A Scenic Gataway: Crystal Springs Resort

New Jersey might not be a place one thinks of when considering a trip, but contrary to common belief, not every vacation requires a passport and/or hours of tedious travel rituals. Beneath the Appalachian Trail in deep Sussex County, lies perhaps one of New Jersey’s most coveted secrets. Removed from the noise of everyday life, Crystal Springs Resort is a luxury destination that requires no plane ticket. Although the resort is surrounded by towering oaks and rolling hills, it’s only about an hour’s drive from New York City.


The secluded four-season resort sits on 4,000+ acres featuring 12 seasonally inspired dining options, two luxury spas, skiing in winter, three year-round lodging options, garden-to-table dining, and a host of other activities. Crystal Springs endeavors to diverge from the typical vacation with a tranquil atmosphere that allows one to appreciate the rich countryside that is so close to home. Aside from the incredible views and fairways, what really catches one’s attention is Crystal Springs’ in-house four-star restaurant Restaurant Latour and its world renowned wine cellar. Traditional vacations are meant for recreation and relaxation, but having an on- resort four-star restaurant adds a completely different dynamic.


Crystal SpringsNeighboring the Grand Cascades Lodge is the finest of Crystal Springs’ 12 dining options, Restaurant Latour. Executive Chef Anthony Bucco, a Garden State native, crafts his dishes according to the changing seasons and availability of local produce, keeping the menus fresh and visionary. Bucco and his staff have recently unveiled two new menus—a five course Anthology Menu and seven course Chef’s Degustation Menu. The Anthology Menu allows guests to select their favorite dish from five different categories: harvest (vegetarian), grazing (meats), aquatic, cheeses, and dessert. The Chef’s Degustation Menu on the other hand, involves sampling smaller portions of all the chef’s signature dishes in one sitting. Dealing directly with the community’s farmers and purveyors, as well as the country’s leading foragers, Restaurant Latour brings in top notch local and seasonal ingredients. In addition, Latour boasts an extensive wine cellar of over 100,000 bottles, where their experienced Sommelier, Susanne Lerescu, provides suggestions in an effort to help you find the perfect pairing based on your meal and personal palate.

Among its many other dining options, Crystal Spring features a “garden-to-table” dining adventure in the resort’s one-acre, organic garden. Surrounded by fresh vegetables and flowers, guests are able to observe as chefs choose seasonal elements to incorporate into each meal. Because the outdoor kitchen does not utilize gas, the chefs make use of grills and wood- fired ovens to prepare their entrées. Aside from eating fresh fruits and vegetables harvested that day, the Chef’s Garden also supplies nearby restaurants with fresh produce, including Restaurant Latour.


Chosen for Wine Enthusiast America’s top 100 and winner of Wine Spectator’s Grand Award in 2015, the wine cellar at Latour boasts over 9,100 labels from around the world. The alluring cellar is comprised of all the best vintages of chateaux of Bordeaux and Burgundy since the 1950’s, and is said to be worth over $30 million if you were to purchase every bottle. Using architectural features like glass-enclosed spaces and private dining rooms, the cellar allows guests to explore the wonders of a great vintage in an appropriate setting. The cellar at Latour was a passion project of Gene Mulvihill, the original owner of Crystal Springs Resort, who told NJ Monthly, “There are no fillers.” The statement is a testament to how Mulvihill has polished the vast selection over the past 50 years. What began as a simple love of fine wine has become one of the world’s premier collections. With Cava Winery around the corner, it’s easy to see why Northern New Jersey is becoming an ideal destination for wine lovers.


Crystal SpringsHome to six premier courses, including three championship courses, Crystal Springs is the third largest golf resort in the world. The resort’s most revered course, Ballyowen, is NJ Monthly and Golf World Magazine’s No.1 rated New Jersey public course. Ballyowen, a Celtic-style course, was molded from the countryside by the acclaimed golf course architect, Roger Rulewich, and is bound by farmland, the Walkill River, and jagged bluffs. Many of the resort’s other courses were designed by other notable architects such as Robert Trent Jones and Robert von Hagge. The 250-acre course, which sits on a plateau, offers stunning fairways, white sand bunkers, and native rough grasses. Each course offers a completely different character with its own level of difficulty. For instance, golfers of all abilities can find success on the diverse terrain of Black Bear while the Crystal Springs course (featuring sculpted mounds that frame the fairways) was named one of Golf Digest’s toughest. The resort is also home to the David Leadbetter Golf Academy, a school that has created a thorough training curriculum and killer strategies for golfers of all skill levels.


at Grand Cascades Lodge
Crystal Springs

Featuring massive wooden beams and spectacular stonework, the Grand Cascades Lodge—Winner of the AAA 4-Diamond Award—is built in a nostalgic Adirondack-style, and is the resort’s most attractive lodging option. The hotel’s hand-carved wooden decor and leather furnishing elevates its organic character. Adjacent to the Kittatinny Mountain Range, Crystal Springs’ sumptuous main lodge stands like a beacon which can be seen for miles across the valley. While the spectacular view may be enough for some guests, the lodge also offers many high-end amenities. For instance, within the Grand Cascade Lodge is the Biosphere Tropical Pool Complex which features a cave-themed steam room, sauna, and a grotto-like jacuzzi.

The lodge is also home to Reflections Spa, which offers weekend spa packages. Upon entering Reflections, 8,000 quartz crystals hanging from the ceiling, said to encompass healing powers from the earth, refract light and irradiate the fire-inspired glass walls. The luminous, fiery glass flows throughout each room, accompanied by the perpetual calm of cascading water in each hall. Massage therapists adept in rare Thai yoga massages ease away any remaining tensions in the spa’s traditional Thai treatment room. Each treatment includes a complimentary foot soak in a personal reflecting pool, steam shower, pink champagne, and specialty chocolates.