Mohonk Mountain House

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Lake Mohonk Mountain House
Mohonk Mountain House 2011 View of Mohonk Guest Rooms from One Hiking Trail FRD 3205.jpg
Mohonk Mountain House
Mohonk Mountain House is located in New York
Mohonk Mountain House
Mohonk Mountain House is located in the US
Mohonk Mountain House
Location New Paltz, New York
Coordinates 41°46′07″N 74°09′20″W / 41.76861°N 74.15556°W / 41.76861; -74.15556Coordinates: 41°46′07″N 74°09′20″W / 41.76861°N 74.15556°W / 41.76861; -74.15556
Built 1869–1910
Architect Napoleon Le Brun
James Ware
NRHP Reference # 73001280
Significant dates
Added to NRHP July 16, 1973[1]
Designated NHL June 24, 1986 [2]

The Mohonk Mountain House, also known as Lake Mohonk Mountain House, is a historic American resort hotel located on the Shawangunk Ridge in Ulster County, New York. Its prominent location in the town of New Paltz, New York is just beyond the southern border of the Catskill Mountains, west of the Hudson River. Mohonk Mountain House is a member of Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.[3]

The National Historic Landmark Program's "Statement of Significance", as of the site's historic landmark designation on June 24, 1986, states:

Begun in the 1870s as a small resort for family and friends by the Smiley brothers, it became so popular that it was enlarged many times. Because of the Smiley's love of the outdoor life, the area around the hotel was treated as an integral part of the attractions of the resort. Much of this area was planned as an experiment in conservation of the natural environment, and as an educational tool for the study of botany, geology, and outdoor living.[2]


The historic resort is located on the shore of Lake Mohonk, which is half of a mile (800 m) long and 60 feet (18 m) deep. The main structure, which was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986,[2] was built by Quaker twin brothers Albert and Alfred Smiley between 1869 and 1910.[4] It has 259 guest rooms, including 28 tower rooms, an indoor pool and spa, and an outdoor ice-skating rink for winter use. The picturesque setting of the resort on the lake was featured in a print by Currier & Ives.

The property consists of 1,325 acres (536 ha), and much of it is landscaped with meadows and gardens. It adjoins the Mohonk Preserve, which is crisscrossed by 85 miles (140 km) of hiking trails and carriage roads. The Smileys conveyed the majority of their property to the preserve, and have received recognition for the stewardship of their land and their early environmental awareness.

The property has been owned and operated by descendants of the Smiley brothers since 1869. The Smiley brothers envisioned a peaceful retreat where people could enjoy the beauty of nature in a truly spectacular setting. From its earliest days, the resort has maintained values of stewardship, reflection, and renewal.

The Smiley family's care in preserving the Smiley brothers' vision resulted in a National Historic Landmark designation in 1986, and a United Nations Environment Programme Award in 1994 in honor of "125 years of stewardship". According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, "Through its buildings and roads, its land, and its spirit, Mohonk exemplifies America's history and culture. Mohonk has since managed to maintain its 19th century character into the 21st century."[5] In the 21st century, the resort also retains an emphasis on eco-friendly, environmentally green practices.[6][7]

Recreation and other activities[edit]

Hiking trail

Resort guests may ride horses; go boating on the lake; fish; play tennis, golf, disc golf, croquet, or shuffleboard; tour a historic barn and greenhouse; take carriage rides; swim in the lake or pool; receive spa treatments; do yoga or meditation; visit the fitness center; listen to concerts and lectures; hike 85 miles of trails; stroll through formal gardens and a maze; ride mountain bikes; or go rock climbing.[8] Winter activities include snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and ice-skating.[9] There are a variety of additional activities available as well.[10] The resort also offers dozens of regularly scheduled group activities each day.[11]

Many of these recreational activities are provided as part of the room rate. In addition, the resort hosts more than 40 themed programs each year dedicated to different topics, including specialized entertainment, music, demonstrations, tastings, presentations, and workshops.[8][12][13] Sample theme weekends have included jazz, ballroom dancing, and New York Times' Will Shortz's crossword-puzzle workshop.[14] The resort's eco-friendly 30,000-square foot spa offers numerous rejuvenating treatments, an indoor heated swimming pool, a comprehensive fitness center, and a yoga/motion studio.[9][12] There is also a gift shop that carries artisanal gifts, apparel, accessories, snacks, and beverages. The resort is open year-round.

There is a library in the main building; several books written by regular Mohonk guests are included in the collection. The hotel also has special rooms for viewing television and using the internet, and wireless internet access is complimentary throughout the resort.[15] Supervised children's activities are available for adults who want privacy or free time to explore the resort on their own.

All overnight guests at the Mohonk Mountain House are on the "Full American Plan". Three meals and afternoon tea are provided daily as part of the room rate. Guests checking into the resort are first offered tea and cookies in the late afternoon, followed by dinner, and breakfast the next morning. Check-out time is 1:00 p.m; lunch on the day of departure is included. Guests may substitute a pack lunch so that they can have a picnic after leaving the hotel. The main dining room provides guests with a view of the Catskill Mountains to the north. In the summer a barbecue lunch buffet is available at the outdoor "Granary" perched on a cliff overlooking Lake Mohonk.[16] Day guests may make advance reservations to purchase meals in the hotel, receive spa treatments, spend the day hiking or horse-riding on the hotel's grounds, or engage in selected activities.[17][18]

Notable guests and important conferences held at Mohonk[edit]

Water fountain

The Mohonk Mountain House has hosted many famous visitors including industrialist John D. Rockefeller, naturalist John Burroughs, industrialist Andrew Carnegie, and American presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Rutherford B. Hayes, Chester A. Arthur, and Bill Clinton.[9][19] Guests have also included former First Lady Julia Grant, author Thomas Mann, and religious leaders such as Rabbi Louis Finkelstein, Reverend Ralph W. Sockman, Reverend Francis Edward Clark.[20] `Abdu'l-Bahá, the eldest son of Bahá'í Faith founder Bahá'u'lláh, stayed there in 1912 during the Lake Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration as part of his journeys to the West.[21]

From 1883 to 1916, annual conferences took place at Mohonk Mountain House, sponsored by Albert Smiley, to improve the living standards of Native American Indian populations.[22][23][24] These meetings brought together government representatives of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the House and Senate committees on Indian Affairs, as well as educators, philanthropists, and Indian leaders to discuss the formulation of policy. The 22,000 records from the 34 conference reports are now at the library of Haverford College for researchers and students of American history.[25]

The hotel also hosted the Lake Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration between 1895 and 1916,[26] which was instrumental in creating the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands.[27] Those conference papers were donated by the Smiley Family to Swarthmore College for future research.[26]

In the media[edit]

The Mountain House was featured on The Today Show on September 28, 2006 for a teambuilding adventure for Meredith Vieira and Ann Curry. It was mentioned as a key point in the Stephen King novel The Regulators, the epilogue of which is a letter written on Mohonk Mountain House stationery.

Mohonk Mountain House has been featured on The Travel Channel's Great Hotels and Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, as well as the television program America's Castles on the A&E Network, among other programs. The resort was the setting of the 1994 film, The Road to Wellville, starring Anthony Hopkins and Matthew Broderick.[28]

The historic resort has been featured numerous times in major national newspapers and magazines such as the New York Times,[29] the Wall Street Journal,[30] and Forbes.[12] Oprah's O magazine has featured it twice, including highlighting the spa's mindfulness eating seminar using meditative awareness for weight loss.[31][32]


Seen from Skytop observation tower

Mohonk Mountain House has received dozens of awards from magazines and news outlets.[33] Condé Nast Traveler has given it nine awards since 2008, including "Number One Resort Spa in the United States" (2013).[34] Travel + Leisure has given the resort seven awards since 2009, including "Number Two Hotel Spa in the United States" (2013)[35] and "Number Six Hotel Spa in the World" (2013).[36]

Mohonk has received numerous and repeated awards from spa magazines, including Spafinder Wellness, Organic Spa Magazine, Spas of America, and Spa.[33] Fodor's listed it as one of "10 Best Spa Trips" for 2012,[37] and in 2010 named it as one of 10 Best Hotels for Kids and Families.[38] In 2011, Every Day with Rachael Ray listed Mohonk as one of "Our Eight Favorite Resorts".[39] The resort has received awards from Wine Spectator Magazine and Wine Enthusiast Magazine, and it has also garnered numerous awards and commendations for being green and eco-friendly.[33]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ a b c "Lake Mohonk Mountain House". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. 2007-09-11. 
  3. ^ "Mohonk Mountain House, a Historic Hotels of America member". Historic Hotels of America. Retrieved January 28, 2014. 
  4. ^ Turkel, Stanley. "Hotel History: Mohonk Mountain House (1869), New Paltz, New York". 
  5. ^ Mohonk Mountain House – History. Historic Hotels of America. National Trust for Historic Preservation.
  6. ^ "A New York State Green Resort: A Leader in Environmental Stewardship".
  7. ^ "An Eco-Friendly Upstate New York Spa: Making Environmental Stewardship a Priority".
  8. ^ a b Outdoor Hudson Valley Activities.
  9. ^ a b c Mitchell, Paula Ann."DESTINATIONS: Mohonk Mountain House a castle like no other". Daily Freeman. January 27, 2013.
  10. ^ Activities at Mohonk Mountain House for Overnight Guests. Mohonk Mountain House.
  11. ^ "Mohonk Mountain House Daily Activities Schedule". Mohonk Mountain House.
  12. ^ a b c Max, Josh. "Out-of-the-way Yankee splendor at Mohonk Mountain House". Forbes. May 27, 2011.
  13. ^ Mohonk Mountain House Events Calendar: Upcoming Programs and Events. Mohonk Mountain House.
  14. ^ Mohonk Mountain House Theme Programs 2014.
  15. ^ Mohonk Mountain House Policies and Customs.
  16. ^ Rovito, Lisa Marie. Frommer's Great Escapes From NYC Without Wheels. John Wiley & Sons, 2006. pp. 93–94.
  17. ^ Plan a Hudson Valley Day Trip.
  18. ^ Upstate New York Day Trips: Day Guests at Mohonk Mountain House.
  19. ^ "Mohonk marks 145 years in 2014". Ulster County Regional Chamber of Commerce. January 30, 2014.
  20. ^ "Resolution J24-2009: Congratulating the Mohonk Mountain House upon the occasion of celebrating its 140th Anniversary". New York State Legislature. 13 January 2009. Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  21. ^ Report of the annual Lake Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration. Lake Mohonk: Harvard University. 1912. pp. 42–44. 
  22. ^ Powers, Lilian D. Report of the Thirty-First Annual Annual Lake Mohonk Conference on the Indian and Other Dependent Peoples, Volume 30. Lake Mohonk Conference on the Indian and Other Dependent Peoples, 1913. Preface.
  23. ^ Burgess, Larry (1972). The Lake Mohonk Conferences on the Indian, 1883-1916 (PhD). Claremont. 
  24. ^ Helleson, Linda Louise (1974). The Lake Mohonk conferences of the Friends of the Indian, 1883-1916 (PhD). University of Denver. 
  25. ^ "Haverford College Library Special Collections: Smiley Family Papers, 1885-1983 bulk 1885-1930" (PDF). Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  26. ^ a b "Lake Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration Records, 1895-1937". Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  27. ^ Report of the Annual Lake Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration, Volume 20, Part 1914. Lake Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration, 1914.
  28. ^ "Filming locations for The Road to Wellville". 
  29. ^ Foderaro, Lisa W. "Makeover at Mohonk". New York Times. February 2, 2006.
  30. ^ Petersen, Andrea. "Mohonk's Family Treasures". Wall Street Journal. January 8, 2014.
  31. ^ McGrane, Sally. "Can Meditation Make You Happier?: Meditation for Weight Loss". O, The Oprah Magazine. September 2010.
  32. ^ King, Gayle. "Gayle King's Favorite Things: Just Show Up and Be Interested". O, The Oprah Magazine. November 2013.
  33. ^ a b c Mohonk Mountain House Awards.
  34. ^ "Top 10 Spas in the U.S.". Condé Nast Traveler. February 2013.
  35. ^ "Best Hotel Spas in the United States". Travel + Leisure. 2013.
  36. ^ "Top 10 Hotel Spas in the World". Travel + Leisure. 2013.
  37. ^ "10 Best Spa Trips for 2012". Fodor's. February 27, 2012.
  38. ^ "Gold Awards 2010: Best Hotels for Kids and Families". Fodor's. 2010.
  39. ^ "Our Eight Favorite Resorts". Every Day with Rachael Ray. April 2011.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]