Hotel Review: The Emerson Resort (Catskills, NY)

Hotel Review: The Emerson Resort (Catskills, NY)

This is an in-depth review of the Emerson Resort & Spa in the Catskills, New York.

My friends and I stayed at the Emerson for a weekend girls’ trip filled with lots of wine, food, and semi-successful TikTok attempts, and we had a blast. It was definitely the recharge we needed after a busy fall season in New York City!

Below, you’ll find everything you need to know before booking a stay at the Emerson, including what the rooms are like, what dish you have to order at its restaurant and its commitment to eco-friendly practices.

Let’s get to it!

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LOCATION


Main building

Located two hours north of NYC, in Mount Tremper, Emerson is a short drive from several charming towns in upstate New York, including Phoenicia (just down the road), Woodstock (20 minutes), Kingston (30 minutes), and Saugerties (35 minutes).

The resort sits in the heart of the Catskills, which means there are plenty of hiking trails nearby. Overlook Mountain, which offers amazing views of the Hudson River Valley, is a little over 20 minutes away. You can also get from the resort to the famous Kaaterskill Falls in half an hour. You can see the full list of local hiking trails on the Emerson website or ask the front desk for the list once you arrive.

Given its proximity to so many different attractions, Emerson is a great base for your adventures in the Catskills. The property is large and secluded enough that you feel like you’re in your own little world, but the trappings of city town/village life are a short drive away should you crave a little more hustle and bustle.

ARRIVAL/CHECK IN


We arrived on a Friday night around 9:30 pm. It was easy to spot the hotel in the dark, and there’s a large parking lot on the property, but we weren’t sure if there was a designated parking area for guests.

Since there was no valet or doorman, I hopped out to ask the front desk. It turns out we could park in any of the spots since we were staying in the main building (guests staying in one of the separate lodges have their own parking areas). I gave the girl at the desk my name and by the time we parked and came inside, we were already checked in and ready to go – I just had to give her my ID for confirmation and a credit card to keep on file.

Quick, easy, and painless!

*Note: There are multiple buildings on the property. The main building is the contemporary-looking one with the covered driveway in front. This is where the check-in desk is, regardless of which building you’re staying in.

ROOM: THE ROYAL SUITE


The four of us stayed in the Royal Suite on the second floor of the main building. There are no elevators so you have to carry your luggage up the stairs, but it’s a short walk and the staff is more than happy to help you with your bags.

Jessie’s very excited about the fireplace

THE BEDROOM

Our suite was large with high vaulted ceilings, two queen beds, and a cozy sitting area complete with a chair, couch, and indoor gas fireplace you can turn on with the flip of a switch. The fireplace was one of my favorite features. Even though the room is quite modern, the fireplace gave it a cozy vibe that’s perfect for winter. 

There was also an outdoor deck with chairs overlooking the Esopus, which we didn’t use as much as I would’ve liked since it was so cold, but if you go in warmer weather it would be fabulous. There’s nothing like sipping a cup of coffee in your bathrobe and watching the sun rise over nature!

The beds were super comfortable – according to the hotel website, they have Sealy plush-top mattresses. I’m not sure what that means, but anything “plush-top” is good in my book. In fact, I fell asleep less than ten minutes after my head hit the pillow. To be fair, I was tired, but a comfy bed never hurts! 

Other room features include a mini-fridge, Keurig coffee maker, 43” flat-screen TV, and large windows that allow for plenty of natural light.

THE BATHROOM

I want this bathtub

I’m not a bath person, but I couldn’t help drooling over the huge air-jetted tub in the bathroom. Sadly, I didn’t have time to enjoy it, since we weren’t in our room much and I was too tired to draw a bath by the time we turned in for the night. I settled for staring longingly at the tub every time I went into the bathroom *sigh*.

The shower is nothing to sneeze at either. It’s a glass-doored, walk-in Swiss rain shower with two jets on the side. The jets were controversial – two of us liked them, two of us didn’t. I personally thought they were cool (finally, jets in my shower)! It also came equipped with wall-mounted dispensers for shampoo, conditioner, and body wash.

I only had two minor gripes: the water pressure, which could’ve been stronger (but that’s my issue with rain showers in general) and the broken dispenser for the conditioner. The pump didn’t work, so we had to open the top and scrape out the conditioner that way.

Other bathroom features include a separate water closet for the toilet, a wooden bench where you can place your towels and clothing (in addition to the usual towel racks), and double sink vanity with plenty of counter space.

There’s also a window above the tub that looks into the bedroom. This is a hotel feature that’s always baffled me, but you can easily close the blinds for privacy. It’s better than other hotels I’ve stayed at where there were no blinds at all – just frosted glass through which you could see people moving about in the bathroom. Talk about awkward!

ROOM AMENITIES

If I could live in the hotel’s bathrobes for the rest of my life, I’d be happy. They are SO comfy and luxurious. Bathrobe + spa slippers (provided) = ultimate relaxation time. Same goes for the towels, which are larger and fluffier than usual.

Another nice touch is the lovely welcome gift that greeted us when we arrived in our room – two bottles of wine, a gift bag with four kaleidoscopes (one for each of us), and a welcome note from the staff. It’s a great way to start off the weekend and we definitely finished both bottles (and then some) by the time we left. This is the type of thoughtful gesture that makes a hotel stand out in my mind!

Other room amenities include bottled water and snacks, Beekman 1802 bathroom amenities, a hairdryer, and makeup remover wipes (which I appreciated – I always forget to bring makeup remover when I travel).

*Note: We stayed in the contemporary main building. If you’re looking for a more rustic experience Emerson also has three log-cabin buildings with Adirondack-style rooms, complete with moose chandeliers and tartan blankets.

FOOD & DRINKS


WOODNOTES GRILLE

Woodnotes Grille dining room

Emerson’s signature restaurant and bar. Located next to the resort’s great room, it’s a large space with plenty of seating and natural light.

We ate here for breakfast, which was decent, and dinner, which was fantastic. We ate so much at dinner we could barely move afterward. That’s the sign of a good meal!

Here’s what we ordered:

Four scallops, one for each of us. Perfect 🙂

APPETIZERS

  • Maryland-style crab cakes
  • Blistered shishito peppers
  • *Seared sea scallops (highly recommend! If you order one appetizer, order the scallops. They were SO GOOD)
  • P.E.I. mussels 

NY strip steak

ENTREES

  • 12 oz NY strip steak with garlic herb butter and hand-cut fries
  • Mushroom risotto
  • Pan-seared sea bass with grilled baby bok choy

Brownie Sundae

DESSERTS

  • Apple almond tart
  • Brownie Sundae

As you can see, we went for a strong seafood theme. I can honestly say I enjoyed everything I ate, and my friends agreed.

Do you know how hard it is to get four people to agree on something? Pretty hard! Especially when it’s about food and one of them used to work for the online food magazine Eater (for reference, she had the mushroom risotto and really liked it).

The ambiance was also perfect – nice, but not too casual or stuffy, and quiet enough that we could hear each other but not so quiet everyone else in the dining room could hear us.

Overall, we loved our dinner and I definitely recommend grabbing at least one nighttime meal here during your stay.

RALPH’S CAFE

Counter at Ralph’s

Located next to the shopping area. It’s a quick, convenient stop for items like breakfast pastries, sandwiches, salad, and soup.

There’s a seating area if you want to sit and eat but you can also grab and go.

Tip: The first tea, coffee, or hot chocolate of the day is free for hotel guests!

AMENITIES & ENTERTAINMENT


SPA

I LOVE spas. Seriously, if I had the money I would build a full-service spa in my home so I could enjoy it every day.

As you can imagine, I was really excited to check out Emerson’s award-winning spa. I didn’t get a chance to try one of their treatments, but their outdoor hot tub and steam room are available to all overnight hotel guests.

The hot tub can fit about a dozen people and is located on the deck outside the spa. It has a view of the Esopus Creek and surrounding scenery and it was the perfect end to a long day. In fact, we enjoyed it so much we stayed there for an hour and a half (with breaks in between, since you’re not supposed to soak in a Jacuzzi for more than 15-30 minutes at a time)!

We also stopped by the steam room after the hot tub because why not? There’s a wood-paneled locker room where you can store your belongings and you can manually adjust the steam room temperature. The space is relatively small but we were only there for 15 minutes or so to detox our skin. Within five minutes we were sweating like crazy.

Once you’re done, you can use the spa’s toiletries, mirrors, and hairdryer to fix yourself up after all the heat action. There’s also tea and water you can enjoy in the Relaxation Room or elsewhere in the resort.

Honestly, the hot tub was one of the highlights of my stay and I’m so glad I got to experience it! Next time, I’ll have to try one of their spa treatments. A massage is calling my name right now…

SHOPPING

Emerson Home & Garden

The resort’s shopping area is beyond adorable. We went in late November, so the holiday decor and items were already out in full force. Everything was so cute and cozy and I wanted to move in.

The market consists of several boutiques selling different types of items:

  • Emerson Home & Garden: my favorite. It sells all sorts of specialty furniture items and beautiful home goods.
  • Emerson: The Men’s Shop: country classic and comfortable weekend wear for men
  • Kaleidostore: various unique kaleidoscopes
  • Melina’s: elegant upscale clothing from brands such as White + Warren, Three Dots, and Velvet by Spencer & Graham
  • Toy Chest: games and toys for children of all ages
  • Waldo’s Trading Post: souvenirs, toiletries, and necessities such as toothbrushes, sunscreen, and bug spray

Set aside some time to wander through the market and pick up a few souvenirs to remind you of your weekend getaway. You won’t regret it!

AMENITIES

The resort’s sunny Great Room

There are a ton of resort features we didn’t get a chance to fully experience because of time, season, or relevance, but they’re there if you need them! They include:

  • High-speed Wifi: no password required. I didn’t have any issues with the speed or connection even though the Wifi is public throughout the resort.
  • Huge, sunny Great Room with a fireplace, couches, and plenty of seating to read and hang out
  • Full-service hair and makeup salon that does everything from cuts, color, and blowouts to makeup application. They use Davines hair care products and Jane Iredale mineral makeup. Good for special occasions and weddings.
  • Nail salon
  • Fitness center with the basic machines and a variety of group classes including yoga, barre, and Pilates. The class schedule is available online.
  • 60×100 foot fenced-in dog park for your furry friends. There’s a dog run, doggy shower, and even a special section for small dogs.
  • World’s Largest Kaleidoscope: what was once a farm silo is now home to the world’s largest kaleidoscope. It’s right by the entrance to the shopping area and you can lie down and enjoy a cool 15-minute multimedia show while the soothing scent of eucalyptus pipes through the room.
  • Outdoor pool that’s open Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend
  • Family Room in the Black Bear Lodge. It’s available to all guests and has a range of entertainment options, including ping pong, Wii games, and a giant game of Connect Four.

ENTERTAINMENT

Fire pit by the stream

  • Complimentary bike rentals: first come, first serve. Available at the front desk from 10 am to sunset.
  • Complimentary binocular rentals: first come, first serve. Available 8 am-8 pm.
  • Sports equipment (including volleyballs, cornhole, and frisbees)
  • Streamside bonfires every Friday and Saturday night. S’mores kits are available for $5.
  • Guided walks of the Emerson grounds, where you can learn more about the history and wildlife of the Catskills.
  • DIY classes. You can make your own watercolor postcard (free) or screenprint T-shirts ($20 per T-shirt).
  • Open Mic Tuesdays and Trivia Night Wednesdays at Woodnotes Grille

*Some activities are only available on select dates. Check the resort’s events calendar for the most updated schedule. 

SERVICE & AMBIANCE


The staff was friendly and helpful. They were always ready to greet us with a smile, answer our questions, and provide us with recommendations when we needed them.

Even though the resort is quite large, especially compared to the boutique hotels nearby, it still has a homey, intimate feel. Coming back here after a hike felt like coming home, and we felt comfortable enough to wear our bathrobes outside our room and the spa. There were even a few people eating breakfast in their bathrobes!

Emerson is family and dog-friendly, but there’s still an elegant, laid-back air about it. It’s definitely not a party hotel, if that’s what you’re looking for. It is, however, a great place for people who want a peaceful, relaxing getaway with plenty of entertainment options.

ECO-FRIENDLINESS


I’m particularly impressed a resort of this size is so committed to eco-friendliness. Although Emerson isn’t a green resort per se, it does have plenty of environmentally-friendly features and practices, including:

  • Eight Tesla electric car charging stations 
  • Solar panel banks that heat the groundwater from their wells before the water enters their boiler systems, resulting in reduced fuel and boiler operation costs
  • A geothermal system used for heating and cooling
  • An Ecolab Aquanomic System that decreases water consumption in their laundry facilities

FINAL THOUGHTS


Bottom line: I definitely recommend staying at the Emerson Resort on your next trip upstate. The location and amenities are great, and the prices are reasonable given what you get in return (rooms average between $200-$300 per night).

My friends and I all agreed it was a great getaway and we’re already looking forward to staying here again! Maybe next time we’ll visit in the summer, so we can hang out on the deck and hike Kaaterskill Falls (and get a massage after).

Quiet moments in the morning

 

I hope you found this review useful! I love reading first-person accounts of hotel stays because there are details and observations you can’t find on the hotel’s website or a short TripAdvisor review; hopefully, you do too!

For full disclosure, I did receive a complimentary two-night stay and free breakfast and dinner at Woodnotes Grille in exchange for social media promotion and an honest review. However, all opinions are my own and I would never promote a hotel I didn’t enjoy.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out!

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