One Skytop, Skytop, PA. 18357
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I have cabin fever. Sometimes I think I was born with cabin fever so when a long winter hits it is by far my worst emotional sport. Which is why we packed up the car and headed two and a half hours north to Skytop Lodge. Yes this would be one of those moments where my mom’s classic phrase of “I don’t know whether to admire you or think you are crazy for all the stuff you do with them” echos in my head. I love my boys and I am a glutton for punishment (and remember that cabin fever) so I was up for a challenge of me, two toddlers, a road trip and the woods. Here is how it went…and here is why I would do it again…
Two and a half hours later I was at the base of Skytop’s drive way with two passed out toddlers and dreams of a great weekend. The first thing I loved was that you cannot see Skytop from the road. It only comes into view as you come to the end of a long twisty driveway. Along the narrow driveway you past little modern Skytop cabins and the giant private lake. When it does come into view it is a massive stone lodge which looks as big as it does cozy. I pulled up and the doorman came right out and helped me get all the boys bags inside while they slept in the car.
Now if you arrive at 4:00 p.m. like we did you are just in time for warm beverages and cookies in the great hall. So that is right when my children woke up they were in a giant lodge in the middle of the woods that was filled with cookies and had a roaring fireplace. Our weekend had officially started.
We checked in and went right up to our room (after cookies). Our room had a queen size bed with a sofa bed. It was large, comfy and clean. The boys were in total awe of the fact that the couch changed into a bed. The lodge is not modern so you have to remember that when it comes to the rooms it is more about old school charm than keeping up with the latest sleek style. That said you will not be trading off when it comes to a great comfortable bed. As you can see below the boys clearly found the most comfy spot in the room. (I didn’t ask them to lay like that by the way. That was all them. )
Next we headed down to the game room. The boys ran from one thing to the next. We played a few rounds of ping-pong and then switched to a round of mini golf. This is a great indoor game room that comes complete with live snakes and frogs on display. There are also arcade games which the boys loved. At first I was bummed about the arcade games because the boys always focus on those but after I jumped behind of the wheel of the racing game I got more into it then the boys.
This level also has the Activity Desk. This is where you want to find out what is on the schedule during your stay. The indoor activities are set but the ones outside depend on the weather. When you check-in they give you a copy of SkyLites which list everything that is going on that week. This is helpful but if you are interested in an activity double-check with the Activities Desk to make sure it is happening and at what time. Things are also offered during limited windows. For example tobogganing was offered from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. so if you really want to do that you need to build your morning around that.
I think you will be shocked by some of activity options. For example when I saw BINGO I thought really??? My first thought was who plays bingo anymore? Boy did I eat my words. The next afternoon we were in the great hall for cookie time and a group of teenage boys rushed through the front door in their ski gear and the one shouted “hey bingo is starting!” and they were gone. And If I would have not been caught up in all the other stuff going on I would have realized that Henry probably would have loved BINGO. However if BINGO is not your bag there are craft sessions and even a tea party.
I really can’t stress enough how much there is to do there. We are an insanely active family and we could not fit even half the stuff in. There is dog sledding when the weather permits, a small ski mountain (tow rope) with sledding to check out, marshmallows by the camp fire before bed, dance contest, and a ton more. Never once did I see a bored tween or teen. Never once did I see an iPad or a kid playing a video game. There is something new starting almost every hour.
I will say that a lot of things end at 4:00 p.m. which if you are dealing with a nap time is really just the start of round two for you. Before you go or over dinner that night work out your plan of attack with your crew to make sure you get to do everything you want to do.
The boys hit the pool hard. Next to the giant main pool is a heated 90 degree 9″ kiddie pool. We ended up calling this the Hot Tot Pool. On the other side is the adult hot tub bubbling away. The one entire wall is glass and the main pool is under a glass pitched roof. You kinda feel like you are swimming outside with the snow if that makes any sense. The boys would go from the main pool to the hot tot pool and then to the lounge chairs to rest. There is a lifeguard on duty, changing rooms and showers in the pool area. You are allowed to bring in snack and drink (key toddler accessories). They have a few kick boards and water wings. I did bring their puddle jumpers but I wish I would have brought their boats that they like to play in the water with. I will put that on the list for next time. If you have a water lover you can totally set up camp here. I had to drag them out of there. They swam around until they could not move anymore. There is a life guard on duty but you can still swim when she takes her lunch break.
After a well needed nap we b-lined it down to the frozen lake. The skate rental shop was closing (again you have to check with the activities desk) but to be honest this worked out in our favor. We hopped right on the lake in our boots and slid all around. This more than satisfied my skate loving Henry (4) and actually allowed my skate hating Ollie (3) to get on the ice with us without crying (this is a Ollie first). The lake is amazing. All around you are snow-covered hills and I snapped picture after picture. Skytop plows a giant circle for you to skate around on but what I loved the most is that they plow paths on the lake that you can skate on too. The whole scene is really beautiful.
Then it was back up to the lodge to get dressed for dinner and to make it to our 6:30 p.m. dinner reservations. Now this is where the “Dirty Dancing” part really hit me. You sit at the same table for your entire stay. There is something so classic resort about that and I have only ever seen that in movies. Men are expected to wear jackets in the dinning room but even though it is a formal environment they still keep the family balance. Little girls were there in their Christmas dresses and mine were in their jeans and good shirts.
I was given a four course menu and there was a kid’s buffet with all the usual items in the back. You get to know your servers very well and by the end of the trip they kinda become part of your family. I may have hugged Camille on our last day. Managing two toddlers at a formal style dinner and getting to eat myself can be a bit of a challenge. After day one Camille picked up on my routine on getting the boys their food, managing to eat mine and when to pour me some coffee so I could actually drink it while it was still hot.
To help us through the dinners I let the boys bring down their back pack with a few books. (I stocked up at the Philadelphia Library with the comic books they like before we left) The first meal the boys did great but by the second meal the boys were very comfortable and a little more rammy. We survived and it was a great change of pace for the us
Breakfast is a great buffet but it is served early in the morning so you can’t be a slacker.
Lunch we grabbed in the Tea Room which is a much more casual sandwich shop. Sit at the tables or grab a stool at the counter. The Tea Room is not included in your meal plan. The prices are fair with kid’s grill cheeses and PB&J’s with the crust cut off coming in at $5.00 each. You might also want to pick up a few milkshakes in the Tea Room while you are there.
My trip was written from the toddler family experience. I find that you can take a baby and you can take a tween almost anywhere but you really can’t take a toddler just anywhere and expect to survive. If you have older kids you will be able to do way more than us and there is plenty for you to do.
The trip was great. Honestly I can’t wait to go back and check it our in the spring and maybe the summer. It is the kind of place that you what to make a tradition. Managing two very different toddlers is tricky but the great thing about it was everything was right at our finger tips. You never really have to leave the lodge to keep them busy. All around us were families that come to Skytop every year and have made it a family tradition. This is a place that is do-able with toddlers and now when we go back I will totally have it down.
ADDED BONUS: WOW
I was not sure how I was going to pack the car up with the boys in tow. I packed up our room and on our way to breakfast stopped by the bellman’s station. I asked them if they could grab our bags in the room so we could leave after breakfast. The bellman told me they could not only do that but if I gave him my keys (remember I am in self-park) they would find my car, load up all my bags and leave it parked out front for me. Which is no extra charge. I honestly think my mouth dropped open. He saved me at least 20 solid minutes of wrangling, configuring and whining.
- I chose the self park option which is a stone throw away from the Lodge door over the Valet options which is $15 / day.
- If you have a light sleeper bring your white noise machine because you can hear the other guest in the adjacent rooms and in the hallways. I fired up an app on my cell phone and we were perfect.
- Can’t stress enough to make sure you double-check all the times on the activities you want to do with the Activity Desk.
- There is a shuttle bus that takes you to the skiing mountain and to all the other Skytop spots. They were running constantly.
- If you are on a meal plan the tip for your server is already taken care of however I did check with the servers and if you feel your server did an exceptional job people do tip at the table. I asked because I wanted to make sure I did it right. They were very clear that there is a service charge in your bill and that you have already paid for it. Again the staff was wonderful.
- There are DVD players in the rooms so you should totally bring your favorites as a back up. They also have DVD’s in the Tea Room that you can borrow.
- The higher the floor you are on the longer it might take the hot water to come up to the shower at night. Mine took a few minutes on the 3rd floor but after that it was perfect. Just turn it on a few minutes before you hop it. I promise it will heat up.
- I know I said there were not a lot of modern perks but there is a Keurig in your room.
- Our room did not have a fridge. I brought snacks as back up which came in handy. You can pick up snacks in the Tea Room if you need them.
- There is a gift shop, flower shop and a spa.
- Friday is a great day to arrive because you have the whole place to your self. By Saturday you will see a switch because the the Great Hall will be bustling by 4:00 on the dot.
- If you are going on a busy weekend you want to stay on the 2nd floor that way you never have to wait for the elevator your con toddlers into climbing the stairs.
- The bellman get you ice when you need it. There are no ice machines on the floors…hence me in the main lobby in my Pj’s with my ice bucket…ahhhh yup. Just know they are happy to bring it up.
- The staff is excellent. Happy to stop and answer your questions and happy to give you tips about the Lodge. Everyone told me their name and just told me to ask for them if I had questions.