Chimney Hill Estate: Why I Decided To Take The Ice Cold Plunge In 2024


View of Lambertville and New Hope from Goat Hill Overlook (Meditation Walk) Photo Credit: Allie Cherevas

Modern travel has little in common with its traditional predecessor. Since it first originated in the United States, travel has undergone one major change that is probably unique in the history of travel; unplug the internet. This newly developed advice may be the dawn of a new era in travel from the object of the rebellious young to body care for the older. In short, this forthright product has come to symbolize liberty, adventure and a new start. 

Nowadays, when it comes to new experiences, we are witnessing a solid interest in wellness retreats: They have become so close to consumers’ lifestyles that it is even being customized to include thrilling first-hand adventures. As human and machine merge, clarity on what is real becomes harder to define. Cultivating creative collaboration cannot avoid affecting the perception of a person for whom it is designed to notice, realize, process, and save information about each wellness remedy encountered. 

One way or another, the quality of the predominantly wellness retreats has grown to become more important to people overall. In 2024, there is a rising trend for consumers aiming to embark on new adventures, and their effects on behavioral intentions as they demonstrate an undivided attention to get off-grid and in-touch with spirit. Wellness enthusiasts and entrepreneurs are constantly improving in creating individual recollections that would make a person pay attention to it, memorize it, and single it out among all others—to that end, studying consumers’ behavior, perceptions, patterns affecting attitude formation, etc. 

I became very interested in the key determinants and interconnections that shape consumer attitudes toward discussion topics in the wellness sector. 

I wanted to answer the following questions:

  • Does the perception of such an experience influence one’s attitude toward the adventure?
  • What practical recommendations would you be able to draw based on my first-hand experience?
  • How does it feel to focus on self and transcend the work walls and align with nature?

Exhilarating cold plunges and ice baths have become increasingly popular in recent years, partly due to professional athletes and celebrities who swear by the ostensible health benefits of cold therapy.

On the March 9, 2024, episode of Saturday Night Live, host Josh Brolin (a well-known proponent of cold body therapy) brought it front and center: at the end of his monologue, Brolin stripped down and took a cold plunge in an ice bath on the famed SNL stage!

I first learned about cold therapy when someone shared a Wim Hof video several years ago. My thoughts as I watched were mixed: it was certainly inspirational (and aspirational), followed closely by ‘I don’t think I could ever do that!‘ The lesson here: Never say never, because sometimes it’s just about being “in the right place at the right time” to borrow from another cliché. And the right place, as it turned out for me, was in historic Lambertville, New Jersey, at the beautiful Chimney Hill Estate Inn.

Chimney Estate Owners Marek Wonka and Sylvester Kolakowski

Chimney Estate Owners Marek Wonka and Sylvester Kolakowski. Image courtesy of Charlie Stewart, Inhabit Media

I worked on the empirical investigation at Chimney Hill Estate, as a way to catch up on cold therapy logic. My daughter and I first visited the Chimney Hill Estate Inn during the spring of 2023, where we experienced the gracious hospitality of its owners, Marek Wonka and Sylvester Kolakowski. At that time, having just completed a world-class renovation to the stunning barn suites, the guys shared their exciting plans to expand the spa amenities, including a sauna, a cold plunge, and two hot tubs.

Upon our return this winter, we were delighted to discover that those plans had come to fruition and that on-site hot and cold therapy at the newly constructed spa area was now available. The amenities are just a two-minute walk from the main house (where we stayed for the entire weekend). Still, there is also a convenient changing area adjacent to the deck, which is used by guests who are not staying the night but have come to enjoy the hot and cold therapy for a few hours. On selected Saturdays, including the one we visited, Marek and Sylvester have curated an event called Fire and Ice, for those guests who desire a truly transformative wellness experience in a picturesque setting.

And, even though it was the middle of January, we were blessed with amazing weather: very sunny and chilly, but not near freezing-I saved that for the cold plunge. The experience is powerful enough for recreational use by a growing cohort of professional athletes and is equally well suited to people who work in offices whose aim it is to become more recreationally active and a lifestyle solution.

Goat Hill Overlook at Chimney Hill Estate:

View of Lambertville and New Hope from Goat Hill Overlook (Meditation Walk) Photo Credit: Allie Cherevas

View of Lambertville and New Hope from Goat Hill Overlook (Meditation Walk) Photo Credit: Allie Cherevas

In preparation for the Fire and Ice therapy, our Saturday morning began with a Meditation walk from Chimney Hill Estate to the beautiful and historic Goat Hill Overlook. We estimated the hike to be approximately a mile and a half to just under two miles. With a gentle incline, it’s suitable for most people, even someone like me who doesn’t “hike” too often. Marek led the group to the summit at a comfortable pace, encouraging us to disconnect from technology (in order to start reconnecting with our inner selves). We silenced our phones and put them away, though when we reached the top, we took them out to photograph the lovely view over the Delaware River, Lambertville, and New Hope, Pennsylvania.

We changed into our swimwear at Chimney Hill and met at the spa area for a few rounds of hot and cold therapy. I thought we would do the Sauna and maybe the Cold Plunge one time– but it was so exhilarating that I ended up doing three rounds, and each was better than the previous time. Over time users can expect a decrease in pain, increased body mobility and enhanced breathing.

As you first step into the room adjacent to the actual hot room of the Sauna, there’s a seating area, large bottles of water (to keep hydrated between sessions), and a wool sauna hats available for everyone -which helps regulate body temperature and enhance the sauna benefits. The intense heat of this Sauna, which is provided by a stove layered with sauna stones, on which water is intermittently poured to create more steam, helps increase circulation and detoxify your body. Of course, the warmth helps to reduce stress in the mind and body. It definitely eased my sore neck and shoulder muscles, which result from sitting at my desktop leaning forward as I write and edit for hours on end all week long.

The idea is to stay in the Sauna as long as you can tolerate it, but we were told to listen to our bodies to know when it’s time to head outside for a refreshing cool shower and prepare for the Cold Plunge. I got into the pristine steel tub full of icy water, and my daughter followed, sitting opposite me (the tub is big enough for two or even three people). I must admit that we both let out a loud exclamation at the first contact with the ice water! 

Wellness at Chimney Hill. Film Credit: Charlie Stewart, Inhabit Media

Here is my tip for the first time: the trick is to get in the tub and be fully submerged before your body knows what’s happening to you. I did happen to notice a few people who trepidatiously dipped in a toe (okay, I’m exaggerating, maybe a shin), but to me, that looked like it was much more of a challenge for them to get into the tub. To be fully transparent, I think I had an advantage over those (like my daughter) who were wearing bikinis – I chose to wear swim shorts and a rashguard with a high neck covering, and three-quarter sleeves. In short, for me, there was much less skin exposed to the freezing water.

Another important note – which Sylvester kindly reminded us about – was to be aware of your breathing. When I remembered to do some deep yoga breaths, inhaling and exhaling consciously, that helped me increase my endurance. Immersing yourself in ice-cold water is naturally intoxicating. It is said to increase mental focus, help reduce inflammation (again, further relieve my sore muscles), and detoxify the body. Exposure to the cold is purported to speed up the metabolism, and some scientists have found evidence that supports this, but of course, results vary for each individual.

All I can say is that after repeating the sauna/cold plunge three times, I felt a hundred times better than before. Each time, I stayed in a little longer. Most people start with 1-2 minutes and then increase to 5 or even 10 minutes. For me, the last round of 3 minutes felt just right!

We finished our therapy with a relaxing soak in one of the two spacious outdoor hot tubs, which was a great way to end the session before heading back to the main house for a light and healthy lunch made with enticing fresh ingredients. The soup, salad and fresh fruit were thoughtfully prepared, presented, and served at the spacious dining table in one of my favorite communal rooms at the Chimney Hill Estate, second only to the Old Stone Room, an incredibly comfortable room where guests can gather around the fireplace for wine and conversation to reflect on their day or dream about tomorrow.

Angelico Winery, Lambertville, NJ. Image courtesy of Allie Cherevas

That afternoon, we took a short drive to the wonderful family-owned Angelico Winery, where we had the pleasure of meeting owners Lily and Otto. His family owns a vineyard and winery in Sicily, and he, Lily, and their two sons carry on the family tradition in Lambertville, NJ. As Angelico is one of the wineries recommended by Marek and Sylvester, Lily, in turn, recommended a restaurant to us named Tavola Rustica, where we had a delectable Italian dinner accompanied by our new favorite red wine, a Barbera from Angelico, aptly named The Miracle.

My daughter and I felt more connected with ourselves and each other after our shared experience, and we would strongly recommend the trip to anyone looking to decompress from daily stress and outside influences, by using this time to invigorate your mind, body, and spirit.

Hot and cold therapy is fantastic for singles or couples, groups of friends, or anyone who wants to boost their energy naturally and build mental and physical resilience. Chimney Hill Estate is the picture-perfect place to try it.

Sylvester and Marek have created an elevated, welcoming environment to be shared and enjoyed with like-minded, wellness-conscious people. Enjoy an entire weekend in one of the beautifully appointed Colonial Rooms. Select one of six luxurious converted Barn Suites with features such as jetted tubs or jacuzzi, cozy fireplaces, and other amenities depending on your chosen room.

In addition to their Wellness Events such as Fire and Ice, Chimney Hill Estate hosts various parties, corporate events, intimate weddings, family reunions, and more. Please reach out to Marek and Sylvester to inquire about availability – rest assured, with their unparalleled hospitality, they always go beyond expectation to accommodate every guest.

Reservations; Chimney Hill Estate

Tel: 609-397-1516

Please note: To ensure the most optimal experience for all participants, Marek and Sylvester limit group size for the Fire + Ice experience to 10-12 people for each event, but you can feel free to inquire about arranging a private Fire + Ice event for your group of 12 or less.

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