Where the Wylder things are

A beloved, generations-old family resort in the Northern Catskills has been reborn as Wylder Windham.

For generations, winter guests at the Thompson House resort in Windham, New York, would complete one final task before leaving the hotel at the end of their annual stay:  They would make their reservation for the following year.

Sold last year by members of the Goettsche family, which has owned the property since 1880, the much-loved Greene County Catskills resort has now been rebranded as a Wylder hotel, joining other Wylder properties in Tighman Island, Maryland, and Hope Springs, California.

Loved as it was, the old Thompson place was tired and urgently in need not only of some TLC, but some serious upgrades to its accommodations and facilities. And that’s exactly what it’s had.  Refurbed, refitted and even partially rebuilt, the “new” resort — which we had a sneak peek at ahead of a reopening slated for mid-month — was already looking spruce, primed to receive its first guests. 

Comprising 110 guest rooms and suites housed in seven lodges, inns, cottages and manors spread over 20 acres, and with 4,000 acres of event space, the reimagined resort offers spiffed-up accommodations, a new restaurant and adjoining bakery and a superb, heated swimming pool — and that’s just for starters. 

The room we viewed in the Tamarack Lodge next to the Main Lodge had a Carrara marble bathroom, cheerful kelims on the white oak floors and a (slightly “chocolate-box-y”) painting above the handsome red-velvet bed, dressed with high-end linens. A balcony with two inviting Adirondack chairs commanded a premium view of the pool. All rooms and suites have TVs and private bathrooms and most will also have air-conditioning, mini fridges and mountain views. The suites also have sitting areas and pull-out sofas, while some will have Jacuzzis, balconies and four-poster beds. And using a model that is “luxurious, but not too luxurious,” some smaller rooms will also be available for backpackers and younger guests on a budget, which is going to make for a great social mix, as will the pet-friendly policy.

Phones, meanwhile, have apparently been ringing off the hook, with former loyal guests excited to see the “new” resort for themselves. “Everyone seems to have their favorite room number or wants a specific room,” says Andrea Francisco, Wylder Windham’s director of sales and marketing. “They ask for such-and-such a room in whichever building it is, and we then need to try and locate the room on the plan as all the rooms have yet to be renumbered.”

Inviting as the new accommodations are, management is hoping that guests will not spend too long in them but instead enjoy the resort and all the great outdoor activities that Wylder Windham — and Windham — expect to offer. First up, anticipate great food at Babblers restaurant, the name inspired by the scenic Batavia Kill (or creek), which runs through the property. Located in the Main Lodge, Babblers will serve “comfort food, downright simple, not fussy,” Francisco says, with baked goods and other treats available for takeout at the adjoining bakery.

A rec room in the Main Lodge with a pool table and juke box will lend a retro touch (think “Dirty Dancing” meets Hip Hotels,) although as Wylder founder and CEO John Flannigan puts it, at Wylder hotels you can expect the trappings of modern luxury but “without the attitude.” 

Outside, in addition to the pool and the grounds between the various accommodation houses, the area called The Yard boasts two pickleball courts as well as masses of open space for picnics and barbecues. Curling, bocce, corn hole and seasonal snowshoeing will also be available, while in the evening, much of the activity will switch to the streamside firepits. Both The Yard and the pits will be hubs of activity for the resort.

Beyond the Wylder’s boundaries, of course, is Windham itself, both the charming town and the family-friendly ski mountain of the same name — just minutes away from the resort. (The resort will run a shuttle service to Windham Mountain in its cool, vintage Land Rover Defender.) For hikers and bikers, there are great rides and well-marked, public access hiking trails galore. For golfers, the Windham Country Club, which is open to nonmembers, actually borders the resort.

Interestingly, like the revived resort itself, many local communities are also seeing something of a renaissance. In towns like Cairo (pronounced CARE-oh), Leeds and Jewett, where city dwellers once had second homes that have become permanent residences following the pandemic, new shops, galleries and restaurants are making this stunningly beautiful area of the Great Northern Catskills, if not “fashionable,” then certainly desirable. Later this year, chef Henning Nordanger, of the Norwegian restaurant Henning’s Local in Cochecton Center in the Western Catskills’ Sullivan County, and partner Julia Joern will open Julia’s Local in Round Top, a hamlet of Cairo, about 15 minutes from Windham.

Open year-round, a 90-minute drive from central Westchester County as well as easily accessible by Amtrak via Hudson-on-Hudson, the wholesome, stylish Wylder Windham can only add further luster to the area’s already wide appeal.

For more on Wylder Windham and to book, visit wylderhotels.com. For more on Greene County, visit greatnortherncatskills.com. And for bespoke tours of the Northern Hudson River Valley by Land Rover, visit bigonion.com.

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