With its quirky downtown crammed with tiny shops, galleries, and restaurants; one-of-a-kind festivals (Garlic, Sept. 29-30; Mum, Oct. 7); and a ridiculously romantic lighthouse-turned-B&B, Saugerties — an old factory town at the confluence of the Esopus Creek and the Hudson River — has long charmed visitors and residents alike. But these days the big news is all about the two new additions in the area.
When retirement living didn’t suit internist Tony Bacchi and wife JoAnn, they purchased 115 acres that included a little-used nine-hole golf course, and hired course designer Barry Jordan to spruce it up. Now, the couple’s Lazy Swan Golf and Country Club features an 18-hole course as well as a New England-style village with a sweets shop, an outdoor seafood restaurant with a martini lounge, a high-end Italian trattoria, a Pilates studio, and other amenities.
Further to the south, the recently opened Diamond Mills Hotel and Tavern was built from scratch on the site of the old Martin Cantine paper mill. With its red brick and stone façade, the hotel and restaurant resemble the original mill on the outside, but the interior is pure luxury, with heated bathroom floors, creekside views, and a lounge for schmoozing and drinks. Coming soon: Weeklong triathlon training camps, a kayak dock, and plans to use the creek’s waterfall to provide 40 percent of the hotel’s power.
The hotel couldn’t come soon enough. Lack of lodgings, particularly in the summer, has been a problem in the village since the 2004 opening of HITS-on-the-Hudson, which runs horse shows at its 200-plus-acre facility. “From May to September you can’t get a room in the Saugerties area, or even in Kingston,” says Bacchi, who notes that “the time for growth in Saugerties is now very ripe.” Going to the horse shows is one popular recreational activity; others include visiting the Opus 40 sculpture garden, catching a film at the historic Orpheum Theatre, and kayaking on the Esopus.
The Saugerties area offers a healthy choice of restaurants. Some — like Miss Lucy’s Kitchen and New World Home Cooking — are well-known. The Love Bites Cafe makes homemade breads, breakfast salads, and spicy scrambled eggs, while the Dutch Ale House is the place for burgers and pub beer. Several watering holes in town feature live music on a regular basis.
The varied housing stock in the village includes Victorians for between $225,000 and $250,000, and attracts an eclectic mix of locals and transplants from both New York and Albany — all of whom treasure the strong sense of community the town generates. Originally from L.A., Brigid Walsh came to Saugerties with husband Ed Gerrard (a native). They started out as weekenders, but soon found themselves spending less time in New York City. “I loved how deeply attached everyone is to the area,” Walsh says. “It’s a very diverse group: people whose families have lived and worked the same land for five generations, young entrepreneurs, multigenerational business owners. All of us have a proud story about how we landed here.”
Population: 19,482 (town) 3,971 (village)
Median Household Income: $54,190 (town) $50,592 (village)
Fun Fact: Former Saturday Night Live cast member and current late-night television host Jimmy Fallon spent many of his childhood years in Saugerties.