Tag Archives: Morris Wilkins

The Land of Love: Where Kitschy Meets Marketing Genius

My husband reads our local newspaper every day as part of his two hour morning ritual and will sometimes leave articles on our kitchen counter for me to read that he thinks I should see, including the occasional obituary.

A few weeks ago I found this one, circled and with arrows pointing to the specific article of interest…

Why? Well, we need to go back to the summer of 2003 when my daughter spent her first of many summers at a sleep away camp in the Poconos and my son went to one in the Berkshires…2 states and 3 mountain ranges away…and, of course, his visiting day was the same day as hers.

Seriously, why should anything in life ever be simple? It’s so much more “interesting” to be challenged by these kind of logistics right?

Side note: Both camps had an “alternate” visiting day on Sunday, mostly for divorced parents who didn’t want to share the few hours with their children. And while I was divorced by the time my kids started going to camp, the alternate days for us were especially important because of the distance between the two camps. Why were they in 2 different states? Sigh…we’ll have to have a few cocktails one day to get to that story.

Anyway, for anyone that has ever tried to get a hotel during a camp visiting day weekend, you know the rates are usually at least double and, oh, there are 3 night minimum stays.

So call me crazy but…I didn’t need want to spend 3 nights in either location. I wanted to leave Tampa on Friday morning and return Sunday night.

And not spend thousands of dollars in the process.

Apparently, I was somewhat delusional.

Ok, wait, we’ve already determined I am crazy so I guess delusional isn’t much of a stretch.

The first year I literally spent months combing the internet for reasonable multi city airfare (arrive in Scranton…yes Scranton…on Friday and leave from Hartford…not as bad as Scranton but still…on Sunday) plus hotels with no minimums and a car rental that didn’t charge a ridiculous fee for dropping off in a different city than the one picking up.

Gotta love supply and demand economics!

Finally, I came across what was at the time a Sheraton about 30 minutes from my daughter’s camp through Orbitz that didn’t have any restrictions whatsoever and was very reasonably priced.

Only one room left…I didn’t even bother looking at the hotel’s website and grabbed it before it was gone as quickly as it had magically appeared. I’ve stayed in enough Sheratons, Holiday Inns, Hiltons and Marriotts off various highways and they are all pretty much the same.

Yeah, well, the hotel I reserved, Cove Haven on Lake Wallenpaupack in Lakeville, PA, clearly was the exception to that little rule.

Unbeknownst to me, I had reserved a suite at a place referred to as “The Land of Love”, one of the infamous Poconos resorts that was/is advertised incessantly on Northeast radio and television as a “blend of romance and recreation”, complete with…

silo-like rooms (meaning no windows)
round beds (uh…not at all practical for my 6’4″ husband)

mirrored ceilings (OMG)
glass enclosed individual indoor heated heart shaped pools (aka giant germ/disease tanks)
and, yes,  a seven-foot champagne glass whirlpool bath-for-two complete with celestial ceiling (I thought they were a myth..I was so wrong)

At the reception area, they advised us that “Betrothed Badminton” was starting in 10 minutes to be followed by “Cupid’s Archery” and then some name for the cocktail hour I have obviously blocked from my memory.

I had entered hell.

My then fiance now husband, Stan, was in heaven.

Honestly, I love the big guy but I have never known anyone more attracted to cheesy stuff like this than him. He actually proposed to me in the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel complete with an Elvis impersonator so Cove Haven had him written all over it. 

Me, not so much. Truth be told, not at all.

It was going to be the longest 16 hours of my life…8 of them hopefully sleeping…before leaving at 8 am the next morning for visiting day #1.

“What time would you like the photographer to come to your room to take the photos of the two of you in your champagne glass bath?” asked the front desk clerk.

“Not necessary,” I said.

“What do you mean?” said Stan, looking extremely surprised that I didn’t want a complete stranger in our room taking pictures of us  in a bathtub. “Come on babe, it’ll make for a great memory.”

“I’m good,” I said. I already had plenty of images from this place permanently seared on my brain and we hadn’t even left the reception area.

champagne-glass

FYI…searching for a photo of the champagne glass tub that was “free to use for commercial purposes” you will find some very interesting ones.  The one above was the least creepy one I could find.

Look, no disrespect to anyone who has stayed in one of these resorts and thought it was awesome. It just isn’t for me. But I will give Stan major props for making me laugh…A LOT…during our brief stay.

More importantly, I really do admire, Morris Wilkins, for taking a vision, no matter how kitschy, and making it come to life. A former electrician, he took over ownership of what was then called the Hotel Pocopaupack in 1958 and renamed it Cove Haven. For the next few years it was just another couples-only hotel until he came up with the idea for the heart-shaped tub, followed by the champagne glass one and both truly put the Poconos on the map as a modern honeymoon and romantic getaway destination.

Morris Wilkins

Despite several more years of visiting day weekends, we never returned to Coven Haven (please tell me you aren’t surprised).  I did, however, feel a bit nostalgic when I read that Mr. Wilkins had passed away a few weeks ago at the age of 90 and found the one photo I did allow to be taken while there. I wonder if they would want it for their marketing materials?

Then again, we probably have on way too much clothing for their needs.

That’s it for now…#BlackerOut!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Call Me Crazy, Random Stuff, Travel