There’s something so dreamy about an escape to the mountains.
In the Hudson Valley, where the Catskills whisper of folklore and legends (Rip Van Winkle, anyone?), such a retreat is doubly alluring. After all, what could be more magical than a drive into the heart of the mountains, where towering green trees frame a landscape in which nature is free to run wild?
It’s within this treasured panorama that Eastwind Hotel + Bar finds its home. Located in Windham and only a short drive away from the mountain of the same name, the hotel is just as much of a paradise for skiers and snowboarders in winter as it is for campers and upstate escapists come summer. It’s a true Catskills gem, with panoramic views of Windham Mountain outside and a cozy, elegant atmosphere within.
Eastwind’s trademark elegance is exactly what co-founder Bjorn Boyer had in mind when he first brainstormed the hotel concept back in 2016. A hospitality professional with a management background at leading hotel groups like AB Hotels, The Sydell Group, and NeueHouse, Boyer made the leap to start a hotel of his own in 2017. He and his wife, Julija Stoliarova, Eastwind’s creative director, had traveled to a number of boutique hotels, and they knew they could create a comparable venue of their own.
When they found their location in the Catskills, Boyer and Stoliarova knew it was the perfect place to craft the “home away from home” experience they envisioned. Along with partners Daniel Cipriani and John Burnett, the duo acquired the property in 2017, then spent the next nine months renovating it to prepare for its grand opening in June 2018. Since then, the group has embarked on another expansion to develop the grounds and make Eastwind even more of an all-in-one destination.
And a destination it certainly is. While Windham and Hunter Mountains are both a short drive away, visitors are hard-pressed to find a reason to leave the 20-acre property. On the grounds, 26 accommodation units range from regular hotel rooms to private camping units. Called lushnas, they’re distinctly Scandinavian-style units that are made with glamping in mind.
Each lushna is like a pint-sized version of a tiny home, although the 220 square feet feel cozy and just spacious enough. Guests can spend the night cozied up on the queen-sized bed, which comes covered in Frette linens and Faribault wool blankets. Pendelton robes await nearby, ready to wrap glampers in warmth after a luxurious shower – complete with Zenology bath products – in the private bathroom.
Need more space than the standard lushna affords? Eastwind’s lushna suites come with both a loft queen and a sofa bed, along with a private deck, fridge, and writer’s nook. Outside the lushnas, a private fire pit, outdoor shower, and hammock await for serious summertime relaxation.
For those who prefer more traditional accommodations, Eastwind’s main rooms are equally welcoming. Done in a similar Scandinavian vein, the rooms within the Bunk House and Hill House balance mid-century modern furniture with urban designs for an aesthetic that contrasts beautifully with the rugged exterior of the Hudson Valley landscape that surrounds it. Room sizes range from kings and suites to double queens and a charming writer studio that comes with its own desk, typewriter, and 270-degree views of the mountains.
“It’s a Scandinavian style that still feels like home,” Boyer observes.
In fact, this notion of home is integral to Eastwind now more than ever. Although the hotel closed for two and a half months during the height of the COVID-19 crisis, it reopened toward the end of May as a home away from home for travelers seeking an escape that’s only a drive – not a flight – away.
“We’ve seen a resurgence of interest,” Boyer admits, adding that the hotel’s secluded location in the Catskills makes it the perfect place to practice social distancing. “A lot of rooms are private entrance or standalone. You can be as close or as far away from others as you like.”
To ensure safety for all guests, Eastwind upped its cleaning protocol and converted its weekend breakfast buffet to breakfast baskets delivered to guests’ rooms. The hotel’s bar, normally a hub for conviviality and socializing, is temporarily closed, although guests can – and should – still order cocktails delivered to their rooms. (Our pick is the Golden Feet, an elegant gin drink that draws its flavor from house-made turmeric syrup, Nouilly Prat, lime juice, and basil.)
As far as onsite attractions go, the bikes, hammocks, and sauna remain open for guests and are cleaned daily, with cleaning stations available for additional sanitation. Outdoor yoga continues as well, since guests can space their mats to ensure sufficient separation. The rooms, meanwhile, are never occupied beyond 50-percent capacity.
Eastwind staggers guests so as to leave spacing between rooms and allow each one to air out for 24 hours before cleaning. It’s a lot of adjustment, but Boyer says that guests have been understanding and positive about the changes.
“They appreciate we’re going to this extent,” he says. “We’re seeing a significant increase in midweek business, since people can work remotely or do more summer travel with families.”
“[Eastwind] is a complete package that many people have forgotten about and are in the process of rediscovering,” Boyer observes. “We have everything to make it feel like home, all within reach from New York City.”
Eastwind Hotel + Bar