The 13th Floor

The Doomed Swinger’s Paradise of Pennsylvania’s Penn Hills Resort

Movies and TV have told me about cheesy honeymoon resorts — with heart-shaped beds, mirrored ceilings, and Jacuzzis in the middle of the room. Maybe it was just pornos that I saw these hotels in. But apparently, they were real… and one of the most famous was the Penn Hills Resort.

Located in the Pocono Mountains region of Pennsylvania, Penn Hills was founded in 1944 by Italian immigrants Frances and Charles Paolillo. It started as a family-friendly tavern, but within a few years, the Paolillos decided to follow in the footsteps of their neighbors and turn Penn Hills into a honeymoon destination.

A flood in 1955 wiped out most of the property. Instead of shuttering, the Paolillos rebuilt and expanded the property significantly.

They built the first indoor ice-skating rink in the Poconos, as well as indoor pools, a golf course, ski slopes, an archery range, a Tiki bar, a night club, and an outdoor pool in the shape of a wedding bell.

The expanded suites consisted of heart-shaped Jacuzzis surrounded by mirrors in the middle of the room, carpeted walls, and round beds. Unsurprisingly, Penn Hills Resort was popular with swingers.

The resort’s heyday was in the 1960s and 1970s, but it stayed open until 2009, when Frances Paolillo died at the age of 102.

Towards the end, reviews on TripAdvisor described the place as a “horror movie set” where you could “smell the odor of mold and stale smoke” and were greeted with “outdated furniture, chipped paint, cracks in the ceiling, floors, heart-shaped bathtub — which didn’t work — and stains everywhere you can image.”

TripAdvisor pulled down the page when Penn Hills closed. The resort appeared to be abandoned long before it actually was.

In 2014, police said they found manifestos scribbled on the walls of Penn Hills Resort; they think that, for a time, the site was a hideout for survivalist Eric Frein, on the run for killing a police officer and attempting to kill a second. Frein is currently awaiting trial.

The majority of the property was finally sold in February 2016. There have been no reports yet regarding the current owner’s plans for the land.