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The Hotel Hershey and the Hershey Wine and Food Festival - A Travel Journal

Last weekend I found myself in Hershey, Pennsylvania thanks to an invite by my friend Carol Cain who runs the travel blog: . We went there to attend The Hotel Hershey Wine and Food Festival.

The weather had just shifted from the last lingering notes of summer right into brisk, delicious autumn weather. It truly was the perfect weather for a road trip to one of the most beautiful hotels I have stayed at on the East Coast.

History of The Hotel Hershey

The was built in the 1930s and is a four-star hotel that sits on a scenic vista overlooking the town of Hershey, Pennsylvania. The architectural style is a mesh of Italian and Spanish influences.

Milton Hershey’s initial vision for the hotel was to mimic the style of the grand hotels him and his wife Catherine had enjoyed on their extensive travels around the world. When plans for an Egyptian style resort fell through due to exorbitant price estimates, Milton put his plans on for the hotel on hold. It wasn’t until nearly a decade after the death of his beloved wife that Milton decided to pursue building the hotel of his dreams.

Milton gave the architect D. Paul Witmer a postcard of a hotel he had enjoyed on the Mediterranean and from that postcard and his extensive travel notes, the Hotel Hershey took shape. (Source: )

In 2009, nearly 70 years after The Hotel Hershey first opened, a major $67 million grand expansion began. Ten new luxury cottages named the Woodside Cottages, a swimming complex, an ice-skating rink, several boutique shops, and an opulent new restaurant were added to The Hotel Hershey.

The Hotel Hershey in Photos

The first thing that you will notice as you enter the main lobby is the incredible Art Deco influences that dominate the interior design.

The hallways that lead away from the main lobby are lined with boutique shops where guests can shop at their leisure.

There is also a chocolate-themed spa on the premises (of course) called which includes treatments like: The Whipped Cocoa Bath, Chocolate Bean Polish, and the Chocolate Fondue Wrap. It is in relatively close proximity to some of the boutique shops so that spa guests can also shop while waiting for spa treatments.

One of the most outstanding areas on The Hotel Hershey’s premises is the Circular Dining Room.

Milton Hershey didn’t want any of the diners to have an obstructed view. To achieve a dining room without any bad seats, the Circular Dining Room was built without pillars or corners. It’s a stunningly decadent room.

A corridor that wraps around the Circular Dining Room:

Part of the recent expansion included a new restaurant called . Here is part of the building that houses Harvest flooded with beautiful natural light:

Woodside Cottage at Hotel Hershey

We stayed at the during our stay at The Hotel Hershey. Since it was only the two of us, we stayed in a (very large) individual room.

However, you can rent out an entire cottage which includes a great room, a grand fireplace, and cathedral ceilings along with four or six bedrooms. Each room at the cottages also includes a porch with rocking chairs (which I loved!).

Here is our cottage which was called the Pine Cottage:

The room:

The bathroom (Yes, that is a remote on the sink-top. It was to control the flat-screen television over the soaking tub):

Even the bath products are chocolate-themed: Cocoa Bean Body Scrub and a Cocoa Bean Bath Bar.

The Hotel Hershey’s Formal Gardens

The Wine and Food Festival was held outside in the Formal Gardens. The gardens surround the main building and sit between the main building and the various related hotel buildings on the premises.

The Hotel Hershey Wine and Food Festival

Carol and I attended several wine events during the weekend. The first night we arrived, we attended a wine-tasting session with Laurie Forster, . Here was our table overlooking a grand ballroom:

Not a bad way to start the weekend!

The next day, we attended a wine-blending class hosted by the Sonoma based .

Wine-blending is a science. I had never attempted it before. We tasted five traditional French varietals: Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. We then tasted Rodney Strong’s Symmetry which is a Bordeaux style meritage blend.

We then had to come up with our own blend of Symmetry. Here is what the table looked like at the beginning of the session:

…and here is what the table looked like after myself and the people at our table attempted to create our own blend of wine:

I would love to say that our blend came close to the complexity of the Symmetry blend we tasted but I am not going to front. I personally fell in love with the taste of the Malbec but couldn’t quite get it to blend with the other varietals in a way that would have been pleasing to the palate. We also struggled with whether or not to incorporate the Petit Verdot. In the end, we went through a few (extremely) failed blends before our table settled on a 50/50 blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

The final day of the festival included a grand tasting located on the grounds of The Hotel Hershey:

During breakfast, we had a wonderful conversation with a member of the Capponi family. The Capponi family has been running Villa Calcinaia in the Greve Valley in Tuscany since 1524. Here is our new friend with wines from his family’s vineyards at Villa Calcinaia:

There was a lot of delicious food to be eaten during the grand tasting like this Mocha Almond Opera Torte made by pastry team at The Hotel Hershey:

And these Caramel Apple Blondie Verrines were just the right combination of sweet and tart:

I also enjoyed this wahoo sashimi with pink grapefruit, sea beans, Szechuan chili oil, and truffle. It was a fresh bite with a good crunch from the sea beans and a bright finish thanks to the pink grapefruit:

Our time at The Hotel Hershey was sweet (pun intended) and for my first wine and food festival, it was a great experience.

But then, how can you really go wrong in a town where the street lights are Hershey’s Kisses?


I hope you enjoyed this travel journal. I have quite a few trips planned for October. I enjoy making posts like this so I can’t wait to take you along on those adventures as well!


* The photos in this post were taken with a combination of the Sony A99 and the Sony QX100 using my iPhone. If you are curious about the Sony QX100, feel free to check out my recent post:

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