Lisa DeNaples brought her father’s vision of Mount Airy Casino Resort to life, building a full-service retreat unlike any other in Pennsylvania
by Nubia DuVall Wilson
Robert DeNaples, a successful businessman and father of seven children, had the foresight to take advantage of new gaming laws in Pennsylvania in purchasing the Mount Airy Lodge land in
2004. Afterwards, he eagerly called his eldest daughter, Lisa DeNaples who was living in California at the time, and told her that she needed to come home for a new venture.
“Not many know that Mount Airy Lodge was totally demolished. Our resort was a brand-new build. When my father decided to purchase the land, he did so with the idea that he was not only going to create a legacy for his family, but was also going to support the Pennsylvania community,” said DeNaples, owner and managing trustee.
After seeing the site among the remote Pocono Mountains, she said to her father, “Where are the people? You bought me land with no people!” Her father replied, “Work hard to get the people!”
Three years later in 2007, Mount Airy Casino Resort opened its doors to the public, the first of its kind in the state, with 188 rooms and 1,800 slot machines. In 2010, 80 game tables were added. In 2011, it received the prestigious AAA Four Diamond Award, which is no easy feat given that less than five percent of approved lodgings make the list. Since then, the DeNaples family continued to refine the full-service destination retreat by adding luxury services and amenities.
Less than 90 minutes from northern New Jersey, the trip through the picturesque Poconos mountainside is an experience in itself. Upon entering the 1,056-acre property, surrounded by lush foliage and rolling hills, it’s clear that the isolation DeNaples once thought a threat is in fact a perk.
An emphasis on customer service is apparent from the first at the facility, from the valet parking attendant to a bell hop stand poised to anticipate the needs of guests toting luggage across the sizeable entrance.
The waterfall that cascades from the second floor to the lobby draws the eyes to the center of the hotel, where patrons find the casino, three restaurants, a buffet, Gypsies Lounge, and a private VIP club for high rollers, among other amenities. Access to The Spa and Get Wet pool are on the main floor.
Mount Airy caters to a versatile group of consumers, from the weekday gamers that skew older to a younger weekend crowd. No matter the age, it is a priority that no one leaves unhappy.
In 2012, the $5-million-dollar luxury entertainment complex and indoor/outdoor heated pool, Get Wet, was constructed. The 51,000-square-foot aquatic oasis features an 11,000-square-foot four-season pool, a passageway allowing guests to swim continuously indoors to outdoors, a full-service bar with light bites, and a bumping nightlife scene every weekend.
Floor-to-ceiling windows surround the sun-filled indoor area. Flanked on both sides are private white and green daybeds that hold up to six people. Earth-toned stone sculptures act as water features.
The 5,000-square-foot deck has tableside fire pits, views of the resort’s golf course, and private cabanas that include flat-screen TVs. The intimate blue and grey lounges hold six to eight, and rental prices for both areas range from $50 to $200, depending on the entertainment that day (such as a Chippendales Male Revue performance on the outdoor stage). Reservations should be made in advance over the weekends.
The pool is famed for themed parties like “On Fire,” with special performances and lighting effects to create a hot atmosphere. Holidays like Memorial Day, Labor Day, and New Year’s Eve have some of the biggest (and often sold out) parties with varying associated events.
In the past two years, expansions focused on dining options. The first new restaurant to launch was Guy Fieri’s Mount Pocono Kitchen in 2014, a 24-hour casual American dining experience with menu items like the Bacon Mac ‘n’ Cheese Burger, Vegas Fries, and the Motley Que Pulled Pork Sandwich.
“In this competitive industry, we knew we needed a name-brand chef, and Guy Fieri is an icon on the culinary cutting edge,” said DeNaples. “We have very high standards, as do our customers.”
Those high standards brought Bistecca by Il Mulino to the hotel the following year, creating a first-class dining experience on par with restaurant’s Greenwich Village flagship business. The classic Abruzzo cuisine, such as handcrafted pasta, fresh seafood, and a variety of crudos, is complemented by traditional steak house cuts of veal, pork, and 28-day aged premium beef with signature sides and sauces.
Reinvestment into the property is an endeavor that will never end, according to DeNaples, who has plans to freshen up the buffet’s decor by changing the color scheme and adding a vintage mural image of Mount Airy Lodge’s pool—creating nostalgia for the diners who still remember what once was decades ago.
In addition, all rooms and suites are being renovated to reflect a more contemporary, neutral design, with elements of copper, glass tile, navy blues, and greys. Distressed wooden floors create a home-like ambiance as one enters (though carpet remains in the bedroom area). Suites feature sleek living rooms and bathrooms with luxury tubs. The first phase of renovating bedrooms started this year, the second begins in February. By November of next year, all room renovations will be complete, and then the bathroom changes will begin.
The golf course existed before the casino resort, and the DeNaples family has invested heavily in it. The recent addition of the clubhouse, Drinks and Links, creates a private club experience on the public course. Players can have a drink on the outdoor deck, dine, and freshen up in the locker room and shower facility after a round (which will take experienced players at least five-and-a-half hours). Each hole is inspired by Sports Illustrated’s “Best 18 Holes in America.”
Affluent casino gamers are entertained at exclusive events every three months, which change based on their preferences and cultural backgrounds. At one event, tailors were brought into the VIP lounge to take measurements and produce handmade suits, which were delivered six weeks later. Sports fans will also enjoy the fact that Mount Airy is the only casino resort to have a private box at Giants Stadium. From large-scale Links and Laces private golf tournaments to private dinners in Bistecca, the resort is keen to keep their high-rollers happy.
Most recently, the hotel launched a smartphone app, so guests can get the day’s activities instantly, along with restaurant hours, evening events, and when poker tournaments begin. When asked what’s next, DeNaples replied, “Staying focused on our business model—customer service, high-level amenities, and reinvesting in the product to be a little better every day.”
Mount Airy Casino Resort
312 S R 45100, Mount Pocono / 877.682.4791 / mountairycasino.com