Emerson Resort and Spa in the Catskills: A Review for Families

The Emerson Resort and Spa provided us with a mini getaway to unwind and enjoy nature in a beautiful mountain setting. 2020 has been quite a year! While our family did take a national parks road trip and have almost completed our family bucket list of visiting all 50 states, it was not relaxing by any means. We decided to travel locally and visit upstate New York which is only 2 hours from Southern Connecticut. Our visit to the Catskills was a nice, slow, little vacation that allowed for rest and relaxation.

Emerson Resort and Spa aerial view
Photo Credit: Emerson Resort & Spa

Note: The Emerson Resort and Spa hosted us for a 2 night weekday stay for the purpose of this review. Everything I share is my honest review and opinion of the location.

Where is the Emerson Resort and Spa Located?

The Emerson Resort and Spa is located in the town of Mt. Tremper, which is in the Eastern section of Catskill Park in Ulster County. Situated right on the Esopus Creek, it is a perfect spot to get lost in nature.

It is quite close to the Hudson River Valley area for those interested in day trips. A car is needed in this area as Uber and Lyft are non-existent. For anyone visiting New York City and considering a trip to the Catskills, it is about a 2-hour drive. If you are flying in, Albany is just over an hour north and JFK, Newark, and LaGuardia are a little over 2 hours away.

An Overview of the Emerson Resort and Spa

The Emerson Resort and Spa caters to all types of travelers. While we found it a wonderful experience for families, I could easily see wedding parties, girlfriend weekends, and family reunions in this space. The ambiance and theme of the property embody its namesake Ralph Waldo Emerson and the many quotes on the walls remind guests about the importance of reconnecting with nature. The layout of the resort is open and airy and offers views of the Esopus Creek and the Catskill Mountains from almost anywhere.

Emerson Resort and Spa main building
The main building of the Emerson Resort and Spa

Safety Enhancements at the Emerson Resort and Spa

Traveling in 2020 has proven to be quite difficult. As state restrictions lifted, we wanted to stay safe, yet travel responsibly. The Emerson Resort and Spa provided us the opportunity and made us feel safe as we walked around the resort and enjoyed the amenities offered. Right now, they are open Thursday-Monday and close two days a week for extra cleaning. In fact, they detail all of their safety measures in their Stay Safe Pledge.

Check-in was done from the comfort of our car, to limit people congregating in the lobby. The signage was very clear from the moment you entered the property. You are asked to fill out a safety form, get a temperature scan, and once your room is ready, you can walk in and receive your keys from the front desk.

You are also given a bag which includes disposable face masks, a printed copy of their cleaning and health/safety procedures, and a Beekman 1802 bath kit. You are also given a breakfast voucher to Woodnotes Grille for each person in your party. There are also two toy kaleidoscopes included in the bag.

In addition, employees are wearing masks and masks are mandatory for guests on the property. There are hand sanitizers located strategically around the buildings and social distancing markers on the floor as well. They detailed the cleaning procedures around the resort and in your room, to help ease your concerns.

Emerson Resort and Spa lobby

Accomodation Types

There are a variety of accommodations offered at the Emerson Resort and Spa. There are two sections: The Inn and The Lodge. The Lodge provides an alpine cabin feel and is located just a short walk from the main building. There are six different layouts and room sizes. These lodge rooms can accommodate 2-6 guests, making it the perfect choice for larger families. The Inn, which is in the main building, has three layout options and provides the convenience of being closer to the amenities and dining.

Rates start at $219 in the Lodge and $289 at the Inn. For more information or to book a room check out their website – Emerson Resort & Spa.

Our Room

Our room was a two-level Imperial Suite with a king-size bed in the loft, a queen sleeper sofa, and two bathrooms. I looked forward to enjoying the rain shower, while my kids absolutely loved the whirlpool tub. I appreciated the Keurig in the room and drank my coffee in the mornings out on the balcony listening to the rushing water.

The high ceilings made the room even more spacious. We normally do not stay in rooms this large, because to us, a hotel is usually just a place to sleep. The rooms at the Emerson Resort and Spa are luxurious to make you want to spend time inside and relax; which is exactly what we did!

Something to note is that there is no cell signal in Mt. Tremper, but the resort does offer Wi-Fi in the rooms. The kids played Nintendo Switch and I was able to stay connected if I needed to.

Check out a tour of our room #504

What to do at the Emerson Resort and Spa

There is plenty for guests to do at The Emerson Resort and Spa. While there were limited amenities due to restrictions, we found enough to keep us occupied during our stay.

The Spa was open, yet not offering their usual full-service treatments. I did get a chance to check it out and see their outdoor hot tub/jacuzzi with a beautiful view of the creek and mountains. In addition to massages, there is a sauna, Relaxation Room, a nail salon, hair/makeup area, and Fitness Center. Clearly, I need to return to take advantage of these amenities.

The pool was open, yet it required reservations, and time was limited to one hour (unless no one else was there). We found this system to work well and it was easy to sign up for a time slot. Not surprisingly, we were there often. The beach chairs were also cleaned between guests and spaced out well.

On our way to Woodnotes Grille, we stopped into the Great Room area, which was stunning. Fun Fact – the chandelier was purchased from The Breakers Palm Beach. Had this been a different time, I would have enjoyed a cocktail here and the ambiance.

Great Room Emerson Resort
Photo Credit: Emerson Resort & Spa

There were a number of options to keep kids entertained. They offered a pebble painting activity, watercolor postcards, an outdoor scavenger hunt, bird watching, guided nature walks, and a build your own kaleidoscope (for a fee). Speaking of kaleidoscopes, The Emerson Resort & Spa is known for having the world’s largest kaleidoscope. It is over 60-feet tall and features three, 38-foot mirrors; however, it was closed during our visit. We did enter the Shops at Emerson and saw some pretty unique and expensive kaleidoscopes here though.

These shops were fantastic! They had clothing, games, home and garden decor, candles, creams, bath scents, local jams and spices, toys, and much more. We spent a good chunk of time exploring the various areas. As a bonus, guests at The Emerson Resort & Spa get a 10% discount too.

We also enjoyed the outdoor patio area just outside of the main building. They have fire pits with s’mores kits available, and chairs overlooking the Esopus Creek.

In addition, The Emerson Resort and Spa had complimentary bikes available. We took them for about an hour and rode around the property and the hiking trails on the property that ran right by the Esopus Creek.

While we did not take advantage of any of their extras due to lack of time, The Emerson Resort and Spa works with local vendors to offer guests access to various activities on the property or nearby. Their seasonal activities include cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, biking, swimming, waterfalls, boating, fishing, water tubing, horseback riding, zipline adventures, and much more.

On our walk around the resort, we saw the beautiful pavilion area by the lodge, which is used to host events. I also noticed they even provide car charging stations for electric vehicles. Another great thing about The Emerson Resort and Spa is that it welcomes pets and even has a pet park. There was a children’s playground right next to it, but it was closed.

What we did enjoy was wading in the creek for a bit and cooling off after biking and walking around the resort.

Dining Options

As I mentioned before, the Emerson Resort and Spa included breakfast vouchers at Woodnotes Grille. We enjoyed our breakfast on the deck with water and mountain views. While we did not have dinner here, the menu options looked delicious.

Ralph’s Cafe was the other option for casual dining. During our stay, they only offered grab and go items for breakfast and lunch, as well as snacks and ice cream too.

Ralph's Cafe at the Emerson resort and spa
Photo Credit: Emerson Resort & Spa

Things to Do Nearby

Go for a Hike

There are numerous hiking opportunities in the Catskills. Here are a couple of the best hikes in the area:

  • Mt. Tremper Overlook – This 6-mile trail does ascend uphill, but is not too difficult at about 2,000 feet elevation gain. There are some switchbacks, but the views are pretty nice on a clear day. It is located about 3 minutes away from The Emerson Resort and Spa.
Mt Tremper
  • Ashokan Rail Trail – This 11.5-mile scenic trail hugs the Ashokan Reservoir and offers hikers and bikes the opportunity to enjoy the gentle views. Some sections are right next to the water, while other parts offer wooded seclusion. You can pick up the trail from 3 different trailheads. The closest to The Emerson Resort & Spa is about 6 minutes away.
Photo Credit: Ashokan Rail Trail

Visit Towns

We love exploring small towns and big cities in our adventures. On our visit to The Emerson Resort and Spa, we stopped in to check out the nearby towns of Phoenicia, Woodstock, and Kingston. We had a wonderful dinner at the Phoenicia Diner on our first night.

In Woodstock and Kingston, we strolled through the downtown area and walked into a couple of local shops if we noticed they weren’t too busy. Under normal circumstances, we likely would’ve explored more of Ulster County, but we wanted to relax at the resort.

Do the Rail Explorers

The Catskills Rail Explorers was only 5 minutes away in Phoenicia, but they were sold out when we checked. I have heard great things about the Rail Explorers and hope to do this activity the next time we visit the Catskills.

Photo Credit: Visit Vortex

Final Thoughts on the Emerson Resort & Spa

Our time at The Emerson Resort & Spa was a lovely escape from our current reality. We enjoyed spending time at the pool, walking around the creek, soaking in the mountain views, and relaxing in the comfort of our luxurious room. While we feel this the perfect resort for families, it is equally perfect for a girls weekend including some spa amenities, or hosting a large engagement party or wedding.

Me and Kids Emerson

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6 thoughts on “Emerson Resort and Spa in the Catskills: A Review for Families”

  1. This looks like such a gorgeous getaway! We used to love coming across the border for our mini-getaways and this looks so relaxing! The shops look so unique too!

  2. Such a detailed review post. Loved the activities and highlights of the place. Saving it for future travels!

  3. Wow. This place looks amazing! I would love to visit. I haven’t been to the Catskills in awhile so maybe it’s time for another visit.

  4. This resort looks so peaceful and pretty! I think the Catskills are amazing, and often overlooked unfortunately but definitely worth a trip. The hiking alone is worth going! 🙂

  5. This looks like such a beautiful resort in the Catskills. Love all the trails nearby. Saved for a future visit!

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