weekend in the Catskills ("borscht belt")
in late August 2007, I went to the Sullivan County catskill mountains in NY for 3 nights. It's 90 miles north of NYC, containing the villages of Monticello and Liberty, etc.
Stayed at Kutshers Hotel, which is the last surviving family owned hotel left from the "borscht belt" era of the 50's- 80's ....
Kutshers is celebrating its' 100th year !
(But to give some proper credit, I believe the Italian themed Villa Roma Hotel in Callicoon is still family owned. That part of Sullivan County (by Narrowsburg and the Delaware River) is really considered out of the Borscht Belt loop, though)
Kutshers is situated on Anawana Lake , where one can sit outside , grab a rowboat, or grab a bike and ride around the lake.
too dirty to swim in, though
I was here for the "13th annual History of the Catskills Conference",
sponsored by the Catksills Institute.
I have most of those books. and the guys that wrote some of them , Irwin Richman and Phil Brown, were the leaders of our conference
It consists of slide shows, speakers, a bus tour , and above all, lots of reminiscing of the "good 'ol days".
My first time going to this conference, been meaning to go the last few years. (I have fond memories of the Catskills, and have been to Kutshers a few years back) (the best times of my life were working as a cocktail waitress at Grossingers Hotel from 78-80.)
There was a cocktail hour for us first....hor doerves that sounded good (little hot dogs, chicken wings, meatballs,) but did'nt taste that great.... hot dogs were barely cooked..
then it was time for dinner in the main dining room.
the matzoh ball soup tasted canned to me
The dinner salad came with only one dressing choice, an extra heavy russian dressing. However, the challah bread was excellent!! (real fresh) (that's purple horseradish in the middle)
I chose 2 entrees, the chicken and the brisket. The meals at Kutshers (just like at the other legendary "RIP" hotels) are "all you can eat affairs", included with the room rates.
the chicken was fresh tasting , but very bland.
I think they purposely don't put too many seasonings on it, as there are many older folks there on restricted diets.
the brisket was medicore, tasted like it been made the day before and reheated
the apple strudel and the 7 layer cake did'nt really do that much for me. They had more of an industrial taste, as opposed to a homemade taste
here's a shot of the main dining room.......for those Catksills affecianado's , it's nice that some things never change, huh?!?
my hotel room was in the "Rip Van Winkle" section.... if you notice, my room was right near the so called "executive card room"..
(only fitting for a poker dealer to be put near a card room)
however, THIS card room is no match for my Borgata Casino, huh?!?
looks like it's seen better days... but once again, it's nice to see some things never change.. you can still find the same chairs from 50 years ago there.
after dinner, there were some seminars, including a special surprise appearance by Mark Kutsher himself (the son of the late Milton Kutsher)
He was choking back tears as he talked to our little group, regarding the 100th anniversary of the hotel. Marks Mom (Miltons wife) was in the back row; she looked lovely. He also had a little dedication ceremony for Jack Landsman, who has worked at Kutshers for 58 years.
He looks great for 90!!!
later I caught the last part of the show...( a comedian named Lee Stanley , who was not too funny... ) (past his prime, I guess)
It was a bad sign to see so many people walking out strolling down the hallways; first I thought the show was over...
here is/was their summer show schedule
breakfast the next morning was decent...I had poached eggs, (no fried food allowed on Sat. morning under the Jewish dietary laws), and some french toast
then I took a dip in the pool....... I love all the greenery around the pool
the water was ice cold, and there were tons of bugs in the pool.
The pool towel the attendant gave me was SO small and flimsy, that it was embarrassing. they do have serious "towel issues" at Kutshers, as you will see below.
after swimming, I changed clothes and took a nice walk.
I was real hot when I came back, as it was 90 degrees out, and wanted to freshen up in the room before lunch. I was glad to see the maid had made up my room.
But, alas, no towels!! I called, and was told "there is only one washing machine".
So it was tough cooling off before lunch, as the air conditioning barely worked in the room, either! I figure it has'nt worked right in about 30 years anyway.
I settled for splashing cold water on my face and back.
and for the record, there were NO towels when I checked into the room the day before. Had to make that call to housekeeping.
The room was $180 a night, single occupancy, including 3 meals.
(it would have been $120 a night for 2 people)
Lunch was blinzes (for me, anyway), and the table consensus was that these were definitely not homemade. the pic is not worth showing.
Then time for our bus tour of the town and mountains of Ellenville,
(named after ME, of course)
dinner for me was prime rib, all the way . I had 2 slices, the end cut and a medium rare one. The end cut was too tough, and the medium rare one was very tasty, but just a little flimsy on the size.
I could have used just a little more of it, but the waiter got way too busy for me to bother
There are lots of activities for people of all ages at Kutshers
Even the indoor ice arena was open
half the fun is looking at all the old signage in the hallways...
and tons of lobbies with more couches and chairs than you've ever seen before..
This conference was bittersweet, but we also made some new memories , as well...
and I'm grateful, that at least we still have Kutshers..
(just do something about the towels, Mark, okay?!?)(it's a towel challenged place.)
and when I looked in the gift shop for any possible Kutshers postcards, the lady said (with a straight face) "try going on E-bay"
Since the hotel still DOES exist, how about some current postcards?!?
I do plan on writing a review on Tripadvisor.com , and I will refer people to this Roadfood website for further info... an added bonus will be some more folks getting turned onto Roadfood.com
stay tuned for "catskills, part 2", (the sights and food outside of Kutshers)