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Rip Van Winkle Never Imagined Living So Well!

16 Jan

Emerson Resort and Spa. (Photo courtesy of the Emerson.)

The Catskill Mountain gnomes who Rip Van Winkle encountered were fond of bowling and magical brews. These days they’re hanging out in hot tubs and getting massages after dining in style…of course, still while imbibing magical Catskill brews.

Winter’s the perfect time in the Catskills to indulge yourself in both active and therapeutic recreation. You’ll find luxurious Catskills escapes come in many guises. I was fortunate to spend nights at the serene Emerson Resort and Spa and the funky-chic Roxbury Motel. Each is family friendly yet also a sophisticated anomaly in this charming old Dutch colonial haven.

The burbling Esopus River and East Branch Delaware River and rounded mountains are extraordinarily calming. The entire Ulster and Delaware county region is laced with streams and rail beds, many of which carry antique trains or have been converted to trails. These flows continue the formation of the Catskills, which aren’t mountains in the usual sense but rather are remnants of a carved plateau. That’s why so many of these green mounds have nearly uniform height.

Esopus River running past the Emerson. (Photo courtesy of the Emerson.)

The beautiful view from the bed of our duplex suite, as it appeared in Autumn. (Photo by Erik Baard.)

At its core, the Emerson is an ayurvedic retreat. “I thought I’d have to travel back to India to find a space like that,” said my travel companion, who hails from that nation.

Behind the imported, ancient Indian hand-carved gate at New York’s first Mobil Four-Star Spa you’ll discover ten treatment rooms adorned with antique fixtures and sculptures of deities and a striking raw stone sculpture centerpiece. Guests can stroll between these private sessions and steam showers, saunas, a fitness room, relaxation lounge, and outdoor hot tub. To take healthy wisdom home with you, there are Yoga classes too.

The Country Store with a silo converted into the world's largest kaleidoscope. (Photo courtesy of the Emerson.)

When you’re ready for more fanciful fare, dizzy yourself with the world’s largest kaleidoscope at the Country Store just yards away. But steady yourself on your feet for serious shopping — the Country Store is stocked with distinctive jewelry, gourmet delights, glassware, antiques, women’s apparel, furnishings, accessories, and more.

The Emerson's road sign, complete with glowing eyes. (Photo Courtesy of the Emerson.)

Ol' Red Eyes at the Catamount. (Photo by Erik Baard)

At the Emerson’s restaurants it’s as pleasurable to fill your belly as it is to fill your luggage and spirit. The glowing red mountain lion eyes of the Catamount’s imposing sign announce “carnivores welcome.” But vegetarians and vegans will find very satifying choices. I had the pleasure of feasting on a tofu and veggie stir fry while I enjoyed the company of Lisa Berger of Ulster County Tourism, who had sauteed Atlantic salmon.

Catamount stir fry. (Photo by Erik Baard.)

Catamount trout. (Photo by Erik Baard.)

Over at the Roxbury Motel, in Delaware County, each room is a unique and elegant work of art, reflecting a broad palate of periods and influences. If you’re a more playful sort, a sleepover can transport you to an ancient cave, the helm of a starship, or into a coconut cream pie one can imagine was whipped up by Mary Ann on “Gilligan’s Island.”

The Roxbury cheerfully greets the night. (Photo Courtesy of the Roxbury Motel.)

Mary Ann's coconut cream pie. (Photo Courtesy of the Roxbury Motel.)

A starship for the night. Uhura not included. (Photo Courtesy of the Roxbury Motel.)

The Noir Boudoir. (Photo Courtesy of the Roxbury Motel.)

Bride of Amadeus suite. (Photo Courtesy of the Roxbury Motel.)

The decor reflects the engaging and fun personalities of its delightful owners, Gregory Henderson and Joseph Massa. The two met through New York City’s theater life and so it’s no surprise that they brought stagecraft to create shared dreams into which they personally welcome each guest.

But this dynamic duo is in touch with the rooted tranquility all around them too. This past weekend they were moved to post this little video of the East Branch Delaware River running past the Roxbury Motel:

 

 

Just contemplate that snowy stream for now, until you too can head up for a spa retreat in the Catskills!

FINAL WEEKEND for the Swimming Cities Boatel

8 Sep

I was once asked to tow a huge floating diorama of the Bronx River from the Bronx to Brooklyn on the East River by kayak. The rickety eco-artwork was strung together from several pieces and featured delicate paper items. Square yards of it were covered with deliberately broken glass bottles.

Fortunately, I knew one man with enough humor, adventurous soul and artistic passion to give this “Mission Impossible” a go:  Jean Barberis, artistic director of New York’s innovative culture changer, Flux Factory.

As we expected, we never made it to Brooklyn. But we landed in Queens with hilarious memories and new friends at the secretive-but-hospitable marina that took us in as artistic castaways.

Now you can enjoy an unforgettable weekend  of Flux Factory arts and seaside living in New York City without mishaps and glass shards!

The artist-made Boggsville Boatel is auctioning off rooms for its final weekend! This floating hotel and “boat-in theater” on Jamaica Bay is ecologically sound, made from creatively restored boats from the “Gilligan’s Island” to “Miami Vice” eras that were otherwise destined for landfill.

After a sold out summer, rooms are being auctioned one FINAL WEEKEND to support future art projects and tours.

The installation and boatel received rave reviews from The New York TimesNPR and other major media. Enjoy a photo gallery of this unique summer community here.

Rooms include dinner and access to the artists and an invitation to the GOING AWAY PARTY on Sept 10, 8pm ’til late. There will be cold beers at Marina 59, revelers in beach wear, Cocktail Cruises in Jamaica Bay, Jerk Burgers & Pineapple Hot Dogs by Carnival Queen Lamar Iposa. You can even join in on Sea Shanty Karaoke.

Guests can start the morning with gulls, egrets and herons and spend the day in the company of daring, fun and talented Flux Factory and Swimming Cities artists! Be sure to meet the visionary behind the boatel, Constance Hockaday!

For more information and to bid for a boatel room, please CLICK HERE.

And the 2011 Greenest NYer Winner is… Erik Baard!

30 Apr

I LOVE NEW YORK is pleased to announce the 2011 winner of the Greenest NYer title, Erik Baard.  Erik was honored today at Escapemaker.com’s Green Getaways Local Food & Travel Expo in Brooklyn, NY.

In the coming weeks, please keep an eye out for a personal message from Erik as well as many more posts to come!

Here is a bit about Erik, pulled from his contest submission:

“I’m a native New Yorker, the grandchild of immigrants, and I love New York. One of my greatest joys is exploring my home’s natural splendor and food heritages, and finding ways to preserve and share those gifts as a volunteer.

I founded the LIC Community Boathouse, which provides free paddle tours on the East River to thousands of people, arranges beach cleanups, and advocates for marine ecology. I also started what grew into City of Water Day, our harbor’s biggest annual gathering of paddlers, rowers, and conservationists. To promote local eco-tourism, I conceived of the MetroBoat and worked with the MTA and Folbot to execute it.

Where I can’t kayak, I bike. I’m a founding member of the Queens Volunteer Committee of Transportation Alternatives. Each year I marshal several public rides and work continually with the committee to improve transit, bike, and pedestrian options. I also founded the Newtown Pippin Restoration and Celebration, which donates hundreds of heirloom apple saplings (especially NY varieties) to public spaces throughout NYC each year. We’re also working with UN diplomats to save the ancestral Kazakh apple forest.

As a writer, I advocate for NY’s environment through my Nature Calendar blog, professional articles, and pro bono contributions. Another aspect of my green work has been professional management, overseeing programs, grants, and volunteers for Earth Day New York and Citizens Committee for NYC. I’d be grateful to augment my happy work as the Greenest New Yorker!”

We are very happy and proud to welcome Erik as Ambassador to the Green Heart NY program, and though Kaity’s enthusiasm and passion will be missed, we believe Erik will succesfully fill the big shoes she leaves behind!

Green Travel Resources

8 Mar

“The earth belongs to anyone who stops for a moment, gazes and goes on his way.” ~ Colette (1873-1954), French novelist

To me, every day is Earth Day, which is why it’s important for people to know that helping conserve, preserve and care for Mother Nature serves everyone’s best interests too. So how does this relate to travel exactly?

Well, as we continue to travel to places near and far, we realize it’s a small world after all and how everything and everybody is interconnected. That’s why it’s important for us to be aware of our impact and try to make changes in how as well as where we travel. How would you want visitors to treat your home?

Hmm, I’d like to think of myself as somewhat well traveled, and I promise that New York has something green for everyone, no matter where they come from. Home to accessible natural treasures like the Empire State Building, the Catskills, Adirondack Park, and Niagara Falls, here are some available resources and guides on traveling with green style – nothing that a keyword search for “New York State” and “green” can’t handle!

Green Destinations throughout New York State:

Related Articles:

General Tips on How to Travel Green:

Related Sustainable Tourism Events:

  • Green Getaways, Local Food Travel Expo” at Skylight One Hanson in downtown Brooklyn, NY on April 30, 2011 – hosted by EscapeMaker.com and presented by Amtrak and Zipcar. By the way, we are announcing the next Greenest NYer there too!
  • Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference will feature presentations and discussions to help tourism professionals gain necessary tools to effectively implement sustainability practices. Held from September 19-21, 2011, on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, USA.
  • Find the New York Marketplace at the International Hotel, Motel + Restaurant Show held inside the Jacob Javits Center in NYC, November 12-15, 2011.

Quoting John Ur, “From the boats at Ellis Island to the border with Canada, New York takes all comers. It will suck you in” (Cinematic Road Trip: New York – Intelligent Travel Blog).

My AWESOME Lake Placid trip!

22 Feb

Baby, is it cold outside or what?!

I missed everyone dearly last weekend, which is why I want to share my winter getaway experience, in brief of course! Simply put, there was just too much green in Lake Placid! =)

Gauthier’s Saranac Lake Inn

  • They provided guests with amazing organic bath amenities, mugs instead of disposable cups, and blue recycling bins for items that shouldn’t be thrown in the trash, duh! Learn more about their green initiatives here.

Golden Arrow Resort

  • I toured around and saw their awesome green roof (covered with snow, understandably), ate delicious food at the Resort’s Generations Restaurant, and went on a dogsled ride for the first time ever! Learn more about their green initiatives here.

Adirondack Green Circle

  • Had dinner with members Kate Fish and Gail Brill at the Blue Moon Café, where we drank some Lake Placid Ubu Ale, yummy!
  • Had such a blast walking beside them in the Annual Saranac Lake Winter Carnival parade, 114 years and going strong!
  • Click here for photos on how AGC show their love for the environment.

Conference Center at Lake Placid

  • I’m not kidding when I say the developers thought of EVERYTHING when it came to multifunctional spaces and bringing the outside in with big, beautiful windows. They also anticipate Gold LEED certification upon completion.
  • Grabbed some sandwiches from Big Mountain Deli & Crêperie, aka home of the 46 Best Sandwiches in the High Peaks, before heading to…

The Wild Center

  • Snow-shoed for the first time at this LEED-certified museum, which has a currently frozen pond along with a green roof, floors made from recycled tires, and special parking space for hybrid vehicles. Don’t believe me? See for yourself in my slide show =D

And last but not least, a shout-out to Amtrak for all its emeralding throughout New York State and beyond, taking action such as 100% compostable cups and helping travelers like me go green and reduce our carbon footprints.

A longer and more entertaining version can be found here thanks to Kim Rielly at the Lake Placid CVB/Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism.

More to come!

Kaity

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