Travel Diaries: The DeBruce (Catskills)

Sometimes escaping New York City is a breath of fresh air. Before air travel was affordable and air conditioning was standard, the Catskills were a popular weekend getaway from NYC. The area experienced decline in the 70’s and 80’s but more recently has seen a revival of sorts with new boutique hotels and restaurants popping up throughout the region.

Enter Foster Supply Hospitality, a group of small independent hotels and restaurants run by Sims and Kirsten Foster, who are as passionate about hospitality as they are about the Catskills. For our trip we decided to check out their premiere property, the DeBruce, in Livingston Manor, NY (about two hours from NYC).

The DeBruce property spans several hundred acres with the Willowemoc River (known for its fly-fishing) running through the heart of it. Beyond the river are several miles of marked hiking trails for exploring. For the less-outdoorsy, you can still enjoy the mountain and river views while lounging at the hotel pool or in an Adirondack chair at the fire pit. In the colder weather, guests can borrow snow shoes to explore or just cozy-up at one of the indoor fireplaces.

The DeBruce also offers a Saturday morning yoga class, spa appointments and other unique experiences like accompanying the in-house chef on his “daily foraging excursion” on the property (where you can get a sneak-peak of what’s on the dinner menu).

The common areas inside the DeBruce include a glass-enclosed dining room overlooking the property, a downstairs “club room” (with a food menu and great cocktails) and several living room areas with cozy couches and fireplaces. The lack of TV’s makes the DeBruce the perfect place to disconnect and read a book or open a bottle of red (which is what we did) while soothing jazz music plays in the background. The décor is simple yet elegant: vintage farmhouse meets modern design.

The fourteen guest rooms at the DeBruce are minimalistic (with no desks or dressers in sight) but their “back to the basics” design makes each room a calming oasis to come back to at the end of the day. Some rooms features clawfoot bathtubs overlooking the valley (highly recommend) and all rooms feature plush Sferra linens and Malin & Goetz toiletries.

The dining experience was undoubtedly the most memorable part of our stay. The daily room rate includes breakfast and a multi-course dinner by the talented Chef Aksel and team. We arrived in time for a late dinner Friday night and after being brought several rounds of tasty bite-size appetizers (all included), we opted for the steak entrée over the chicken or trout (they can accommodate dietary restrictions if you let them know in advance). The steak was served with a to-die-for herb butter and a few side dishes, and was followed by a peach cobbler for two.

One of the unique things about the restaurant is its focus on locally-sourced ingredients. Saturday night was a full 9-course tasting menu that featured vegetables and herbs straight from the “backyard” of the property, paired with NY-state wines. All of the dishes were delicious and fun (one included a live fire). Both nights ended in the downstairs Club Room where we got to know the chef better (over a tabletop shuffleboard game) and heard all about the DeBruce story and vision from other staff members over cocktails at the bar.

The highlights of breakfast for us (a full a la carte menu) were the duck hash and the fresh apple cider. Remembering how much my husband liked the homemade hot sauce on Friday night, Chef Aksel sent out extra with his duck hash the next morning. The weekend was full of personal touches like this that made us feel like locals and ensured we would be back.

Oh did I mention the DeBruce is dog-friendly? Sadie loved the DeBruce as much as we did!

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