It may be the hot destination to Manhattanites, but New York’s Hudson Valley isn’t a sought-after getaway for most of the country, which is unfortunate. In less than three hours, I arrived in the land of hills and lakes, watching a sunset that turned the sky hot pink as deer crisscrossed the two-lane, scenic road. Pulling into the Emerson Resort and Spa in Mount Tremper, I found a quaint facade nestled against the Esopus Creek (more a river, actually). Inside the resort is welcoming, yet luxurious with subtle Asian touches like ancient wooden doorframe originating from Eastern mosques and temples.
Stepping into our suite, the views of the creek and hills were visible from the oversized living area, its full bath with picture window, and the loft bedroom. As a light snow fell on winter-bare trees, we selected one of three bottles of Champagne in our wine bar, which also featured 21 reds and whites, ignited the gas fire and kicked off what would become a quiet, romantic getaway. Although we chose to venture off property for an afternoon, we thought about skipping our explorations and staying pit, as the resort provided everything we needed and really, no reason to leave. Knowing we had specifically visited for a romance celebration, we returned to our suite on Saturday night to rose petals leading the way to the candle-lit, air-jet, two-person bathtub, as well as to a fireside bottle of chilling Champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries — just one example of the resort’s personal and attentive service.
Our quiet weekend was just what we needed, and the romance is in full bloom when the valley’s forests are covered in leaves with cool breezes blowing through them in the summer, and again, in the fall, when the trees become a kaleidoscope of colors. Arranging private picnics on beautiful mountain overlooks, creekside couples’ massages, and even elopement packages, the Emerson Resort specializes in romance, as well as privacy, catering to a number of high-profile visitors, including former president Bill and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. If you are heading to New York City in the near future, consider adding on some time to visit this romantic retreat. Or, better yet, make a special trip to this luxurious gem nestled among lakes and rolling hills to enjoy a true moment of zen.
Where to Stay
After fire destroyed the original Victorian-style inn, the owners decided to rebuild an Eastern-inspired resort beside its lodge property. Reopening in 2007, the two-story Emerson Resort is a tranquil setting that even when fully booked feels as if it’s hosting you and yours in a private retreat. Hallways adorned with hand-carved accents from the Far East lead the way to rooms outfitted in royal blues, violets, golds and reds. Twenty-six suites ranging in size from 600 to 1,000 square feet, including five duplex loft suites with two full bathrooms, feature silk and cotton bedding, contemporary yet comfortable furnishings and sweeping, private views of the backyard creek and Catskills. The resort’s Great Room is home to morning breakfast and Sunday brunch, but during the days and evenings its oversized fireplace, picture windows and overstuffed chairs provide a quiet gathering place that feels like home. And the Country Store, which does indeed offer jams and syrups, actually caters to a more discernible crowd, carrying lux furnishings, high-end men and women’s clothing, and an unbelievable collection of artistic kaleidoscopes of all sizes and shapes.
Where to Play
Walk through the 17th-century Rajasthan palace doors to the Hudson Valley’s first four-star spa at the Emerson Resort, heavily influenced by Eastern practices. Ten treatment rooms, stream-side cabanas and a deluxe couple’s VIP suite provide tranquil settings for more than 40 treatment options, including Ayurvedic rituals such as Shirodhara, where warm, herb-infused oil is slowly streamed onto the forehead as a practitioner massages the scalp, and Dosha Balancing, which provides the appropriate massage for your body based on a special body analysis. Couples can enjoy massages en suite together, or go solo for the Emerson Signature Massage featuring two technicians working their magic using poultice packs and warm, herb-infused oils. Steam rooms, saunas an outdoor hot tub, a hair and nail salon, and a state-of-the-art gym round out the spa, which also features its own cafe and serves up snacks and lunches on a beautiful wooden deck overlooking the creek.
Woodstock. Famous for hosting the historic concert festival where musicians in the ’60s rallied for peace and the end of the Vietnam War, Woodstock remains a haven for artists and Woodstock Village provides a collection of galleries, shops and restaurants. While the shops and galleries have continued to keep the hippie vibe that lingers in Woodstock, the restaurants cater to the many New York City antique hunters, meaning the food is excellent.
Hiking. The Catskill Mountains are filled with great hiking trails with manageable hills for all levels of hiking, outstanding views of the Hudson River Valley, and waterfalls like Kaaterskill Falls on Spruce Creek.
Belleayre Mountain. Just up the road is Belleayre, a premier ski resort for New York State featuring nearly 50 trails, parks and glades and eight lifts. Lessons are available, and in the summer, the mountain offers boating, biking, fishing, hiking and swimming along its beach.
A Room with an Unusual View
The Emerson Resort rests on the former farmland of a dairy farm. The original 18th-century farmhouse is actually built into the resort and serves as its operating offices. The fam’s silo, however, is the real treat, for inside the more than 64-foot-tall structure is the Guinness Book of World Record’s largest kaleidoscope. Free to all guests, enter the silo where “seats” allow you to lean back and watch the show (although the staff and I recommend lying on the floor and resting your head on one of their pillows). The multi-media presentation includes music and imagery that is a bit psychedelic, and quite similar to visiting a planetarium. The video is played on the tapered, three-mirror system to create the kaleidoscope.