Category Archives: New Paltz

Mohonk Mountain House

From LONG ISLAND – by Ann Parry (
November 26, 2013

Mohonk Mountain House is a Currier & Ives print come to life….

Mohonk Mountain House outdoor Ice Skating Rink, young sisters skating, March 2010 (Ann Parry/

New Paltz, New York, USA. Mohonk Mountain House Ice Skating Rink (© 2010 Ann Parry/

Though the Mohonk Tower was a constant, iconic part of the scenery during my years at SUNY New Paltz, it wasn’t until many years later that I visited its home on the 2,200 acres of Mohonk Mountain House, a Victorian castle built in the late 19th Century by its Quaker owners, twin brothers Albert and Alfred Smiley, whose descendants still own and operate this National Historic Landmark.

NEW PALTZ - MARCH 14: Lake Mohonk seen beyond boulders at shore, with view of long wood pier, mountains and Mohonk Mountain House on overcast winter morning of March 14, 2010 at New Paltz, New York, USA. For Editorial Use Only. (Ann Parry/

New Paltz, New York, USA. Frozen Lake Mohonk at Mohonk Mountain House. (© 2010 Ann Parry/

I’ve been going to Mohonk Mountain House for over ten years for their mid-March murder mystery weekends.

Being avid mystery fans, my friends Carolle and Diane and I started going decades ago to murder mystery dinners and weekends – including in NYC brownstones and Thayer House at West Point. So I guess it was inevitable we’d go to Mohonk’s world-famous murder mystery weekends.

During my early years going to Mohonk, Joni Paci and Ron Paci presented the interactive murder mysteries. Joni wrote each campy, lively mystery – as she also wrote the successful play “Murdered by the Mob” – and she and a talented and lively group of fellow actors not only presented set pieces at Mohonk’s balconied Parlor, but also stayed in character throughout the weekend, notably during the meals in Mohonk’s grand dining room with curved walls of sweeping windows looking out over the lake and mountains.

Since one or more actors stayed incognito, blending in as regular murder mystery guests, until the dénouement Sunday morning, it was an extra level of fun wondering who, if any, of our teammates were not who they claimed to be. I tended to be suspicious of everyone I didn’t actually drive to Mohonk with. Happily, my hyperactive wariness didn’t prevent me from becoming friends with delightful fellow guests from around the country – most especially Cindy and Mel Yoken, Carol, Bonnie – and some of the charming actors.

One of the high points of each weekend was the Authors Panel. Famous mystery authors, such as Lawrence Block, Harlan Coben, Ed McBain, and Susan Isaacs, attended the weekends with their families (Coben’s young children were adorable), and on Saturday afternoon would share about their lives as writers and then answer questions in the Lake Lounge.

Mohonk Mountain House Murder Mystery Weekend March 2010 (Ann Parry/

New Paltz, New York. USA. Mohonk Mountain House interior. (© 2010 Ann Parry/

As my first Mohonk mystery began, during Friday afternoon tea in the Lake Lounge, I sat next to an elegant, beautiful woman with ash blond hair in a chignon, and when she asked who my favorite author there was, I said, “Well, Susan Isaacs is the only one I’m familiar with, so I’ll say her.” When I asked who her favorite author there was, she explained that her husband was Lawrence Block, so she better say he is. Yikes! Anyway, I enjoyed listening to Block and Coben so much that I bought their books at Mohonk’s gift store, and became a fan of Block’s “The Burglar Who…” series, and Coben’s  sports agent character Myron Bolitar.

Since then both of my daughters have joined me for exciting Murder Mystery Weekends at Mohonk.

Mohonk Mountain House has hiking trails, lake boats, lake and indoor swimming, tennis, golf, fine dining, cross-country skiing, ice skating, spa services, horseback riding, and much more. Guests have many options, such as staying for dinner, theme weekends, midweek specials, weddings, reunions, and meetings.

NOTE:  This is updated version of post that was on my earlier blogspot blog.