When calling on perennial paradises, the mind tends to wander towards sunny destinations, laced with the scent of piña coladas and Coppertone. Obviously, it’s understandable why chasing warm weather should be a common habit among jetsetters, but as I recently learned during my own travels, there is something to be said about a destination that boasts varying shades of paradise.
At The Lodge at Glendorn, bliss is harmonious with the four seasons. A sanctuary tucked away in the lush Allegheny National Forest, on the edge of small-town Pennsylvania (Bradford to be exact), Glendorn belongs to nature.
Whether you be an outdoors enthusiast or not, the sheer majesty of the property’s 1600 acres of land (complete with three pristine lakes) is sure to rustle awake your inner explorer. During the warmer months, guests will find 18 miles of trails to traverse by foot or bike (request a packed lunch to take along or to be delivered to one of Glendorn’s many picnic areas…the extra cardio is worth it just for the gourmet “bagged” meal), while Father Winter brings with him ample opportunity to enjoy hours of cross country skiing on those same trails…if only as an excuse to snuggle by a picturesque wood burning fireplace in one of Glendorn’s rustic warming cabins, found along the way.
Tranquility is a luxury afforded by one’s surroundings at Glendorn, while luxury itself comes part and parcel with the lodge’s Relais & Châteaux badge. Girly girls take note: Yes, the lodge offers a slew of leisure sports that rough up the hands, like fly fishing, trap and skeet shooting, as well as curling come winter, but Glendorn also happens to be home to The Forest Spa.
Here, guests are invited to enjoy nature’s bounty in the form of spa indulgences that uphold a farm to table philosophy…the treatment table that is. Take the Lavender and Lemongrass Mani-Pedi for example, or my personal favourite, the Fresh Facial, which sees berries forged from Glendorn’s own grounds, utilized for their natural antioxidant benefits and transformed into a cleanser; the first step in a treatment that culminates in the application of a fresh honey mask—locally sourced, of course.
While one’s past resort experiences might suggest that retreating to the quiet of a spa be the peak of luxury, at Glendorn, pampering arrives like clockwork, three times a day…by way of the kitchen.
If you’re the type of person that has your Instagram feed in mind before you make a reservation at a restaurant, executive chef Joseph Schafer’s menu, will have you ravenously reaching for your iPhone, before your appetizer of porcini risotto with summer truffle and a 63 degree egg, even makes it to the table. (Just imagine the “likes” that perfectly runny yolk will earn you.) Contrarily, should you not know what Eater is or track the mouthwatering discoveries unearthed by @thejgold, you will still leave the lodge dreaming of the kitchen’s elegant creations (like its savoury squab, served with a beautiful accompaniment of pistachio, foie gras and tart cherry) simply because the food at Glendorn is delicious—no ifs, ands or Yelps about it. (Tip: Foodies interested in getting their hands dirty will want to book a stay during Glendorn’s 3rd annual Leek Weekend starting May 14th. Learn to forage the fragrant greens alongside Chef Joe, while soaking up the grounds’ wild riches.)
Tradition dresses up the dining room at Glendorn. Guests themselves arrive looking like modern renditions of Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr from an Affair to Remember. In their chic dinner dress (think a little black dress for women and a tweed blazer sans tie for men), diners fashionably complement the lodge’s handsome billiards room, where guests are invited to sip on a cocktail and whet their appetite with the daily amuse–bouche, prior to their seating. (Tip: For dinner, request a table close to the fireplace or one beside the window, near the piano.)
Come breakfast, the dress code relaxes; attire is now all about being prepared for the day’s scheduled activities. For the spa bound, that might mean yoga pants, while anglers headed to Fuller Brook (the property’s prize-sized trout stream) for a morning of fly fishing, will want to wear something that fits comfortably under a pair of waders. (Tip: Glendorn will be hosting its Orvis Fly Fishing Weekend on Saturday April 16th to usher in the Pennsylvania trout season.) Or, for the dedicated leisure bunny, a bathing suit worn under tennis whites is a smart wardrobe choice for a sunny afternoon at Glendorn. Spend the morning sweating it out on the courts, then dedicate the afternoon to catching up on R&R poolside—the ultimate cool down. (Tip: Not Serena Williams quite yet? Tennis lessons are available by reservation.)
With outdoor activities ranking high on the to-do-list at Glendorn, guests will especially appreciate coming back to the cozy luxury of the resort’s accommodations. By day two of your stay at the lodge, your cabin (Glendorn offers twelve unique options to choose from, with suite options available in the main house) will begin to feel like your own family cottage…a cottage that comes fully loaded with Molton Brown bath products and invisible elves that tidy up twice a day, and leave fresh baked chocolate chip cookies each evening.
History permeates the cabins at Glendorn, and speaks to their heritage as part of oil magnate, C. G. Dorn’s personal family estate between 1927 and 1995, the date after which the property was opened to the public. Today, under the ownership of Cliff Forrest, the Pittsburgh businessman who purchased the property in 2009, Glendorn feels every bit as much a family home as it was when Dorn was building cabins for his own children. Forrest’s commitment to preservation and restoration is evident when settling into cabins like the Roost, my own retreat while at Glendorn. “Home” is in the details here. It’s in the quilts that one can wrap themselves up in by the hearth (the Roost houses a fireplace in the living room and the master bedroom) or outdoors on the terrace, while sipping on a glass of wine under the stars; it’s in the classic novels that fill the shelves; in the board games that anticipate a quiet night; and in the knickknacks that feel like something you remember seeing in the home of your favourite grandparent.
There is nothing “cool” about Glendorn…and that’s precisely why it is a home away from home. Glendorn is not about fads, mixed-medium animal art or gimmicky signature cocktails concocted by a mixologist/DJ; it’s about timeless comforts and luxuries. Do you appreciate a hand-made cigar (to be smoked without an ounce of irony) over a tobacco and patchouli scented soy wax candle? Glendorn is for you. Prefer faux taxidermy over Christie’s-worthy antiques (like the wooden bench found in the Forest Hideout cabin, covered in carved signatures from the family Dorn, dating back to when cursive was the going style), book your next cottage retreat on Airbnb in Ojai, California, not this Relais & Châteaux estate.
If you do choose Glendorn, midway through your first stay, it’s likely that you, like me, will find yourself planning your next trip to this wilderness retreat. (Tip: Memorial Day on May 28th, July 4th and Labor Day weekend are prime times to visit should bonfires and fireworks be what you’re after.) It’s also distinctly possible that you make new friends before leaving the lodge, perhaps an engaged couple that share with you their Glendorn story, which includes many happy past trips and a wedding at the lodge in their future.
Nostalgia hangs in the air here, not only in the history that defines the property, but in how one finds themselves missing The Lodge at Glendorn before parting with it. This is a sanctuary for nature babies with old souls and a taste for luxuries without airs. Should you fit the bill, skip the road trip to the Catskills, Glendorn’s Pennsylvania is where it’s at.