The five-star Lodge at Glendorn, sitting on 1,500 acres that border the Allegheny Mountains, is an oasis of tranquility nestled in northern Pennsylvania. It is a stark contrast to the oil refineries in Bradford. After passing the lodge’s main gate, guests drive through a majestic forest and areas of manicured lawns, before setting foot inside rustic cabins that seem to step back in time.
The property was purchased in 1927 by Clayton Glenville Dorn (who made his fortune in oil) to build this country retreat for his growing family. He wanted to ensure his children and grandchildren would have a weekend/holiday estate where they could enjoy all the outdoor activities possible: swimming, fishing, hunting, cross-country skiing and of course cocktail parties. As the family grew, so did the need for further accommodation. Additional cabins were built between the 1930s and ‘60s, 12 in all, each with its own unique style and personality.
In 1995, Glendorn was opened to the public, allowing guests to experience rustic luxury in a secluded setting complete with a babbling brook, forest trails, wood burning fireplaces, authentic antique furnishings, and gourmet cuisine. Is it any wonder families returned year-after-year? Among the repeat guests were Cliff and Tracy Forrest who, having fallen in love with the beauty and serenity of the estate, purchased the entire property in 2009. For the Forrests, Glendorn was a home-away-from-home, they wanted to preserve the peace and tranquility of the property, history and grounds. To this end they continue to invest in on-going restorations. All the suites still have the exquisite warmth and charm of a family home but with all the upscale touches you expect from a Relais & Châteaux property.
Our cabin, The Roost, was built in the ‘30s and is surrounded by ancient hemlock and maples with a lovely landscaped yard. It includes a master suite with its own sitting area, a kitchen, well stocked with soft drinks, a wet bar, porch and private entrance, as well as four other bedrooms and bathrooms. It is also furnished with antiques, Dorn family photos, books and memorabilia. Idyllic charm and elegant touches are everywhere; seen in the fine monogrammed linens, luxuriously thick towels, fresh flowers and twice daily housekeeping services. We found a delicious cheese board welcoming us in the fridge.
Molton Brown reside in the bathroom and in the evenings, chocolate truffles are left during turndown service. Adding to its homey touch is a cookie jar filled with homemade chocolate chip cookies, which we devoured during our stay. The main lodge, or Big House, has a two-story sandstone fireplace, red-wood beamed cathedral ceiling, beautiful dining room, billiard room, sunny terrace and four elegant guest rooms and suites.
Weather permitting it's a common occurrence on Fridays to have a grilled dinner on the terrace provided by Executive Chef Joe Schafer and his award-winning team. Watching him prepare every perfectly-timed meal was inspiring. From the amuse bouche and deconstructed Caesar salad to the grilled filet mignon, every bite was mouthwatering. This wonderful meal was accompanied by wine chosen from their extensive cellar, which has over 300 varieties. To finish, we were treated to a cheese and dessert course.
Breakfast, with house honey and fresh pastries, is included and served either in your suite, the dining room or al fresco on the patio. In the mornings, you’ll often find Chef Schafer in the gardens selecting the herbs and vegetables used to create the quality meals he's renowned for. Guests can also arrange for a personal cooking class with Chef Schafer and watch him filet scape as you sip on wine.
The lodge’s spa sits in a newly-built facility and features Pevonia products. The Spa Director Jennifer Kwiatkowski-Herzog, provided one of the best deep tissue treatments I've ever had. When it comes to seasonal activities, guests can enjoy everything from snowshoeing to ice fishing, curling, snowmobiling, sledding, cross country skiing and skating in the winter. In the summer you’ll find visitors swimming, paddle boarding, playing tennis, shuffleboard, bocce ball and throwing horseshoes. They also have trap and skeet shooting.
If you're looking for flashy, modern and glossy, forget it; this is not the place. This lodge is, however, charming, rustically-chic, and the ultimate getaway for those who enjoy a luxury yet nature-heavy escape.