Escaping from the cement clutches of New York City is sometimes a futile Endeavour. There are so many mitigating factors that can hold you prisoner; no time, no money, nowhere to escape to. That is why when rumor spread of a secret hide-a-way that was guaranteed to melt the city from my memory with it’s lush nature and opulent comfort, well, I was all ears despite my suspicion.
Let me tell you friends, the tales are true, and while it hurts me to share this secret, its name be Emerson.
Like in most mythology, there is a journey to take, a mountain to climb, and a treasure to claim if you make it. In this case it is a two hour trip to Mt. Tremper, New York, and your reward is a modern, green, holistic refuge from the city. The Emerson Spa and Resort sits beside the Esopus Creek and is surrounded by vast nature in all directions. You are at the same time removed from everything, and comforted, having any amenity you could think of available to you: flatscreens and iPods, in room fireplaces, oversized Jacuzzi baths and Swedish showers, a modern 1,500 sq. foot gym and fast WiFi. That’s just in the main building. The Emerson is like a small town on its own, having a full spa, with 10 treatment rooms, pools, lodges for a more rustic experience, a dog park, shopping, dining, and even the world’s larges kaleidoscope. More on that in a sec, but first, the rooms.
The rooms make it very hard to experience anything else Emerson offers. They are large, warmly decorated, and supremely comfortable. Most of my time was spent traveling the 12 feet from the small pool sized Jacuzzi tub in my huge bathroom back to the cloud-like king bed. Vaulted ceilings and fireplace roaring, it was the perfect decompression chamber from the pressure cooker that is NYC.
Building up the volition to venture outside did yield positive results. Attached to the main hotel is a rather large shopping area residing in the original barn that was built in 1860. Just wandering through the wood beamed structure is a pleasure on its own beyond the wonderful collection of eclectic shops inside. There is a rather large children’s toy store, with gifts and playthings of all types. An appeal shop with unique pieces for men and women, a country store that has local wares and gifts, and some of the most delicious jam I’ve ever had. There’s a cute houseware and gift shop with all sorts of fantastic items to discover, and a small café that has local iced cream, fresh sandwiches stacked high, and delicious coffee and sweets.
While each one of these shops is more characteristic then the next, the most unique and brilliant has to be the Kaleidoscope shop. Inside you will find dozens of handmade, beautiful and mystical kaleidoscopes that transcend toy to art. I have never really appreciated a kaleidoscope the same way since I’ve visited the shop, and speaking with the supremely knowledgeable and interesting Linda she opened my mind to a world I didn’t even know existed. “You’re surrounded by some of the finest works of art in the kaleidoscope world. These are masterpieces.” She was right, I was in the Louvre of Light, the Caracalla of kaleidoscopes. My mind however was about to be blown a bit more as I stepped into the worlds largest Kaleidoscope. “You want a secret? Lay on the floor…” Linda said to my girlfriend and me, us two being the only people there to receive this earthly wonder.
We laid on the floor not sure what to expect, trying to hold back our laughter thinking about how absolutely ridiculous we must have looked. Before our self-awareness got the better of us we were bathed in light; above us in the darkness images swirled and collided, colors fused, and music boomed. We weren’t just looking at the world’s largest kaleidoscope, we were inside of it. Literally.
At this point I would normally be in need for a massage, to relax me back down from the plateau of excitement I had just been on. However, the spa was closed as it was being expanded to a new beautiful facility. It would seem that I would have to return when it was completed, gosh darn.
Instead we decided to try out the Woodnotes Grill, which we were told was the newest addition to the Emerson family. Chef Brian Wren offers a menu that is perfectly upscale country, with a bevy of delicious farm-to-table delights that make it very difficult to choose from. Bright chic pea and farro salad, golden seared scallops, and earthy roasted artichokes dressed the table to start, but did not last long at all. Following was a perfectly grilled pork chop and pan seared local duck breast, both so robust in flavor that we were lucky to have a nice bottle of wine to neutralize the palette. Where the dishes are elegantly rugged and classic, the drinks are innovative and sophisticated; hand crafted and perfectly balanced, this was yet another highlight in a brilliant trip.
After two days of relaxing, bathing, eating and walking the backcountry, it was time to say goodbye to my secret hide-a-way and return to the reality of the city. What perhaps amazed me more then anything was how quiet it was at the Emerson; such a large resort seemingly wasn’t overrun with guests. “It’s a great place to come off season, and even during our busy times it’s never overly crowded,” the attendant on duty told me with a smile, “there’s just so much space up here everyone gets a piece of nature.” The service here was a perfect balance between family and guest, where no request went unanswered without a genuine concern to make my trip as pleasant as possible.
Pulling away from the stoic structure and heading south I thought of Ralph Waldo who the Emerson is named after, as he wrote about the beauty of this region when the original farm stood tall. One quote resonated in particular, “Nature always wears the color of spirit” which somehow seemed fitting when speaking of the Emerson resort, as it’s colors were nothing less then vibrant.
Roberto Serrini is a professional traveler who records his adventures in word, photography and film. He is a staff writer for Get Lost Magazine, a senior contributor to Trip Advisor, as well as a commercial film director and drone pilot. His work can be seen at www.robertoserrini.com where he can be contacted as well.