Long gone are the days when Borscht Belt comedians filled the dining halls and casinos of the Catskill region's grand resorts. The area that once served as the stomping grounds of Milton Berle may no longer be a mecca for thousands of Jewish families from New York City, but that doesn't mean it has lost its appeal. Across the region, from Woodstock to Roxbury, hotels and guest houses are popping up with a wide array of styles and conveniences to choose from. Whether you are seeking a luxury spa package, a family style vacation or just a comfortable place to rest after a day of hiking the area’s mountains, the Catskills has something for everyone.
Converted from an early 19th-century boarding house, The Bavarian Manor Country Inn
feels exactly as its name suggests. With its mahogany wood furnishings and German design, you'll be transported across the Atlantic without having to buy a plane ticket. Located in Purling, the Inn is comfortable, charming and the perfect place for a weekend getaway, especially in winter months when a fire is roaring in their cozy parlor. Skiing, golfing and a plethora of antique stores and nature trails surround the grounds, making it a convenient location for families with a range of interests. Guests can choose from a variety of well-appointed rooms, some with fireplaces and jetted tubs in which to soak away the day. A complimentary and hearty daily breakfast is included, and for dinner, don't miss their award-winning schnitzel. The Inn may be a small, family run operation, but that doesn't stop them from offering top-notch amenities like therapeutic massages and a spectacular 40-mile view. Take in the beauty of the Catskills from the oversized porch, or cast your fishing pole into the six-acre lake filled with bass and catfish. There are a variety of room sizes and styles to choose from, but those with jacuzzis and fireplaces are quickly filled-up, so it's best to book in advance: www.bavarianmanor.com.
If a weekend of spa treatments and pampering is what you're after, then The Emerson
is just what you need. Located in Mount Tremper, the hotel offers a range of signature treatments including traditional and Ayurvedic massage, aromatherapy, hot stone treatments and reflexology. A fitness center, full restaurant, bar and country specialty store will keep you occupied on-site. Should you wish to venture out, the surrounding area is abundant with hiking trails, horseback riding, climbing and trout fishing in the Esopus Creek. Shopping and entertainment are just around the corner in the larger town of Phoenicia, and hotel staff are happy to point you toward the nearest concert, artist studio tour or historic site. The resort consists of 25 guest suites that all feature fireplaces, Swiss showers, jetted tubs, and sitting areas. The Emerson Lodge
, which sits on the same property, hosts 27 rooms. While not as luxurious as The Inn
, it is just as comfortable and includes full amenities. Take advantage of year-round specials and packages, like the Spa Guest Loyalty Card program. The Emerson has recently become a popular spot as a gay wedding destination since introducing their “I Do … For Everyone” destination wedding package
, which comes with a couples massage, VIP suite, a three-course dinner for two and a wedding cake.
In the mood for something a bit more adventurous? The whimsical, over the top style of The Roxbury Motel also offers a full-service spa, but in a very different kind of atmosphere. Themed rooms like Maryann's Coconut Cream Pie room
will tickle your fancy with a circular bed and an entire ceiling that looks like enormous dollops of whipped cream. If that isn't quite to your taste, The Wizard's Emeralds room
will let you fulfill your childhood fantasy of visiting Oz, complete with a yellow brick road (just like the one you can visit in the town of Chittenango
) that runs though the room. Various sized accommodations are available, ranging from studios to kitchenette rooms to king suites. Then there are “The Digs
,” which is a separate, stand alone, three-bedroom cottage decked out with archaeological finds, a cave wall, a 400-gallon saltwater aquarium, and even secret passageways.
There are two spa facilities
to choose from: an intimate space composed simply but fancifully of a hot tub, dry sauna, and showers with river rocks that massage your feet while you shower. Walls composed of iridescent mosaic tiles make up in sparkle what this spa lacks in size. For a more lavish space, the Roxbury's 1200-square-foot space located on the north side of the building boasts a sumptuous “green steam” room made up of recycled car windshield glass, all in various shades of green. The amenities even boast a library, and a comfortable relaxation room to read in. Both spa centers have treatment rooms, and the Motel strongly recommends advanced booking for all spa treatments.
The Roxbury doesn't have its own restaurant, but it's easy to cross the street and dine and drink at Public Restaurant & Lounge
, a full-service gourmet restaurant and cocktail lounge. Public is not owned by The Roxbury, but they will deliver food right to your room. The Motel also coordinates with The Public Lounge to cater food to conferences should you and your room colleagues need to schedule a meeting in their “groovylicious executive conference room.” Open to any group who wants to escape their cubicles and “think outside the box,” the playfully decorated room can seat up to 16 and offers full amenities including a projection screen and sound system.
Photo: Poul Ober for Graham & Co.
On the other end of the spectrum, Phoenicia's simple but trendy The Graham & Co.
embraces Americana’s modern-yet-rustic appeal. Clean lines and custom-designed, handmade furnishings make this small hotel attractive to those seeking out “an update on the traditional weekend away,” as their website affirms. You won't find a spa, banquet rooms or other frills, but you will be impressed by the thoughtful layout, free bicycles for public use on the property, and a swimming pool fed straight from the Esopus Creek. Some rooms come equipped with kitchenettes, and while none have televisions, they all have Tivoli Audio radios to complete the vintage vibe. Grab a beer at the bar, and relax outside by a roaring bonfire surrounded by the view of the majestic Catskill Mountains. It’s like camp for grownups. And if you need a bite, hop over to the Phoenicia Diner
, which has a similar feel; both the hotel and restaurant are one of the NYSOM Girls' 2014 travel resolutions
The pool at The Graham & Co. Photo: Poul Ober for Graham & Co.
Bikes for guests. Photo: Poul Ober for Graham & Co.