In this technology-fueled society, it’s only natural that an increasing number of people are seeking out memorable experiences in nature — and we don’t mean camping. The demand for outdoor experiences and luxury accommodations isn’t exactly novel (the Catskills has offered this to travelers since the 1940s), but a new wave of tourism has led to a surge in hotels throughout the Hudson Valley and Catskills that provide guests the chance to “get back to the land” and forget about urbanization for a while.
Here, we’ve rounded up some some venues in the area that combine creature comforts with special outdoor experiences, from foraging and botanical mixology to guided hikes and archery.
Windham, Greene County
The Eastwind is a great option for those seeking a glamping experience with urban comforts. Stay in one of three Lushna A-frame cabins or book a room in their Scandinavian-designed farmhouse. Either way, you’ll take in the sweeping views of Windham Mountain and woodland at every glance. Adventurous guests can partake in a survival course led by a local guide who instructs on how to build a fire and shelter, or go foraging on the property. These experiences are welcome to the public as well as for guests of the hotel; anyone is free to inquire about their incredible Saturday Salon dinners, which features a rich range of local fare.
“We wanted to create an upscale yet accessible escape for today’s guests to unplug, unwind, and connect,” says co-founder Bjorn Boyer, “and I believe we accomplished that.”
Livingston Manor, Sullivan County
From foraging excursions and guided hikes on private trails to the nine-course tasting menu, The DeBruce is the epitome of nature-oriented luxury. At this mountain-flanked resort, guests can stay in one of 14 bedrooms (some with clawfoot bathtubs), all with expansive views of the Willowemoc Valley and river. The tasting-course experience is open to non-guests — you just have to sign up beforehand. The outdoor swimming pool is a solid summer amenity, as well as a pond for fly fishing and wintertime ice skating.
“Our guests are explorers,” says Executive Chef Aksel Theilkuhl, “They’re eager to learn about the area, hike the trails, and fly-fish in the Willowemoc. They’re curious about food and where it comes from.”
New Paltz, Ulster County
This Hudson Valley staple housed in a Victorian castle offers a plethora of nature-centric activities in a luxury environment. In addition to guided hikes, Mohonk Mountain House provides archery, tomahawk throwing, and fly-fishing lessons for guests looking to learn a new outdoors skill. To top it off, a resident naturalist is on hand to take guests into the forest for foraging, bird walks, and lessons on identifying local wildlife.
“The rise in interest for immersion in nature speaks to our desire to disconnect from a screen and reconnect with what really matters — ourselves, our surroundings, and our loved ones,” says Nina Smiley, PhD, director of mindfulness programming.
Barryville, Sullivan County
This four-suite getaway across from the Delaware River is a small but mighty oasis in the Western Catskills. The team behind The Stickett Inn are known for hosting botanical mixology cocktail parties lead by foraging experts including Laura Silverman and Ellen Zachos. There are also trails onsite where they offer guided river walks, in addition to tips on rafting, swimming, and fishing. On Saturdays, wander towards the Barryville Farmers’ Market for fresh produce and local goods.
“The Western Catskills are the perfect oasis from the noisy, overstimulated, digital world most of us live in,” says co-owner Johnny Pizzolato. “We provide a space for the weekend for guests to ‘play house’ in the woods.”
Mount Tremper, Ulster County
This is definitely the place to be if you’re looking for a well-rounded balance of nature-centric activities with a lot of pampering. At the Emerson Resort & Spa, guests have access to guided nature walks, birdwatching, and off-property nature-themed excursions in addition to facials, massages, sauna, and steam room. And the fun doesn’t stop there — this Mount Tremper-based resort is also known for their “Catskill Creative Cooking” meals and handcrafted cocktails.
“Our nature experiences offer a chance to slow down and breathe.” says Tamara Murray, marketing & sales director.
Livingston Manor, Sullivan County
If you’re seeking an immersive experience in nature with great social perks, Livingston Manor Fly Fishing Club is just the place. Members have access to the club and its amenities throughout the year, but if you’re merely curious, you can sign up for one of their holiday weekend experiences. Located on the river banks of the Willowemoc, the club offers fly-fishing lessons, foraging in the woods, and outdoor group dinners. At certain times of the year, guests can stay in a room or rent a floor in the cottage or flower house. There are also two safari tents on the property, to truly lean in to the glamping experience.
“To be surrounded by the slow, steady march of nature is the perfect antidote for the frenetic pace of the digital world,” says Tom Roberts, co-founder and co-owner.