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When it rains – even hails – during your spring weekend getaway and you still have a good time, you know you’ve found a special place. The Lodge at Glendorn is actually 12 lodges over hill and dale in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania. This was the getaway of oil baron Clayton Glenville Dorn, who built the main lodge in 1929, and, as his family grew, more cabins were raised along the property’s small lakes and trout streams. By 1995, the Dorn family opened their private getaway to paying guests. Current owner (and former frequent guest) Cliff Forrest runs this sprawling family compound as an amenity-stacked Relais & Châteaux estate. It’s recently undergone cabin upgrades and property refurbishments, but you are really coming to this 607-hectare property beside the Allegheny National Forest for the peace and quiet and wilderness of a true cottage vacation.
Bradford, Pa., is just across the state line from New York – making it a 3.5-hour drive from Toronto that, even with a border crossing, still takes only as long as some commutes to cottage country. Guests who fly in will find Glendorn a 90-minute drive from Buffalo Niagara International Airport – free airport pickup can be arranged.
Each cabin is named after Dorn family members. We stayed in John’s four-bedroom beauty where a large living room is bordered by two walls of windows and a big wood fireplace. Here the style upgrade is subtle, tasteful and draws your eye into every nook and cranny: seating areas offer deep couches and armchairs you don’t want to get out of; a long window bench is draped in quilts and afghans; and two enormous ottomans are stacked with as much reading material as the book shelves – from design history tomes to seashell collecting manuals. If you’re not staring into a roaring fire, you’re looking out at Skipper Lake, watching the fly fisherman reel in another trout.
King-size beds dominate large rooms, each individually styled (it really feels like the family just lent you the place for the weekend) with old books you want to read, vintage decor and, in the master suite, another wood fireplace. Each room also has its own en suite – and this is where you discover the upgrade ended. Each bathroom is still clad in the pastel tile of another century. However, this Relais & Châteaux retro won me over, especially the powerful, they-don’t-make-’em-like-they-used-to shower head and cast-iron tub with built-in seating. Monogrammed linens and more Molton Brown bath products than you’ll ever need seduced me, too.
ROOM WITH A VIEW
How about a room with total privacy instead? The Hideout is a 845-square-foot stone-and-brick cabin built in a forest clearing up one side of the mountain. This is where original owner CG Dorn once escaped from his extended family. It’s right out of a fairy tale – with its low ceiling, stone hearth, a king-size bed tucked into a windowed alcove and stone kitchen (now stocked with top amenities and glassware), it remains as it was built in 1931. Best of all? The carnival-style shooting gallery out back still works, vintage Winchesters included.
IF I COULD CHANGE ONE THING
The Instagram-worthy 1950s Chambers copper stove in our charmingly vintage kitchen really should have worked. This is one spot where design over duty was just irritating.
EAT IN OR EAT OUT?
There are two cabins where working kitchens are available (Richard’s and the Loft), but you’ll want to take more than one indulgent meal in the cathedral-beamed great room in the main lodge. Chef Joe Schafer plans a four-course $100 (U.S.)prix fixe nightly that’s French-influenced and based on seasonal ingredients with seafood Fedexed in from Maine. Breakfasts, included with your stay, are also served beside the 28-foot-tall stone fireplace. Happily, the typical morning buffet is nixed for five-star table service, where you can still order multiple items to try a little bit of yummy everything. The cinnamon-soaked French toast and house-made granola are notable.
A $100-a-day resort fee means there are a lots of included activities: mountain bikes available for the 30 kilometres of trails; boats and SUP boards are by the lake; rods and waders can be picked up to go fly fishing; there’s an outdoor pool, basketball and tennis courts, not to mention an all-day ice cream bar and Saturday-night s’mores and craft-beer parties. A little more cash books you onto a rip-roaring Jeep thrill ride up and down the muddy mountainsides; or a moisturizing body treatment at the Forest Spa, which leaves you heady and supple-skinned for days.
But my favourite amenity was the utter peace of the place. It restored the soul.
The Lodge at Glendorn, 1000 Glendorn Dr., Bradford, Pa., glendorn.com; four rooms in the main lodge; 12 cabins from $450, includes breakfast.
The writer was a guest of the hotel.