Ayurveda Comes to the Catskills

by Nora Zelevansky

A little piece of India, with a cold-pressed juice bar, living green wall, reflexology walkway and multiple meditation and yoga studios

In its mid-20th century heyday, the Catskills were known for Dirty Dancing-style resorts that attracted vacationing families with wholesome activities and touring “Borscht Belt” comedians. A period of neglect followed, as leisure interests changed. But, today, this bucolic Appalachian Mountain expanse is having a renaissance complete with boutique lodges, farm-to-table restaurants and, perhaps most surprising, a luxury Ayurvedic retreat destination, YO1 Wellness Center.

This little piece of India in upstate New York was built on the site of the once-grand Kutsher’s Resort. Now, 131 sleek, enormous rooms overlook Bailey Lake, surrounded by 1,310 acres of greenery. The facilities, in stark futuristic white, are elaborate, offering everything from an indoor pool and cold-pressed juice bar (adjacent to a living green wall of ferns, moss and native plants), to a reflexology walkway and multiple meditation and yoga studios.

Guests select one of six Pathways to Wellness, which address stress, fatigue, weight management, toxicity and pain, and span three to 10 days. (Day passes are also available for use of the facilities.) Upon arrival, visitors take individual assessments of their goals and tendencies. Doshas (one of three types of Ayurvedic energies that are believed to influence the body) are determined, which then inspire customized plans for experiences and nutrition.
Depending on specific needs, activities range from therapeutic yoga and acupuncture to Bollywood dancing and cooking courses. 

(A class in the aptly named Grand Yoga Hall should not be missed for the airiness and view.) The food, overseen by Chef Gaurav Navin, is organic, locally sourced and guided by naturopathy and raw-food culture.

Naturally, the spa is a mainstay, with 36 treatment rooms, six mud rooms, six acupuncture rooms and more, offering Ayurvedic therapies that might seem unfamiliar to Westerners. Experiences include an Herbal Rice Poultice Therapy (or Navara Kizhi) with red rice and milk encased in cotton cloth to work tired muscles, and guests enrolled in a five- to seven-day Panchakarma (“five actions” in Sanskrit) program are guided toward specific detoxifying treatments, which include everything from facial massages to medicated enemas.

One thing is clear: This is not your grandma’s Catskills. yo1.com

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