Sims and Kirsten Harlow Foster were once among the tired, stressed-out Manhattanites they now try to lure from the city.
The husband-and-wife hoteliers recently opened The DeBruce, a two-hour drive north of New York City in the bucolic Catskills region. The inn is located on 600 acres in Livingston Manor, the town where Sims was born and raised, and where he and Kirsten now live full time with their two young children. They’re part of a clutch of enterprising artisans, chefs, and entrepreneurs who have relocated to the Catskills in recent years to revive this historic vacation spot, dubbed the Borscht Belt during its 1960s heyday, when the region was dotted with resorts catering to Jewish families.
The Fosters have opened four inns in the western Catskills, no more than 15 minutes from one another: the mountainside Arnold House; the 14-room North Branch Inn; Nine River Road, which overlooks the Delaware River; and the food-focused DeBruce. All share the same central mission: to create an easy and immersive escape for nature-starved city dwellers.
“This part of the Catskills is dear to us, because it is where our community, family, and friends live,” says Kirsten. “In today’s fast-paced digital world, we crave the more grounded, analog lifestyle we have up here, which is precisely what our guests are attracted to.”
Housed in a restored 19th-century former inn, the 14-room DeBruce is a warren of cozy common spaces that invite travelers to linger in wingback chairs next to stone fireplaces or chat on porch swings hung from the verandah. Guests may take a dip in the outdoor pool or join a fly-fishing or foraging excursion, but the main event is dinner. Chef Aksel Theilkuhl, formerly of BLT Steak Group in New York City, serves a nightly tasting menu in a 32-seat dining room facing the lodge’s ponds and rolling hills. His emphasis is on simple but elegant preparations of locally sourced seasonal ingredients, including grass-fed beef, house-made chicken liver mousse, and smoked trout.
“Our goal at The DeBruce is to introduce our guests to the incredible agricultural bounty here in the Catskills,” says Sims. “The restaurant runs in stride with the harvests and seeks to highlight the amazing produce that is abundant in our area.”
From $399, including dinner and breakfast.