Gracious Getaway: Glendorn Lodge

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While now open to paying guests, this rustically gracious 1,500-acre compound in northwest Pennsylvania retains all the charm of a private family home

Having made a fortune in oil in the 1920s, the American Dorn family acquired a vast swathe of untouched countryside adjacent to northwest Pennsylvania’s Allegheny National Forest. Christening it Glendorn, they erected an impressive redwood Great House (pictured above) and, expanding the property along with their growing clan, scattered their country estate with classic log, stone and brick cabins named for various wings of the family.

Three generations on, Dorn descendants falling on less flush times in the 80s, the property was sold—though luckily to a longtime guest who bought it simply because he loved it. Mining millionaire Cliff Forrest’s purchase ensured that Glendorn remain just as it always had been while also safeguarding its lushly forested parkland from being carved up for logging prospectors. With a new owner gifting the lodge with myriad refurbishments and a gourmet food and wine program, Glendorn was ushered into the Relais & Chateaux collection in 1998, the first and only Pennsylvania property to be awarded the prestigious marque.

But what makes Glendorn distinct is that, while now open to paying guests, the rustically gracious 1,500-acre compound retains all the charm of a private family home. Lined in books, family photos and bric-a-brac, original furnishings, chintz fabric, and outfitted with wood burning fireplaces and mid century bathrooms, interiors recall a simpler, more sepia toned, era. The more untouched rooms, almost movie set-like in their classic authenticity, offering an early 20th century time capsule of outdoorsy privilege.

The Roost, John’s Cabin, Forest Hideout, and Clayt’s Cabin, are the most traditionally charming cottages to book. Alongside the four guestrooms and suites tucked into the Great House, where you’ll also find a, circa ‘30s, bunk bed lined Boys Dorm that could have served as a backdrop for an Andy Hardy film. Not an inexpensive foray, the rustic, chestnut paneled Miller Cabin sleeps three and runs $750 a night. Built in 1927, it includes original fittings including a vintage stove, two fireplaces, and is wrapped in gorgeous forest views. Double that rate, and you can check into The Roost, a more genteel brick cabin erected in 1939 that sleeps nine in four and half bedrooms, and is accessed via footbridge over a babbling brook.

In other words: it’s storybook country lodging, your choice of ‘woodsy cabin’, ‘country cottage, or guestroom in the main house, the latter starting at $450. Nicely, breakfast along with all non-guided activities and connected equipment (biking, hiking, tennis, sledding, skating, kayaking, canoeing, croquet and bocce), are gratis with every booking, along with the jars of homemade cookies found in each room.

A year-round retreat that’s pastoral landscape is scattered with every conceivable sporting and outdoor diversion, from trout stocked ponds and horse stables to a skeet and trap range equipped with rifles and instructors, Glendorn offers a roster of seasonal activities.

In warmer months, guests hit the tennis courts, hike or bike 20 miles of private trails, sunbathe by the heated, spring-fed pool, or wander off to a trio of picture postcard lakes to swim or paddle a boat. Winter activities run snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and romantic fireside snuggles with a good bottle of wine from the cellar. For less sporting guests, there’s a spa tucked into a refurbished cabin where Jennifer, equipped with a background in medical massage, offers first-rate rubdowns. As well as, cooking classes with chef Joseph Schafer who leads you from the basics (fileting a fish) through more advanced techniques (elegantly saucing it, shaping your sides into oval quenelles).

Stunning in autumn when the Pennsylvania foliage bursts into orange and red, October is Glendorn’s busiest month as the lodge hosts the annual hunting crowd. Guests stalking deer in the dense surrounding woods while bird shooters bag grouse, turkey and pheasant. Game, fish or fowl the kitchen is happy to transform into a feasts enjoyed by a roaring fire in the Great House.

Fine drink and dining as big a draw as the Glendorn’s natural splendour, meals are a graceful affair. Four-course dinners fixed at $100 per guest, excluding tip, enhanced by a nice, long wine list. The menu centred on classic haute selections: poached lobster, braised scallops, Kobe beef and, of course, fresh-caught trout from the property’s lakes.

While enjoying a meal, it’s hard not to be caught in the nostalgia of a place built by a lively, cocktail-happy clan whose hazing ritual for new wives mandated that brides marrying into family traverse the immense stone fireplace in the Great House, a daring feat of rock climbing. With the cocktails they invented while calling this place home now listed on the drinks menu, have one in their honour. The Dorns left a beautiful legacy with this uniquely idyllic retreat that now boasts Kathy Bates and Denzel Washington among its happy guests.

The Lodge at Glendorn
1000 Glendorn Drive
Bradford, Pa.