There is nothing in the Catskills quite like the Emerson Resort and Spa, and when you factor in its Guinness-certified world’s largest kaleidoscope, there is nothing quite like it anywhere
Emily Fisher opened the Kaleidostore in 1996 with her former partner Dean Gitter to attract more customers to what was then known as the Catskill Corners, a local shopping center they opened together. In 2013 Fisher bought out Gitter to become full owner of the now Emerson Resort & Spa.
To survive and thrive in its somewhat remote location, the business needed to grow. Fisher and her partner made this happen by opening a restaurant they named the Spotted Dog and by buying and remodeling the neighboring Mt. Pleasant Lodge and Victorian Inn, thereby creating a unique lodging and dining destination.
“We named it the Emerson,” Fisher recalled, “after Ralph Waldo Emerson.”
Emerson, a loyal environmentalist and the first great American writer devoted to humankind’s connection to nature, seemed a perfect namesake for a place in the Catskills. Sadly, though, the inn was destroyed by fire in 2005.
Armed with a passion for hospitality and a desire to promote the Catskills as a premier tourism destination, Fisher and her partner worked to reopen the Emerson as the new Emerson Resort and Spa in 2007. This year, however, the spa underwent more renovation
The resort includes the new Woodnotes Grille, the Catamount (for events), the Coffee Bar, the Country Store, a fitness center, and a spa.
“We’ve changed the theme to more closely reflect the name of Emerson and to feature the beautiful mountains and river at our back door,” said Fisher. “It’s a new day at the Emerson, and I want our neighbors to see us as their clubhouse.”
The resort includes the new Woodnotes Grille, the Catamount, (for events), the Emerson Cafe, the Country Store, a fitness center, and a spa.
“For me, the purpose of building, and now most recently renovating, the Emerson is not just about having a beautiful place for the community to come together,” said Fisher. “It’s about providing good, reliable jobs with good benefits.” She said her awareness of the need for local jobs stems from a single experience she had back in the 1980s.
“The local gas station owner in Haines Falls started buying used New York City police cars for parts and piling them in his yard,” she said. “It was certainly unsightly, and since it abutted the community where I lived, I complained and asked him to get rid of them. He put his hand on my arm and said, ‘Emily, this is a poor town, and I have to do anything I can to make an honest living to support my family.’”
She agreed, and so maintaining good relations with local residents and hiring locally are two of her top priorities.
“Every day I spend on site is filled with good conversation, laughter, and wise planning...”
“I’m proud that our employees live locally,” Fisher said, “and most of them were born and raised here.”
Fisher, on the other hand, hails from Philadelphia, but the Catskills called to her. She remembered a weekend in 1966 when friends of hers invited her to stay with them in Haines Falls.
“It had poured rain for two days before. The waterfalls were raging, the mists hovered over the mountains, and I was hooked,” she said. “My family and I started renting in that community in 1967, and in 1971 we bought our cottage that sits on the side of Kaaterskill Clove.”
And the young mother who fell in love with a waterfall several decades ago is still having fun.
“Every day I spend on site is filled with good conversation, laughter, and wise planning and decision-making,” she said. “As we decide where we want to go, the decision is ours and we make it happen. What could make a person happier than to have that to look forward to each day?”
EMERSON RESORT & SPA
5340 Route 28, Mount Tremper
strawberry rhubarb jam
A cocktail recipe for a taste of The Emerson
1 teaspoon Tea Thyme Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
3 dashes rhubarb bitters
3 lemon wedges
3/4 ounce Yellow Chartreuse
3/4 ounce Salers Aperitif
1 1/2 ounce London Dry Gin
Method: Muddle the jam, lemon, 1 strawberry, and rhubarb bitters in a shaker. Add gin, chartreuse, and the Salers Aperitif, and shake with ice. Single strain onto double rocks, and garnish with strawberry.