Looking to get away for the weekend for some much needed rest and recharging? As parents we can sometime run ourselves into the ground before we realize we need a vacation. While we would love a change of scenery, the thought of 3-5 hours in a car seems like wasted time when we have a sitter putting up with our lovely brood.
Thankfully, there is a place you can visit only about one hour away to the north that will have your batteries recharged in no time. Hubby and I were thrilled to drop off the kiddies with grandma and head to the hills...or should I say valley. Vernon Valley.
Crystal Springs consists of Grand Cascades Lodge (only 3 years old) a four star hotel and Mineral Springs Resort & Spa only 5 minutes down the road. Mineral Springs sits at the base of one of Mountain Creek ski spot's mountains--you can literally ski to the resort. Mineral Springs is generally more ideal for families but the rooms and some of the facilities are showing their age. There are indoor tennis courts, handball courts, a full sized basketball court, a small day care area, huge gym, and a dance floor/dj upstairs at Kites some nights. Grand Cascades does not have these features but guests of Grand Cascades are free to use the facilities at Mineral Springs (not vice versa, though).
What Grand Cascades does have are very charming rooms--with beautiful modern stainless steel kitchen areas, an outdoor patio w/table, gas fireplace, comfortable beds, and a luxurious feel. My husband really liked the Tempurpedic bed which was even better than our Kingsdown at home. While rooms at Mineral Springs can be utilitarian (with the exception of the Presidential Suite--it's cozy and more upscale), Grand Cascades is...well, Grand! There are nice touches that you won't find at your standard hotel--you can tell they built these rooms to stand the test of time.
Though they do not have the sporty offerings (they do have a small gym), Grand Cascades has a pool complex they call The Biosphere. It feels like you are in a giant greenhouse with tropical plants inside and a pool that is set into a natural stone structure. We really liked the area where you can swim outside in a heated pool (Minerals has an outdoor heated pool too that is much bigger). With steam coming off the water you feel you are sitting in a hot spring. It almost has a Playboy mansion feel, with cavelike areas in the stone and waterfalls. There is also a fun slide for adults and kids alike. The steam rooms and saunas are nice additions as well. Locker rooms both here and at Minerals were very clean and upscale.
There is also Reflections Spa here while Minerals has Elements Spa. I enjoyed a wonderful massage at Reflections. A nice touch was a foot soak they had at the end. There was some confusion at the front desk--they thought my massage was at Elements so I was a bit late and rushed. So, be sure to double check with the spa on that day about your appointment.
I really liked the fact that you could go visit Mineral Springs in case you got bored at Grand Cascades. It's like getting two resorts for the price of one! In the summer, Mountain Creek turns into a water park and you also have the option of 7 championship golf courses, trout fishing, hiking and mountain biking at Diablo Freeside Park.
The only thing missing is shopping and they are working on that. There are plans underway for a Village Center that will have upscale shops, artists on site, and loads of entertainment and dining options. This will truly be a great addition to the area and great for guests of Crystal Springs. That will still be a few years though.
For dining, Grand Cascades has Restaurant Latour, Crystal Tavern and Springs Bistro. Restaurant Latour was rated 4 stars by the Star Ledger and benefits from a wine cellar with a 70,000+ bottle collection. We dined at the Crystal Tavern and enjoyed NY quality food in NJ! We had the King Crab Legs appetizer which was perfectly cooked and Venison and Lamb Chops as our entrees. We were very impressed by the quality of the meat and the delicious sides as well. The desserts were a bit disappointing but we were too full anyway to enjoy!
A one night stay at Grand Cascades can range from $230-400 a night on weekends. Minerals rooms are in the $150-300 range per night. If you are planning for the next few weekends it will be more expensive than if you are planning far ahead for say April or May. Meals at Crystal Tavern (dinner) for two can run you around $150-200 with tip and beverages. Lunch would be more around $25-35 for two.
Don't be afraid to bring your kids to Grand Cascades--there were lots of families there when we were there.
Be sure to check out their sales office as they have very reasonable rates right now for time shares at Grand Cascades. Especially for the summer this can be a great deal if you're not big on plane and road travel. And, in a few years when Village Center opens up this spot will get even hotter!
Notes: Our Tomtom GPS sent us some weird direction as we got closer to the resort. We were on a small back road that led to a dead end. Stay on the main roads and let your GPS recalculate. And have backup printed directions.
Also, the morning we left we had an amazing breakfast at Granny's Pancake House (181 Route 23, Hamburg, NJ). Their dinner menu looked great as well. If you want some homey cooking then check out this place!
Grand Cascades Lodge, 3 Wild Turkey Way, Hardyston, NJ.
Minerals Resort & Spa, Route 94 & 2 Chamonix Drive, Vernon, NJ.
jFor pictures, see my web site at:
My family has been going to this resort for over 10 years. We stay at the Mountain Top cabins every year for the 4th of July holiday. There's a lake, hiking, mountain creek water park, indoor/outdoor pools and spa services in the resort itself. They have cookouts in the resort, a restaurant and different activities all year around. Ideal place to bring your family.