The breathtaking four diamond Crystal Springs Resort in northwestern New Jersey is THE spot for the ultimate high end luxury vacation. From golfing and spa treatments to gourmet dining and tastings in a $10 million value wine cellar, you can really go all out for a destination wedding, girls getaway, or family reunion. You may be thinking Crystal Springs is out of reach for your family, but think again. I'm going to show you how Crystal Springs can be your perfect multigenerational family vacation, even on a budget!! Watch my highlights video from our summer 2023 hosted stay below, and read on for my tips and tricks for enjoying paradise, without even leaving NY/NJ!!
If your budget has no limit, go ahead and book 1-2 weeks in a huge suite (or house) and get excited to enjoy ALL the amenities without a second thought. Massages at Elements Spa, and tons of fee-based amazing activities like rock climbing, teddy bear stuffing, mixology class, 3 or 7-course Chef's Tasting menu at the adult-only Restaurant Latour, a private goat yoga class, tee time one of their 6 golf courses... sky's the limit!
If you're like the rest of us, you may need to justify vacation expenses and feel like you got as much as possible for your hard earned money. And I'm so excited to be the one to tell you, Crystal Springs has SOOOOooooo many free activities and amenities, if you plan your trip well, you will feel like you got an incredible deal, lived like the rich and famous, and come home with incredible memories (and photos)! Let's get to it!!
1. Book a Suite
I know I know, a suite doesn't exactly scream "budget friendly" but hear me out! For less than $100 extra per night you can upgrade from a standard room to a studio suite, and get yourself a full kitchen (no microwave but it has an oven, fridge, stovetop, coffee maker, and dishwasher), with dining table and sleeper sofa! If bringing kids, I highly recommend leveling up to a one or two bedroom suite - kids can watch TV or play quietly in their room while you sleep in. Now THAT'S how to vacation... so you don't get home and need a vacation after your vacation!!
2. Breakfast Credit
All rooms and suites come with $40 breakfast credit per night, and breakfast at Crystal Tavern is delicioussss!!! From french toast and fritata to acai bowls and cereal, you'll put that breakfast credit to good use!!
3. Indoor & Outdoor Pools
With 7 beautiful indoor and outdoor pools and hot tubs at Grand Cascades and Minerals, swimming is probably the favorite activity for both myself and my kids at Crystal Springs, year round, and it's included with your stay!!
The 10,000sqft Biosphere indoor pool complex at Grand Cascades is absolutely stunning. You feel like you're in the tropics, surrounded by palms. With a fun water slide, aquarium, waterfalls, and a little cafe with snacks, gelato, and more. Just outside you'll find a swim out heated pool, another pool, and a life size chess board. So fun!! Do note: the German Foiltec roofing material allows nearly 100% light transmission, so you'll still want to use sunblock** and/or UPF swimwear** (**as an Amazon Associate, I receive commission from purchases made after clicking those links).
At the far end of Grand Cascades, past Crystal Tavern, you'll find the gorgeous (unheated!!) Vista 180 pool complex featuring an infinity pool looking over the gorgeous Appalachian mountains, a fun swirling whirl pool, waterslide, and 180* Cafe for snacks and cocktails!
Just 3 miles from Grand Cascades you'll find Minerals Resort, and you are free to use their amazing indoor and outdoor pools as well, which includes a cliff jump outside, underwater aquarium inside, and an outdoor splash pad!
Some important things to keep in mind regarding pools at Crystal Springs:
4. Free Activities
There are SO many free activities to do at Crystal Springs during your stay, just check their event calendar here for things like petting zoo, glow golf, movie nights, marshmallow roasting, self-guided hiking, wine cellar tours, scavenger hunt, koi fish feeding, outdoor game deck (foosball, pool, and ping pong), splash yard games, and more!! And don't forget, guests can also utilize the Minerals Sports Complex gym and attend classes for free - see the gym schedule here!! We're talking aerial yoga, bungee floating, spin, barre, Zumba, you name it! There are also endless fee-based activities if budget allows, like stuffed animal building, archery, clay shooting, golf, mixology class, paint and sip, VR games, IWall Exergaming, rock climbing, etc.
5. BYO Snacks, Booze, & Food
While delicious and worth a splurge IMO, food and alcohol bills can really add up when utilizing restaurant dining exclusively. If you're on a budget, I've got a great tip for you here! Wine Country, Walmart, and ShopRite of Franklin are just 4 miles away, so you can load up on snacks, booze, and groceries! There are also several fast food options as well as a pizzeria in that one complex, in case you're looking for quick and cheap :)
And don't forget, you do get $40 breakfast credit per night, so definitely use that! And you can find relatively affordable (and quick) grab and go options like $10-$16 sandwiches and salads, as well as fruit, pastries, popcorn and more in the coffee shop on both Grand Cascades and Minerals Resorts.
If you have the budget, you should definitely have a meal at each of the restaurants at Minerals and Grand Cascades. Restaurant Latour is definitely my favorite, absolute decadence, for adults only, get a babysitter and have an unforgettable dining experience here!! I love Crystal Tavern, too, with a great variety of food and prices to choose from whether breakfast, lunch or dinner. Gorgeous views as well! Springs Bistro is also delicious, their pasta and pizza are *chef's kiss*!! Kite's Restaurant, over at Minerals, is more casual and never disappoints! We've been to Crystal Springs 4 times but still haven't had a chance to dine at Chef's Garden, an al-fresco garden to table experience, because it's not open daily (check the schedule and go if possible!!)
6. Come Early, Stay Late
I'll be honest, their 4pm check-in is painfully late, but you can come as early as noon and start enjoying all the fun on the property! Because both indoor pools have locker rooms and free lockers, you can even utilize the pools before check-in and after checkout giving you 2 FULL DAYS of fun with a 1 night stay, or 3 full days with a 2 night stay, which is our favorite bang-for-your-buck length of stay... or "staycation" if you're fairly local like we are! Ah-may-zing!!
7. Drive and Save!!
When traveling to a far away city or exciting location, you probably won't be spending much time at the hotel, so you can scrimp on accommodation and save your budget for other things such as tours, flights, and food! But when you come to Crystal Springs, the hotel IS the destination. It has EVERYTHING, with plenty of included activities to fill your entire day!
If you're in the TriState area you won't even have to worry about the cost of flights, the anxiety over delays and cancellations and whether or not they'll charge you for a carry-on, and you won't be spending half the day traveling!! Crystal Springs Resort is just a beautiful 1 hour drive from NYC, making it the perfect 1 or 2 night "staycation" getaway if you're short on time or budget, of course a week would be magical!! And... this is a "Condo Hotel" meaning you can actually buy a unit and they'll rent it out for you! I've been considering this for a while... sounds amazing!!!
8. Buy a Day Pass
A day pass won't make sense financially for a big family, but if you're coming up solo or with a few friends just for the day, it may be worthwhile to consider! Shop for Day Passes and other activity gift cards here!
Have any questions about Crystal Springs?? We've been FOUR TIMES (2019 & 2023 in summer with kids, 2021 in winter with kids, and 2020 on a "momcation") so I'm happy to answer any questions!!!
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Disclaimer: We were provided our stay free in exchange for sharing our experience with you. However, below are our honest experiences and unbiased opinions - we TRULY love love love Crystal Springs!!
Crystal Springs Resort in New Jersey is one of my all time favorite family-friendly vacation spots in the Tri-State area! I've been there twice before: as a family in the summer of 2019 and as a #momcation with one of my best mom friends in February 2020 (just before Covid came to town). Put simply, this place NEVER disappoints. From the tropical indoor Biosphere pool to the delicious dining options to unique activities like puppy and goat yoga!!
So, when we were invited back recently for a hosted stay in exchange for sharing with you all what it's like to vacation at Crystal Springs during the pandemic, I jumped at the chance! Well, I put on my mask and jumped from a socially safe distance, that is! Ha!
Check out our highlights videos from our 1-night mini getaway at Crystal Springs, including our outing to nearby Mountain Creek for Snow Tubing, and keep reading for more details and photos of our time at Crystal Springs and what you can expect regarding pandemic safety!!
Crystal Springs is definitely making safety a priority, while still providing top notch service, activities, and dining experiences! If you've been before, you'll notice subtle changes related to pandemic safety, which are outlined in their COVID-19 Statement, and I'll go over the ones that stood out to me below:
Watch the highlights videos from our previous two vacations at Crystal Springs, pre-pandemic:
Moms, I think we can all agree that we love our kids more than life itself. We'd be lost without them. They're everything! But... sometimes... we need a break. Am I right?! A break from the monotony, from the pressure to be doing everything for everyone, from the whining and fighting. Basically, from being a mom. Needing a break doesn't make you a bad mom. I would argue in fact that taking a break actually can make you a better mom!
This break can come in the form of an hour at the gym, a mani pedi at the salon, or a kid-free lunch with some friends. Maybe you already do this regularly, maybe not, but if you're ready to take it to the next level, taking a full day and night away (or a full weekend, or gasp, a whole week!?), you might just find yourself fully recharged and ready to embrace those kids and your many duties at 100% again. Not just that, but getting away and out of your typical setting can give you a real chance to reconnect with yourself, to remember who you are beyond "mom", "wife", "domestic engineer". Remember when you actually had interests and hobbies, before they were taken over by your duties of meal planner, butt wiper, laundry doer, and booboo kisser. It's time to find and nurture those interests again! Let this blog post serve as your inspiration and motivation, a little nudge to treat yourself and plan your own mom getaway!!
I became a mother just over 7 years ago. It took me 5 years to take my first night away. I know... crazy! Our twins had just turned 2 years old, my husband was alwaysssss working, and I was so overwhelmed and stressed out. I had a mini breakdown (mommy tantrum??), got some amazing advice from my twin mom squad on Facebook (love them!!) and decided to heed that advice by booking a night away!! I went solo, to Atlantic City (weird destination, I know, but Tropicana hosted me and it was amazing - read about that trip and watch the video here).
Fast forward 2 more years and I was more than ready to do this again. Except this time, I didn't want to go alone. I wanted a relaxing but FUN momcation!!! So I reached out to the oh-so-amazing Crystal Springs Resort, because we had visited as a family over the summer and luuuuuurved it (see that blog review & video here), but I was itching to go back without kids! They offered to comp my stay again, in exchange for me covering my wonderful momcation! I invited one of my best mom friends, Rhianon of Brooklyn Boy Mom (together we have SEVEN CHILDREN!!! Me 3 and Rhi 4). See how much fun we had in this video and keep reading for more details!!
Why Crystal Springs for your Momcation?
LOCATION: Just a 90 minute drive from NYC, you'll find yourself in the beautiful northwestern New Jersey foothills at Crystal Springs Resort! It's not a bad drive either - I hadn't driven in over 6 years and was terrified but totally did it - easy peasy!! The hotel and grounds are simply beautiful (no wonder they host countless weddings, reunions, and conventions year round!).
Both times I've stayed at Crystal Springs Grand Cascades Lodge, we've been provided with a Suite, which I highly recommend. Having a full kitchen and living room is so nice and makes lounging around and being lazy at your home away from home a terrific option! Go out to one of their many restaurants when you want, or order pizza or make your own meals when feeling lazy. We stopped at a grocery store on the way up so that we'd have stuff for breakfast and snacks and what not. Our Suite had 1 king bed room, 1 huge bathroom (with L'Occitane toiletries - niiiiiice!!!), a pull out sofa in the living room, a fire place, a balcony, washer and dryer, and a full kitchen (well, minus a microwave - oops, we had to take our popcorn home!!)
They have many options to choose from, whether looking for quick and casual or fine dining for a special occasion. Between the visit with my family and this more recent momcation trip, I've eaten at every one of their restaurants except for their seasonal farm-to-table al fresco Chef's Garden (I'll be back next summer for that one, to be sure!!) and they're all outstanding! You can't go wrong!
Since we couldn't go to their 4-star Restaurant Latour last time (no kids under age 12 allowed), I wanted to make sure to check it out this time (reservations recommended, so plan ahead). Boy oh boy am I glad we did!! Their head Sommelier led the wine tour we took at 3pm, so we were even more excited to head over that evening and request the wine pairing menu ($55) with our 4-course meal ($115) . They also have 7-course, but despite each course being fairly small, we were stuffed by the end of our 2 hour dining experience!!
I'd never done a wine pairing before, and basically know nothing about wine. I actually hadn't a clue that wine choice can either make or break a food. Making the wrong pairing is comparable to drinking orange juice after brushing your teeth - yuck! The sommelier will choose the perfect wine for each of your courses (guests choose courses independently, the table doesn't have to agree), coming over to the table personally to explain about the wine and pour it for you. It was such an incredibly luxurious treat for me, who is more of a 2 slices of pizza and a hard seltzer once a month kinda gal. Because I'm not used to this kind of gourmet dining, I have to be honest that the menu was a wee bit intimidating, but our waitress was the sweetest thing and helped make us feel at ease while handling all of our many questions!
I'm sure the menu options change frequently, but for an idea of what to expect, here's what I ordered and the wines they paired for me (everything tasted as amazing as it looked!!!!):
Course 1: Roasted Crones (gnoccheti, fermented garlic, sunchoke) with Grgich Hills (Fume Blanc, Napa Valley California 2016).
Course 2: Venison (creamed turnip, preserved wild berries, juniper) with Cascina Fontan (Barbera d'Abla, Pieomonte Italy 2017). This was my first time having venison, and you never know what you're going to get with "gamey" meat, but it was absolutely delicious! To my unsophisticated palette it was like an extremely soft and delicious piece of steak.
Course 3: Rohan Duck (chestnut, persimmon, black seed vinaigrette) with Stokes' Ghost (Petite Sirah, Monterey County California, 2015). Talk about a piece of art, how about this plate!?
Course 4: Chocolate Ganache (coffee, buckwheat crumble, hazlenut), with l'Abricot wine and a platter of Turkish Delight! Yum. Just, omg, yum.
Oh, and we can't forget the most amazing and visually pleasing bread basket everrrrrr!!!! Hello activated charcoal bread, like, what!? So neat (and soft and yummy!!), with spreads like beet and garlic - ohmahgerrrrrd y'all!!!!!
We ended up doing 3 days and 2 nights at Crystal Springs on this most amazing Momcation. We stayed up "late" (still asleep before midnight), slept soundly without being pulled out of bed in the middle of the night to escort a little one to the bathroom, binged Netflix in bed, ate amazing food without hearing our kids whine about how disgusting it is, lounged poolside, sweat it out in the sauna and jacuzzi, cuddled with rescue puppies while kinda doing yoga but really just wanting to play with puppies, and even did our first TikTok ha!!!
Arrived home to a shockingly neat and tidy and quiet household - so impressed that my husband got laundry done and got the kids to clean up before I came home!! The kids were so cuddly and sweet, didn't throw a single tantrum for a whole hour after I arrived hahahaha!!! Seriously though, I feel so friggin' refreshed and ready to be the best mom I can be!!!! But I also can't wait to go on my next momcation...
So, are you inspired to book your own Momcation yet!?!? You really can't beat Crystal Springs for the destination - no matter what you're looking for, you'll find it there! They have really fun packages too such as "Robes & Rose Girlfriends Getaway", "Mom's Midweek Spa Day" and more! So get on it - gather some friends and get you on a mom getaway!! Be sure to check back in to let me know how it went (better yet, shoot me an email and maybe I can join)!!!
Whether you're planning a bachelorette weekend with the girls, a destination wedding, a corporate retreat, a golf getaway with your buddies, or a high-end family vacation, Crystal Springs Resort in northwest New Jersey will not disappoint! We were provided a night's accommodation in exchange for our honest review, and we loved it so much we're now looking into purchasing a unit! HA! Watch our YouTube highlights video here and keep reading for more details on their beautiful rooms, delicious dining options, amazing indoor and outdoor pools, and more!
Located on a spectacularly beautiful 4,000 acre piece of land with a mountainous backdrop, just 47 miles from Manhattan, it's no doubt Crystal Springs Resort has been named New Jersey's #1 four-season resort. Featuring 2 hotels, 2 spas, 9 dining options, 6 golf courses, a sports club, indoor and outdoor pools, horseback riding, an adventure center, and meeting & event venues, as well as ski-slopes nearby! So whether you arrive by car or book a private plane with Jettly, you are sure to have a great time here!!
Upon entering the Grand Cascades Lodge for the first time, as you can see in our video, we were completely overwhelmed with how beautiful and luxurious the Adirondack-inspired facilities were. With three young children, we were a tad intimidated, initially thinking this place must be too nice for our crazy kids, and we would spend the entire stay fretting over their noise and behavior. Thankfully it wasn't the case, and we were happily surprised to see the number of families with young children there! We quickly relaxed with the understanding that guests there for a quiet spa retreat, business meetings, or other kid-free indulgences would find themselves at one of the many places for adults only - such as Latour restaurant (kids must be 12 years or older), the pool hot tub areas, spa, bars, etc. While I would say this isn't a hotel made FOR kids, it is most certainly family-friendly, so don't let their AAA 4-diamond award and grandness of the resort scare you away! They have some family activities here and there, including a nightly fire pit marshmallow roasting, Saturday daytime shows, animal educators, pony rides, summer movies on the lawn, free putting course and evening glow golf, life-size chess, mountaintop adventure experience (approximately $50 per adult, $30 per child; with paddle boarding, archery, fishing, hiking, and a lake with white sand beach), KidSole (learn to fly trapeze & circus ninja warrier training), to name a few!!
Our room was absolutely fabulous, with a full kitchen, grandfather clock, huge balcony, Jacuzzi tub and full shower, indoor and outdoor dining, flat panel TVs, indoor and outdoor gas fireplaces, washer & dryer, it felt more like a beautifully furnished rental home than a hotel room! In fact, both Grand Cascades Lodge and Minerals Hotel are what they call "condo hotel", meaning you can buy a unit (which are shockingly affordable, especially compared to prices here in NYC) and the management company will rent it out on your behalf when you aren't there, leaving you with a full-service luxury vacation home that potentially pays for itself. I'm currently obsessed with this idea and figuring out how to make it happen for my own family!
We were provided a suite and an adjoining room in the Grand Cascades Lodge, where overnight accommodations include complimentary use of the Biosphere Pool Complex as well as facilities at the Minterals Sports Club, just 3 miles away by free shuttle at Minerals Hotel, with 7 indoor/outdoor heated pools, sauna, steam room, indoor running track / tennis / raquetball / basketball, a 6,000 sqft fitness center, and more. Alternatively you can book a (cheaper) room at the Minerals Hotel, but you won't have access to the Biosphere Pool Complex over at Grand Cascades Lodge in that case.
The pools at Grand Cascades Lodge (GCL from here on out) and Minerals Hotel (MH) are everything you could ask for and more! Each place has a large amazing indoor pool, so you'll have a splashing good time no matter what time of year. They also have outdoor pools, some were heated to wonderfully warm bath temp and others were cool but not uncomfortably so. GCL's 10,000 square foot indoor Tropical Biosphere was of course, the most impressive, with its massive palm trees, it will certainly be a standout on your Instagram feed! The ambience is magical, you feel you've been transported to the jungle, not northwestern New Jersey! It also features a 140' waterslide (min 48" to ride), grotto-like jacuzzi (age 16+), underground aquarium, and cave-themed sauna & steam room. I didn't realize at the time, but keep in mind the retractable roof is made of "advanced German Foiltec roofing material, allowing nearly 100% light transmission for year-round tanning"... so don't forget the sunblock!
If you take a left out of the Biosphere, less than a 5 minute walk away you'll find two more pools in the Vista 180 Pool Complex. One is very luxurious with infinity pool edges and breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. There's a cafe next to it, offering a selection of quick eats and yummy cocktails!
The other pool out that way was my son's favorite, with a water slide and a really unique "rotational current vortex pool" (we dubbed it the washing machine), where the jets cycle swimmers around and around. I've never seen anything like it and it was really fun!! Even our 3 year olds in their puddle jumper floaties were loving it. They have life guards all around, but stay close to little ones or children who aren't strong swimmers because those jets are strong and our toddlers ended up getting dunked quickly a couple of times.
Over at Minerals Hotel Pool Complex, you'll find heated indoor and outdoor pools, a 12 foot cliff jump (don't miss my husband doing this in our video!!), underground aquarium, steam room & sauna, jacuzzis and cold dip, moonshine bar and twisted treat ice cream bar! Unfortunately, neither location had a "kiddy pool" per se, the pools were all 3-4 feet in the shallowest areas, though Minerals does have a large "splash yard" near their outdoor pools.
There were 9 dining options to choose from, so whether you wanted a pool-side burger and Frosé, a gourmet pizza and bottle of wine, or an adult-only award-winning fine dining experience, you'll find it all right on the premises! You can find menus (and kids' menus), hours, and locations all on the website, making it easy to plan ahead or research quickly just before each meal. Reservations are recommended at most, but we didn't bother and had no issue (but keep in mind we were there mid-week). We arrived super hungry at around noon on Tuesday and our room wasn't ready for us until 4pm, so we had a quick casual lunch at the Biosphere Cafe, the only thing we could find open. The food was good, a smoked salmon sandwich ($15) for myself, the Gardener sandwich for my husband ($13), and a chicken finger basket ($14) for the kids, however it was uncomfortably warm and humid in there, it's like a greenhouse basically, which is great for swimmers but not so much for hot and sweaty fully-clothed travelers trying to down some food! Still, it got the job done and we were off to the pools!
For dinner, we went to Springs Bistro, cuz the kids had a hankerin' for some pizza and I was intrigued by the authentic Italian cuisine Tuscan-inspired menu. The littles devoured a couple of baskets of complimentary warm bread and rosemary salted butter while hubby and I indulged in some delicious wine ($12/glass), before the main course arrived. We got 2 "personal pizzas" ($13 each) for the kids to share, I had a "pizzetta" topped with prosciutto, fig, red onion, and pecorino romano ($18 and possibly the best pizza I've ever had in my life, opinion only partially influenced by extreme hunger and Riesling-induced buzz), and Ryoji had the tagliatelle ($28, with littleneck clams, pancetta, and crushed tomato - as delicious as it was beautiful). The Bistro is located on the first floor, beyond the lobby and at the exit to the patio, which meant we could take turns bringing the kids outside to get out some energy, leaving the other to enjoy some quiet alone time with their wine! Bonus: they boxed up our leftover pizza which the kids chowed on the next morning while watching TV in the living room, letting us sleep in a bit!
For breakfast, we headed to the Crystal Tavern, a short walk down the corridor to the Clubhouse, where I found a list of SEVEN corporations scheduled to host events at Crystal Springs that day! WHOA! We peaked into a few ballrooms and other spaces, some were decked out for what looked like would be amazing rehearsal dinner or wedding reception venues, others great for business meetings and conferences. The view from Crystal Tavern was beautiful, and we thoroughly enjoyed the breakfast there. My son was begging to order Fruit Loops, and was shocked that he loved what I ordered even more! To share, we got pancakes with whipped vanilla butter and berry capote ($12), açaí bowl ($12), and pork belly lardons and aged cheddar omelet with fried potatoes ($12). Breakfast of champions, if you ask me!
We took our last meal (lunch) at Kite's American Grille, located within Minerals Hotel. It is a great spot to grab a casual meal after spending the day at the pool! My husband got their vegan Beyond Burger ($16), I got the short rib grilled cheese ($16), and the kids shared their kid's pizza ($12) and hot dog ($12). As was the case with the other restaurants - service, food, and ambiance were all on point and we had a great final meal to fill our bellies and allow the kids to sleep the entire drive home (which was 2 hours thanks to heavy rain and rush hour traffic).
Amazing easy relaxing luxurious vacation for New Yorkers, am I right!? It's hard to include the "relaxing" part when you have young kids on vacation, but husband and I both agreed this was the most relaxing hotel stay we've had since having kids, and we really can't wait to go back!!
Head to their website to book your next getaway!! Room rates start from $199/night in Minerals Hotel and $299/night in Grand Cascades Lodge (more for the suites, of course), with special packages and deals popping up from time to time!
I'm a NYC metro area mom blogger living in NJ with my Japanese husband & our 3 kids (twins plus 1), focusing on fun and honest product and travel reviews, saving moms time finding the best for their families! Find what you need in the menu bar or search section above!