What do you look for in a getaway destination? I’m guessing you seek out a place that offers a variety of interesting things to do, beautiful places to stay and yummy spots for eating and drinking. Editors of travel magazines do the same when they compile their annual “Places You Must See” lists. I scroll through these drool-worthy galleries and long to hop on the next plane to Kyoto or Valparaiso or Quito or the Hudson Valley.
The Hudson Valley? Back it up. Yes, folks. NY’s Hudson River Valley was named one of the top 20 places to visit by National Geographic. I love the region and marvel at the beauty of our river, the diversity of the people, the variety of food and our rich history. I know we’ve got it all but I didn’t know the secret was out.
Then I started wondering. What if I were a travel agent attempting to convince a group of tourists, like a local Red Hat Society club, to come here instead of somewhere like England’s Lake District? How would I snare them?
I decided I’d start with the decision that can make or break a vacation. Fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg once said, “When you get into a hotel room, you lock the door, and you know there is a secrecy, there is a luxury, there is fantasy. There is comfort. There is reassurance.” If you’ve stayed in Motel Hell and who hasn’t, you know that a bad hotel can ruin a trip.
So, if I was planning an overnight trip to the region, where would I stay?
For the ultimate in luxury, you can’t top the Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz. It’s a fairytale Victorian resort perched in the Shawangunk range and reminds me of Bavaria’s Neuschwanstein Castle. The rooms are cozy, many have fireplaces and the food’s amazing. You can engage in traditional outdoor activities such as open air ice skating, hiking and swimming or simply lounge around the grand spa. I stayed once during a fiddlers’ convention. I recall reading on the balcony, sneaking peaks at the fall foliage while the beckoning notes of an Irish reel bounced off the mountains. Does it get better than that? I don’t think so.
At the other end of the spectrum, you can learn camping for dummies. Literally. Book a stay at Malouf’s Mountain Sunset Campgrounds and owner Dick Malouf will pick you up at the Beacon train station, drop you at one of several trailheads and transport your stuff to a campsite. You hike in and get reunited with your supplies on a covered platform with a fire pit. Just roll out your sleeping bag and get your s’mores on. My only suggestion? The hike is strenuous so don’t attempt this on a day when the temperature’s above 90°. Heard of “Naked and Afraid”? We were “Sweating and Stroked” and close to calling for an airlift.
And, just because we’re not in Manhattan, doesn’t mean you can’t come kinda close to a little showbiz razzle dazzle. The Hudson Valley has many quaint country inns and I know of two that are celebrity-affiliated. Check out the Bedford Post Inn, owned by Richard Gere and his actress wife Carey Lowell. You might run into neighbors like Martha Stewart or Bruce Willis in the dining room. During my visit I was hoping to bump into Mr. Gere and create a “what happens in Bedford, stays in Bedford” moment.
Or, for something a bit quirkier, try one of the cabins at Kate’s Lazy Meadow, owned by Kate Pierson of the B-52s. Located near Woodstock, each of the suites is decorated in 50’s retro kitschy-style, a perfect home base for exploring the Catskills.
It’s clear that we’ve got the lodging chops to support the National Geographic nomination. In future posts I’ll talk about the Hudson Valley’s other charms. If you’ve got a special hotel in your neighborhood, let us know about it. Maybe we’ll come visit!