A little over two hours north of Manhattan and 15 miles from Woodstock, off an unremarkable stretch of Route 28, there is a most remarkable surprise. Nestled behind a thick curtain of pines and spruces, The Emerson Inn and Spa is a sybaritic getaway unlike anything else in these parts. The $7 million dollar face-lift of a decaying Victorian mansion was the brainchild of Dean Gitter, an eccentric and enterprising ponytailed entrepreneur whose dream it was to bring back elegance and sophistication to this beautiful mountainous region upstate.
At check-in, the concierge pours a glass of vintage Champagne, setting the stage for more indulgences. There are 24 suites, decorated in various styles—West Indies Colonial, Persian, Asian, African, or Victorian, with beds dressed in Frette linens. Suite 17 comes with its own steam sauna. A short stroll across the patio to the Asian-inspired spa immerses you in a world of aromatherapies, detoxifying mud and algae wraps, oxygen facials, and stress-recovery programs.
The public spaces, with their valuable furnishings and accessories, recall a stately English home, a feeling that increases as you sit down to sumptuous, perfectly served high tea. At dinner, chef Gilbert Steiner prepares mouth-watering dishes such as seared Barbary duck breasts, pan-fried foie gras, and veal tenderloin. The dazzling wine list includes a veritable who's who of some of the world's best vineyards. $500-$1,000, spa treatments extra. 146 Mount Pleasant Road, Mount Tremper, NY 12457; 845-688-7900.