Travel writer, entrepreneur and Toronto mama Amanda Blakley chronicles trips with her boys Archer and Atticus on her blog, The Adventures of Atticus. Here she shares a recent trip to Pennsylvania's grand Lodge at Glendorn, an Old World retreat that has us pining for summer camp now and all through the fall.
The idea of decamping to a Lodge for a summer weekend as a family felt like the perfect antidote to a hot, crowded and bustling work week in the city. After a quick search, we stumbled upon something out of a storybook: the Lodge at Glendorn in Bradford, Pennsylvania, a former family "camp" built in the 1930s in the grand tradition of multi-generational family country escapes. Now a Relais & Chateaux property, the amenities sounded right up our alley—a little something for everyone (myself, my husband and our toddler Atticus).
To say that Atticus was impressed with our home for the weekend is putting it lightly. From the old-fashioned gates that magically creaked open to the welcome party of staff who greeted us personally when we pulled up to the main house, it all felt like we had stepped back in time. Originally owned by the Dorn family, Glendorn was built from a fortune made in oil (the irony of their 1500 acres of unspoiled woodland playground was not lost on us).
We wandered the grounds accompanied by the welcome committee who proffered crystal goblets of freshly squeezed lemonade. Atticus loved the billiards room and ice cream parlor (complete with actual retro freezers and ice cream sundae accoutrements in perfect condition from the 1950s property upgrade). We all ohhhh'd on cue when escorted through the impressive great room, admiring the two-story beamed ceilings and gigantic sandstone fireplace.
Glendorn is a rustic but ever-so-luxurious sleepaway camp for adults and their offspring. There is truly something for the whole family. Had there been more time, my husband would have gladly accepted the offer to go fly fishing or skeet shooting with the activity director. Instead, we opted for salamander catching, feeding the trout in the babbling brook that ran alongside our cabin and bike riding (with toddler sidecar) on kitted-out mountain bikes down a series of trails to Bondieu Lake. There was not a single soul on this private lake, and many hours were wiled away on and in the water.
A highlight for all three of us was the Saturday night bonfire set up overlooking Skipper Lake. The walk was illuminated with discreet tiki torches that reflected off the water, but Atticus still insisted on bringing the small flashlight that had been part of his bug trapping welcome kit. The fire pit was set up on a stone terrace overlooking the water, and surrounding us was Pennsylvania's Allegheny National Forest. We taught Atticus how to roast a marshmallow and build a s'more (with Pennsylvania's own Hershey chocolate, no less) while we sipped on bottles of cold craft beer.
There were other amazing details too, like the wood-burning fireplace and the original ice chest (always filled) for making cold drinks in our cabin, the canapés and proper cocktail service offered to all guests prior to dinner at the main lodge and, of course, the gourmet picnic lunches served (and delivered) anywhere on property with china, crystal barware, linens and Tiffany & Co. silver. This was certainly one luxurious camp that we were in no rush to leave. But after an incredible weekend off the grid, we left with full bellies, full hearts and relaxed minds and souls.
- The beautiful spa for treatments using local ingredients foraged on property.
- Breakfast alfresco (if you are planning a summertime visit)
- Bonfire by the lake
- Any of the activities organized by the team, but they are known for hunting (pheasant, red footed partridge, wild grouse, turkey, deer and fly fishing (trout), all on property.
- A picnic lunch (they will deliver it to you at your cottage or at a pre-determined location in the wilderness)
- Book a cooking class en famille with Chef Joseph Schafer
- Sun bonnets for babies (it just feels like the type of place where babies should wear a bonnet)
- Linen for all, harem linen bloomers or pants for your littles, J.Crew linen culottes for mom and a breezy linen top for dad.
- A straw market bag to tote gear around the property (pool to lake to cottage, repeat)
- A good book. Put away your electronic devices and smart phones and surrender to the peaceful nature surrounding you.