“Milk or dark?” That’s the question posed to every guest upon check in at The Hotel Hershey and how you know you’re not just in any resort. Appropriate chocolate bar in hand, you are ready to relax, Hershey-style.
The crown jewel among Hershey’s holdings in a small town about 100 miles from Philadelphia, the 75-year-old property is reminiscent of a kinder, gentler age. This grande dame hotel is adjacent to Hershey’s other Pennsylvania attractions, which include a theme park, zoo and its staged factory tour, yet a world away in terms of amenities and ambience.
Opened in 1933 (and air-conditioned throughout in 1955), the hotel is as gracious as an old friend. Eclectic touches abound, like its fabulous Havana-style Iberia lounge, which was inspired by founder Milton S. Hershey’s sugar plantation and mills in 1920s Cuba. Its 276 well-appointed rooms and cottages overlook gardens and the rolling countryside, with some offering a glimpse of the nightly fireworks at Hersheypark during the season.
Guests dress up to dine in the Circular Dining Room, designed in the round by Hershey himself to be sure nobody, including solo diners, ever got stuck in a corner. Touches like ruby-toned leaded glass and hand-crafted ornamental wood keep company with a 1,200-bottle wine cellar and a restored ceiling mural, part of a recent $1 million renovation.
It all sets the stage for signature dishes, many of which include chocolate, such as cocoa-dusted sea scallops. Executive chef Ken Gladysz happens to think chocolate is a great ingredient in both sweet and savory treats. The hotel also offers more casual dining experiences at Trevi 5, which has an Italian menu, and the American-themed Harvest.
Meanwhile, the grounds invite strolling or hiking depending on your mood. An expanse of lawn framed by koi ponds and an outdoor pool, is often the setting for weddings when the weather is fine.
In front, a gorgeous patio is used for sunning, dining and live jazz music. Just down the road, the stunning Hershey Gardens, lush with roses, herbs and seasonal specimen plants, include a children’s area and butterfly house.
In need of pampering? The Spa at The Hotel Hershey, which opened ten years ago, has expanded its “social” area to accommodate the many guests who come for family occasions and girlfriend getaways. But there’s still plenty of quiet available, if you prefer.
Specialty services and treatments include getting your nails painted 1933 –– a mocha color formulated in honor of the hotel’s diamond anniversary; getting a chocolate bean polish, and a fondue wrap. Or try a mojito sugar scrub, another nod to Hershey’s love of Cuba.
Should you feel guilty about all this indulging, remember the hotel and other attractions support a local school for disadvantage youth created by Milton S. Hershey, and his wife, Catherine, in 1909. The “sweetest place on earth” has substance, too.
To read more about unique travel destinations, check out Beth’s blog, Unchained Travel.