Kutsher's country club was the longest-running resort in the Catskill Mountains. The club was the most successful resort on the Borscht Belt. The Borscht Belt is named as such due to the historically Jewish nature of the proprietors and clients in the region. While anyone and everyone are allowed to visit, back in the day, it was primarily Jewish-Americans from all over the Northeast who made frequent trips to Upstate New York.

Influenced by the wealthy tourists coming to the area, small hotels and farmhouses turned into grand resorts and yoga retreats to accommodate worldly and metropolitan conceptions of luxury.


The History Of Kutsher's Country Club

Kutsher's was opened in 1907 as a humble farmhouse. Two brothers, Max and Louis Kutsher called it the Kutcher Brother's Farmhouse. Throughout World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II, the farmhouse was little known, quaint, and unambitious. It was only after the influx of Jewish immigrants in the 1940s that traffic to the Catskill area picked up.

For a Jewish family-owned business out in the middle of nature, the most reliable customers were other Jews. Also, after the Second World War, there was a boom in the American economy. For the first time, people were earning so much that they were inclined to spend lavishly on material comforts and luxury.

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Around this time, in the 1950s, the nephew of Max and Louis, Milton Kutsher, was goaded by his aunt Rebecca to assume operations of the Kutsher Hotel. It was after Milton took over that the humble family-owned farmhouse turned into a luxury resort. As more people went upstate to escape the spectacles of city life, the Kutsher Hotel started to reach full capacity on a regular basis. This was a clear sign to Milton that it was time to scale up the business.

With all of the extra revenue, the hotel was turned into an all-inclusive grand resort and country club. Reservations had to be made well in advance and sophisticated decorum was expected out of all guests and staff. Eventually, the Kutsher Country Club became one of the most popular destinations in Upstate New York, gentrifying Monticello along with it.

Along with popularity came celebrities. As if to recreate the natural beauty of the Catskill Mountains into the image of a city, the resort began catering to the lowest denominator of guests. The demand for thrills and popular culture had arrived in Upstate New York. Free-thinking academics, psychonauts, hippies, and artists escaped the city and flocked to the farms and forests in the mountains north of the Big Apple.

Jewish stars like Jerry Seinfeld, Woody Allen, and Joan Rivers made appearances at Kutsher's Country Club. The calendar of this once-rustic inn was spotted with crass stand-up comedy shows and urbane modern musical performances.

Facilities were constantly expanded. At its peak, the Kutsher's Country Club had an 18-hole golf course, a 400-room resort, two bungalow colonies for executive guests, and a lakefront. Activities included indoor ice skating, tennis, swimming, snow tubing, skiing, and wellness rehabilitation. In addition to this, since the country club was built on 1,500 acres of woodlands, there were also two summer camps on-site.

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The Decline Of Kutsher's Country Club

While successful for so many decades, the resort started to experience a slow down in uptake. Other casinos and resorts with similar amenities opened in the Catskills and diverted a lot of customers. Also, many lifelong customers grew old, taking with them the Jewish tradition of vacationing in luxury, not too far from home.

In 2005, the Kutsher descendants decided to sell part of the resort. The takeover took a few years, and in that time, the managers sent a notice to long-haul guests that the resort was shutting down for renovation. In 2007, the sale was completed. The new owner is Indian billionaire Subhash Chandra, who is known for starting yoga resorts all over the world.

For another few years, the resort was left abandoned. In 2012, the resort grounds were the location for the New York Harvest Festival. Over 4,000 people attended, breathing new life into the abandoned area. The festival was so successful that in 2013, the NY Harvest Festival was planned to be hosted at the resort again. However, a lady fell off the rooftop during the planning stages and the festival was called off.

The incident was a turning point. The new owners of the resort decided that the entire place needed to be rebranded. Most of the resort facilities were either demolished, repurposed, or relabelled. After five years, the Y01 Luxury Nature Care Yoga resort was opened over the ashes of Kutsher's Country Club.

While the old charm of an ethnic vacation destination has been replaced by a globalized version, the resort can still be visited, albeit in a totally different form. There is no ice skating and the new resort does not cater to families in the same way that Kutsher's did. In many ways, the story of the Kutsher's Country Club reflects the larger demographic shifts of the Northeast.

Next: The Catskills Was Once A Bustling Resort Region, But Now It's Almost Completely Abandoned