So I'm dating a girl from the greater Cleveland area. As such, she was not "in the know" about the cheesiness of Poconos resorts, and was fascinated by my description of things like the "Beautiful Mt.Airy Lodge" commercials that I remembered as a child. She was even more into the idea that there are corniest-of-the-corny couples only type retreats in the Poconos...so having seen a groupon, I did what any good boyfriend would do and arranged to take her away to the beautiful Poconos Cove Haven resort for a one night dive into the corniest bloody thing you could ever see, visit, or sleep in. I'd like to be clear: she was prepared properly - she was NOT promised romance, beauty, or anything resembling a "relationship-making" experience...in fact, the only thing I promised was laughter, and plenty of it.
What we did beforehand...
Now while Cove Haven is one of those "all inclusive" type places, I'm really not the sort to get into playing dirty Pictionary with a bunch of strangers, or dancing to the stylings of DJ Fallsinluv. With that in mind, I did want to plan something a little more "us" and a little less "cheese" - and thankfully the Poconos is FULL of such things. And really, what romantic getaway would be complete WITHOUT getting filthy riding ATVs through deep disgusting mud puddles! (ATV ride planned here: Potonos ATV Adventures at Merrytown worth mention, to those not motorcyclingly inclined, all of their machines are automatic except the one I was on which required shifting, but with no clutch)
Now while the above seemed the most convenient location (and more importantly were open and had availability on the day we were going), it's worth mention that they may not be the most well put together outfit. We arrived for our 2 PM tour a few minutes early and found the building empty. Cash register was there, merchandise for sale ours for the taking (if we were bad people, which we're not)...but no sign of anyone. I tried calling and the phone went unanswered. Fast forward 30 minutes or so and the previous tour returned: evidently victims of some mechanical issues. First impression of the guy leading the tour: He's the ONLY guy working here as the guide, mechanic, cashier, and sometime bartender and short order cook. He's also stoned off his ass. Yes, this sounds like it's going to be a HELL of a good time!
So we're there, we have our reservation, and we're going out with a group of "walk-ins"...ready for our one hour trip into the woods. We've been promised fun, a little speed, and a LOT of mud - and I will say this: the dude was stoned off his ass, but did not disappoint on any of his promises...
Here's us, trying to look super duper badass!
So we head off into the woods following stoner boy (after doing a quick "can you drive around those cones" test), and I will admit, it was a butt-ton of fun. Dirt, gravel, and some deep, DEEP mud. I mean deep. Like, if we hadn't been on ATV's with big ol' tires, we'd have been WELL above the knee in these puddles. Logs to roll over, fishtailin'...you name it we were doing it. A fantastic hour of fun (for those curious, its 69 bucks a person including helmet, ATV rental, and 1 hour guided tour) - and as promised, we did indeed get muddy. Way muddy. Like, super-duper-take-off-your-pants-before-getting-in-the-car muddy:
So the mini-holiday was off to a pretty amazing start - despite the late go on the ATV tour, it was a hit, and fun was had by all. So we piled into the car to start the 45 minute or so trek over to Cheese-land, a.k.a. Cove Haven!
Tell me more about this Cove Haven place...
I'm glad you asked me to do so. Let me lay it out for you. Cove Haven is the very definition of Pocono corny. They have 3 types of guest rooms, all of which look rather unassuming/motel-like from the outside, and all of which are designed to make it a "Romance destination". I'm not making that up. It's right on their website: Cove Haven. Let me be straight with you: if you think this place is romantic, or think this is a place to rekindle lost romance, there's only one word I can tell you: no. Just no. This is cornball. This is where you go to laugh your ass off. This is where you go to mock the other miserable couples who legit thought this would help their relationship. This is where you go to overpay for romance themed drinks at the heart-shaped bar (again, I am NOT making that up...the bar is fucking heart shaped). If you propose to your significant other here, he/she should (and probably will) say no. If he/she DOES say yes, you should probably run. But I'm getting ahead of myself here.
So the groupon was for the "Cleopatra Champagne Tower Suite" suite. Seriously, how can you be any more romantic than that? It's Egyptian! Cleopatra I mean, romance just OOZES from the thought of a chick dying from the bite of an asp! Sweeeeeeet!
So what does this room have that you won't find in any hotel you're likely to have stayed at? Well, lets start with the simple stuff...how's a heart shaped swimming pool for two strike you? Yep, right in the room. Little glass room off to the side, heart shaped swimming pool! I saw that and the romance just started POURING out of me! It's HEART SHAPED!!! Also look in the background - PYRAMIDS! EGYPT! WOOOOOOO!
I'll be honest here, I was a little skeptical about swimming in a pool at a "couples themed" resort, but once I'd wiped myself down with some lysol wipes in an effort to preventatively fend off grossness, we did go for a swim - water was nice and warm and, while the pool isn't really big enough to "swim" in, it was nice to float around for a bit and be able to walk right back out into our room. Not cheesy enough for you? No problem folks, I'm just getting started here.
How's a 7 foot tall champagne glass hot-tub strike you? I hope that's starting to get you feeling romantical, because you really can't out-cheese that. The room itself is 2 and a half floors (bottom floor containing a sauna and massage table), and you had to go upstairs to the "bedroom" level to get into the hot tub. It looks like this (yes I'm wearing jogging tights...as mentioned above, my pants were muddy as hell, and I'd worm these underneath - don't judge):
Oh and in case you're not already feeling superduper romantical, let me just throw this out there: it sits above a fireplace. And has lights above it designed to look like stars. STARS I TELL YOU!!!!
See? Look above the fireplace - its an Egyptianesque picture! It might even be Queen Cleopatra herself, overlooking this romance capital of the Northeast! All of that aside, not gonna lie, the hottub was kinda nice - took about 30 minutes to fill high enough to use the jacuzzi jets, and turning them on prematurely shoots bubble bath all over the lower level...but once you're in, it's kinda nice. Not really deep enough for much in the romance department, but fun to sit in, drink champagne (I picked up a TERRIBLE bottle of pink rose brut just for the occasion as I felt it complimented the environment BEAUTIFULLY), and wonder what the hell you've done wrong in life to have wound up in a 7 foot tall champagne glass hottub at a Pocono resort claiming to be designed for romance.
Also, this happened.
Also, did you know that round beds are romantic? I'd never really heard this, but apparently it's true, since a resort of this caliber CLEARLY wouldn't put anything in this room that's anything less than SUPER romancy, right? I mean shit, the walls and ceiling are both covered in MIRRORS! Romantic AND classy!!!
To give credit where it's due, the bed was actually incredibly comfortable (and also features those same constallation starlight things that were over the hot tub...you also had the option to turn red spotlights on over either of them, if you're into the "wow it feels like I'm filming a porno" feeling).
So what about outside the room...
I honestly didn't take many pics outside the room - there was just too much craziness going on INSIDE to even look around much. We did venture down to the Coliseum themed dining hall for dinner (yes, it looks like a Coliseum...I guess lions eating Christians may have been romantic back in Roman times...and Rome is kinda like Egypt...I mean, Mark Antony was Roman, and he was boinking Cleopatra right? So there you go - the Coliseum is practically Egyptian and ergo fits the theme beautifully). This was a mistake. First of all, if you don't like dining with strangers, make sure you request a table for two. Otherwise you get sat with other couples, most of them looking sad, angry, or just plain not speaking to one another (I suspect these are the ones where the husbands "surprised" their wives with this romantic getaway). Oh, something awkward to be aware of...if they're out of tables for two, but you want to dine alone as a couple, they'll sit you at any old table. We were at a table for 8. But they sat us right next to one another. Alone. At a table for 8. Awkward sitting situation? For sure. AMAZING people watching? Oh...hell...yes. Also, they have a 7 foot champagne glass bubbly thing in the front entryway. You're supposed to take a picture in front of it. The lady at the front kiosk seemed to be nervous, or have parkinsons however, so we opted to selfie it instead.
Now, from what I understand, back in the day the Poconos resorts were known for laying out lavish meals, lots of excellent food and the like. Clearly in recent years this has gone away. The best thing about the meal was the salad...a plate of iceberg lettuce with a couple tomatoes or something on it, I really just remember tasting the dressing (we were a few drinks in at that point because, despite the restaurant being empty, we had to wait at the bar for about 30 minutes for our "table for 8...or 2"...oh, I should also mention their "Appetizers at the bar" - a plate of cut up melon, and a plate of stale bread wrapped around a single slice of ham). Next course, a shrimp bisque - no doubt straight from the can. Had that unmistakable "oversalted" quality that many canned or boxed soups have. I'm glad we finished both the soup and the salad however, because that was where edibility ended.
My girlfriend is a pescatarian (a.k.a. a BAD vegetarian). So she ordered the non-meat option, parmesan crusted tilapia. Now let me say this flat out: she is as low maintenance a human being as I've ever met. Soup is in chicken stock? Eh, no big deal. Fish is a little overcooked? All good. She took one bite of the tilapia, turned slightly green, and proceeded to chow down on her side of broccoli and mashed (from box) potatoes. Similarly, I had ordered the "rib eye round" which I can only describe as coming out looking like a "Hungry Man" salisbury steak TV dinner, and made due with dipping rolls in butter. Cheesecake and chocolate cake for dessert WERE however accompanied by a make your own sundae bar, so that makes up for the crap included supper, more or less. Also, a six pack of Sam Adams during dinner kept us from being too hungry anyway (and I'd have to say made the people watching even BETTER).
What about the other people?
OK so I didn't take pictures of the other couples. It's not nice to do, and sometimes you just need to let images get burned into your memory to pull up later and enjoy as you see fit. This was one of those times. There were a few other couples like us who pointed and laughed a LOT at all the corniness around them. There was a table of what looked like senior-citizen swinger couples. There were a BUNCH of tables of people not speaking to each other, awkwardly eating their terrible dinners, and wondering what the hell they're going to do with the rest of their evening. If you're a people watcher, this place is a MUST GO. I shit you not - playing the "wonder what they're saying" game has never been so damn much fun!!! Oooh ooh, and in case you don't get enough of that at dinner, you know the photos that I mentioned them taking on the way in? They display them all at the gift shop - you too can play the "holy shit we're the most attractive couple here!" game!!!!
Oh, while I'm on that topic...
The Gift Shop
The gift shop is made of fairy farts and magic. It is an incredible place. We, of course, bought the required duraflame log to make use of our in-room fireplace, a magnet (would hate to forget this night), some bubble bath (ranging from the 3.25 for 800 ounces of crap smelling shit, right up to the 25 buck a bottle "fancy" stuff. Worth mention that I suspect many couples do what we did: use one serving from the 3.25 bottle and then abandon it...at which point I'm guessing they refill it from a tanker of bubble bath parked out back and sell it again), and a sex position book.
The sex position book had to be bought because it was, I shit you not, from the 1970s. They must have ordered a metric-crapton of them back in the day because it features porn stars who are now likely in their 80s, lots of unshaven private parts, and is entirely in black and white. It is fantastic, and is my new coffee table book. Again folks, if you've come to this place for anything other than the laughs, you've made a grave error in judgement. Also, the book seemed safer than shopping from their "adult toys" section which just looked frightening. They also sell pretzels, candies, and fudge because, why not?
Wrapping it all up...
So yeah, this place is as corny as it gets. I can't imagine going here and taking it seriously at ALL. I can imagine even less what it must be like to be the entertainment here (we were shocked to see that Rob Schneider and Jon Lovitz will be there in June, and took a moment to mourn the passing of their respective careers). The place is a hilarious caricature of everything that you think a couples cruise or resort should be. Activities ranging from snowmobiling (in season) to archery, tennis, and ice skating are all made available. You can also, for an upcharge, get a series of photographs taken by their on-staff photographer in the comfort of your own suite. We saw some of those photos on display, and it's totally something that we MUST do next time. Yes, you heard me right, I suspect that there will be a next time. While some go here when they need a boost of romance, I would guess this will be our fall back when we find ourselves in need of 24 hours of constant laughter. We didn't stop laughing for more than a minute or two...from the moment we checked in (Welcome to Cove Haven, where Romance rules), walked around (signs EVERYWHERE with big ass pink hearts), called to the front desk because our room key didnt work (operator emits a deep sigh before muttering "Thanks for calling Cove Haven, the home of *deep sigh* romance), right up until the moment we left. I'm not going to lie...if you're in the northeast and spot a groupon for this crap, DO IT. You can thank me later.