As a child, I remember looking at bridal magazines that featured full page ads for Pocono Mountain honeymoon resorts, with photos of love-struck couples holding hands, riding horses, dancing at nightclubs, and lounging in heart-shaped pools. One of the the biggest and most popular was Mt. Airy Lodge. This resort even advertised with it’s own jingle that crooned: “Beeauuutiful Mt. Airy Lodge…“
The Pocono mountains of Pennsylvania have always been a draw for vacationers, honeymooners or not. The area is known for beautiful scenery, outdoor activities, and plenty of indoor activities as well. In the Summertime, the area features hiking, biking, horseback riding and water sports. In Winter, there are eight major ski areas nearby, plus all types of snow-oriented fun.
In the old days, it was the kitchy candle and candy companies, heart shaped pools, and honeymooners, that made the Poconos a couples paradise. But times and tastes change. Today’s couples (and groups of adults) prefer elegance and service to kitchy pools and thinly veiled jokes about sex. While the old Mount Airy Lodge fell into disrepair and closed in 2001. in 2007 it re-emerged as Mount Airy Resort and Casino, a completely re-built (with a $412 million investment), elegant casino resort.
While the new Mount Airy Casino is on the same footprint as the old lodge, the only thing that those who remember the old property might recognize is the artificial lake in the front of the building that once was the “beach and boating” area. On Mount Airy Casino Resort’s 1056 acres, there are still honeymooners, as the resort has good facilities for meetings and weddings. The close proximity to New York and other East Coast locales also attracts couples and groups including girlfriend/guy getaways, and anyone just seeking a fun or romantic setting.
A few months ago, my husband and I were invited to check out the new Mount Airy Casino, Resort along with another couple. The new resort features 188 rooms, a large casino, a nightclub, bar, spa, golf, new pool area, and restaurants. It’s an impressive sight as you drive up to the main building, and hard to imagine that the original Mount Airy Lodge was built in 1898 as an eight-room inn.
A Casino, and a Lot More:
The new Mount Airy Casino Resort is still, first and foremost, centered around a Casino. It attracts a lot of people who enjoy table games and slots with some of the most sophisticated progressive and single machines available. But casino excitement isn’t all that Mount Airy Casino Resort is offering. It is a full service resort and an easy trip for those who live within a few hours’ drive (it took us about two hours from NYC). The weekend we visited the resort was featuring a Vietnamese dance party and so a large group had gathered to spend the weekend and take advantage of that special event. Children are not allowed in the casino and there really isn’t much for them to do, so while the resort isn’t adults only, it is geared towards adults.
Activities, Anyone? Place A Bet, or Just Get Wet:
Mount Airy Casino Resort provides all the amenities you would expect from any resort including dining, entertainment, a fabulous spa, and golf including some interesting special events (e.g. the International Bikini Team Golf Outing).
The highly anticipated Get Wet Ultra Pool opened at the end of May 2014. It’s a fabulous indoor/outdoor 1,000 square foot, indoor/ outdoor pool, bar & nightlife venue with food and bar service, cabanas, and more. The heated, four season pool features a passage allowing guests to swim continuously from indoors to outdoors. you can rent a private cabanas with day beds and televisions. A whirlpool conjoining the pool and an assortment of water features and sculptures!
Outside, there’s a 5,000 square foot deck with table-side fire pits and expansive views of the resort’s lake and golf course. There will also be “Celebrity: DJs at the Mount Airy pool and we were told the music won’t ever stop. The Ultra Pool is going to be a place where people are going to party. Hotel guests can visit for free. Day passes will be available for $10 weekdays, $15 weekends.
The pool is a much needed addition, especially for the Winter months when the Poconos can really be very chilly. But it would be nice if Mount Airy would schedule in some quiet sessions where adults could relax and unwind at the pool, read a book, and enjoy the atmosphere without the persistent party atmosphere, too. Pools can be very romantic and relaxing, and guests (especially couples and more mature visitors) should be able to enjoy that. Since pools and romance are part of Mount Airy’s heritage, it seems fitting.
Whether you’re a bride seeking services for that special day and the bridal party, or just someone who wants a relaxing and/or beautifying service, the Mount Airy spa/salon area proved to be exceptional, offering all the services that you’d except from a high end spa. Services include a wide range of hair, nail and makeup services in a modern and attractive setting. The skin and massage services also offer a wide range of choices, and the prices are in range with other resorts. The hot and cold stone massage I had was one of the best I’ve experienced, and there are a variety of other massages, body treatments and facials to enjoy. The spa is a destination in itself, with a nice sauna and eucalyptus steam room, good showers, lockers, changing rooms, and everything is very clean. One could easily spend the entire day relaxing there. The reception lounge, and the lounge in which you wait prior to and after treatments, is relaxing and tastefully decorated. For those who are just into staying fit, there is a fitness center with weights and cardio machines, available around the clock to hotel guests and no charge.
Check Out the Area’s Attractions:
If you tire of the hotel’s indoor activities, nearby you can access tons of outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, horseback riding, tubing/rafting, paintball and more. For those who like to shop, the Poconos famous candy and candle factories still exist, and are fun to visit to bring home a souvenir. “Kitchy” petting zoos/paws & claws, train tours and the like are fun. For those who love to shop, The Crossings is very close by. It’s an outlet mail with more than 100 stores offering discounts from name brands (I did find some bargains there). In the Winter, the Poconos can get pretty snowy and chilly, but there are ski areas not too far away if you like downhill and cross country, or perhaps just hiking or snow-shoeing and enjoying the scenery.
Food For the Soul/Dining:
Of course, dining, drinking and entertainment are part of any weekend getaway, and Mount Airy Casino offers guests and day visitors plenty of options. At the time of our visit in April 2014, the dining options included: Betty’s Diner (breakfast/lunch/casual dinner); The Buffet (with Noodle Bar in the Back); Le Sorelle Cucina (fine Italian); and; Red Steakhouse (fine Steak and Seafood) . There is also a Starbucks and some bars and lounges. These offer a range of choices and price points. All of the restaurants we visited offers good food and pleasant service with the higher end restaurants of Red Steakhouse and La Sorelle Cucina offering the kind of quality and atmosphere that is the hallmark of high end dining, anywhere. Our meals, the atmosphere, the service — all were excellent. Red steakhouse offers seafood and various cuts of meat that rival those served in celebrated New York City eateries with a good wine list offering a range of bottles priced to suit everyone’s budget. However, we visited at the time of a change-over in dining venues. La Sorelle Cucina and Betty’s Diner will be replaced with new restaurants to be announced. As with many resorts, if you choose to dine nicely in the higher end restaurants for several days your bill can start to add up. If you want to keep your costs down, there are other places to eat in the general area (including some other high end restaurants), but you’ll have to do some homework to figure out what suits your taste and budget if you don’t want to be disappointed and you will need a car to access anything outside of the Casino area.
Home Sweet Hotel Room:
While none of the hotel rooms or suites we saw featured indoor pools and heart shaped tubs, or champagne towers, the appointments are unisex, elegant and earth toned. In fact, the decor in the entire resort is surprisingly subdued and elegant, consider that it is in fact, a casino as well, and casinos are not known for understatement in decor. The suites are large and have jacuzzi tubs, a bar, and flat screen televisions, among the amenities. The standard hotel rooms are nicely appointed and spacious. All hotel guests access the room floors with a key card and separate elevator. This not only reduces noise om the floors it also keeps the merely curious from wandering around. In fact, even though the hotel was supposedly full during our stay, we were not disturbed at all by noise. The rooms have very comfortable beds, although no pillow menu was offered. The bathrooms features a separate toilet room with a door — a nice plus, especially if you relish some privacy. The showers were multi-jet, and excellent. Bathroom amenities were replenished and nice quality.
Mount Airy is a Casino and also a resort, and there are a lot of day visitors. The focus has to be on the Casino and there are the usual table games. But even if you don’t gamble, there are plenty of reasons to stay. If you like to gamble, your entertainment is assured. If you are not into table games, there is “fun” and entertainment in the interactive slot machines which admittedly are gambling, but the focus is more on entertaining you, than winning a lot of money. These games are surprisingly sophisticated. If you are lucky, you can play for quite some time, on just a few dimes (or pennies or quarters). One game I particularly liked and played with a group was “The Wizard of Oz” which allows about six players to interact (and benefit) together. It is really exciting. Another, Alice in Wonderland, kept popping up with favorite characters providing surprises and bonuses. Even if you don’t win anything (actually, I did), you’ll have a ton of fun. For those who find the smoke of casinos to be a turn-off, there is a non smoking section of the casino on the second floor. It’s smaller, but it’s also more tranquil. There is also a “frequent flyer” type Player’s Club pass available to everyone, Sign up at the casino, then insert your card into each slot machine you play, or give it to the dealer while you’re at a table, and you can accrue exclusive benefits, offers and comps. Play enough, and you might end up in the VIP lounge or win free hotel nights, or more.
Let Mount Airy Entertain You:
There is plenty to do (besides gamble) at night. Mount Airy Casino Resort can be a place to relax with friends at a bar or around the new Ultra Pool area, but you can also be entertained in a more traditional way. Headliners and some unique acts perform in Gypsies nightclub (there is a fee that varies depending upon the entertainment) and it’s also a disco. We’ve seen some stellar drag shows there, and Gypsies has a wide variety of entertainers to suit varying tastes, from Grandmaster Flash to comedienne Lisa Lampanelli, to the Stylistics and the Thunder Down Under…something for everyone! The weekend we were visited, Gypsies was hosting a Vietnamese dance party featuring a range of Vietnamese singers. This proved to be very popular with the crowd staying at the hotel for this special event, and also with large groups coming in by car and bus just to attend. The venue was filled with people dressed up and showing off their most impressive Arthur Murray moves on the dance floor while the singers entertained them. Tables with bottle service can be reserved and the rest of the seating is general admission, first come, first served. There is a bar in the back. If you are just general admission, you’ll still find that the sight lines are good.
If you want to venture out from Mount Airy you will need to drive, but there are other entertainment venues in the area that also offer headline entertainment, or you can just cuddle up next to that special someone, or take a stroll under the stars.
The bottom line: It may not longer be the stuff of heart-shaped honeymoon dreams, but the Mount Airy Casino Resort offers a reasonably affordable, romantic and/or fun vacation option for couples and for groups, and the Pocono Mountains are an attractive option for an easily accessible (from NYC and environs) weekend or week-long getaway. While a car is recommended, the area is also served by many bus lines. The Mount Airy Casino Resort is well staffed with knowledgeable, helpful people who work hard to make your experience special. The amenities compare favorably with similar resorts, but this one is unique as Pennsylvania’s only casino resort to have won the AAA four diamond award. If you’re contemplating a destination event (e.g. a wedding) or you just want to get a group together, Mount Airy offers everything you need to make your stay memorable.
For more information visit: http://mountairycasino.com/ or call: 1-877-MTAIRY-1 (1-877-682-4791)
this report by Alison Blackman