mountairy_exterior_007Disclaimer: Mt. Airy provided courtesy accommodations. The money lost at the slots was our own as are the opinions in this article.

Picture the Pocono Mountains, only an hour and a half from New York and North Jersey, heart shaped private pools for skinny dipping, giant champagne glasses with bubble baths for that intimate time together. Oh the honeymoons they have seen.

Not any more.

There was a time when the Poconos were the next stop after the wedding ceremony, especially after Interstate Route 80 was opened. You never had to come out of your mini-suite except to eat…or you could simply order in.

In fact the Poconos were so popular that people who spent their honeymoon in the quaint little hotels frequently came back year after year. They felt comfortable because it was always the same familiar trappings.

No more.

The Poconos have grown up. While the area is still a prime location for honeymooners, those celebrating an anniversary or simply looking for a great vacation, it’s proximity to the metro area makes it a prime destination.

The Poconos always had activities and things to do for the younger set, but much of it was an adult playground. The same pretty much holds true today. There are places to take the kids and grandkids…and places they will not enjoy. And, frankly, you won’t have a good time with them tagging along.

And while the heart-shaped pools and giant champagne glasses are gone, they’ve been replaced with slot machines, roulette wheels and blackjack tables at Mt. Air Casino & Resort. There are other gambling palaces in Pennsylvania, but Mt. Airy is the closest and arguably offers the most. An added attraction is that the Poconos is considerably closer than Atlantic City.

Just short of a half hour past the Delaware Water Gap on Interstate 80, get off at Exit 298 and follow the signs. There’s quite a bit to do on the way, but let’s get to that in a bit.

The access road to the resort is bounded by a magnificent 18-hole golf course on the right and the resort itself on the left. Pull up to the entrance and let the valet take your car; there’s no charge for the service, although when picking it up, a gratuity would be appreciated.

Note, that when picking up your car, all you have to do is go to a kiosk by the valet service desk, scan your receipt and the car will be on its way in minutes. How’s that for technology? You’d expect nothing less from one of the few Triple A Four-Star resorts.

As you enter the first sight is a magnificent and colorful waterfall. Head over to the right for the check-in. Once that is set you can either head up to your room avoiding the casino (but why do that?) or take the escalator to the gaming floor. There are machines for every pocketbook from one cent to more than we could afford. There is also a high stakes room that we quickly skirted.

Rooms here are large, nicely appointed and very comfortable. Many overlook the golf course.

You’ll see the occasional youngster there, but for all intents and purposes, this is an adult-themed resort. The kids will have a terrific time at the pool area, but there’s not much else for them.

Grab a tee-time across the road and check out your skill on an excellent golf course that will challenge you without destroying your confidence. Then head back to the hotel and go for that spa appointment you’ve scheduled.

The spa at Mt. Airy is one of the most relaxing atmospheres at any resort. The staff is fast, efficient and courteous. There’s no rush; why should there be? The individual rooms are comfortable and the masseuse has got to have the best hands in the country. Actually, there are a number of them, each as good as the other.

After your treatment again there’s no need to rush. Check out either the dry heat room or the steam room for total relaxation. They go into the “Recovery Room,” or whatever they call it to just sit, relax, read and sip a cool drink.

There are several dining choices located on the perimeter of the casino floor. TV personality Guy Fieri of “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” has one that is quite a few steps above his iconic show. Fieri’s is terrific for breakfast, lunch or dinner. But if you feel like splurging a bit, check out Bistecca Il Mulino, the upscale eatery at the resort.

Il Mulino has a wonderful meu and wine list. The ambiance is relaxed and the waitstaff knows how to cater to your needs. If yo u have a question, ask them and they are happy to make a suggestion.

There are other eateries on the floor ranging from Asian to a buffet. Take your pick and let your wallet or taste guide you. All of the choices are excellent and none of them will drain your budget.

If you want to get off campus for a bit, come out of the property and turn left. Go to the traffic light and go left again. Take a slow drive and you’ll pass a host of interesting spots selling everything from rustic furniture to fireworks (don’t bring them back to either New York or New Jersey) and a bit further down the road is the huge outlet center, Crossings.

At Crossings you can buy everything from pottery to clothes to sporting goods. A word of caution here though; when outlets first became the rage they offered goods at really good prices. That’s not the case any more. The goods are still top grade, but prices have risen dramatically.

photoglassbarcasinofloorIf you were lucky at Mt. Airy’s slots or tables, you might not care what the prices are. That being said, careful shopping can still produce some bargains.

There are some decent restaurants along the way, but you’ll probably be better off dining at Mt. Airy. The food is wonderful and the prices are comparable to those you may find along the road.

You might also want to check out the resort’s web site at www.mtairycasino.com to see what shows and entertainment are available so that you can schedule a visit. You can also call (877) 682-4791.

As we said, the Poconos ain’t what they used to be, but that’s for the better.

Bob & Sandy Nesoff are members, American Society of Journalists and authors, North American Travel Journalists Association

images: Mt. Airy Casino & Resort

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