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December is a particularly joyful time to visit The Lodge at Woodloch, a destination spa resort situated in the rural Pocono Mountains region of eastern Pennsylvania. Spa Weekend readers can retreat here to work out, curl up by the fire, read in the library, or to hike or snowshoe. What’s more, epicureans will delight in a dining room that doles out healthy, hearty, and decidedly delicious fare, while the on-site bar is a lure, especially for its wine sommelier-led tastings.
The resort complex is anchored by the main grand lodge: Constructed of natural woods and regional stones, it boasts floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the lodge's 75 acres of woodsy wonderland. It serves as the central core for the resort offerings, with a lobby, library, bar, restaurant, and spa boutique separating accommodations in the guestroom wing from the facilities in the spa wing.
The spa provides extraordinary fitness facilities and 27 treatment rooms reserved for an array of relaxing and healing wraps and polishes, facials, and massages. The spa lounges each have a fireplace, private showers, changing rooms, sauna, steam room, and whirlpool. For cold-weather visits, we especially recommend the Aqua Garden, where guests can unwind under warm Hydrotherapy Water Walls and go swimming. (The outdoor Jacuzzi ain’t half-bad either.)
For those who need a quick R & R reboot in the midst of the holiday mayhem, head there this weekend (December 16 through December 18), when the Winter Herbal Weekend will be led by resident expert, Nathaniel Whitmore, a master herbalist and shiatsu practitioner. The complimentary program is geared to teach spa-goers how to create herbal and holistic harmony for the season. Sessions start Friday at 4pm with workshops introducing effective uses of herbal teas and traditional winter utilization of herbs and botanicals. Sign up for the Creating Herbal and Holistic Harmony with the Winter Season session for theory on the five Chinese elements considered essential for holistic harmony, as well as an introduction to healthful seasonal foods. Executive Chef Peter Schott incorporates local, organic, good-for-you winter foods and herbs in a Seasonal Cooking Demonstration and there’s also a session entitled Staying Healthy in Winter. A gentle Qigong water element class also incorporates some of the themes of the weekend and is being offered at two separate times. The signature spa treatment for the Winter Herbal Weekend will be the 75-minute Herbal Retreat ($180), which incorporates evergreen oils in a warming wrap to work on meridian points corresponding to internal organs.
Standard rates start at $835 per person for the two-night weekend (working out to $418 nightly), including accommodations; three meals daily; use of all facilities; participation in 20 fitness classes, activities, and workshops; and all taxes and service fees. Note that spa services and treatments are priced on an à la carte basis. Guests are welcome to come early on arrival day to use facilities prior to check-in at 4pm. For extra value, without the weekend program extras, consider a stay on Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays, when nightly rates dip down to just $199 per person, per night, not including taxes and services.
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