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Woodlands Inn and Resort
www.weloveourlife.com. This is our page dedicated to our experiences while staying at
the Woodlands Inn and Resort in Wilkes-Barre, PA.
This is a full-service resort. There was a spa and exercise facility (we did not partake of either), the afore-mentioned indoor pool and Jacuzzi, and an outdoor pool in season. There are also meeting rooms, various bars, and a restaurant. The rooms feature LodgeNet and we did order a movie (Borat) one night.
We ordered room service breakfast one morning. We each had an egg-white omelet – Keith’s with spinach and swiss cheese, and Lori’s with cheese. They were accompanied by home fries and wheat toast. The meals were delivered within 20 minutes and were warm. We were surprised by the reasonable price for room service – the hotel did not seem to tack on a lot of charges (unlike the pricier chain hotels). We also had room service one night for dinner – nachos and pizza. The nachos were so-so – the description promised seasoned meat, but was really more beans. The pizza was inexpensive and very tasty. Again, room service was prompt – they promised it within 30 minutes and they exceeded that goal. The delivery people were courteous and professional.
The hotel also has an upscale restaurant called Thyme which boasts a chef trained at the Culinary Institute of America. We did not get a chance to eat there, but the menu was intriguing.
There are several lounges at the hotel, all within the same vicinity. There was a simple three-sided bar where people would congregate. There was a multi-level nightclub with plenty of scattered tables, chairs, and sofas that was very dimly lit. There was an additional four-sided bar on the lower floor in the nightclub area, and close to it was an open fireplace. There was a stage and dance floor adjacent to that bar. There was also a nightclub called Whispers – it never seemed to be open until late so we didn’t check it out. There is also an outdoor margarita bar that overlooks the stream but is seasonal and was closed during our visit. The hotel also boasts one of the area's discos called "Evolutions".
We found the bar area to be very smoky – it seemed we were the only people who weren’t smoking. We don’t raise a fuss because we figure if you are sitting at a bar in Pennsylvania, you have to expect smoke. But at a time where more and more places in the state are going non-smoking, this place seemed to be a last bastion for those who really like to puff away. There didn’t appear to be any smoke handlers, and the smokiness eventually drove us away and back to our suite. Interestingly, it seemed the people who congregated in the bar weren’t guests but mostly locals. The hotel employs several scantily clad women to serve drinks – a bit reminiscent of something out of the late 1980s or early 1990s. We do want to stress all the employees were nice and friendly.
We do have one dubious honor to bestow on the upstairs bar. When we first arrived, the weather was mild for March and it was hot inside. We were overheated and decided to get frozen margaritas. The bartender seemed to forget what she was making mid-way through. When we finally tasted the drinks we realized it was a frozen margarita but seemed to have some sort of melon liqueur in it. We have to honestly say these were the worst frozen margaritas we have ever had (no, we didn’t drink more than a few sips).
The people were very nice. When we checked in, the woman at the front desk went out of her way to make us feel welcome. She answered all of our questions knowledgeably. When Keith went to the front desk the following day for band-aids, he was given some for free. It was obvious this was no chain hotel.
The Wilkes Barre/Scranton area is on the northern end of the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania. There are ski resorts nearby. We were there for a very specific reason: to see Stars on Ice at the Wachovia Arena. We had seen Stars on Ice in other venues and opted to see the show somewhere different this time. We were not disappointed. We had tickets right on the ice – fabulous if you are a skating fan. Lori is the skating fan; Keith is her ticket supplier and is actually starting to enjoy the skating as he gets to know the personalities. This time, Kurt Browning and Sasha Cohen were the special guests, and both provided incredible performances. We also got to see Michael Weiss for the first time live. We particularly enjoyed Kyoko Ina and John Zimmerman, whose programs were full of thrills. Since we were on the ice, we got to greet and shake hands with Alexei Yagudin afterwards, which was a thrill. The venue itself was nice – we like seeing shows in smaller venues. It was clean and easy to get in and out of, and the traffic situation was handled fairly well.
Isabella Restaurant - 1140 Route 315, Wilkes-Barre, PA, 570-270-9292
We went with a Giant Steps Chardonnay from the Yarra Valley in Australia – a big, strong, dry chardonnay. Keith had the Hearts of Romaine Caesar Salad with an Asian flair – accompanied by wontons, spiced cashews, and sesame. Lori had a dozen nicely seasoned littleneck clams (white). For his entrée, Keith selected the Veal Scallopine, with proscuitto, hot peppers, herb cavatelli, and gorgonzola cheese, while Lori opted for the house-made ricotta cavetelli, with lobster, tomato, chili, and Chablis. The food was flavorful and seemed to be a twist on traditional Italian. The bread was good and fresh and accompanied by 3 types of seasoned butter (basil, cheese, and nuts). We were also presented with tiny slices of wonderful garlic bread as an appetizer, and complimentary tiny scoops of raspberry chocolate sorbet at the end of the meal. It was a nice dining experience and we recommend the restaurant.
There are also a large number of chain restaurants within a couple miles of the hotel – places like Red Robin, Chili’s, La Tolteca, Ground Round, Outback Steakhouse, Pizzeria Uno, etc.
It sure seemed like the locals came to the resort to party, so our guess is the nightlife is in the various bars contained within the Woodlands!
We visited the area in early March, just about 10 days before the official start of spring. There was still plenty of snow sitting around but the days were mild and the snow was melting. The ski resorts tend to close around the third or fourth week of March, depending on the weather.
The Woodlands is a good place to go if you want everything all in one place, but if you are sensitive to smoke, you may want to stay elsewhere. We were in a non-smoking wing, but we could still smell smoke at times in our suite and in the hallway immediately outside.