PHOTOS: RON CADIZ
Check In: The DeBruce
hen The DeBruce opened its doors earlier this year, the intimate 14-room lodge in the western Catskills offered an upscale antidote for urbanites seeking to go analog. Developed by hotelier and Livingston Manor hometowner Sims Foster and his wife, Kirsten, the rustic mountain retreat has a purposefully underplayed vibe with relaxed, subtle decor that mimics the pastoral scenery. We caught up with the duo to talk fly-fishing, foraging and what it means to live like a local.
Tell us about your vision for The Debruce. The inn was originally built in the 1880s, so we paid homage to what came before and shaped it for the next generation. The land also plays a big part: The Willowemoc River has a rich history as the birthplace of fly-fishing, and it literally runs through our backyard, along with 600 acres and an eventual 30-mile hiking trail system.
The food scene is an experience in itself. What can guests expect? From the start, we set out to be a culinary destination. Our executive chef, Aksel Theilkuhl, leads with an incredibly personal, locally oriented, ingredient-forward approach; the menus are defined by what he and his team forage from the land. Guests can expect to find wild mountain fiddleheads, mushrooms and edible mosses on our nine-course Saturday night dinner menu.
Describe the design aesthetic. The natural surroundings served as our muse. We played off the lodge’s strong bones, and our color scheme riffed off the landscape’s palette of grays and greens. The public spaces are designed in a contemporary country-lodge motif with a nod to the past; that sensibility yields a sense of calm and authenticity. Bluestone floors and plaid wallpaper complement repurposed beams from the original covered Beaverkill Bridge. We also kept the building’s original light fixtures intact as well as the fieldstone fireplace made from Willowemoc River stones that are more than 100 years old.
The local connection is important here. Working with local artisans and using materials with a connection to the area were top-of-mind. Our custom light fixtures were sourced from artist Kathie Fitzgerald. We also hired local woodworker Kurt Knuth, who built our dining room walls with reclaimed butternut wood and our dining tables from hemlock. Both of those tree species have been an integral part of Catskill history.
What guest activities do you recommend? Book a session with our local fly-fishing expert and learn the art of the cast. Or, hike the Red Hill Fire Tower, where you’ll encounter fire towers built in the 1920s with observation decks (one is 60-feet tall) and incredible views.
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