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'70s-style Poconos Honeymoon Resorts are
 Kitschy, Romantic -- and Endangered
By Ellen Creager, Detroit Free PressMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

August 30, 2009 -- MT. POCONO, Pa. -- Some might call it dated. But judging from the grinning couples at Paradise Stream Resort, that old Poconos love vibe still shimmers.
"We thought about going to Jamaica," says Tiffany Jones of Cleveland, "but then we thought, why not go to the Poconos?"
"The room is a little, um, '70ish," says David, her husband of three days. "Sort of like Austin Powers. All those mirrors."
Tiffany beams. "It's romantic."
Yes, oddly, it is.
While other lodgings have morphed into bland timeshares, casinos or family hotels, the remaining three Caesars Pocono Resorts have doggedly stuck with the goofy love theme made famous 50 years ago amid the rolling green Pocono Mountains of eastern Pennsylvania.
Cove Haven in Lakeville was founded in 1958 -- and owner Morris Wilkins' brilliant idea of a heart-shaped "Sweetheart" pool was introduced in 1963. Paradise Stream Resort was added to the lineup in 1971; Pocono Palace in Marshalls Creek was added in 1976.
However, the resorts are now up for sale. That means that at any moment, these last Poconos honeymoon hotels could vanish forever.
In the meantime, guests keep coming. Dewy newlyweds. Anniversary couples. Parents desperate for alone time. Weekend lovers.
"We've been here 60 times," says Cathy, who didn't want her last name used, from Jersey Shore, Pa.
She and her husband, Russell, complain that the food and entertainment has gone downhill in the last few years, but they still keep coming. "The rooms are decorated like cheesy '70s porn," says Cathy. "But it kind of reminds me of when we were dating."
Summer camp for grownups
The best thing about these resorts? No children.
More than 65,000 couples visited last year, including 16,000 honeymooners. Cars in the parking lot show most visitors are from New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. The resort clientele is multicultural, with ages from the 20s to the 50s.

Jackie and Ray Peterson from Long Island last visited Caesars Pocono Resorts 20 years ago.
"At that time they literally had red carpet on the walls and paisley wallpaper," she says.

The carpeted walls may be gone, but other than that, the resorts haven't changed all that much, they say. And in a constantly changing world, maybe that's a good thing.

Constant, too, is the kinky summer camp atmosphere.

Archery. Rowboats. Sex toys in the gift shop.

All-inclusive fantasy
Rare among resorts in the United States, Caesars Pocono Resorts are all-inclusive, which means that breakfast, dinner and most activities are free.

You can order breakfast in bed, go horseback riding next door (costs extra, but do it), get photos taken, go fishing, try a paddleboat, tennis, basketball -- or just sit by the pool sipping Passion Potion, the specialty of the house.

For an additional cost, couples can go whitewater rafting, kayaking, canoeing or even stock car racing at the nearby Pocono Raceway.

One caveat: These resorts are in the mountains, but they're not exactly remote. They're just a couple hours' drive for 30 million people on the East Coast.

So it's not the wilderness. It's more like a different dimension.

"You are Entering the Land of Love," a big red sign proclaims as you drive into the resort.

It should say, "Welcome to the 1970s -- Hurry Before the Time Portal Closes."

Take a big gulp of passion in the Champagne Tower Suites by Cleopatra

There are multiple types of rooms at each resort, including Lakeside Villas (water view, heart-shaped whirlpool), Garden of Eden Apple and Diana's Oasis rooms (pool plus heart-shaped whirlpool, round bed).

But the most famous, available at all three Caesars Pocono Resorts, are the Champagne Tower Suites by Cleopatra.

Housed in unattractive low-slung beige stucco buildings, the Champagne suites give no clue of what is inside until guests open the door, and see ...
  • The first level: Living room with garish Egyptian-theme wallpaper. Red carpet that smells slightly of smoke. Black '70s-style swivel chair and couch, black tables and a real fireplace. Dominating is a 7-foot-tall champagne glass whose bowl is a two-person whirlpool.
  • Five steps up from the living room: A glassed-in and mirrored room with a big heart-shaped swimming pool kept at 95 degrees. Near that is a massage table and sauna.
  • On the third level: The bathroom, which conveniently has an entrance to the bowl of the champagne glass, illuminated by red lights, and the bedroom. Its round bed has mirrors overhead and on the curving headboard. Flick a switch and pinpoint lights twinkle above like stars. From the bed, you can see the heart-shaped pool below.
In this suite, all the lights are low. It's too dim to read. This place is not wired for Internet. Your cell phone probably won't work. The TV is small.

Really, there is absolutely nothing to do except take off your clothes.
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Copyright (c) 2009, Detroit Free Press
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