaling 18 guests who we shared a Haunted Hayride with, this corner of Hawley, Pennsylvania is the ideal reunion destination. Woodloch easily caters to large families with spacious accommodations. Most of the 160 rooms are one-bedroom suites and 60 rental homes range from cute little Cape Cod-style cottages to million-dollar, five-bedroom lakefront homes. Our Edgewater Suite was adjacent to the outdoor pool and overlooked pretty Lake Teedyuskung, focal point of the resort. In addition to two queen beds in the master bedroom and two double sofabeds in the large living room, we had a patio, minifridge, coffeemaker, two bathrooms stocked with toiletries and towels, ironing board, hairdryer and two TVs.
Well-prepared, top quality meals (too much of everything) are served with no-muss, no-fuss. At our visit, my family of three’s lakeview dining table was engulfed by round tables seating eight to 14 hungry friends and family members, most of whom were reading the very busy Daily Activities Schedule throughout their meal.
Woodloch promotes a constant barrage of activities geared to all ages; a 134-acre, virtually car-free play area for little ones to run; a petting zoo and playgrounds; a gift shop with the New York Times for Grandpa, wireless Internet access in the lobby for Mom and Dad; a large and inexpensive video arcade for the teens; crafts and games rooms; a rock climbing wall; a zip line;winter snowsports; a sports bar; and several lounges with fireplaces to play Canasta. The rest of the property’s 1,000 acres host the pretty and pastoral Woodloch Springs par-72 golf course (praised by Golf Digest and Golf magazines), an upscale residence community with nightly rentals and The Lodge at Woodloch, a $37 million, four-star, 58-room destination spa.
Evenings are extended after dinner with cocktails in the lobby or sports bar, maybe karaoke or a family film (“The Day After Tomorrow” and “School of Rock” were among the six current feature films we could have seen in their lounge theater) until 8:30 pm, when the Show begins. The Halloween weekend theme show was devoted to “Woodloch’s Time Machine,” a professionally produced review of song and dance from the 1920s to the 1960s which garnered the biggest laughs with its Long Island jokes. Because the drinking, dancing to a live band, show and stand-up comedians go on until midnight, Woodloch has a screened roster of sitters available for hire.
Traveling forward in the Time Machine, Woodloch is fast approaching its 60th anniversary, looking as new today as the original rustic farmhouse did in 1958. We can thank the resort’s “Tradition of Excellence” for keeping up to 900 people employed in the maintenance of well-used facilities and recreation equipment, and the Kiesendahls’ constant reinvestment is evident throughout.
Woodloch’s old-fashioned decor – wood paneling, textured wallpaper, pine furniture, floral prints – may contrast with the classic Northeast lake resort of your dreams, but it is in keeping with Woodloch’s contemporary suburban aesthetic. And that “Warm Hospitality” – well, that’s what made our son want to drive through Woodloch Springs to look for “the house I’m gonna’ buy when I grow up.”
The Woodloch Pines website allows you to book your rooms online. Or, you can contact one of their reservations agents (800/966-3562) to inquire about rates, which change almost every week of the year, every weekend and every school holiday period. Their website lists some last-minute specials, the many seasonal variations, and Kids Stay Free weeks. With so many repeat visitors, family groups will have to book as far as 18 months ahead for the prime holiday weekends and school holidays.
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