• Journey Through the Skylands Region in Northwest New Jersey

    FROM THE Summer 2017 ISSUE
  • Journey Through the Skylands Region in Northwest New Jersey

    FROM THE Summer 2017 ISSUE
  • Journey Through the Skylands Region in Northwest New Jersey

    FROM THE Summer 2017 ISSUE

When people talk about the picturesque skyland region of New Jersey, it represents the Northwest areas of the state and includes the counties of Morris, Somerset, Hunterdon, Warren and Sussex. The region has two national parks at its edges and a diverse and beautiful geography filled with lakes, rivers and hills dotted with farms.

“Access to the beauty and tranquility of the Great Outdoors and our proximity to New York City makes the Sussex Skylands a special place,” says Tammie A. Horsfield, president of Sussex County Chamber of Commerce/Sussex Skylands, NJ. “We welcome guests to our area to come ‘get your outdoor on.’”

Where to Stay

The Crystal Spring Resort has two hotels available for meeting and events—the Grand Cascades Lodge in Hamburg and Minerals Hotel in Vernon Township. “Grand Cascades is a AAA 4 Diamond hotel with multiple amenities, finely manicured grounds and  stunning views of the Kittatinny mountains and valley,” says Chris Mulvihill, chief marketing officer. “Minerals Hotel is at the base of Mountain Creek Ski area and features multiple amenities including a world-class sports club.” The resort boasts more than 100,000 square feet of unique and flexible meeting space. “We offer multiple outdoor activities on-site to provide team-building, adventure-type experiences as well,” Mulvihill says.

The Appalachian Hotel at Mountain Creek Resort in Vernon is nestled on a fourseason resort, with convenient and year-round outdoor activity. “Within the hotel we offer two separate conference spaces, each with the ability to be divided in half to create four break-out rooms,” says Bill Benneyan, president, planning and development. “We also have the Red Tail Lodge, which at almost 10,000 square feet, can be used as convention space.” Plus, with numerous team-building activities on the mountain, it’s an ideal place to host any corporate function.

Where to Eat

Andre’s Lakeside Dining in Sparta Township is known for its handmade French cuisine with an Asian flair, and is a favorite spot for events in the area. “Our menu changes monthly to incorporate the best that each season has to offer,” says Tracey deWaal, co-owner and event coordinator. “Chef Andre prides himself on unique custom menus for each of our private events based on each event’s budget and theme.”

The venue offers tented lakeside events for up to 200, patio seating for 50 and a private upstairs meeting  room for up to 20. There is also a balcony for up to 30 and main dining room that can accommodate 60. “Rather than a cold, stuffy, windowless room in a hotel, allow your employees/guests to enjoy their surroundings and the food,” deWaal says. “Getting people to think creatively and outside the box can start with your choice of event space.”

St. Moritz Bar & Grill in Sparta Township offers a variety of steaks, pasta dishes, salads, burgers and seafood, with most items cooked on a wood-burning grill with German and Southern influences. Its signature dish is its chicken schnitzel and glazed salmon. There are four spaces for meetings and events: the Garden Room, which looks out onto a biergarten, can accommodate 60 guests for a buffet or sit-down event; the Lounge is a private space for up to 60 in a banquet setting; the Biergarten is available for smaller nonprivate parties; and the main dining room can host up to 80 people for a private function. “It is a unique location with Bavarian-style buildings in a plaza adjacent to the lake,” says Rachel Cunningham, manager and event coordinator. “It is picturesque and a local favorite. A feeling of being in a small hamlet in Germany makes us a perfect spot for an event.”

As owners of Sparta Township’s Mohawk House Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge, Steve and Rachael Scro consider themselves farmers more than restaurateurs and deal with close to 40 local farms and purveyors to source most of their food. A signature item on its steak and seafood menu with a farm twist is its Ten Mile Burger, which has all ingredients harvested from within 10 miles. The establishment has eight rooms, each with its own identity, that can be used to host a meeting or event. “They can hold anywhere from 30 to 100, and we do about 1,000 private events and corporate events a year,” says Steve.

“We also have bocce courts outside where corporations can do some team-building as a break from their meeting.” Each room has a projector, pull-down screens and free Wi-Fi.

What to Do

For those who enjoy hiking, Horsfield recommends taking a stroll on the famous Appalachian Trail, which runs through Sussex County on its way from Georgia to Maine. “Country lanes or park roads every few miles intersect the entire stretch so that you can plan any number of modest day hikes along the trail,” she says. “There is also a vast network of public access, multiuse trails in Sussex County offering opportunities for walking, running, road and mountain biking, horseback riding and bird watching.”

Baseball fans will surely want to check out the Sussex County Miners in action during the spring. A member of the Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball, the team plays a 100-game season from May through September. “Fans can enjoy exciting baseball, promotional nights and great daily specials, including our spectacular fireworks shows,” says Al Dorso Jr., vice president of operations. 

Philadelphia was one of just two U.S. locations on National Geographic’s list of best trips for 2020. The magazine describes the city as “a scrappy underdog with a heart of gold” and uses words like “vibrant” and “creative” to describe this formerly industrial city. That’s good news for meeting planners and should certainly boost attendance at meetings. And adding to the excitement are shopping, entertainment and restaurants cropping up around the Pennsylvania Convention Center (PCC), glitzy new hotels and renovated attractions with event space.


Retreats and off-site meetings present wonderful opportunities for groups to collaborate, strategize and build relationships away from their normal office environments. With proper planning, these sessions can be highly effective and even pivotal in setting a new direction. However, off-sites may present some unforeseen challenges that can quickly deflate the energy in the room if not anticipated and addressed in advance.


The Reputation of “America’a First Resort Destination” often precedes itself, with images of the wealthy vacationing in The Palm Beaches, which consists of 39 cities in southeast Florida. But dig deeper and you’ll discover humble roots. Considered the vegetable heartland of the country, agriculture is the area’s No. 1 economic driver and responsible for connecting the southeast of the state to the west.