Mohonk Spa, New Paltz, NY


When the Mohonk Mountain House’s directors decided to add an eco-friendly, 30,000-square-foot spa in 2005, they faced a dilemma. he resort, often referred to as a Victorian castle, prided itself on its timelessness, that Old World feel of rustic comfort and simplicity that hadn’t shifted much since it first opened in 1869. They needed it to fit the historic architecture and Quaker sensibility, but still speak to spa patrons accustomed to a certain amount of luxury.

“The Spa at Mohonk Mountain House was designed to look 100 years old the day it opened,” says Nina Smiley, Ph.D., Mohonk’s director of marketing. The first addition to the original hotel building since 1902, the spa was designed by architect Michael Rudden, then with Saratoga Associates. Treatment rooms have the familiar warm oak doors and stained-ash wainscoting found throughout the hotel, but their ceilings are draped with soft white fabric that diffuses the light. Pine floors are covered with custom carpet depicting a lily from the Mohonk lily pond. The walls are adorned with the photographic work of founding family members Ruth and David Smiley, among others.

Long porches lined with rocking chairs are one of Mohonk’s most iconic features. So the most stunning sections of the spa, the 80-foot-long, glassen closed verandas—one for men and one for women—were designed to reflect them. Spa-goers relax in rocking chairs and sip tea, munching grapes and gazing out—there are 200 windows—to woodland scenes and the dramatic quartz stone that surrounds the property.

“The idea was to bring the outside in,” says Smiley. Six hundred tons of stone were excavated from the site and recycled throughout the spa. A solarium with a stone fireplace offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.

And then there’s the pool. Sixty feet by 30 feet, the heated indoor swimming pool is serenaded by an underwater sound system. The pool area is awash in natural light, thanks to windowed walls and cathedral ceilings lined with exposed beams. Visitors can watch the sun set over the Catskills from the pool.

The spa is also a paragon of environmental friendliness. It is crafted largely of local timber and cedar shingles, and heated and cooled by an environmentally sound geothermal system. A green roof not only insulates the building but it also provides a habitat for butterflies and birds.

As relaxing as the spa’s spaces are, the services command high praise. Its signature “Mohonk Red” massage combines aromatherapy, breathing techniques, and guided meditation, with Swedish, Hawaiian Lomi Lomi, and Thai massage styles. It’s named for the Mohonk Red witch hazel growing on the grounds, which is infused into warm towels. The spa also offers reflexology, stress-relief pedicures, and a microcurrent technology facial called “Nature’s Facelift.”

Perhaps most unique are the Spa at Mohonk Mountain House’s wellness offerings: yoga-qigong personal training; tai chi; meditation by the pool or designed to help with weight loss. And if a visitor gets overwhelmed by the abundance of offerings, she or he can always retreat to the sauna or the outdoor hot tub.

Join the Conversation