Forest-based Treatments at the Lodge at Woodloch
The Lodge at Woodloch at the edge of the Poconos Mountains in Hawley, Pennsylvania, is a luxury destination spa and fitness retreat that offers a wide range of classes and services. Its distinguishing feature, however, is the expansive and serene wooded area that runs deep on the property and the forest-based wellness treatments that are derived from there. Story by Lynn Burshtein. Photos courtesy of the Lodge at Woodloch
Located an hour’s drive from Scranton, Pennsylvania, and about two hours from Newark International Airport, the Lodge at Woodloch offers an ideal spot for a wellness vacation From the airport you get comfortable car service with friendly drivers at an additional cost, plus the attentive service continues throughout your stay. The all-inclusive, wellness program offers a number of options for guests to be as active or as relaxed as they choose.
There are morning hikes, including one called Cliff Park, a 4.5 mile hike of moderate intensity that overlooks the scenic Delaware River and Raymondskill Falls; or the easier Dorflinger hike on the former estate of the renowned local glassmaker, which is also glorious. There is also an interesting selection of fitness classes, like the cleverly named “You Knead This” (which uses therapeutic balls for self-massage); “Gong with the Wind” (a gong vibrational experience); “The Great Wall of Yoga” (participants “hang out” upside down in various yogic positions) and “Butts and Guts”’(which speaks for itself. )
The Lodge also offers arts-based experiences such as painting, journaling or photo walks during the sunrise “magic” hour. Between classes, guests can unwind at the lovely pool and waterfall Jacuzzis inside the spa, or in the outdoor hot tub if they want to take in some fresh air while they soak their muscles.
The contemporary American and fusion cuisine at the property’s Tree Restaurant can best be described as “locavore.” All of the dishes are made from fresh ingredients, naturally-raised meats and fish, and there are vegetarian and gluten-free options. Moderating your caloric intake at meals, however, is an exercise in self-restraint. On the one hand, you could fill up on delicious green smoothies in the morning, and at lunch and dinner, the healthy salad bar and then nibble on the sesame seed-crusted Ahi Tuna. On the other hand, you could indulge in the zesty edamame dumplings or a generous portion of rich and creamy lobster pasta, ending your meal with a memorable lemon olive oil cake. Cooking classes are also offered for the healthy-minded foodie.
But the standout offerings at the Lodge are the experiences that make use of the beautiful forests surrounding the property, especially the “Forest Bathing” walk. No bathing suits required for this session, it is really just an immersive walk through the property’s forest that encourages guests to stop, observe, and meditate. As the Lodge’s slogan states: “Let Nature Be Your Guideand the trees be your therapist.” The Lodge cites research that shows a marked decrease in stress-related hormones, heart rates and blood pressure after nature walks, and one study, from Japan’s Nippon Medical School and Chiba University, finds that the organic compounds called phytocides which help protect trees and plants from insects, fungus, and disease can offer great benefits to humans as well.Hailing from a big city with a busy life, I was happy to leave the concrete jungle behind for a few days and spend time in a natural one.
The Forest Bathing session coupled with the Deep Forest Ritual at the spacious spa facility proved to be a terrific combination. The 90-minute treatment provided by Erika (a 10-year veteran of the spa) started with an exfoliating body scrub treatment comprised of local plants, dandelion herbs, black mud of espresso and even some tobacco, and was followed by one of the most marvelous Swedish massages I’ve had in a long time.
I came away from my short stay at the Lodge at Woodloch relaxed and rejuvenated, and I resolved to spend more time on local nature trails so I can take the occasional step back from city life, and see the forest for the trees. For more on the Lodge at Woodloch