Throwback Lodging in the Catskills

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I rarely devote an entire post to the place I’m staying, simply because for the most part when I travel I don’t hang out much in my hotel room, but rather treat it as somewhere to rest my head at night. It’s also because I happen to mostly stay at Holiday Inn Expresses or Marriott’s, places that trade character for consistency.

Villa Vosilla Resort

I’m about to devote the bulk of this post to the Villa Vosilla Boutique Resort Hotel in Tannersville, New York, because this place was out of control, and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible.

XC Ski glamour shot.

Initially, I thought I’d be doing a post about visiting Hunter Mountain for the weekend.  My family ended up taking a last minute getaway last weekend, for one last winter getaway.  My sister had gotten my brother ski passes to Hunter Mountain this year for Christmas, and the weekend of the 19th, which also happens to be our birthday, happened to be not the only weekend they both had free, but the last weekend of the season to use them up or lose out.  They figured they’d be wiped out from the skiing so let me know they were going to get a hotel for the night. I decided I’d join, and either hike or XC ski, depending on the weather.

Spending my 31st bday weekend with the people who brought me into this whole mess.

I honestly thought I’d be hiking, which is  cool, as the towns of Hunter and Tannersville, where most people stay when visiting Hunter, are smack in the middle of the Catskill Park, with tons of hiking opportunities, including a couple places I’ve had my sights on since I officially discovered the joy of the Catskills last year around this time (seriously though, what took me so long?!?), since this winter hadn’t exactly been snow positive, until the last couple of weeks. Stella decided to send us off on a strong note, and after spending basically the entirety of both the days I had worked called off on my xc skis, I was pumped to head up to Hunter and get in another two solid days.

One of the trails at Mt. Trails.

As of the Wednesday prior to heading out, we still hadn’t figured out where we were going to stay. Despite being a popular ski destination, there are very few hotels near Hunter itself. The majority of the places I looked at were in Kingston, about 40 minutes away, but my sister found Villa Vosilla, one of the only hotels in nearby Tannersville, and seemed set on it, I think mainly based on the picture of the pool and hottub, which for me, is a necessity when going on a long ski trip. Since the XC ski conditions looked to be ideal, my parents decided to tag along with us. They like to XC ski, and are the reason I’m such an avid fan of it myself, and probably because it was my brother and my birthday.  I checked out the hotel website, and liked that it seemed a little more all encompassing then a lot of the places we stay, with a bar and restaurant on the premises, said pool, game room, and a list local activities, including Mountain Trails XC Ski Center, which you could  walk to from the hotel.

Mountain Trails has this nice lodge and snack bar to hang out at between skis.

I wanted to get a full day of skiing in, so woke up bright and early Saturday morning, and was on the road by 6:45, in order to get there for Mountain Trail’s 9am open.  The ride from my home in Forest City to Tannersville is a very picturesque one, taking mainly winding backroads through both sleepy and rather bustling Catskill villages, and the closer you got to the destination, great views of the Catskill peaks.  I wish I got some quality photos on the way up, but I was intently listening to the second half of Springsteen’s autobiography on Audible, and totally engrossed in that. Also, I fear a lot of the sleepy village and bustling town shots would have been sullied by a great bevy of TRUMP signs present.  Mountain Trails XC Ski Center was great, and I’ll absolutely be going up next year, if only for a day trip.  The breadth of trails to choose from was great; I ended up eschewing my map for most of the ski, and just would take whatever trail I happened to come across. I also liked it because the terrain was challenging, but not overly so, so perfect for beginners, those who are more advanced, and a mixed group.  They were groomed perfectly, and while they maybe didn’t have the insane views of their Adirondack brethren, I’m never going to complain about perfectly manicured trails wandering through a pine forest.  I skied there for three hours in the morning, met my parents in Tannersville for lunch, and then went back out with them for a couple of hours in the afternoon.

My mother navigating one of the hills at Mt. Trails.

After we finished our ski, we went to check into the hotel, before heading out to meet up with my brother and sister for some “apres ski” in Tannersville, and this is where the real fun began. Villa Vosilla is a proper resort destination hotel, and an absolute throwback to the Catskill’s heyday when tons of these places dotted upstate New York’s landscape (in many places they still do, but they’re abandoned and in great disrepair; I passed several on my drive home Sunday). I’ve never seen it myself, but think Dirty Dancing (so I’m told). Over a nightcap at the bar late that night, the bartender let us know that this was one of the last of such resorts operating, and that while they primarily function as a place for skiers in the winter, in the summer they have people who come up for the week, eat all three meals on site, spend their afternoons swimming and playing boccie, and are entertained by their 7 nights of live entertainment in their “nightclub.” That really is a throwback.

This is a solid pool area.
What era are we in?

The resort is comprised of three main buildings, a side building that we stayed in, a back building I didn’t venture to, and the main building which houses the lobby, a great front porch, the pool room (which includes hot tub and saunas), the nicest hotel gym I’ve ever used, and a game room consisting of an arcade, air hockey, pool, an old school cruise ship style shuffleboard, and indoor bocce, all underneath the glow of a set of obscenely large chandeliers. The décor is something else, too. It’s old for sure, and outdated. Chintzy would be a great adjective. However, none of the hotel feels unkempt or dirty, and this outdated chintz gives is what gives it character.  My parents love this old school restaurant near our home called Pettinato’s.  It’s old school Italian, with a menu I’m sure hasn’t changed in years, giant portions, lots of glass and gold, and a clientele whose median age hovers around 72.  But it’s nice, and the food is good, and it’s familiar and comforting.  It’s not hip or innovative, but that’s ok. Villa Vosila is like if Pettinato’s was a hotel.  My brother had another great comparison. After viewing the nightclub, with it’s sunken wooden dance floor, and stage, he remarked that he wouldn’t have been surprised had he learned White Christmas were filmed here.

I felt like I was in Casino, but without all the murder, Mafia, and drug addicted Sharon Stone.
Old school shuffleboard.
Indoor boccie.

The White Christmas nightclub area.
A first-world pet peeve of mine is when people post snapchat pictures to other mediums, but come on, it’s a LIGHT UP COUCH.

What’s more, is that it does seem to be the type of place you’d come and spend a lot of time.  Tannersville is a cool  little time, but compared to other ski towns I’ve been to, like Stowe, or Lake Placid, there’s not a whole lot to choose from when it comes to dining or nightlife. Sure, there’s tons of outdoor activity to do in the daytime, but unlike Lake Placid where I hike, or ski, then usually settle into a nice little downtown barcrawl, I could see coming here in the summer to hike and ski, then having dinner on the premises, and rather than walk into town, simply hang out and relax on the porch, in the lounge, or the patios the rooms had. I think I’d 100% come here and spend time on the grounds, which for me is rare, but a fun departure. We were at Villa Vosilla after we got dumped with about two feet of snow, but I could see the grounds also had a playground, tennis courts, outdoor shuffleboard, outdoor pool, and bonfire pits.

I would happily spend a summer evening on these swings.

We did venture out into Tannersville a bit.  Our post ski destination was Last Chance Cheese & Antiques Cafe, a cool little spot that was a restaurant, shop, and had a late night tavern attached.  We had a great cheese board, and one of their knishes, a dish I was just introduced to, and I’m going to steal our waitresses’s description when describing it as “a potato hot pocket,” or as my mother noted, a flat pierogi.

I quite enjoyed that the beer menu at Last Chance was not just 86 different IPA’s.

Dinner was at American Glory, a nice BBQ place with a solid beer selection, which I’d probably repeat on a return trip.  I’d probably also eat at the Ladoria, that’s right in the hotel, as their menu looked pretty good, in surprise, an old school Italian way.  My sister and I ended up sitting at the bar for a few drinks during what was supposed to be a trip to the hot tub (it was filled with children), and witnessed what appeared to be several locals coming in for dinner, that’s always an encouraging sign.  Our bartender did tell us later that Tannersville apparently used to be pretty wild back in the day, but that it’s put forth an effort into being more family friendly, a vibe we definitely picked up on this.

I’d 100% love to come back to Villa Vosilla in the summer, or maybe just a repeat ski trip next year.  When I do, I’ll let you know what other fun activities Hunter/Tannersville have to offer, and hopefully I’ll get to play some cruise ship style shuffleboard. Hunter is a great place for a little weekend trip (it’s actually only 3.5 hours from Philly and southern PA), and as I’ve alluded Villa Vosilla lends itself to some longer stays as well. Definitely check out the Hunter Mountain website if you’re looking to go up, as they have zip-lining, snowshoeing, 4×4 rentals, fly fishing, and mountain biking in the summer.  There’s a brewery in Hunter, we tried to go to, but it was closed for a private party. I did have their brown ale at American Glory, and would’ve gone back for another if we’d stayed later.  Bear Creek Restaurant has both snowmobiling and horseback riding, and Kaaterskill Falls, which is right out of town, is the tallest two-tired waterfall in New York State.

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