A Kid-Free Weekend at Emerson Resort & Spa in the Catskills

This resort encourages guests to slow down and relax

By Holly Fink August 13, 2019

My husband and I decided to get away for a few days by ourselves for our anniversary this year -- a bit of an escape from the food shopping, messy rooms, and chauffeuring that comes with raising teens.

Our destination? Emerson Resort & Spa in the Catskill Mountains. The resort has a spa, outdoor jacuzzi, onsite restaurant, and access to all the great activities in the area. We were psyched for a few days of not having to do anything for anyone but ourselves.

Our Room: Rest and relaxation

Emerson exudes feelings of rest and relaxation -- and we were into it. When it was renovated in 2013, the resort hired a designer to incorporate health and well-being into her designs, and it’s very au naturel, in line with the memory of the poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, who wrote “Nature.” In fact, his poetry can be found on the walls throughout the resort. Taking time to stop to read his works also makes guests stop, think, and slow down.

The resort has 53 rooms total, including 26 suites/rooms in the Inn and 27 suites/rooms in the Lodge. Our room was located in the Inn. The lodge is more rustic and perfect for larger families. 

Our room was extremely comfortable, with lush linens, a gas fireplace, a couch, an easy chair, a rain shower, and a jacuzzi bath big enough for two. The staff kept our room supplied with water and snacks, which are free for the taking. We were also given a lovely bottle of wine when we arrived. 

To top it off, we had a porch with a view of the creek, complete with chairs and shade. We found ourselves sitting there often, a glass of wine in hand.

A Visit to the Spa: Worth every minute

We were both transported as soon as we walked through the spa’s fancy 17th-century Rajasthan palace doors to go to our separate treatments. Initially, I was so relaxed I didn’t even realize I was in the wrong treatment room, and as the hygienist started to massage my neck, I politely asked if it was part of the facial. Needless to say, we quickly realized that my husband and I had gone to the wrong rooms. So, after a laugh and a quick switch, I settled in for the Signature Facial. It was one of the best facials I’ve ever had. My husband, in turn, had arranged for a Relaxation Massage, the name of which is quite literal, he told me after. The spa is influenced by Asian practices, so the rituals and products are very Zen. Feeling very relaxed, we met up in the outdoor hot tub after our treatments, where we whiled away the rest of the afternoon -- except for a quick dip in the resort’s swimming pool.

Exploring the Catskills

The beauty of traveling without kids is that we could do what we wanted, when we wanted with no set agenda. 

We took several long walks outside the resort alongside the Esopus Creek. 

We had dinner at Silvia, a farm to table restaurant, located in nearby Woodstock, which was fabulous.

We had breakfast in Phoenicia, another neighboring town, at Sweet Sue’s where they specialize in memorable short stacks of pancakes, and lunch at the Phoenicia Diner, a local favorite. 

We wandered around the shops in both towns, and we also visited nearby Kingston, a hip hamlet, and took an awesome two-hour boat ride on the Hudson. 

Other activity options include a hike on Overlook Mountain, Ashokan Reservoir, Kaaterskill Farms, and inner tubing on the Esopus Creek, the creek that runs parallel to the resort.

We had dinner one night at the resort's Woodnotes Grille, where we had a great view of the creek and talked about the past, present, and future. Our day at the spa had put us both right in the moment and we enjoyed sitting outside. 

The menu featured many locally-grown foods. We sampled trout, empanadas, fresh salads, and scrumptious desserts. Right outside the restaurant was a bonfire where you could make your own s'mores, the perfect cap to our night.

Would we bring the kids?

As much as we enjoyed our visit -- and we've even talked about making it an annual retreat for the two of us -- I have also thought about taking our kids. The resort is extremely family-friendly, with offerings that include movies, a game room, spa treatments for teens, and kid’s meal options. There's even an attraction called the "World’s Largest Kaleidoscope,"  a multimedia show that you watch while lying down. The resort also caters to kids with a toy store and General Store, along with hamburgers at Woodnotes, and the outdoor swimming pool.

So, yes, the kids would have fun. But we would go back alone too because the Emerson was a great place for us to reconnect and recharge before heading home to our hungry teenagers.

Holly’s stay was mostly complimentary, but all opinions expressed are her own.