(All photos: Poul Ober)
If thinking of The Catskills brings images of family talent shows, tennis lessons, and Jennifer Grey awkwardly carrying a watermelon to mind… maybe it’s time to take another look.
While the cheesy family summer lodges of Baby’s Dirty Dancing days are certainly still around, chic urbanites who want to give it a rustic go upstate now have an alternative in The Graham & Co. a beautifully designed, 20-room oasis in Phoenicia, a tiny town of 309 in Upstate New York. The former hunting lodge was bought and fully refurbished by four designer pals from Brooklyn who seemed to have Instagram in mind when creating each and every detail — nobody puts style in a corner!
The Graham & Co. offers ensuite rooms for around $180/night, furnished with either one or two queen beds on un-painted wooden frames, in addition to a bunkhouse (two twins per room) with shared bath. Each room is slightly different: Ours had a wooden bench out front, a big blue bean bag chair, and exposed bulbs hanging above small pine nightstands next to the beds. The lack of televisions is a great relief, forcing guests to really unplug. There is, however an old-timey Tivoli radio to tune into — or blast some Dirty Dancing tunes from your iPod — if you’re so inclined. The clean, simple bathrooms include a bathtub, which is a welcoming invitation after a long hike.
Staff are all super-friendly and immensely knowledgeable locals who are quick to suggest the best places to hike (Tremper Mountain), eat (Phoenicia Diner), drink (B.Y.O. to Graham & Co.), and shop (Woodstock). On property, the garage-turned-office/mini-lodge is the perfect place to set up shop with a bottle of wine and play cards or some of the available board games. There’s also a quaint pool (fed by artesian spring), a hammock for napping in the shade, and badminton — sans group class instructor.
On Saturday and Sunday, a light breakfast (included in the nightly room rate) of farm fresh eggs, fruit, local bread, and apple cider donuts is served along with juices and milk. Southdown Coffee (roasted in Red Hook, Brooklyn) is available on the house all day as well.
On weekend evenings, the staff lights a bonfire for guests to gather at their leisure. Take one of the free bikes and ride a few minutes to the Phoenicia Market on Main St. for s’mores ingredients to share with your new friends.
Book quick — the Graham & Co. shows a few weekends still available for this summer. Just not July 25-26, when the lodge will pay Brooklyn the ultimate compliment by hosting “The Phoenicia Flea” from 12-8pm. They definitely never had one of those at Kellerman’s.