The Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania have long been known as a close and convenient location for honeymooners and short summer getaways. They boasted accommodations such as the tacky champagne glass bathtubs built for two and entertainment that would not last two minutes on “America’s Got Talent.”
Most of the old family-run hotels and some of the chain properties have long since disappeared into the dusty pages of old photo albums and the memories of a generation that might be on the verge of losing its memory.
Some of the old-timers were able to see the light and update and modernize to the point of where they are class establishments earning high praise.
Mt. Airy is one such operation. It has grown from one of the older and better known hotels in the Poconos to a modern, upscale casino and resort, along the way earning a Four Diamond ratings from AAA.
While casinos in Westchester and Connecticut for some may be a bit closer, they are hard put to match Mt. Airy. Those coming in from Queens and Brooklyn on the east side of the Hudson River have an easy hour and a half ride along a wide open Rt. 80. North Jersey trippers can pick up Rt. 80 at any point.
Once over the Delaware Bridge it’s only a short ride to Exit 298 Scotrun. Jump off there and then turn left onto PA 611. Make a right onto Woodland Road. You will have to keep a sharp eye out because the signage is a bit misleading and many people have been known to pass without turning off.
Hint…don’t turn at the big sign; follow the little arrow that says “Casino.”
But that’s only a minor problem that is easily gotten past. Turning onto the property guests pass a magnificent 18-hole championship golf course facing the imposing entrance to the resort.
Parking valets are instantly at your side as well as assistance if you have luggage. They all seem polite and happy. That, it turns out, is one of the hallmarks at Mt.Airy. Every employee has not only a smile, but genuinely seems happy to see you and lend whatever assistance is necessary. Check-in ranks as one of the fastest of any resort.
Accommodations are huge with each room providing a magnificent view. Ours overlooked the entrance and the golf course across a beautiful pond. But you don’t come to a casino for the view.
There are more than 70 table games and some 2,400 slot machines ranging from one cent to more than we could afford. The downer here is much the same as at any casino…smoking is permitted.
The atmosphere, even at table games is both professional and relaxed, unlike casinos in places such as Las Vegas and Atlantic City where any fun is overpowered by pressure. Just remember, when you play, that both table games and slots are programmed for the house to win. You can come home with a big payday, but set an amount you’ll bet and stick to it.
Dining at Mt.Airy is an experience. Red’s Steakhouse served up a variety of foods, but the signature steaks are unequalled. Our waiter, Jarrett, ranks amongst the most professional we’ve come across. He not only had answers for every question, but had a thorough knowledge of the menu, specials and how the food was prepared.
There are two to three waitstaff for each table and food is presented at appropriate intervals with the diner never feeling either rushed or wondering where the meal was. One steak was ordered blackened and well done, the bane of most chefs. There is a philosophy that a good chef will never damage a good piece of meat no matter how the diner orders it. This was the case at Red’s; quality steak and an excellent chef.
Be aware that Red’s is closed Wednesday and Thursday. Its sister restaurant next door, La Sorelle, is closed Monday and Tuesday. Plan appropriately.
There are also more casual dining rooms such as Betty’s Diner, an excellent breakfast venue, and a buffet to the left of Betty’s.
Sitting at a table game or slot all day can be murder on your back. Mt.Airy, as virtually all resorts, has a spa to the left of reception and down about half a floor. The spa has got to be one of the major reasons Mt.Airy was given the Four Diamond rating.
From the moment you enter there is a feeling of total relaxation. A staff member at the desk will escort you down one level where you change into a robe and then relax on a chaise lounge until you are called for your session.
Again Mt. Airy excels here. The massage therapists have just the right touch, the diffused lighting and low music along with an aroma you select, all combine for a session to remember.
If you don’t drive, there are regular buses servicing the resort. For more information, check out www.mountairycasino.com.
A note to the maintenance staff…put up some better signage on both the highway and Woodland Road. …just saying.