Crystal Springs Resort
Crystal Springs Resort
Address: Rt. 94
Web Address: www.TheCrystalSpringsResort.com
VERNON, NEW JERSEY
THE HOTELS: With visions of the old Playboy Resort in our head, we weren’t prepared to find two first class resorts of this caliber right here in our own backyard. Set in the mountains of Sussex County in northern New Jersey, Crystal Springs is a wonderful property with spectacular mountain views is ideal for just about any type of getaway; a guy’s golf weekend (7 golf courses), a girl’s getaway (2 spas), a couple’s weekend (the romantic Latour restaurant) or a family retreat (Biosphere pool). There is so much to do on and nearby the property that you’ll need a vacation from your vacation.
Despite its size (400+ rooms in both hotels) you never feel like you are in a big resort. They have even tucked away the areas where weddings are held so they do not disrupt the other guests. Remarkably, the resort manages to create a sense of intimacy even with everything going on.
THE ROOMS: There are two choices for rooms, Minerals Resort & Spa and the Grand Cascade Lodge. Both are immaculate and well maintained and both offer stunning views from their rooms. We like the newer Adirondack style Grand Cascade Lodge, the rooms are larger, have a contemporary design and the option of a fireplace deck is wonderful. Our suite, stylishly decorated in warm shades of brown, coral, gold and green was spacious and seemed more so because of the high ceilings. Comfortable couches and chairs surround a fireplace and French doors open onto a patio with table and chairs. Even the windows open to let in the fresh mountain air. Beds have super Tempur-pedic mattresses, down pillows and luxury linens. The oversized marble bath had a shower and spa tub, a double sink, plush towels and its own TV. We also had a fully equipped gourmet kitchen with stainless appliances, a dining area and bar seating. At slightly more than $300/night year round, this is a fantastic value…..space, views, fireplace, deck, kitchen…it doesn’t get much better.
THE RESTAURANT: There are 12 restaurants, cafes and bistros throughout the property. Kites, located above the Minerals Resort & Spa's lobby, has recently been redecorated and features stonework, dark leathers, rich fabrics and an elegant granite bar. The menu is small plates, pasta and beef and chicken. Appetizers $5-$19, entrees $19-$35. Crystal Tavern, located in the Clubhouse offers an upscale pub and steakhouse menu (appetizers $7-$16, entrees $18-$42) and Springs Bistro, features Northern Italian cuisine. The cheeses here were wonderful as was a delicious pounded chicken breast with Proscuitto, Fontina cheese and fried sage leaves and a Chianti braised lamb shank with parsnip risotto. Appetizers $10-$19, entrees, $18-$39.
But it is Restaurant Latour that people near and far come to enjoy. Only 45 diners are served each evening, so the seatings are staggered and the result is a wonderfull leisurely meal. Guests ascend to the restaurant in an elevator and are seated at leisurely intervals. Every table has a view of the sunset and mountains and in nice weather a table on the patio is magical. The restaurant showcases locally grown produce (much from their own herb and vegetable garden), artisan cheeses and breads, meat and fish from the Hudson and Delaware Valleys, and organic rack of mountain lamb from their own ranch in Colorado. We started with a trio of tartars; Wild Sockeye salmon, Big Eye tuna and Black Angus beef and pan-seared day boat scallops with Jersey corn risotto and red pepper coulis. Wonderful. Entrees were a sweet butter-braised Maine lobster, whose presentation was something to behold. It was served with whipped Yukon Gold potatoes, Haricot Verts and a marvelous sliced black truffle pan sauce. A perfectly cooked 21-day prime dry-aged New York sirloin was served with roasted creamer potatoes, white asparagus, sautéed Chanterelle mushrooms and a rosemary Bordelaise. Paired with a bottle of 1893 Latour at $9,700, our meal was perfect. OK, just joking about the wine, but we did enjoy a delicious Haut Bages-Averous 2000, the second label from Bordeaux’s renowned Lynch-Bages.
3 course prix fixe $66-$84, 7 course Chef’s Degustation $100, $150 with wines.
The wine list is about the most complete you will find anywhere with some 54,000 bottles representing all the major regions. All the big names are here as well as some new ones. Some wines in the collection go back to the 1800’s. Wine Spectator Grand Award winner since 2006. Despite the grandness of the list, it is very fairly priced and you will have no trouble finding good bottles for under $50-$60.
THE SERVICE: The staff is pleasant and friendly and things run very efficiently. One of our glass doors on our fireplace fell off and someone was there to fix it in under 20 minutes. On another occasion, we overhead a manager directing a staffer to clean cigarette butts from an outdoor ashtray at 10am. One odd thing was no evening turn-down service.
THE RATES: Varies with the time of the year, but rooms in the Grand Cascade Lodge run $239 for a Premium Guestroom and $319 for a 1 bedroom suite with fireplace deck in the slower season, up to $304 and $384 in the busier months. Minerals Resort & Spa's rooms are considerably less.
WHAT OTHERS SAY:
This "outstanding" luxury endeavor in the sprawling Crystal Springs Resort in Hamburg (about 50 miles from Manhattan) pulls out all the stops with a "lovely" spa, tropical aquarium, an indoor biosphere pool with retractable roof and a full service salon; Adirondack-style touches throughout reflect the wooded, mountainous Northern New Jersey locale (the lobby has massive beams with iron strapping and a stone fireplace flanked by torchere lighting), and guests can take advantage of six nearby golf courses and fine dining at Latour. ZAGAT
WHILE YOU ARE THERE: There are 7 golf courses associated with the resort within a five mile radius and two excellent spas on the property, one, Reflections, is brand new. The Biosphere, is an indoor pool complex with an underground aquarium, vortex pools and caves, and tropical foliage; the unique glass enclosure allows for year-round tanning. There are nine indoor and outdoor heated pools and sauna, steam, Jacuzzi and cold plunge facilities. The Mineral Springs Sports Club houses a complete 6,000 square foot fitness center with all the equipment you can imagine plus basketball, racquetball and tennis courts. Locally there is skiing at Mountain Creek, hiking trails a short distance away and trout fishing at Crystal Springs Quarry. Cava Winery is right down the road as is the quaint town of Warwick and the Lafayette Mill Antique Center.
DRIVING DISTANCE: NYC- 1 hour 16 minutes, Albany, 2 hours 30 minutes, Hartford- 2 hour 47 minutes, Philadelphia-2 hours 30 minutes, Boston-4 hours 30 minutes.