Hotel Manor a Pine Creek Valley must-stop

To sample a good taste of the Pine Creek Valley, it’s not a stretch to suggest a stop at the Hotel Manor.

Located in the remote and rustic village of Slate Run, this restaurant and lodge brings the outdoors and more to visitors.

Pine Creek, a popular trout fishery, is just an angler’s cast from the restaurant’s front deck, affording sweeping views of the stream, but also of the surrounding hills and forest land.

Mark Kauffman, who bought the old Hotel Manor in 2000 from Jim Stanley before giving it a fresh new look, agreed that the deck is an attraction.

“That’s where everyone wants to sit,” Kauffman said.

Not surprisingly, it’s the warm weather months from roughly April to October that are the busiest times for the Hotel Manor.

Many are the evenings in the summer when there is a waiting list of diners.

“The deck is a selling point,” he said.

The deck seats 55 people, but there’s also seating for 65 in the dining area and for another 30 in the barroom.

The interior features a hunting lodge-like look, with long windows filtering plenty of sunlight and allowing diners to take in the outdoors scenery.

The hotel offers 10 guest rooms, each with its own bathroom.

Kauffman, a native of the Lancaster area, fell in love with the Pine Creek Valley as a kid.

He accompanied his family to the area for more than a few trips and summer vacations where they enjoyed hunting and fishing.

“I always hated to go home,” he recalled.

Four years after Kauffman took over the Hotel Manor, a devastating fire destroyed his business.

But it was only a setback.

There was little question that he would rebuild the place following the May 12, 2004 fire.

“I hadn’t accomplished what I wanted to accomplish,” he said. “This place was a landmark. There wasn’t really any hesitation about rebuilding.”

Kauffman, who was just 31 at he time, wasn’t about to let go of a dream.

The rebuilt Hotel Manor bears little resemblance to the former establishment that sat at the confluence of Pine Creek and Slate Run.

It’s a bigger place now, with a newer and fresher look, while still appealing to those with a yen for the outdoors.

A bearskin is draped across an upstairs railing overlooking the dining room. Anglers can take note of the different mayflies encased in glass all along the bar.

Kauffman noted the early part of trout season, from roughly mid-April into June, serves as a big draw for anglers.

There’s also the nearby bike trail which runs for many miles along Pine Creek.

“Without the bike trail we probably wouldn’t have built something this size,” he said.

Hunters also help to make the Hotel Manor a busy place through October.

Kauffman said he’s often at the mercy of the weather.

Anglers tend to stay away if the creeks are running too high or low.

Winter is pretty much the off-season.

Kauffman has withstood his share of setbacks.

Besides the fire, he’s weathered tornadoes, floods and, of course, a downturn in the economy.

“Each year is different,” he said. “You struggle, but you just can’t give up.”

He likes the fact that people who come to the Hotel Manor – whether to eat, fish, hunt or just stay a few days to take in the sights – leave with a positive experience.

A local businessman once told him that he had three things going for him with the Hotel Manor – “location, location, location.”

“You can’t duplicate the setting,” Kauffman agreed.