Once upon a time, the Catskill Mountain region of New York State was the summertime go-to for New York City’s Jewish community; the Catskills boomed at a time when other destinations were less than welcoming and before ever-easier air travel opened up places like Florida and the Caribbean. And although hot spots like Grossinger’s and the Concord have gone the way of Borscht Belt stand-up and outdoor mambo lessons, the rolling Catskills still have the means—and the greens—to charm heat-exhausted city folk.
This summer, there’s a new reason to make the two-hour drive from the city, with the June 1 opening of the Eastwind Hotel & Bar in the town of Windham. Built in the 1920s, the main structure originally served as a bunkhouse for smelly flannel-shirt types—hunters and fly-fisherfolk and such—but now includes 11 bright (and pet-friendly) guest rooms decorated in the cool-rustic style, complete with sliding barn-style doors and little wood-burning stoves. Naturally, the hotel includes the usual roughing-it-but-not-really niceties—a pool, a sauna, a big barrel hot tub, a cozy common area with a fireplace and faded Turkish rugs, and, as it says on the sign out front, a cocktail bar.
The region, which spans New York’s Sullivan, Ulster, and Orange counties, offers four seasons of natural diversions, but first-time hoteliers Bjorn Boyer, Julija Stoliarova, Daniel Cipriani, and John Burnett envision the Eastwind as much more than a crash pad. They’ve drafted a full roster of seasonal programming to encourage the mixing and mingling of guests—movie screenings, live music, and art classes, along with guided trips to nearby farmers’ markets and nature outings led by visiting chefs.
“We know spending time in nature is a humbling experience,” says Boyer, “so we wanted to create an upscale yet accessible way for today’s travelers to unplug, unwind, and connect with friends and family.”