Travel: The Babymoon
An escape to a luxe Lehigh Valley inn proves irresistibly relaxing for about-to-be parents
We tried to leave. Really we did. We’d made dinner reservations, had planned a late-evening stroll around a quaint Lehigh Valley town, and
We tried to leave. Really we did. We’d made dinner reservations, had planned a late-evening stroll around a quaint Lehigh Valley town, and had even brought along warm jackets for the brisk evening air. But then we hopped in for a quick Jacuzzi in our room’s upstairs loft, and all our grand plans fell apart. “Do we have to go out? Really?” I found myself asking my husband, who, in a Jacuzzi-induced stupor, could only grunt in response. I took that as a no.
It was near the end of my pregnancy when my husband and I finally decided to listen to all the advice we’d heard about taking advantage of our time together now, before late-night feedings and harried forays out of the house took over. Just a few weeks before the baby was due, we suddenly understood the allure of the so-called “babymoon,” that last childless weekend hurrah touted in all the pregnancy books. Glasbern Country Inn, just outside Allentown, seemed like the perfect pre-baby sojourn, for the practical reason that it’s only an hour up the Northeast Extension.
As it turned out, Glasbern was ideal for a host of non-practical reasons as well. Founded in 1985 by longtime Allentown residents Albert and Elizabeth Granger, Glasbern is both old-worldly quaint and fully modern, combining the feel of a rustic old farm with the ease of home. The inn’s 35 suites are built into a series of converted farmhouse buildings surrounded by 500 acres of working farm, hiking trails and quiet vistas. In recent years, the Grangers have added a workout room, a swimming pool, and facilities for weddings and the like. Our room still had the old wood beams and stone floor of a former stable, but also a multi-head massaging shower, a wood-burning fireplace, and a DVD player on which we watched movies from the inn’s respectable collection of films. The best part, though, was in the loft, reached by a metal spiral staircase: the queen-bed-sized Jacuzzi. I was immersed within 10 minutes of walking in the door. (And yes, I did remember to fill the tub with water no warmer than body temperature, since excessive heat can be harmful to pregnant women and their babies.)
An hour later, we dragged ourselves as far as the restaurant in the main building, a renovated barn. Cozy, airy, and with the original stone and exposed beams, a fireplace, and an extensive beer and wine selection, it also featured a menu seemingly designed for the diet-conscious pregnant woman. Most of the entrées were made with organic meats and vegetables, some grown at Glasbern itself, the rest chosen from small local and national farms. The menu changes almost every night, combining classics with nouveau, as in my exquisite dinner: a tangy sweet potato/crab/corn chowder, followed by meatloaf made from Glasbern-bred cows, served with mashed potatoes, and chai crème brûlée. (The restaurant’s homemade chocolate gelato is also a must-try.)
After breakfast the next day, we enjoyed mid-morning massages — pregnancy Swedish for me, shiatsu for him — at the inn’s tiny spa. (Make reservations early if you want to get in; it fits two, tops.) Then we set out on an amble around the grounds, past ponds, over hills scattered with grazing black sheep, and down tree-lined trails. It was only the absence of lunch on-site — the restaurant serves breakfast and dinner — that drew us away from Glasbern at all.
We picked up a picnic lunch and headed about 20 miles west to Hawk Mountain, a 2,600-acre forest that lies directly in the migratory path of 20,000 hawks, eagles and falcons. I wasn’t in for much of an uphill hike, but I could easily manage the 100-yard incline to the preserve’s first lookout, over a deep valley of trees. From there, perched on a rock with our sandwiches, we caught glimpses of a handful of soaring raptors — mostly vultures and
ospreys — on their way south for the winter.
And that night, I admit it — we succumbed to the Jacuzzi again, and passed up heading out for celebrated picks like Allentown’s 3501 Grille, or the Farmhouse Restaurant in nearby Emmaus. With a log on the fire, a delectable dinner just feet from our door, and the promise of uninterrupted relaxation before us, we couldn’t bear to venture out again. Instead, I spent the rest of our stay trying to cement the memory of this babymoon in my brain: Everything, after this, was about to change.