Calling the Blue Fox Motel a country oasis is fully on the mark. While the Sullivan County hotel rests only 100 miles from New York City, it’s well and thoroughly an escape in itself, thanks to an abundance of amenities, acres of hiking and walking trails, and top-notch dining.
For co-owners and life partners Jorge Neves and Meg Sullivan, the reinvention of the Narrowsburg property is at once a chance to honor its history and share its allure with visitors well into the future.
“This project has been a labor of love,” Sullivan notes. “We believe in restoring spaces with respect to what once was while at the same time including today’s creature comforts. Paying attention to providing a location that both the locals and city dwellers would want to enjoy was critical to us.”
If their present success is any indication, they seem to have hit upon those goals just right. While their initial launch during the height of the pandemic presented a number of challenges, today they are excited to continue to welcome guests to the property for overnight stays, hiking, and dining in the region.
A Journey to Open
Before their pandemic struggles, Neves and Sullivan faced quite the uphill battle when they first purchased the property in 2016. Not only was the venue on the verge of disrepair, but it also required a number of basic maintenance fixes, including winterizing the property and adding high-speed fiber cable. Even so, they both recognized the need for a destination like the Blue Fox Motel in the region.
“We felt we understood the work that needed to be done, and we had a vision of restoring the property and keeping as much of its mid-century rustic charm as possible while bringing it up to today’s standards,” Sullivan notes. “We knew that the area lacked short-term housing/places for folks to stay for a weekend or a week. We also understood that there was more room for another restaurant in the area, particularly if it was year-round and open seven days a week.”
Yet if anyone was equipped to tackle the project, it was the two of them. Both boast ample industry experience across the business and hospitality scene. Neves has owned and managed multiple restaurants throughout Manhattan and Dumbo, including PAO, Giorgione, 508, and Cuper. Sullivan, meanwhile, cut her teeth working in the corporate world for 30 years as a strategic advisor for business development, marketing, and corporate social responsibility. She also founded Quorum Initiative, an organization which focuses on accelerating the advancement of women in the workplace.
From the start, they knew they wanted to preserve the ethos of the property, which dates back to the 1930s when a Long Island State Trooper who lost his leg in service decided to relocate to Sullivan County. Following his creation of a gas station, store, and camping site, another family who owns and runs a river rafting and adventure business added the buildings that exist today in the 1950s.
“The family lived in the house that is on the property and ran the restaurant in conjunction with the motel,” Sullivan explains. “It was a seasonal business that attracted families in the summer looking to get away from urban settings and enjoy river and lake activities as well as the pool. Hunters and hikers were the main visitors in the spring and fall.”
With the property’s history in mind, Neves and Sullivan brainstormed a name that would fit a number of criteria. It needed to sound a touch bluesy and funky, fit with the vibe of the 1950s, be easy to remember, and incorporate an animal and/or the surrounding geography. They settled upon Blue Fox Motel, which pays homage to both the natural environment around the retreat and the Pennsylvania blue stone upon which the property sits.
From there, it was time to get to work. Along with significant cosmetic changes, they also enlarged the area surrounding the pool to add event space, an outdoor bar, and seating and lounging areas. They also created a large, flat area for wedding ceremonies, corporate retreats, or leisure activities. In the back, they added a garden so that all vegetables and herbs can be grown onsite in summer for use in the restaurant kitchen.
Blue Fox Motel opened its restaurant in late 2019 before closing it in March 2020 due to COVID-19. The motel officially opened in late-spring 2020, with the restaurant following in late-summer 2020.
Stays at the Blue Fox Hotel
As for what to expect, the Blue Fox Motel boasts 18 rooms and suites spread across the property, with 11 standard rooms, four suites, and three cabins. For larger parties, there’s a house on the property dubbed The Blue House, which features five bedrooms and three bathrooms. Things to do are ample here, thanks to grounds that back onto 8,000 acres of state-owned land that’s ideal for hiking.
“One of the best hiking trails (Tusten Trail) in the area is one mile from the motel,” Sullivan shares, adding that the pool is an ideal place to lounge during spring and summer.
Dining in Narrowsburg
While stays at the Blue Fox Motel are special on their own, they’re something unforgettable when paired with meals at the Blue Fox Motel Restaurant, the retreat’s onsite dining venue. The eatery is all about a hybrid menu of American and international fare, with ingredients coming from local purveyors and the garden when in season.
Chef Honorio Anguisaca is the culinary expert in the kitchen and has worked with Neves for 30 years since their shared time at PAO. The Ecuador-born, self-trained chef taps into his decades of expertise to craft plates that range from shrimp turnovers and flaming chorizo to honey-citrus salmon and caldo verde.
“Chef Honorio takes pride in making sure every plate is enjoyed and clean when it heads back to the kitchen,” Sullivan enthuses, adding that he sources from local purveyors such as Catskill Provisions, Calkins Creamery, Stickett Inn Cider, and Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur, to name a few.
Because the restaurant sources locally, its menu changes seasonally to accommodate fluxes in ingredients. With a roaring fireplace in the cooler months and ample acreage to explore in the warmer seasons, it’s a delight to visit any time of the year.
The Future of the Blue Fox Motel
Looking ahead, Neves and Sullivan are excited to further develop programming at the Blue Fox Motel. Coming in spring 2024, the destination will debut a pickleball court, with regular live music performances and special restaurant events such as wine tastings and game nights to follow. Heading into summer, visitors can expect pool parties for both locals and guests, as well as the addition of a honky tonk bar that will feature local musicians and serve brunch on the weekends.
Blue Fox Motel
5670 State Rte 97, Narrowsburg