The Emerson

I sorely needed a personal retreat and I thought to myself “Wouldn’t it be nice to go back to the Emerson Spa all by myself and just treat myself, relax, and write?” so that’s exactly what I did.

The Emerson is located in the Catskill Mountains (Mount Tremper) in Upstate New York, not too far (maybe 15 miles) from Woodstock, NY.  (In that neck of the woods, despite the distance, it is considered the town next door).  From New York City the drive is about 2 hours or so, straight up I87 (the NYS Thruway and then west on SR 28.

The Emerson is a resort complex that consists of an inn, a lodge, two restaurants and a fantastic spa.  They do have conference capabilities as well as host weddings.  The Inn itself was somewhat recently remodeled.  The last time I was there was around 2009 or 2010 with a friend and we got a room at the Inn on one of their “spa getaway” weekend specials.  They frequently run specials so check out the website to find some good deals.  The rooms at the Inn are quite lovely decorated in a sort of Persian/Balinese theme.  (I am probably way off on which countries were supposed to be featured but WHATEVER!!)  The rooms are very romantic, so it would be a nice place for a couples weekend retreat as well.


I was a little timid to be traveling by myself, so I decided to bring Ellie along (our dog, a 60+ pound hound mix).  She is just gorgeous and very well behaved but can have an effectively scary bark when necessary.  The Emerson allows pets, but there is a caveat.  If the dog is greater than 20 or 30 pounds, you can only stay in the lodge rooms.  There is also an extra $25/day charge.  I’m not sure why the size matters so much, given that it is terriers and other smaller dogs that tend to be the yappiest but, “Them’s the rules”.  They also have a nice off leash dog run.


So to the lodge we went.  The lodge is just that – a lodge.  The rooms are drive up motel style with each strip of rooms maybe having ten units.  The room I was given had two levels with the bedroom upstairs in a sort of loft area.  Downstairs was a living area, but it smelled kind of musty and was dark and cave like, so we stayed up in the bedroom upstairs most of the time.  Up there, it was pretty nice.  A big king bed, cute lodgy decor, tv, balcony and a grand bathroom with jetted tub and separate shower.  There is free wifi, but the signal is weak and my cell phone did not have any coverage in the lodge room (Verizon).  However, the room phone could call out free to anywhere in the U.S.

lodge room

My biggest complaint is that being a city girl, I got kind of spooked at night since it was so quiet and we felt so secluded in the lodge.  The lodge is a couple hundred feet away from the main building that houses the Inn, Spa and Phoenix Restaurant. It seemed that no one else was in those lodge rooms the first night.  I barely slept a wink due to the creepiness.  I know that my complaint is totally unfair and “what did I go to the mountains for if I couldn’t tolerate the seclusion?” but sorry, that is just how it felt.  I think that maybe all of R’s horror movie watching had me on edge…

Anyway, the two restaurants at the resort are the Catamount and the Phoenix.  There is also a cute coffee/ice cream shop in another building they call the Country Store.  (The store has antiques some clothing and other items, as well as a kaleidoscope exhibit).  The Phoenix Restaurant was for breakfast only, and in the main building.  The Catamount is a lovely spot in a separate building.  Behind the whole resort property is the Esopus creek, which at this time of year is pretty raging from all the mountain snow run-off.  The Catamount has a cool outdoor patio seating area right over the running creek – quite lovely.  Inside it has a very tasteful lodgy/log cabin feel.  They did a great job.  And the food is actually pretty good too.  They let me order my dinner and take it to the room so that Ellie wouldn’t have to be by herself. I had a delicious steak the first night.  Salad and calamari the second, and mac and cheese with wings the third.


Now the spa.  As I mentioned, I had been there once before with my dear friend.  I can’t remember what services I had at that time.  But this time I got the Signature Massage and the following day, the Indian Head Massage and Classic Manicure.  The best of those was the Signature Massage.  The masseuse used poultices with a special herb mixture and plenty of oil which simultaneously exfoliates because of the linen cloth.  It was quite relaxing.  The Indian Head Massage used a special thick oil on the scalp and head and hair which is supposed to be quite nourishing for the hair follicles.  It has a very interesting smell which is best described as molasses mixed with licorice and sesame oil.  Some hate it but I liked it.  It also involves massaging shoulders, face and arms, although to a lesser extent.  The manicure was pretty standard.  My comment on that is that it seemed expensive for being a very bare boned manicure.  Here in the city there is so much manicure competition that they are usually around $15.  The Emerson Classic manicure was $30 and did not even really include a hand and arm massage.  But, overall, I would give the spa good ratings.  The atmosphere is very relaxing. The staff and therapists are very polite and courteous. The ante-room has more Balinese decor, hot tea and snacks with a deck outside with lounge chairs and a small jacuzzi tub.  There is also the usual sauna and steam room available in each locker room.  The sauna seemed a bit hotter than others I have been in.


Unfortunately, we got rear-ended in our car on the FDR drive on the way home which undid all the stress relief the retreat may have had.  No one was hurt, and I was found to have no fault, but it was all quite disconcerting nonetheless.

I did have a nice time on my retreat, but the weather and the lodge setting worked against us.  I look forward to going back to the Emerson again, but hopefully next time stay I will stay in an Inn room and maybe bring along my honey.

(Note: Most of the images within the post are from the Emerson website and a couple from Google Images).