Crawling out from under the two themes that have dominated coverage of The Catskills for decades: "Former Borscht Belt" and "Quest for a casino," it appears the area may have reached a tipping point, and is now in the good graces of the travel media. Judging by the somewhat sudden, rising tide of articles and top rankings that The Catskills has received over the last couple of months, and from top-tier publications, no less, Sullivan and Ulster Counties are in for a fun ride.
There are a number of hot new boutique hotels, including Phoenicia’s Graham & Co., that are receiving consistent coverage, including in Travel + Leisure's Best Places to Travel in 2015. But happily that piece does venture to my particular area of the region, citing The Arnold in its praise, a hip reinvention of the former Lanza's Country Inn in Livingston Manor, which is the latest venture from the folks who lost The Lazy Beagle pub and restaurant in a freak explosion a few years ago.
Coming in at #39, The Catskills just appeared in this Sunday's New York Times Travel Section among the Top 52 Places to Go in 2015, while Fodor's places The Hudson Valley and The Catskills on their Go List 2015 (we are alongside The Arctic, it should be mentioned).
The lesser-known of the three largest ski mountains (Hunter and Windham being the other two) in The Catskills, Belleayre, received huge kudos by landing on Condé Nast Traveler's Twelve Underrated Ski Resorts in America: Readers' Choice.
Leaders Of The Pack
It should be mentioned that the main stream media is following a trend that began with bloggers and even print publishers, in identifying this 2-3 hour remove from, particularly, Manhattan and Brooklyn, as THE get-outta-Dodge destination for the stylish and hip. And with a vacation rentals company, Red Cottage Inc., that offers cool properties, most owned by these creative urbanites, and rented to similar-minded folks, we've seen the level of interest in, and excitement about, The Catskills soar over the last couple of years. The energy self-perpetuates as they inject local communities with their ideas, businesses and investment.
Green Door Magazine, alas, closed its doors last year, but covered the colorful and creative people and places populating the Sullivan County area. And they coined the frequently used phrase "Hickster," which really does accurately portray that Brooklyn cool meets Upstate flannel population of weekenders who are buying and visiting in increasing numbers.
The award-winning Watershed Post is more news outlet than travelogue, but is one with a refreshing human-interest angle as well. It's replaced the role of the largely defunct "local paper", and provides a wider canvas for Catskills coverage. The Upstater website is popular with "down-staters" interested in exploring their real estate options for a country house.
With comprehensive write-ups and fab photos, Erin and Denny, the bloggers at Escape Brooklyn, have a huge following, documenting their Upstate sojourns, and developing not only a network for themselves, but for those of us who follow them. Case in point: follow their Instagram postings, and you'll learn about so many other interesting ventures, high-energy people, and creative efforts, that these counties seem to come alive with an energy that has clearly resulted in what we're seeing reflected in the wider press today.