The kids are back in school and busy schedules are the new norm. So when the kids had a couple of days off from school, we decided to enjoy some fall family fun at the Emerson Resort & Spa in Mount Tremper, NY. The Emerson is an easy drive from northern Westchester County, less than two hours away.
The Emerson is conveniently situated for visiting the nearby towns of Phoenicia and Woodstock to the East or Belleayre and Hunter Mountain to the West. However, if you’re looking to simply enjoy some rest and relaxation, it’s perfect for that as well!
The History of the Emerson Resort and Spa
The Emerson Resort is located in Ulster County, in the Eastern part of the Catskills, and borders the Esopus Creek. Once you arrive at the resort, you will quickly discover who it was named after. Every room has books of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poems, and quotes from these poems decorate the walls of the Resort.
The Resort sits on what was originally an 1840 dairy farm owned by the Riseley family. Part of the original building was transported onto the current property. Over a century later, it was developed into tourist destination Clinton Corners, which included a variety of shops, a restaurant and the World’s Largest Kaleidoscope. After a move and various renovations, it is now the Emerson Resort & Spa as we know it.
There are two different lodging options when visiting the Emerson Resort. You can stay in the Lodge buildings, which are more rustic, Adirondack-style rooms.
The second lodging option is the Inn, which features more contemporary, Catskill chic type accommodations. We stayed in room 502 of the Inn which was perfect for our family of four. This Royal Suite room has two queen beds.
I enjoyed a soak in the large whirlpool tub and we all enjoyed the waterfall shower with adjustable side sprays. Although we did question the window looking into the bedroom! Luckily, the blinds close for privacy.
During the afternoon, our balcony was a perfect place to enjoy some reading time, while listening to the tranquil sounds of the Esopus Creek. And in the morning, my husband and I enjoyed our coffee with a beautiful view!
Fall evenings in the Catskills can get chilly. We enjoyed sitting nearby our room’s gas fireplace in the evening. On the second night, we enjoyed a family game night in front of the fireplace as well. The kids really enjoyed the complimentary snacks (peanut trail mix and granola bars) and water available in the room. The water came in handy on our outings. It’s important to know that there is no cell phone service in the area. Thank goodness the Emerson has complementary wi-fi!
The Emerson Resort is very family-friendly . Although it is a resort and spa, we noticed many families with children visiting. For dog owners, the Resort is also pet-friendly! It was fun seeing guests walking the property with their dogs.
The spa at The Emerson Resort is spread over 6,000 square feet and is only for adults. Reservations are recommended prior to arrival if you wish to enjoy a massage, facial or one of the other treatments they offer. All overnight adult guests can enjoy the fitness room, sauna, steam room and outdoor salt water hot tub. The entrance to the spa is one of the few decorative pieces that remains after a major renovation in 2016. The hand-carved imported doorway was too fantastic to change .
The day of our arrival we enjoyed participating in a kaleidoscope making class. While you can purchase the same kits in the gift shop, it was nice to be guided through the process. After making our kaleidoscopes, our instructor, Jonas had us walk around the property to look for objects in nature that we could add to the kaleidoscope. It was fun to see how the different items looked while viewed through our kaleidoscopes. If you aren’t interested in making a kaleidoscope, the Resort also offers watercolor postcard painting or design your own t-shirt classes ($20 per shirt). Check the schedule to see which days the classes are offered.
The Catskills are truly beautiful. The Emerson really wants guests to explore and take in all the beauty of their surroundings. The grounds of the Emerson include 1.2 miles of trails and a small pond. There are several cruiser bicycles available (adults sized only, they do not have children’s bikes) and you can get helmets from the front desk. If you are interested in doing some bird watching around the property, you can also borrow binoculars at the front desk.
Twice a day, guided nature walks depart from the lobby. We enjoyed participating in one of these walks that takes you down to the Esopus Creek and along the property. The creek’s water comes from the mountain and leads to the Ashokan Reservoir. Weather permitting, swimming is allowed in the creek. The Emerson has partnered with the Ashokan Watershed and offers fresh water snorkeling on select dates during the summer! The resort even had its moment of fame as the recent movie The Dead Don’t Die, starring Bill Murray and Adam Driver, was partly filmed on the property!
In the warmer months guests can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities. There are outdoor games including volleyball, horseshoes and corn hole. There’s a playground for younger kids and even a dog park for all of the four-legged visitors. And, of course, there’s a pool open during the summer.
All guests are invited to enjoy the Family Room in the Black Bear building at the lodge. We walked over one evening and enjoyed several games of intense and competitive family ping pong. There are also several fire pits throughout the property and s’mores kits are available for purchase at the front desk for guests to enjoy.
The World’s Largest Kaleidoscope
The Emerson Resort is probably most well known for housing the World’s Largest Kaleidoscope. The Kaleidoscope sits in the former silo of the Riseley Farm. It has a 50-foot virtual sphere that can reflect 254 images, which creates an illusion of over 3,000 images! Overnight guests are able to view a complimentary showing of Star Dust, a 10 minute experience that will dazzle your senses. Seating is available, but we all enjoyed laying down on the floor to view the show.
There are a variety of shops in the Emerson, including a toy shop, housewares and souvenir and clothing shops. However, you must take a visit through the Kaleidostore. There are a couple of fun, interactive exhibits to see. But the showstopper is the large collection of kaleidoscopes for sale at the Kaleidobar. Children are asked not to touch these and even I was afraid to touch some (most?) of them. There’s a kaleidoscope that costs $1,850! They are truly works of art!
The Emerson Resort has two restaurants onsite. Ralph’s Cafe is open from 9 AM to 5 PM (except Sundays when it’s open until 6 PM). Here you can pick up pastries, soup, sandwiches, salads and more. There is seating both inside and out where you can enjoy your food, or you can take it to go.
Woodnotes Grille is the sit down restaurant that serves breakfast and dinner. Locally sourced ingredients are used to create delicious meals in what they like to call “Catskill Creative Cooking.”
We enjoyed dinner there one evening and some of the highlight dishes included this Black Angus Beef Brisket with Parmesan Twice Baked Potatoes and Wilted Swiss Chard…
…as well as the Pan Seared Beaverkill Trout with Lyonnaise potatoes and French beans. Most entrees are priced between $22-$26.
We enjoyed breakfast one morning at Woodnotes as well. The restaurant serves everything from Eggs Benedict and House Made Corned Beef Hash to Quinoa Granola and Avocado Toast.
Our second morning, we stopped at Ralph’s Cafe. Overnight guests can enjoy a free cup of coffee or tea each day of their stay. We purchased a variety of breakfast goodies to share before we headed out that morning. Everything is reasonably priced, including breakfast sandwiches.
We had a great stay at the Emerson Resort & Spa. Our weekend had a mix of relaxation, fun and exploration. With an eleven and thirteen year-old, there was enough to see and do during our stay to make it an enjoyable visit for the entire family. If you are looking for a quick weekend getaway to the Catskills, we highly recommend a visit to the Emerson Resort & Spa in Mount Tremper!
Emerson Resort & Spa
5340 Route 28
Mount Tremper, NY 12457
Room Prices: Rates start at $224/night, depending on date and room type
*Be sure to check out the Emerson website for specials and packages.
*This is a dog friendly resort! You can bring your pet with you!
*There is a full service spa onsite as well as fitness classes (for a fee).
(Thank you to the Emerson Resort & Spa for hosting NY Foodie Family. As always, all opinions are our own.)