Native Americans once tracked Mountain Lions, Panthers, Bobcats, Gray Wolves, Black Bears, Deer, and more through the Catskills and Hudson Valley. Tanneries, farmers, and trappers followed and in the 1700s a group of businessmen opened the first grand American resort in a valley hamlet. Other great hotels rose and soon a Catskills getaway was fashionable for the “upper crust of Victorian New York.” Great artists painted views of rivers and sunsets which inspired more visitors to see it all for themselves. Vast parks remain and after WW2 affordable family hotels featured comedians and entertainers. The fictional settings of the movie ‘Dirty Dancing’ and the second season of ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ have helped immortalize a Catskills getaway as an oasis from city cares.

Neighbor from Millbrook Winery a tasting adventure on a Catskills getaway

A neighbor seen from Millbrook Winery – A tasting adventure on a Catskills getaway

Getting away from urban tensions and into all that green calms the most restless spirit. If you’re looking for luxury services or mindful retreats, the Catskills communities are re-inventing wellness.

Many thanks to Sullivan County Tourism, Visit Catskills, Travel Hudson Valley TBEX, and New York Tourism for hosting me on this adventure. As usual, all opinions are my own.

The Yoga studio inside YO1

The Yoga studio inside YO1

Natural therapies and Yoga retreats at YO1 Wellness Center

The world is full of wellness practices but in the Catskills there are new combinations emerging.  The YO1 Wellness Center offers immersive 3 to 10-day packages including “luxury hotel accommodations.” There are unique combinations of Naturopathic and Ayurvedic practices, adapted for modern times. Weight, lifestyle and pain management, detox and stress relief measures are some of the specialties. The modern complex takes advantage of sunlight and views of the adjacent ‘pond.’

Part of our delicious vegan lunch at YO1 on a Catskills getaway

Part of our delicious vegan lunch at YO1 in the Catskills

I took a restorative Yoga class in the loveliest studio. A huge Buddha, gong, and chimes sat near the windows that reflected a pond. Afterward one of the center’s Doctors gave us insights into Ayurvedic ingredients and practices. Before leaving, we sipped green juice, drank fresh teas and ate locally foraged foods at a terrace table with a view.

The Buddha in the forest – a personal reflection

The turnoff up to the Chuang Yen Monastery is modest. With the skies threatening rain, we parked quickly and strolled up to the main building while birds chattered in the dense green hugging the grounds. The central building rose before us with windows stretching several stories high. I was stunned to barely make out the silhouette of a giant figure. It was my first glimpse of the largest Buddha in the Western hemisphere. Quietly we took off our shoes at a side door and walked into the hushed space as monks set books and draped cloths across tables. Otherwise, my small group were the only visitors. The massive wooden building is a wonder in itself but the spiritual artwork was riveting in color and detail. A ring of Boddhisattvas emerged from the base of the big Buddha. Several other statues sat in front and we were welcome to study it all.

Guan Yin temple at Chuang Yen Monastery

Guan Yin temple at Chuang Yen Monastery

Outside a light rain began just as we entered an adjacent building. Here I was delighted to see several statues of Guan Yin, an Oriental goddess drawn from Chinese and ancient Indian lore. She has always reminded me of a mother’s compassion. Sometimes she’s depicted dancing, swirling scarves around her feet or clouds. Here we approached a richly framed porcelain version standing tall above the carpeted floor and again surrounded by replicas of Bodhisattvas.

Inside a Resort World Suite

Resort World suite

Resort World Catskills Getaway

In Monticello, a sleek building rises far above the treetops. Resort World opened several years ago and is poised to pamper from the moment you enter the building. There’s a large casino, many restaurants, private VIP services from entry to gaming rooms, an expansive concert venue and each suite is spacious. It’s all laid out to capitalize on quiet and expansive luxury. The indoor pool and spa are vast, offering a playland for those wanting a quiet soak or, around a bend, a boisterous family reunion. The Five Star Resort also caters to Asian guests with multi-lingual staff and international cuisine. Americana is the focus in the casual restaurants and steakhouse. Large, adjacent parking lots make checking into Resort World easy. The Resort offers bus tours from most major cities in the NE.

Pool inside Resort World

Pool inside Resort World

Everyone’s always predicting that the Catskills are going to make a comeback. They’re beautiful, inexpensive, accessible and… rich in historical interest. ~ New York Times Review

I was fortunate to swing through the Catskills over four days in the early fall and each stop along the winding roads was another revelation. For all of that, finding calm on the Catskills getaway was most welcome.

Elaine reflecting in the rain at Guan Yin temple at Chuang Yen Monastery

Moments reflecting in the rain at Guan Yin temple at Chuang Yen Monastery

Getting to your Catskills getaway

  • The commute is simplified by train up through the Hudson Valley but you’ll need a car or other means to explore the Catskills.
  • Find bus or rideshare tours out of New York City
  • Rent a car for your Catskills getaway to take advantage of stops and discoveries.
  • Check on weather and that the places on your itinerary. Many are closed in the deepest winter months.

Many thanks to Sullivan County Tourism, Visit Catskills, Travel Hudson Valley TBEX, and New York Tourism for hosting me on this adventure. As usual, all opinions are my own.

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