Nestled in northeast Pennsylvania, the Pocono Mountains region is an easy escape from the metropolitan areas of New York City and Philadelphia. In recent years, the region’s options for meeting groups has expanded with several large casino resorts, as well as retreat-like properties, but the small-town welcome remains strong.

“The hospitality in the Pocono Mountains is second to none with so many long-run resorts catering to the needs of leisure guests and now corporate guests as well,” said said David Jackson, vice president of sales, Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau. “Plus, free parking!”

Today, the Poconos area is in a new renaissance, with several projects adding accommodations, meeting space and event venues for even larger groups.

“The significant expansions recently (some ongoing) at our resorts provide first-class convention space to potential clients all within a short drive from New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Baltimore,”Jackson said. “Not to mention, we're situated on 2,400 square miles of mountains, waterfalls, rivers and more.”

Expanding Casino Resorts

Mount Airy Casino Resort unveiled a new hotel and convention center in the Spring of 2019. The $40 million expansion added 100 guest rooms, increasing the total accommodations to 288 rooms as well as a 16,000-square-foot addition to the existing ballroom and events center.

Prior to the expansion, the onsite meeting and event space could accommodate up to 200 people. The new space totals more than 20,000 square feet with capacity for 1,200 guests. The new convention center and additional onsite meeting rooms break into nine smaller rooms, allowing multiple areas for breakout sessions and flexible floor plans.

Mount Airy Casino Resort
Photo: Mount Airy Casino Resort. Credit: Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau.

“This upcoming expansion will provide compelling new amenities and accommodations, ideal for upscale travelers, and a new convention and events center able to accommodate groups of every size,” said Vincent Jordan, vice president of marketing and gaming operations at the property.

“When you consider the countless property amenities including the golf course, multiple dining options, the pool complex, the spa and of course, the casino, there are plenty of options on property to keep guests relaxed and engaged throughout their stay.”

Mount Airy Casino Resort has spent the past few years undergoing changes, including a 26,000-square-foot entertainment pavilion and a new four-season pool and 52,000-square-foot pool complex. The pool facility features a poolside bar and lounge, private cabanas and a 5,600-square-foot outdoor deck area that includes fire pits with views of the resort’s lake and golf course. 

Additionally, Kalahari Resorts & Conventions is wrapping up a multimillion-dollar expansion of its convention center in the Poconos. The project is adding 112,000 square feet of function space and once complete in February 2020, the convention center will boast 205,000 square feet of convention space.

Kalahari Resort & Convention Center, Pocono Mountains
Photo: Kalahari Resort & Convention Center, Pocono Mountains. Credit: Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau.

The expansion is also adding a 38,000-square-foot ballroom, joining the existing 25,000-square-foot and 9,000-square-foot ballrooms, as well as adding 18 meeting rooms for a total of 33 spaces.

Kalahari Resorts & Conventions, which also has properties in Wisconsin Dells, Wis., and Sandusky, Ohio and soon one in Round Rock, Texas in 2020, is known for allowing meeting attendees and convention goers to mix business with pleasure. The Poconos property’s indoor waterpark is 220,000 square feet, claiming to be the largest in the U.S.

Kalahari Resort & Convention Center, Pocono Mountains
Photo: Kalahari Resort & Convention Center, Pocono Mountains. Credit: Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau.

Mountain Retreats

Woodloch Resort, located in the northern Poconos’ Lake region, recently completed upgrades and additions. The resort is set on 1,200 acres and includes the main Woodloch Pines Resort, The Woodloch Springs Golf Course and Community and The Lodge at Woodloch.

“The Lodge at Woodloch has undergone renovations and also has new guest homes for groups and meeting delegates,” said Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau’s Jackson. “The Lodge is highly regarded as one of the premier spas in the country and is part of a larger facility nestled in the woods including large guest homes that provide teambuilding opportunities.”

The 57-room Lodge is home to a luxurious spa, and has fitness, culinary and adventure programing that is all wellness-focused.

The Woodloch Resort guest homes includes a private chef that can grill out or cook with or for groups.

Overall, Woodloch Resort has 8,000 square feet of meeting and event space for groups up to 600. The resort has a wide array of teambuilding and group activity options from archery and paintball to cupcake wars and mixology.

[Related: Pennsylvania’s Historic Meeting Sites Have a Story to Tell]

Another mountain resort recently unveiling noteworthy additions for meetings delegate is Camelback Resort, Lodge and Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark, which sits at the base of Camelback Mountain in the Poconos region. Last year the resort opened two new restaurants: Kartrite’s Summit House and Berrelli’s Family Style Italian.

Kartrite’s Summit House is atop the mountain and is the highest restaurant in the Poconos. Berrelli’s Family Style Italian is at the base of Camelback Mountain, offering slope side views and outdoor dining. Both restaurants are open year-round and have private dining and event space. 

The 450-key resort’s conference center offers 20,000 square feet of meeting and event space, in addition to the 18,000 square feet of space in the base ski lodges.

Another major development in the region is the Pocono Springs Village project. The estimated $350 million development will span 175 acres adjacent to the Kalahari property. The district will include restaurants, live entertainment venues, an aquarium, movie theater, bike and hiking trails, a 4.5-acre park and helium balloon ride. Available leasable space is also planned. The construction of the first phase of the project is expected by the summer of 2021.

These big projects continue to put Poconos on the map as a meetings and events destination, but the region’s endearing small-town charm remains. Combined, these factors make it poised for successful meetings in 2019 and beyond.

CVB Contact
Poconos Mountain Visitors Bureau

3 Wineries in Pocono Mountains for Offsite Toasts

Surprising to some, the Pocono Mountains are home to several wineries. The Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau has a Pocono Beverage Trail that includes breweries and distilleries as well as the local wineries, but groups just looking to explore and taste local, can do so with Pocono Wine Tours.

The company takes groups of any size to both urban wineries and estate vineyards. 

Pocono Wine Tours offers difference packages depending on the groups’ needs.

For a taste of what the region has to offer, we rounded up a few of our favorite wineries in the Poconos.

Blue Ridge Winery

Nestled on top a hill overlooking the vineyards, the 3,000-square-foot wine tasting facility at Blue Ridge Winery hosts daily wine tastings and special events throughout the year. There is a full wrap-around deck to take in the vineyards’ rolling mountain views. There is also a 6,000-square-foot, six-bedroom house on the property available for rent.

“Blue Ridge Winery offers private, exclusive dining opportunities in an underground experience you have to see to believe,” said David Jackson, vice president of sales, Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau. “It's been selected as the number one winery on the east coast by Travel & Leisure Magazine and can accommodate a variety of groups ranging from a couple dozen for sit-down to many more standing.

Mountain View Vineyard 

Mountain View Vineyards offers more than just wine. They also make beer and distilled spirits, and tastings of all are available. The property includes a 100-acre farm, tasting room and bistro. There is space for private corporate events and group tours can be arranged.

RAW Urban Winery and Hard Cider

A family-run business, RAW Urban Winery and Hard Cider claims to be the first urban micro winery and hard cidery in the Poconos. The urban facility—on Main Street in downtown Stroudsburg—is where the wine is made and barrel aged. The gluten-free hard cider is crafted with some local fruit as well as herbs and organic flowers. 

RAW Urban Winery and Hard Cider, Pocono Mountains
Photo: RAW Urban Winery and Hard Cider, Pocono Mountains. Credit: Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau.

The tasting room, open daily, offers samples of both wine and cider as well as bottles of wine or growlers of cider to take home.

Read next: On a Roll: Trends Reshaping the East Coast Gaming Scene