Special Report: Pocono Resorts

MONROE COUNTY – Step into the Pocono Mountains and listen to the sound of success. Woodloch Resort here near Hawley began small back in 1958. Still family owned.

“I have five children in the business and my brother, and we all work every day,” said Woodloch Resort Owner John Kiesendahl.

Kiesendahl says he’s proud of what his family has accomplished – a premier resort with almost as many amentites as you can imagine. It employs 1,100 people, expanding from 12 to 1,200 acres since it first opened.

“The key to our success has really been the fact that we treat every guest as if they are company in our own home, in fact, that`s our mission statement today, same as it was in 1958,” said Kiesendahl.

Many families continue coming back, some for 40 or more years

“The owners remember my grandparents and us coming, we come every summer,” said Kathy Jensen of New York.

“It`s old school fun.  You don`t have to worry about the kids.  You can play checkers with them instead of playing electronics,” said Matthew Leavitt from Virginia.

But several resorts that once shined, now look like this.

Penn Hills Resort near East Stroudsburg closed years ago, and continues to be visited by vandals.

Buck Hill Inn near Cresco shut its doors as well – only to be broken into for copper thefts and a string of other trespassing problems.

Owners struggle to find ways to put these massive properties back to good use.

The Hotel Jonas here in the Poconos closed back about two years ago.  This sign already ripped down, but some new plans may put this hotel back in business.

“It`s too rural to make money for what it was originally built for at this point, and we can make good use for it and provide a service the community needs,” said Valor Clinic Founder Mark Baylis.

Mark Baylis has secured grant money to turn this once popular hotel and saloon into a haven for homeless veterans.

The historic building near Kresgeville closed about two years ago, but the previous owners left mostly everything else ‘as is’. It makes it an ideal spot to help those, who have helped our country. It could be open by this October.

“It`s almost turn-key. All the linens, the kitchen, the bed, the furniture that we need are there to house the vets,” said Baylis.

Just off Interstate 80 near Tannersville some other signs of new life for an old resort have surfaced too.

Summit Resort – backed out of the vacation biz back in 2002, a tough decision for Tony Farda and his family.

“It was my father`s dream in the 60`s to be involved with the honeymoons, couple`s business,” said Farda owner of Summit Resort.

Now the Farda’s are partnering with a property management and development group to build this – a $40 million dollar shopping and entertainment district.  It’s the future Tannersville Entertainment Village.

“People who live here can come and have good retail to shop, great restaurants, a movie theater,” said James DePetris of Legend Properties and DEPG Development.

Groundbreaking is planned for about a year from now – and the new facility will keep part of this space’s natural beauty in the building plan. But to build all this, Summit Resort will be bulldozed.

“But I just think that it`s just the right thing at the right time, and the only way to do it is to get rid of the old,” said Summit Resort Owner Tony Farda.

It’s being built just in time to compete with other New-to-the-Pocono’s resorts – like Kalahari – a huge new water park set to open summer of 2015 near Mount Pocono.

Expansion resorts in these mountains say they welcome.

“I think competition is one of those things that`s going to come.  When you`re doing well in an area, you get competition.  I`m very happy that that`s happened because it`s an indication that the Pocono Mountains is back on the map,” said Kiesendahl.

Trying to keep the Poconos a top destination for decades to come.

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