Spring Break at Crystal Springs Resort by Robin Gorman Newman

April Spring break for my family is always a a challenge, given that my husband, Marc, a CPA, can’t get away due to tax season, so I look for places that Seth and I can visit, where Marc might later connect with us.

Because my health has been a work in progress of late, I decided I wasn’t up to jumping on a plane or embarking on a major road trip, so when I heard about Crystal Springs Resort, the destination sounded like a winner….and it was.

Nestled among the Hamburg Mountains in Northwestern New Jersey, Crystal Springs Resort is a four-season resort with a multitude of activities whether for families, romantic stays, girls spa getaways or golfing with buddies.  It’s quite scenic with an upstate NY vibe, and for those who like to ski, it’s a stones throw from ski country.

Grand Cascades Lodge Lobby

Located less than an hour from the city (about 1.5-2 hours from us on Long Island), it features two hotels – Grand Cascades Lodge and Minerals Hotel; six golf courses including the nationally acclaimed Ballyowen course; a variety of restaurants; two full-service spas; state-of-the-art Minerals Sports Club (with a fantastic selection of fitness classes and equipment); and multiple indoor and outdoor pools, including the tropical Biosphere Pool Complex with an underground aquarium.

We spent four nights and never lacked for things to do. Some of the family activities, including those special for our Easter stay, are:

Laser Tag


Archery Tag

Skeet Shooting (Offered by the nearby Clay and Oak Sporting Club)

Quarry Fishing

Hike to Beaver Dam

Krafty Kids Art Class

Live Animal Show


Easter Egg Hunt

Marshmallow Peeps Roast

We stayed at rustic-style Grand Cascades Lodge, and while a lovely property, I’m not a personal fan of Tempurpedic beds, so it took at bit of an adjustment.  The room was otherwise comfortable and a good size (we had two Queen beds), and suites are available for larger families, some of which include a kitchenette. The more standard rooms, like ours, do not feature a mini-bar or refrigerator, but the staff will safely store items in the communal refrigerator upon request.

Food is not included, and certain activities cost extra as well and require advanced reservation, particularly if the hotel is sold out, as it was during our stay.  I also recommend making dinner reservations in advance, if it’s gonna be a busy weekend.

The Biosphere pool at the Lodge feels like an exotic retreat, though seating was sometimes challenging, so we preferred the pool at Minerals which was larger and offered more chaise lounges.  The Biosphere complex also features a convenient snack bar with mostly healthy offerings, barring the luscious gelato (worth every calorie) my son enjoyed.


Archery Tag

A shuttle was provided that took you from one property to the other….about 10 minutes away…..so it was easy enough to pop back ‘n forth.  The laser tag and archery tag were both at Minerals, and my son did them multiple times, so we spent a good chunk of time at Minerals.  I enjoyed being able to watch him as he played, and there was comfortable lobby seating. There are even indoor tennis and racquetball courts.  I took advantage of the gym and did a Water in Motion class in the pool which was lots of fun and good cardio.  I also loved the outdoor very heated pool at Minerals — which felt more like a hot tub, but great to soothe muscles and have ample room to swim.

We enjoyed casual meals at Kites at Minerals, and had breakfast daily (good omelettes) at Crystal Tavern.  They offer both a buffet — which was impressive — and a la carte offerings — each served in different rooms with lovely window views.

At night, my son had a blast roasting Peeps.  It is done at both hotels, but we did it at the Lodge.  Two beautiful fire pits became the center of attention, and kids and adults excitedly collected Peeps, marshmallows and long sticks, and it was lots of fun and cozy to sit around the flames.  They also show movies by the Biosphere Pool, and there is live entertainment during the dinner buffets (for a fee) including acts like The Gizmo Guys doing comedy juggling.

For those seeking to explore outside the Resort, I had heard the town of Warwick, NY is arty and interesting, with a walkable Main Street with antique shops, restaurants and more.  We didn’t make it there this trip.

In addition to vacationers, Crystal Springs Resort hosts hundreds of weddings, special events, and corporate meetings.

Each season is a different experience, as more pools and restaurants open, based on the time of year, and theme activities are planned accordingly.

We would enjoy returning one day.  If you’re like me and have done family places like Great Wolf Lodge and other indoor water parks, you might find this to be an inviting option….and one with equal adult appeal.

There’s a lot to be said for that.


Note: We received a one night press stay, but our opinions are our own.