April 1, 2008
By: Marianne Dougherty
A composting program provides fertilizer for the extensive flower gardens on the property.
Today, Mohonk continues its commitment to environmental stewardship through earth-friendly design features, an extensive recycling program and green initiatives that preserve the land and educate people. By switching to fluorescent lightbulbs, Mohonk has reduced its lighting load by 150,000 watts—a portion of its electric power is also purchased from a renewable energy source that is Green-e Certified. Mohonk has also donated 5,300 acres of land through the establishment of the nonprofit Mohonk Preserve and maintains a carbon-neutral environment by planting new trees and protecting forests within its 2,200 acres. When the family decided to build a spa on the property in 2005, they were adamant that the new facility integrate well with the rich architectural heritage of the original building, a 266-room "Victorian Castle" that is a National Historic Landmark. In keeping with the ecologically friendly approach to the land, a geothermal heating-and-cooling system was implemented. Using the constant temperature of the earth, the system moderates the temperature of the 30,000-square-foot facility and provides an emission- and noise-free alternative to traditional heating and cooling methods. Additionally, a green roof composed of eight inches of sod helps insulate the building, reducing energy use and runoff and providing a habitat for birds and butterflies. In the spring and summer months, yoga and meditation classes are held there.
The Solarium, with its stone fireplace, is one of the guests' favorite places to relax after spa treatments
Before the spa could be built, approximately 17,000 tons of Shawangunk Ridge rock had to be excavated from the mountaintop to create space for the new facility. More than 600 tons of quartz conglomerate stone were recycled into stone walls, fireplaces and retaining walls throughout the spa. Two 80-foot-long, glass-enclosed verandas connect to a solarium with a stone fireplace and provide breathtaking views of the landscape. Indeed, just taking in the spectacular surroundings is likely to induce a sense of serenity. "My great-grand-uncle, Albert Smiley, understood the need to provide guests with an opportunity to experience nature directly," says Mohonk's President Albert K. Smiley III. "People today have little free time, so it's increasingly important to provide a place where guests can easily connect with a strikingly beautiful natural environment and immediately feel nurtured by that connection."
Several signature spa treatments were also developed to connect spa guests back to the earth. The Shawangunk Grit Body Treatment uses indigenous quartzite rocks crushed to a fine powder in a body scrub that exfoliates and improves circulation. Guests can directly feel the benefits of the earth in this ultimate "eco spa" treatment. The Mohonk Red Massage was created in honor of the Mohonk red witch hazel grown on the property. The treatment begins with a relaxation breathing technique and aromatic inhalation of calming evergreen. Massage techniques include traditional Thai stretches, Swedish massage and Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage. Warmed towels infused with witch hazel cocoon the face and feet as the experience concludes with a guided power nap. Guests are also given a flacon of the signature oil to take home with them.
Meditating on the green roof-garden terrace
1 2 3