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Hemlock Neversink

by Isabel Burton

Hemlock neversink

new york,USa

This haven in an always-changing landscape drives home the wonderful simplicity of life, and helps guests draw inspiration from their 

surroundings, so they exist in the here-and-now and ultimately leave

 re-energized and a whole lot better for all the leaf-peeping, apple picking, goat-petting they’ve done.

Experience the transformative power of nature, amidst the fiery hues of fall, at this boutique, luxury wellness getaway in the heart of the Catskills.

When autumn paints the Catskills in shades of amber, crimson, and gold, the newly opened Hemlock emerges as the go-to destination for anyone seeking some wellbeing, tranquility, pampering, and supreme kaleidoscopic beauty that will bring you to your knees. Situated in Neversink, a fantastical-sounding region in upstate New York, this 34-room retreat encompasses 230 acres of mountainous terrain that shifts color with the seasons and offers every country desire: wildflower meadows, huge expanses of pine woods and private trails, goat fields (yup, there are rescue goats), berry patches, and an apple orchard (bring your basket!).

What you’ll notice right away is a captivating juxtaposition of verdant free-for-all and reigned-in architectural aesthetic. The property weaves the wildness of the Catskills with an unfussy design approach that stays close to the area’s Quaker heritage: simple-but-cozy wood cabins, an airy barn-like Movement studio, a window-filled main house for dining and hanging out by the fire. “The campus includes nine buildings, all built at different times, some dating back to the 1920s. The mix is wonderfully imperfect,” says Sims Foster, cofounder of Hemlock along with his wife Kirsten. Together, they created Foster Supply Hospitality, and have opened rurally independent small, boutique hotels and restaurants—and sparking a real renaissance—in the vicinity. “Through renovation we made the structures harmonious, but parts of the property have a lot of patina, and parts feel new. It could not be more historically, architecturally Catskills. And there’s a lot of soul in that.” 

Throughout it all, you'll find a steady, soothing color palette; natural wood; warm, understated tile; and custom wool rugs. As Kirsten describes it, “I channeled nature. My goal was calmness and solitude, so the interiors are muted and act as a backdrop for the experience. There’s a practicality to how the Quakers set up their interiors that I felt was very logical and took inspiration from. You shouldn’t have to try too hard to make things comfortable.”

The property itself seems to go on and on, to the horizon. “We are wonderfully oversized for the number of rooms we have,” says Sims. “There’s all this physical space, but there’s also the mental space it provides to let your mind wander where it wants to go.” 

And the point of all that room to roam is to feed your wellbeing, which is based on Hemlock’s five pillars: rest, diet, exercise, environment, and emotional health. Before arrival, you’ll fill out a goal-oriented survey that ensures you have a curated, personalized itinerary during your stay (fully amenable depending on your interests and moods). For those looking for energetic mornings, your Personal Experience Guide might suggest a yoga nature hike, progressing to a balanced breakfast culinary class emphasizing seasonal ingredients. Midday could involve forest bathing, pottery class or pine-needle weaving, and a visit with the resident goats for "Animal-Assisted Relaxation," a therapeutic interaction known to lower stress levels. The evening may wind down with sound bath meditation, using gongs, bowls, and chimes, then sitting around the fire pit and looking for shooting stars (you can also do this from the dedicated stargazing deck). There’s also a gym, indoor pool, sauna, hot tub, steam rooms, relaxation areas, and tennis courts. 

“We spent a lot of time asking ourselves, what does wellness mean?” says Kirsten. “And what continuously came up are two things: happiness and acceptance. The most fundamental thing in life is happiness. We want people to have fun with dance classes, with visiting the goats…you can’t not feel great when you’re around them. The idea is to not be so serious and quiet.” As for acceptance, “we want the guest to love who they are, in this experience, right now. Especially at the spa,” she says. “Sure, you want to get pampered and treated and feel good—and that’s part of your path towards acceptance.” 

The program at Hemlock is all-inclusive, which ensures you the mental freedom to focus entirely on rejuvenation without worrying about little details (no reservations, no dinner bills) that suck the fun and calm from a good getaway. It’s all in the name of helping us form connections in the moment, and build positive lasting habits. This haven in an always-changing landscape drives home the wonderful simplicity of life, and helps guests draw inspiration from their surroundings, so they exist in the here-and-now and ultimately leave re-energized and a whole lot better for all the leaf-peeping, apple picking, goat-petting they’ve done.

Hemlock's spa is just as much a reflection of this ethos and surroundings. Treatments are seasonal, using locally made products from brands like Caralista and Catskill Botanicals. In the fall, guests can experience the restorative power of mineral-rich clay, jasmine, rose, birch, juniper, and goldenrod in their Catskill Clay Wrap, a full body bliss. The Hemlock Custom Facial uses a personalized cocktail of wild-sourced and locally crafted ingredients to nourish your skin and make it radiant (the head, neck, shoulder, and hand massage at the same time also does wonders).  And the Neversink Ice and Stone Ritual incorporates an herb-infused cold bath, followed by a steamy shower and culminating in a hot river-stone massage for ultimate relaxation and invigoration.

As for dining, the food is bright, healthy, and built on farmers markets’ bounty. The Fosters are 2023 James Beard Foundation's Restaurant and Chef Awards semifinalists for Outstanding Restaurateur, so get very excited for deliciousness and creativity at their restaurant Bittersweet. Dishes like grilled trout and mushrooms with warm buckwheat remind you how exquisite skillfully prepared simple foods can be. Fun drinks include the Catskills Cooler, a low-ABV cocktail with fresh apple cider, ginger, and mint, and the Berry Detox, a blend of locally sourced berries, lemon, and sparkling water. And yes, there’s organic wine, too.

In addition to the main meals, they thoughtfully serve up what makes every human happy: an all-day grazing table with yummy, good-for-you treats, plus various tea areas. And yet another brilliant perk is an herbalist stand, where you can have herbal infusions concocted based on your wellness needs.

Says Sims: “The natural soundings, the beauty of the seasons, is critical to everything we do. Just being here, there’s this breath that comes. It’s trees, space, good food—it’s relaxation. There’s magical-ness to the place.” Hemlock, Neverskink, does indeed live up to its dreamy name. hemlockneversink.com

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