Abandoned Summit Resort: Saxy Sal, Dirty Dancing, & the Heart Shaped Bar

Jenn Summit 1

The Summit Resort

Photo Courtesy of Jennifer O’Malia 

In 1995, the New York Daily News ran an article celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Honeymoon Industry in the Poconos. The Honeymoon Capital of the World began when Rudolph Von Hoevenberg opened the first resort, The Farm on the Hill, in 1945. The Farm was a very rustic operation consisting of some simple cabins and a main lodge.  Honeymooning brides were required to make beds and clean cabins, while grooms had to wait tables, which management said was their way to prepare their guests for married life.  The resort was so popular they had to institute a waiting list.

During the 1940s and 1950s more plush resorts began emerging in the area, which started a period of massive growth for the Honeymoon Business in the region.   In 1963, the first heart-shaped tub was introduced to Pocono honeymooners, and 1971 ushered in the racing era, when the Pocono International Raceway opened its 2 ½ mile superspeedway.  During the 1980s, whitewater rafting, outlet shopping, and golfing served to broaden the four-season appeal of the regional resort industry.  The 1990s were a bitter-sweet era, with several well-regarded resorts closing, while others made significant capital improvements to their facilities.

Gio The Summit 1

The Summit Resort

Photo Courtesy of Giovanni Adavelli

According to that Daily News article, newlyweds planning a basic Poconos getaway in 1995 expected accommodations that included “a heart-shaped tub, heart-shaped bed, heart-shaped swimming pool or a 7-foot-tall champagne-glass whirlpool bath for two”.  The article states:

“The Summit Resort (Tannersville) prides itself in matching the splendor of the natural surroundings to its indoor space luxurious suites, sports facilities, dining rooms and exotic nightclub. Just steps from your bedside is a private pool with mirrored walls, romantic woodland mural and swirling jets of water.”

Jenn Summit 6Photo Courtesy  of Jennifer O’Malia 



*All Brochure Photos Courtesy  of Flickr’s colleen25g

Many have described the resort as an outlier.    The Summit, which was built in 1968, closed in September 2002, after the owners, Farda Realty LLC, decided they wanted to open an outlet shopping complex on the property, an idea that never became a reality.  Since then, the property structures have been condemned to existence as abandonments, with their glorious past long gone and no hope for their future.

Among those in the know, the plush, vinyl-clad, heart-shaped bar, once used as the glorious centerpiece of the Arabian Nights-themed “Scheherazade Night Club and Kismet Cocktail Lounge”, is considered the jewel of abandoned resort bars by photographers.

Gio the Summit 2Photo Courtesy of Giovanni Adavelli

Jenn Summit 3Photo Courtesy  of Jennifer O’Malia 

While information about the resort is a little hard to come by, former guests looking to see if the beloved resort is still open are doing their part to keep memories alive by posting about their experiences on various travel sites.

Jenn Summit 5Photo Courtesy  of Jennifer O’Malia 


At least two former guests posting to those sites have said that The Summit was reminiscent of the resort in Dirty Dancing, the 1987 hit that takes place at the fictitious Kellerman Resort, which is, in the movie, located in the Catskills.  Just like the fictitious resort, The Summit offered activities such as hiking, horseshoes, ping pong, limbo, bowling, badminton, and volleyball, but the Poconos also had the Alpine Slide at Camelback!  And one couple staying at The Summit in 1983 recalled that “It was the only resort at that time that offered the pool and Jacuzzi tub in the room.”

Jenn Summit 6Photo Courtesy  of Jennifer O’Malia 


The Summit also had “breakfast in bed” which arrived in a wooden box that looked like some sort of animal trap, which was left at your door while the employee knocked and quickly ran away. One person wrote “We stayed in one of the little cabins and loved to light up the fireplace at night and swim in the heart shaped bathtub with lots of bubbles!”



Gio The Summit 3Photo Courtesy of Giovanni Adavelli

Jennifer 8Photo Courtesy  of Jennifer O’Malia 

Gio The Summit 4Photo Courtesy of Giovanni Adavelli

Those commenting say that the staff and food were great.  Some mentioned collecting love potion glasses by playing newlywed games.  The lobby was described as “a little piece of paradise”.   It had koi ponds, a footbridge, a lit rock walled waterfall and even a parrot!  Many returning guests said they liked taking a new picture of the waterfall each year they had the opportunity to return.

UntitledPhoto Courtesy of Giovanni Adavelli

UntitledPhoto Courtesy of Giovanni Adavelli

Jenn Summit 2Photo Courtesy of Jennifer O’Malia 

Former guests most often post about “Saxy Sal”, a saxophone player for The Graci Brothers Band who said “bonswa” and always made everyone feel like family at The Summit.  Unfortunately, Salvatore Graci passed away in 2011. Many praised The Graci Brothers Band with comments like “the best band we ever had the pleasure of dancing to”.  A few recalled The Graci Brothers Band’s version of Carlos Santana’s “Smooth” as a personal favorite.

Other Summit employees leaving an impression among the guests were Tex, an activities director from 1987 and/or 1988; a show host reminiscent of Benny Hill;  a woman named Loretta who seated them at breakfast, lunch and dinner; Laxmi, a dining room server;  the “fun to be around photographer” that everyone called “Flash”;  The Astonishing Neal, a hypnotist; “a character” called “Smoky” who was the master of ceremonies in 1977; and “Fred Beven and the Difference in Brass” with their Big Band sound. Also scoring a few mentions were the chocolate crème pie and the Baked Alaska.

Jenn Summit 4Photo Courtesy of Jennifer O’Malia 


Sadly, those staying at The Summit in 2000 and 2001 shared experiences that included negative comments about the tackiness of the décor, primarily mentioning the shag carpeting that permeated every inch of many cabins, a filmy substance covering the pool, a broken miniature golf course, and cabins they described as dirty, outdated and feeling “too much like the 1970s”.

Summit 10Cheri Sundra

Summit 2Cheri Sundra

Yet, many staying at The Summit during the 80s said they hoped to return for their 25th anniversary.

The Summit 1Cheri Sundra

Pocono Palace Easter Weekend 012 sigCheri Sundra


It was Jennifer O’Malia who introduced me to the concept of Urban Exploration

Style Photography in 2010.  Jenn, who has the unique vision of a

social documentarian, is now offering her services as a freelance photographer.

 Photo by Jennifer O’Malia 

Jenn Wedding

Back to Guerrilla History: 

Table of Contents


    • Anonymous
    • March 25th, 2016

    Great article!

    • rose tignor
    • March 29th, 2016

    they were a dump👎

    • John Dix
    • February 24th, 2017

    Thank you for this article and photos. My wife and I went to the Summit in 1987 and 2000. We recall Tex from 1987 and Sal Graci from 2000 (yes, their version of “Smooth” was great!). We stayed in the same room both times. Sadly, places of this type are almost extinct.

      • Teace
      • April 19th, 2023

      We were there in 2000 and 2002 we loved Sal and the food was amazing.

    • Anonymous
    • May 2nd, 2018

    It was a really cool place to go…and priced right too. Our waiter, Dan Padgette was the best. Always loved seeing him… Tough as nails but always a gentleman. The seventies decor was always a great escape from the normal every day troubles of the world at the time.

    • Don Keen
    • February 7th, 2019

    Stayed here in 1990’s. Loved it. Anyone remember the name of the Parrot? Can’t remember it.

      • Debra E. Colby
      • February 3rd, 2020

      Does Pepe ring a bell? We stayed there in the spring of 1995 for our Anniversary.

        • Anonymous
        • October 10th, 2022

        Pierre was the parrots name

        • jane
        • October 10th, 2022

        Pierre was the parrots name

    • January 23rd, 2020


    • Anonymous
    • March 14th, 2020

    It was a time when good food was abundant. The place was clean and in acceptable shape. However, the owners knew when to move on and sell it; the x-patrons whould also move on and stop living in the past and enjoy life in the present.

    • Anonymous
    • August 1st, 2020

    Heard tails of filming behind those mirrors if you catch my drift.

    • Anonymous
    • November 4th, 2020

    We went there every 4th of July weekend from 2000 thru 2002 and remember it as the best times we ever had. Loved waxy sal shows

      • Trace
      • April 19th, 2023

      Those were the same time my husband and I were there. Hmm wonder if we ever are at the same table lol.

    • Anonymous
    • March 8th, 2021

    We went there for 10 years straight. In July and January. Saxy Sal was the best. MY hubby ever got him a job at Dangerfields in NYC when the place closed. I was so in love with Flash. I still have his picture. I was even naked in the photo. My hubby even had sex with the dining room hostess–he called her spring byrington.LOL Sassi

    • Sassil
    • March 9th, 2021

    My hubby and me loved this place. We vacationed there for 10 summer seasons. It was wild and we made close friends and enjoyed all with them.

    • Mary T
    • August 31st, 2021

    We stayed there in November 1973. Beautiful memories and some friends for years. Reading this, reminded me of the heart shaped bed, tub (some cabins had octagon bed, tub,) breakfast in bed, baked Alaska, newlywed game, and neat recreation director. It was definitely a honeymoon to remember.

  1. Dead written articles , Really enjoyed reading .

    • Mike
    • March 24th, 2022

    My wife and I spent many happy hours there in the 90s. I remember well Saxy Sal playing a baritone horn almost as big as he was, and Nancy the activities director who was fun and funny. We still have keychains and magnets from the Summit. We were so sad when we found out they’d closed. Great, great memories though.

    • Anonymous
    • June 17th, 2022

    I enjoyed reading everyone’s comments and the pictures… we have memories as well. We were there in 1995 to celebrate our 10th Anniversary… and YES it was just like the fictitious “Kellerman’s” from Dirty Dancing. Saxy Sal was a hoot and played the Sax very well…. Over all “in it’s time” it was a wonderful resort.. We loved the heart shaped bed and private pool and sauna…It’s sad that its gone now….Oh the memories.

  1. August 10th, 2017
    Trackback from : two daisies

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