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Issue Date: March 2008 Issue

Cloud 9 - The Lodge at Woodloch

Abbie Kozolchyk
“Has anyone ever made it through this awake?”

I’ve just spent an hour and 40 minutes in a small, dark room with Jessica, and — unless you count the occasional, Cro-Magnonic “mmmm” — these are the first words I’ve spoken to her.

A proud grin overtakes her face.

“Someone must have,” she answers. “But not that I can think of.”

The sedative in question is the LavenderGarden Dream, and upon reading about it a few days earlier — in preparation for my trip to the Lodge at Woodloch near Hawley, Pa. — I had no idea how literally the Dream part would pan out.

One of the signature offerings on the lodge’s spa menu, the treatment is the sort of thing I’d like to be conscious for: a lavender leaf body scrub, lavender essence wrap, basalt stone neck massage, then a full-body massage. Outside of Provence, I’ve never encountered lavender this potently relaxing.

Having helped establish a succession of A-list spas across the U.S., John and Ginny Lopis noticed a disturbing trend. Guests who didn’t program every second of every day somehow felt as though they weren’t “maximizing” their stay.

“But sometimes we really need rest,” Ginny says over sparkling green tea after my treatment. One of the few true destination spas to open stateside recently, The Lodge at Woodloch makes mellowing out the main event — not the adjunct. And it’s worked: named it one of the nation’s 10 most luxurious spas last year.

On a lake and surrounded by woods, the Lodge at Woodloch imposes a Thoreauvian calm upon check-in. The lobby’s chakra bowls don’t hurt: They produce a muted, pleasing gong sound when I hit them, as I do every time I pass by (padded sticks are on hand for this exact purpose). And tree-filled views are everywhere. In the spa’s relaxation room, the silence combines with the setting (chaise lounges arrayed by the windows) to a seductive effect.

But the bring-the-outdoors-in effect is best experienced in the Aqua Garden: A glass-encased water park for serenity-seeking grownups, the room combines heated soaking pools with two hydromassage WaterWalls. As warm water hits my head, neck and shoulders, I decide to make an evening of this place. I subsequently divide my time between the WaterWalls and the outdoor hot tub — stars in view, Santa Margarita Pinot Grigio in hand.

Austerity of any kind is discouraged at Woodloch, where New Age meets the Gilded Age. If your inner wisdom happens to request pecan pie and a single malt on the rocks — as my companion’s does — cheers! Not that the overstuffed chairs are filled with overstuffed bodies: The sumptuous food (from organic vegetarian risotto to naturally raised bison burgers), is served in spa-sanctioned portions.

Still, I’m here during the holidays — when my inner wisdom feels the acute push of my fat cells. And thus do I (eventually) head to the light, airy gym. Even mid-workout, however, tranquility prevails: As I try to summon some drive on my forest-facing treadmill, a band of squirrels emerges from the trees. Clearly planted by the gods of Taking It Easy, the frolicsome foursome scoffes at my attempted intensity. 10-4, universe , I think. Then, skinny jeans shelved indefinitely, I make a beeline back to the spa.

Take advantage of the last days of winter: Snowshoe across the frozen lake. In warmer months, kayaking is a guest favorite (free).
Wake up with the Awakening of the Senses Head to Toe treatment ($195), a Zen inducer of the highest order. An oil detox, body scrub and citrus and seaweed wraps are followed by a gourmet spa treat.

109 River Birch Lane
Hawley, PA 18428

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