Crystal Clear

Mining the latest deals at Sussex County’s gem of a resort.

Courtesy of Crystal Springs Resort.

Crystal Springs Resort is the Garden State’s hidden diamond—a luxurious full-service resort amid the small towns and hilly landscape of rural Sussex County. Crystal Springs is not cheap, but package deals soften the blow and, since you don’t need to spend a bundle on gas or airfare, a day trip or multiday stay need not break your budget.

Spread over 4,000 acres of the picturesque Kittatinny Mountains and Vernon Valley, Crystal Springs operates seven championship golf courses, three resort lodges (plus several town-home vacation lodges), two world-class spas, a full-service sports club, a plethora of restaurants (from juice bar to the award-winning four-star Restaurant Latour) and the world-renowned 100,000-bottle wine cellar assembled by resort developer Gene Mulvihill.

The newest facility, Grand Cascades Lodge, opened in 2007, is a luxurious 250-unit Adirondacks-style condominium-hotel in Hamburg. It joined family-friendly Minerals Resort & Spa, the 175-room hotel in Vernon. There are also slopeside accommodations at Mountain Creek ski area, yet another part of the resort. Book an early spring weekend at Grand Cascades Lodge and take advantage of off-season rates starting at $249 per night midweek, or $259 for weekends. (Rates increase during summer months, the resort’s peak season, when that same room runs about $325 for a weekend night.)

The Grand Cascades experience includes the tropical Biosphere Pool Complex—a massive indoor structure with a translucent roof that allows for year-round tanning. Within the Biosphere there’s a freeform pool; an underground aquarium; a kid-friendly water slide; and an adult-friendly, grotto-like hot tub, steam room and sauna.

If you’ve just got a day, the Reflections Spa is the ticket, offering pampering treatments in a glamorous space. Champagne and chocolate truffles are included. If you’ve just come to eat, the dining is extraordinary. Restaurant Latour is heralded as one of the top dining experiences in the state. The seven-course prix-fixe menu will set you back a few hundred dollars for two, so plan it as your entire evening’s entertainment. Don’t forget the wine: The impressive wine cellar is home to thousands of vintages from all over the world, many of which cost $1,000 or more a bottle. One notable inclusion: more than 100 vintages of Chateau Latour—the restaurant’s namesake—dating from 1863 to 2005. The wines are costly, but the wine-cellar tours are complimentary–and include a tasting.

Finally, Crystal Springs Resort is a Mecca for golfers, with courses for every level. The highlight is Ballyowen, a Scottish-style links layout that is consistently among the country’s top-ranked public courses.
Crystal Springs Resort clearly offers the good life, but how can you enjoy it for less? There are a few ways: If you stay the weekend, hotel guests enjoy the Biosphere Pool Complex until close of checkout day, maximizing the getaway experience. So arrive early on Friday and stay late through the day Sunday. If you’re just coming for spa treatments, come during the week when you’ll be given complimentary access to the Biosphere. And top off the experience with a complimentary tour of the wine cellar.

There are numerous golf deals. A Rewards Membership starts at $89 and includes one free round of golf, discounts on greens fees, merchandise, hotel rooms and spa treatments. Or join the e-mail list and get notices of special deals, especially weekday, late-day and off-season rates.

Seasonal promotions for all of Crystal Springs’ attractions are offered through frequent e-mail blasts. Sign up on the resort’s website. Become a fan on Facebook for contests, giveaways and other promotions. For complete information, contact 973-827-5996 or visit crystalgolfresort.com.

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