December 30th – January 1, 2014
This trip report is a departure from my regular ones, due to the fact its about some place cold and actually in the same state where I live. I figured that I would write this report so if anyone spends some time in the northern NJ area, they can check out this place….
Every New Year’s, my husband and I try to find some nearby place to spend the holiday. This year we decided to try Crystal Springs in nearby Hamburg, NJ. http://www.crystalgolfresort.com
Crystal Springs Golf Resort is made up of a few hotels all within a few miles of each other, but the main resort is called the Grand Cascades Lodge, which is where we stayed.
We checked in later in the evening on Monday, December 30th since my husband had to work that day. Check-in was easy and we were given our key cards and tickets we previously reserved for New Year’s Eve festivities the following day. We had stayed at the Grand Cascades Lodge a couple of years ago during their NJ Food and Wine Festival and really enjoyed the location of our room. So when I booked the room, I requested the same Studio Suite with a queen size bed. The views from the room aren’t very exciting, but the close proximity to the lobby and elevators are ideal. The room itself has a fully stocked kitchen with pots and pans (in case you would like to cook in the room), living room area, fireplace, full bathroom and a separate sleeping area.
After we checked in, we were both quite hungry. I called earlier that day to make reservations at one of the on-site restaurants, called the Crystal Tavern. http://www.crystalgolfresort.com/DiningWine/CrystalTavern.aspx
Unfortunately the only time they had available was 9:30pm. I figured that we would be running a bit late so I did keep the reservation. By the time we settled in our room it was around 9pm. We headed down to the restaurant and had a drink at the bar. After a few minutes, our table was ready and we were seated at a nice table. For appetizers we decided to share the Ultimate Wood Board that consisted of a selection of local artisanal cheeses, house charcuterie and pâtés, cornichons, grain Mustard, fig jam, rustic bread. When the server brought over the appetizer, we realized that the board seemed to be missing a few items. She realized that she had served us just the regular wood board. She then went back to bring out the other items within a few minutes so it was fine. After we completed our appetizer, our entrées were brought out. My husband choose the american kobe beef burger, while I decided to have the day boat scallops and shrimp entrée which was prepared by pan searing the scallops in a cast iron and the shrimp had a tempura batter and coated with a herbed-tobiko. It was served with a truffle mash as well. Everything was very good and we were quite full.
It was getting late so we headed back to our room and went to bed. The next morning we woke up and weren’t exactly hungry from eating so late the night before. We decided to head out and go for a hike. Crystal Springs is located pretty close to where we live (about 20-25 min.) so we are very familiar with the area. Several times a year we would drive up to a winery located in Warwick, NY. On the way we would always notice a hiking trail that seemed intriguing. So we figured we would give it a try. The trail is located just off of Route 517 and we parked our jeep. It was quite cold that morning but we figured we would just walk a little ways. The hike is mostly a boardwalk that is built over a marshy landscape. Eventually it takes you to a suspension bridge. It was a beautiful walk and would probably be more enjoyable with warmer temperatures. Realizing we weren’t exactly dressed for the hike, we turned around and headed back to our jeep. We would definitely come back during the spring to see all the flowers in bloom and birds.
After we warmed up a bit in the jeep, we headed up towards the Warwick Winery. It was just about 11am and they just opened up. We walked in to just one staff member and selected a few wines and ciders to bring back to our room. We were also getting hungry so we grabbed a few snacks to take back with us.
By the time we got back to Crystal Springs, several college bowl games started. So I prepared a few snacks for us and we relaxed a while and enjoyed a bottle of wine from the winery. It actually snowed a little bit during the afternoon.
For the New Year’s Eve celebration, Crystal Springs had several packages to choose from. I had always wanted to dine at their well renowned restaurant called Latour. I had selected the earlier seating at 5:30 that offered a 4 course dinner with a wine pairing. http://www.crystalgolfresort.com/DiningWine/RestaurantLatour.aspx
It was time to get ready and head down to the restaurant. We were escorted into an elevator up a level to the restaurant. We were kindly greeted and were seating at a table right near the window that had a beautiful winter display outside. Our server presented us with the menu showing each course. Unfortunately the main course was a NY Strip Steak and do not eat red meat. The server went and checked with the chef and he offered to make me a wild mushroom risotto. I agreed and the course started to come out of the kitchen. Our first course (which unfortunately I cannot remember what it was) was paired with a wonderful champagne that was presented to us by their very own sommelier, Susanne Lerescu, who we have met before by taking one of their wine cellar tours at a previous visit. Our second course was a delicious lobster ravioli with a truffle cream sauce. For our entrées my husband had the NY strip and I had the wild mushroom risotto that had fresh shaved truffles. After our main course, we were given a tasting of a terrific port. The port was paired with a lovely dessert to finish our meal. At one point, Susanne left the bottle of port on our table so we wound up having another tasting a piece before letting her know that the bottle was still on our table 🙂
Everything was delicious and we can now understand why this restaurant gets such great reviews. After dinner we headed back to our room to relax for a while. We also had reserved their New Year’s Eve party in their biosphere pool complex. http://www.crystalgolfresort.com/Content/Category.aspx?SID=15&CID=241
The party didn’t begin until 9pm so we watched a few more college football bowl games while we waited. 9pm eventually came and we headed down to the complex. The complex was beautifully decorated and was transformed into a New Year’s celebration. We walked around while we had a few drinks from the open bar. There was also an area set up for hors d’oeuvres and such but we were still quite full from the dinner earlier.
As the night went on, more and more people came into the party. It was very festive with music and such. Around 11:30 I had enough and we headed back to our room to watch the ball drop and bring in the New Year just the two of us.
The next morning we checked out and headed home. Feeling a bit from the night before, we were both relieved it was a short ride home. Thank you for reading and Happy New Year!