New summer life for the old ski towns of Catskills

The mountain towns of Windham and Tannersville may be best known for winter sports, but like many of the Catskills, they’ve enjoyed something of an accelerated renaissance in recent years, with a spate of new openings quickly establishing the region as a year-round destination.

“We still see an increase in visitor numbers during the ‘off-season’,” said Julija Stoliarova, who co-founded the Scandinavian-inspired Eastwind Hotel & Bar with Bjorn Boyer and Daniel Cipriani. “There’s so much more to do up here than just ski Windham Mountain. We’re seeing more visitors immerse themselves in the food, art and culture scene up here.”

Eastwind opened in 2018, transforming a former 1920s fisherman’s cottage into a stylish motel that, following an expansion, now boasts 26 accommodations, including a handful of deeply Instagrammable lusnas (standalone A-frame cabins), as well as a wood-barrel sauna and a Cocktail bar that attracts as many locals as guests.

“We still see an increase in visitors during the ‘off-season’,” says Julija Stoliarova, who co-founded the Scandinavian-inspired Eastwind Hotel & Bar with Bjorn Boyer, Daniel Cipriani and John Burnett. The hotel offers activities like outdoor yoga for summer guests.

Michael Greco

The success of independent boutique ventures like this – which have also garnered a lot of attention – have brought a new crowd of guests and residents to the area, and with them a demand for a wider choice of restaurants, bars and services.

“There’s more traffic and people live up here year-round,” says Ryan Chadwick, a serial entrepreneur who splits his time between Tannersville and New York City. “But with that we need services and things that people can do. Luckily we are in this mountain town with beautiful scenery and hiking trails, kayaking and skiing. We have everything. We just need to have it easily accessible and organized.”

Chadwick already had a portfolio of restaurants in New York City, Montauk, Nantucket and Aspen when he fell in love with Tannersville in 2019. “I wanted to try different things that I thought might work, having spent time in resort towns and growing up in Maine, things I enjoyed as a kid,” he said.

Those things have so far included a glamping project and lobster shack at the refurbished Tanners Boathouse, which will be offering canoes and kayaks for hire as well as other water sports from this summer. Also opening soon: a trolley service from Tannersville to Palenville, a drive-through coffee and donut shop, and a craft market.

But this series of projects represents only part of the growth here. In December, Gov. Kathy Hochul approved a total of $5.7 million for projects in Greene County towns, including the revitalization of Windham’s historic Thompson House Resort into the Wylder Hotel and the renovation of Leeds’ Astoria Motor Court into Locals Cabin Co.

As part of this, Tannersville received a $10 million downtown revitalization grant — the smallest community to receive such a grant in the program’s history. A portion of the funds will go toward improving the waterfront and surrounding walking paths, as well as developing affordable workers’ housing.

To manage ongoing development, Windham has put in place a comprehensive plan that includes improving access to outdoor recreation such as hiking trails, swimming areas and kayaking facilities; and enduring local history and historic character of the city, which will no doubt attract even more visitors in the years to come.

Here are some of the new offerings from winter-friendly Catskills cities that will appeal to summer travelers:

Additions to the Catskills business landscape

A number of new restaurants such as Tanners Boathouse and hotels add summer offerings to travelers to traditional Catskills ski resorts.

A number of new restaurants such as Tanners Boathouse and hotels add summer offerings to travelers to traditional Catskills ski resorts.

Tanner’s boathouse

Union & Post
Union & Post is another very stylish boutique accommodation option in Windham. While the hotel opened in 2020, the restaurant didn’t welcome its first guests until January and served new American dishes and cocktails. Take a seat by one of the two fireplaces, on the wraparound deck with city views, or upstairs in the library lounge area.
5098 NY-23, Windham; unionandpost.com

Catskill camp
This ethical outdoor shop came to Tannersville in early 2022. In addition to selecting products that are sustainably made or use recycled materials, the shop also pays attention to packaging and has committed to donating 1 percent of sales to environmental efforts.
6006 Main Street, Tannersville; campcatskill.co

tabla
This farm-to-table Mediterranean restaurant comes from Brooklyn restaurateur David Schneider. He was offered the space by the Hunter Foundation, a longtime advocate for revitalizing the city, and saw an opportunity to invest in the community with a restaurant that focuses on local attitudes and offers a fair salary structure. The food, at affordable prices, doesn’t play a second fiddle to its ethics.
6033 Main Street, Tannersville; tablacatskills.com

Tanner’s boathouse
Lobster rolls, hot dogs, and complimentary s’mores by the fire pit are just part of the appeal of this revitalized boathouse on Rip Van Winkle Lake. Ice skating and ice hockey were offered in the winter, and beginning Memorial Day, the boathouse will begin renting recreational equipment such as canoes, kayaks, mountain bikes, and inner tubes. There is live music every weekend with local artisans and family-friendly activities. Corn hulling contest, anyone?
27 Lake Street, Tannersville; tannersboathouse.com

New Catskills stores will be opening soon

Kaaterskill Loop Trolley (from Memorial Day 2022)
With parking often a barrier to visiting some of the area’s most popular attractions – like the five-mile-long Kaaterskill Clove Wilderness Gorge – the trolley service aims to provide a solution in the form of a viable, climate-friendly and fun alternative. The trolley, which operates seven days a week for $2 a ride, will make multiple stops up the mountain between Tannersville and downtown Palenville, including at Kaaterskill Falls and the Long Bridge Swimming Hole.
www.kaaterskilltrolley.com

Hotel Lilien (opening summer 2022)
Built by the Lilienthal family in the 1890s, the Washington Irving Hotel remains a striking Victorian building on the Rip Van Winkle Trail. This summer, after a complete renovation, it will reopen as Hotel Lilien with 18 rooms, a restaurant and a cocktail bar.
6629 NY-23 Tannerville; hotellilien.com

Wylder, Windham (opening August 2022)
Thompson House Resort was founded in 1880 and operated for 140 years. However, this summer it will be the third outpost of Wylder Hotels and will be completely renovated under the direction of local architect Jason Anderson. Luckily, the popular Babblers restaurant and Babblers Bakery will remain and will reopen in June.
19 NY-296, windham; wylderhotels.com/windham

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