There are many varieties of retreats. Some involve a lot of movement: going from workshop to workshops all in the name of learning wonderful techniques on quieting the mind, enjoying solitude, or learning to live simply. The Woods Retreat house is a retreat that offers the same kind of experience, but without the classrooms. All you have to do is arrive and just “be.”
I had the wonderful opportunity to visit The Woods along with two friends on an overnighter that we dubbed, a “moms’ retreat.” Nestled behind tall pines, and bordering the Catskill Preserve, this rustic, hand-crafted house allows guests to enjoy all the joys of quietness, of being out in nature, of feeling safe and cozy in a stone house where all that’s needed is within reach. A full kitchen where a gourmet meal can be either cooked up, or in our case, unwrapped and heated in the oven. A tv/dvd area to watch movies, a dining room table beside the nearly wall to wall windows that provides a scenic forest view, books and magazines to read, enough wood and kindling to keep the fire going, and yet in just a few lefts and rights, you could be out and about in nearby towns like Stone Ridge or Woodstock.
We arrived at The Woods, in the town of Accord, around 3 p.m. Owner, Donna Calcavecchio, was already on the second floor adding the finishing touches to our stay. She gave us the tour of the two-story house, its safety features, the amenities, and then took our questions about places to visit, nearby restaurants and attractions. Donna was gracious and welcoming, and then she was off, allowing the three of us to relax, start the fire, and then get dinner going. We were leaving early the next morning, and so she gave us instructions on locking up.
But relaxing at the house was just part of our game plan. How could we be on a mom’s vacation without a visit to a local spa! The RiverRock Health Spa in Woodstock was just the place to go for a morning massage. Kate, the spa hostess, arranged for Swedish massages that were absolutely glorious, and made sure we were pampered during our stay. A “relaxation room” allows for guests to have a warm glass of tea and treats before and after treatment, and I loved the thick luxurious robe left out for us in the changing areas. It’s all very nicely done, amidst the sound of soft voices, healing aromas and music that encourages you to destress.
Kate was attentive to our needs, and when one of us had a comment to make about the massage experience, she noted it down on cards made out for each of us—a smart move that encouraged a return visit. Before we left, she asked that I mention that there are women’s spa as well as men’s spa packages, and packages for couples. Oh, and that they were voted “Best of the Hudson Valley” for the past four years! But, as massages go, 60 minutes is never enough although we did depart feeling super-relaxed, and ready for a trip to the center of Woodstock for a bite and some browsing, and then on to one more notable site.
Ulster County has its own unique, free-spirited feel. Towns like Woodstock and New Paltz just ooze the creative and the unusual. But somehow it all fits and never seems out of place. The world’s largest kaleidoscope, in Mt. Tremper, is a good example. It’s a real, honest to goodness, homemade kaleidoscope built into the silo of an old barn, and adjacent to the Emerson Resort and Spa complex. It’s a definite “must see” if you are in this neck of the woods. Guests are ushered into a small room, and are shown how to lean back on straight boards (with a pillow headrest) so the show projected from the ceiling can be comfortably viewed. And, with a click of a switch, the lights went down, and the music turned on. And there we were, watching a kaleidoscope show, a true one of a kind experience. Tickets for the show are only $5 dollars—an easy on the pocketbook and a real “conversation” starter kind of day trip!
Ulster County is within two-hour car ride from New York City via I-87. Now that spring and summer are fast approaching, and most of us will be “stay-cationing,” you should consider you own “retreat.”
RiverRock Health Spa