Mohonk Mountain House began as a project by Albert Smiley. His half-brother, Daniel Smiley was the first manager of the hotel and resort, which has been owned and managed by the Smiley family ever since. While both the original building and the surrounding area have been continually extended and modernised, the Smiley family has stayed true to Albert’s original vision, so much so that both the United Nations Environment Programme Award and the National Trust for Historic Preservation have given awards to Mohonk Mountain House and its owners for maintaining the integrity of the hotel itself and the surrounding landscape.
The resort’s uniqueness lies in the fact that it was planned not simply as another upscale hotel – although it certainly is one – but as an experiment in conservation and ecology. It has thus become a model for many subsequent businesses and organizations that attempt to preserve their local and global ecosystems through accommodating the natural environment. Since Mohonk Mountain House is located in over 1300 acres of woodland, meadows, gardens and borders on the Mohonk Preserve, it has a unique situation which makes it perfect for a resort that is also a conservation area.
Activities available at the hotel largely rotate around this unique setting, with plenty of outdoor activities available. Guests can swim or go boating in the lake. For those who prefer not to get their feet wet, golf, hikes, carriage rides and rock climbing are also available, alongside dozens of other sporting activities. Of course, if you prefer to spend your vacations inside, there are all kinds of indoor activities too, including a full spa experience and a library in the main resort building, featuring books by some of the many famous authors who have stayed at the resort, such as Stephen King.
Mohonk’s reputation for charity extends beyond the ecological and educational benefits of its mission to preserve the local wilderness: Albert Smiley, the founder, also hosted annual conferences from 1883 to 1916 on improving the lives of Native Americans, which were attended by politicians, philanthropists and educators. The hotel’s reputation for charitable work lives on today through its educational programs.
With all it has going for it, it is no surprise that Mohonk House has won dozens of awards for everything from its accommodation to its wine selections, in addition to its awards for conserving the hotel building and surroundings. Domestic and international magazines and organizations have been lining up to shower the owners and managers with awards. Given the variety of activities on offer, the hotel has been able to offer incredibly high quality across the board.