Photos by Nils Schlebusch unless otherwise noted
Trust us when we say that The Roxbury at Stratton Falls is a whimsical, wonderful retreat unlike anything you’ve seen before.
There’s a fairytale happening just outside Greene County. Location? The Roxbury Motel at Stratton Falls in Delaware County.
Plot: Well, it’s a little bit of everything, to be honest.
It all starts with the dream, otherwise known as that wistful longing inherent within all fairytale protagonists. You know, the one that pushes them to wave farewell to home and sow their wild oats where the road may take them. For The Roxbury Motel co-owners Gregory Henderson and Joesph Massa, their dream was less of a lingering fancy and more of the lightning bolt vision variety.
Back in 2014, the Broadway expats were happily settled in Roxbury, where they had been running The Roxbury Motel since 2004. Known for its over-the-top, 1960s and 1970s themed rooms, the Roxbury Motel was and continues to be a delight for overnights, thanks to room themes that pay homage to everything from I Dream of Jeannie to The Wizard of Oz. Henderson and Massa were pleased with the time and attention they had put into the project, just as they were content to continue crafting unforgettable experiences for their guests.
But then they heard about the waterfall.
On one fateful Tuesday in 2014, the woman who mows the grounds at the motel told them that the house down the road was for sale. The property in question was less of a house and more of a mansion, with ample acreage and a private waterfall to boot. Henderson and Massa weren’t looking to expand, but they couldn’t shake their curiosity. So, they planned a visit.
“It’s part of the folklore of the village of Roxbury,” Henderson notes of the property and its majestic waterfall. In fact, it was their first view of the falls that convinced him and Massa that, yes, they really did need a 50-foot waterfall in their lives. “The waterfall lay before us roaring and we thought, ‘We’ve got to find a way to make this happen. If fairies exist, there have got to be some at the base of this waterfall.”
And so they became the fourth owners in the history of Roxbury, a town that dates back to the 1790s and has ties to George Washington, to lay claim to the waterfall (which they now live-stream 24/7). Deed in hand, they commenced what would become a five-plus-year journey to imagine, finance, and construct The Roxbury at Stratton Falls.
Now complete, The Roxbury Motel is nothing less than a real-deal fairytale in the Hudson Valley. Part Disney magic, part Grimm Brothers, and part Willy Wonka, it’s everything people love about magic, fantasy, and folklore all in one place. At the heart of the property lies The Mansion, an expansive residence dating back to 1848 with seven themed guest rooms that pay homage to the history of the property. Guests can lounge in the clawfoot tub inside the Beautiful Blacksmith, which boasts remnants of iron works excavated from the site, or cozy up in The Brothers’ Stratton, a room which honors the brothers who gave the waterfall its name.
Yet The Mansion is only half of the story at The Roxbury at Stratton Falls. The other half, the Tower Cottages, is where the fantastical side of the escape truly shines. Comprised of five distinct buildings, three of which are duplexes, the Cottages embody that magic that Henderson and Massa felt when they first witnessed the waterfall.
As testament to the whimsy and wonder that first captures us as children, each Tower Cottage is a distinct and immersive experience. Like the rooms at the Roxbury Motel (check out The Digs room online if you don’t believe us) and The Mansion, the cottages transport visitors to another time, place, or world. Built by Delta and Haas Landscape Architects out of Binghamton, the cottages, like the Roxbury Motel rooms, were conceptualized and decorated entirely by Henderson and Massa. While each location boasts commonalities like two bedrooms, two stories, common areas, balconies, and refreshment stations, the all-encompassing design themes make them unforgettable.
Take The Superhero Incognito, or Room 37, for instance. A true feat of artistry, the cottage pops with white walls decorated with comic book art inspired by Roy Lichtenstein. Nearby, Galileo’s Gate, or Room 38, is another jaw-dropping design. An ode to ancient astronomers and scientists, the space is rich with Renaissance-style decorations and features everything from a swirling spiral staircase to a stargazing glass observation desk complete with its very own telescope.
Most recently, The Roxbury Motel debuted The Faerie Forest at the Tower Cottages. Otherwise known as Room 43, The Faerie Forest evokes the fantastical setting that surrounds the hotel, one in which nature thrives and otherworldly folk could very well call their home. Inside the cottage, two queen bedrooms await inside a magically decorated room that brings the outdoors in via a bespoke staircase constructed from nearby cedar trees and a mini-balcony that offers views of the indoor forest below.
And that’s just the start of it. As with every interior at The Roxbury Motel and The Roxbury at Stratton Falls’ combined 43 rooms, the Cottage Towers are so enchanting that they frequently leave guests in awe.
“It’s what I live for,” Henderson admits of guests’ reactions. “My office happens to be behind a door that people don’t necessarily know is a door, so I often hear people scream, shout, or sometimes cry. It’s often what gets me through the day.”
Now that the Cottages are complete, Henderson and Massa look forward to welcoming guests for a little bit of magic in the Hudson Valley. They opted to close temporarily when the COVID-19 crisis first broke out in New York and used the time to improve the facility and secure government loans. After formulating a comprehensive COVID-19 plan to ensure guest and employee safety and happiness, the duo reopened the hotel complex in early June.
“Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” Henderson observes of the hotel’s reopening. As part of The Roxbury’s COVID-19 safety protocol, staff work to minimize risk of infection by asking guests to wear masks in common areas (The Roxbury will provide one if guests do not own one), utilizing cutting-edge sanitation product Theraworx, sterilizing all high-touch areas and surfaces, washing bed linens at a higher temperature, and even *gasp* removing extraneous throw pillows and blankets that function primarily for design purposes.
Even so, The Roxbury Motel remains a fairytale paradise in the Catskills. Now that Stratton Falls has a liquor license, guests can get cocktails and drinks delivered to their rooms until the bar by the pool opens for the season. As for food, local restaurant Chappie’s delivers lunch and dinner seven days a week for guests who request it, with socially distanced indoor and outdoor dining available at the restaurant as well.
And then there are the onsite attractions. For guests who want to embark on socially distant explorations, the Tahawus Trails await. Looping across the grounds, the trails are easy to navigate and offer two waterfall observation decks, along with sitting areas and nooks. For swimmers, the spa and pool at the Crooked Cabana will open once the hotel receives the OK from the New York State Department of Health.
For now, Henderson and Massa are excited to welcome guests back to their fantastical oasis in the Catskills. While they might not be able to meet and greet guests as usual, they’re happy to help them experience their very own fairytales in the Hudson Valley.