I stumbled upon Cedar Lakes Estate via a blogpost by Damsel in Dior, an infinitely cooler and more experienced blogger than me. Can’t thank her enough for putting together this list of hip hotels outside of NYC and I plan to refer to it often when organizing getaways. Check it out.
I had been casting about for what had been concocted in my mind as the ideal anniversary getaway. My criteria included: under 2 hours of drive time from NYC, a freestanding unit with a beautiful view, a heady dose of nature, and a fun vibe. The ideal location was proving elusive. Places seemed too stuffy or fancy or pretentious or dull or faraway. I kept doing search after search with little success until I stumbled upon this post. Cedar Lakes Estate checked every box on my list and then some. If ever a place was designed to grab your group and go then this would be it, but I was happy to first explore it as our cozy group of – whoa we’ve been married for 22 years – two.
Cedar Lakes Estate is located in Pt. Jervis, NY some 70 miles from NYC. It sits right on the border of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. As such for our first three meals we ate in three different states! We had dinner in Pennsylvania, breakfast in New Jersey and lunch in New York. That was a first for us! Trying new things at 2 plus decades of marriage – keeping it fresh!
The property is on 500 acres of land with two lakes, 2 pools, lots of trails, a mini mountain top, and expansive green spaces. In it’s former life had been camp for inner city kids. Today it is much sought after destination wedding location.
Taking on the transformation of camp to campy retreat must have been a challenge that could have easily gone awry. Creepy sleep away horror movie setting? Over the top campy with everyone sporting camo or khakis? Cedar Lakes Estate is none of this. When we met the sisters responsible for this new iteration of the camp it was clear the transformation of this land from a camp to an inviting rustic, luxury retreat was an obvious reflection of who they are: warm, comfortably chic, accessible, playful, and fun. These same words are the words I would use to describe Cedar Lakes Estate and what staying there is like. And it is my last word FUN which makes me want to come back with a group – a BIG group – and why the Cedar Lakes sister have enjoyed so much success as a group destination.
I challenge you to explore the expansive property without trying to mastermind an event in your head. So much fun to be had by day and so many special places to gather and celebrate at night. As a daytime destination the gorgeous lake that is the centerpiece of the property’s scenery offers an abundance of opportunities to play: canoeing, a high dive, a blob for jumping on and, my favorite, a zip line that drops you from the mountain top and grazes you just above the water.
There is also a ropes course adjacent to the lake with one of the challenges crossing over the lake. Always good to see your potential spouse in action on a ropes course before you say that ultimate I do. One of the most fun and productive corporate retreats I ever attended involved a ropes course.
The areas that are available for the evening celebrations warrant a 3 day wedding weekend just so you can maximize your use of the property. Perhaps a welcome gathering by the pool overlooking the lake? The next evening a rehearsal dinner in the garden area with twinkly lights overhead as your guests honor you with their toasts. This could all culminate with a mountain top ceremony that moves into a rip roaring celebration in the barn.
The ladies of Cedar Lake take their food seriously. We were lucky to be there on their first pop up dinner that occurred on the Saturday night of our stay. Via this we were able to experience the service and presentation style of the venue. Gorgeous, impeccable, and fun! These words are not so easy to string together. Right?
We were seated with perfect strangers that turned into perfectly good new friends by the end of the evening. The service for the 5 course meal with wine was spot on, but practically invisible as we were so busy chatting with our fellow guests. There is another dinner there December 1st! I plan to keep my eye on these dinners and perhaps organize a group to go up for a night and enjoy it with me…?
A whole array of cottages are available on the property. There are 100 total for your wedding or corporate retreat. In the off season these are available for random guests like us. We were happily tucked into the Lakeside Cottage – a super cozy log cabin just steps from the lake.
In addition to the lake there was a row boat in our front yard and a bbq. Our weekend was on the frigid side so neither of those were employed, but we did make excellent use of the fireplace and the furry throw blankets that were tossed casually around our cottage.
We also checked out some of the other cottages. There is literally a cottage for every taste. The off season runs from November through April. They will accept reservations during the wedding season if the place is not already spoken for so that is worth a shot.
The wedding season takes over when the off season concludes and they are already booking for 2019. Corporate retreat time slots are available during the week. You can bet that if Grab Your Group and Go ever gets big enough this will be the location of our first retreat. Maybe even if doesn’t get all that big!? I plan to grab a group and go back to Cedar Lakes Estate. You should too! Or plan a wedding and invite me. Please.
It was a memorable place and a memorable anniversary weekend. Cheers to us.
Sidenote: On Saturday after hiking the property, we had to cobble together a plan for our day. In the room there was a useful and well written restaurant guide. The sisters put stars next to their favorites. One restaurant: The Heron had two stars. Hmm… I wasn’t sure the husband would take the bait on this as it was an hour away, but the words in the write up that he read aloud said “traveling to this restaurant includes a drive on one of the most scenic routes in the country.” I was certain he read it wrong and meant county but nope – in the country. Plan set.
As promised, the drive was breathtaking. The twisty, turny road with multiple opportunities for pulling over to gape at the view was amazing. This famous road is the one that you have seen in car commercials to illustrate how the Mercedes/BMW etc they want you to buy will hug the curves.
The restaurant The Heron was worth it’s two stars and more. Our reservation was at 2pm and the place was packed. As it was the day of that fierce cold snap we felt so lucky to have found such a cozy and well, hip, place. We could easily have been in Brooklyn or the West Village, but we were in Narrowsburg, NY. The Bloody Mary, oh my goodness, it was the Bloody Mary of all Bloody Mary’s and the comfort food that arrived at our table was ideal for the tone of our day – probably most people’s day. Cheers!