As the Catskill Mountains continue to develop as an attraction for hikers, bikers, tubers and skiers, design-forward destinations crop up to accommodate all types of travelers. A highlight among the various outposts, the Shandaken Inn reopened this winter after an extensive renovation and restoration. The bones of the building date back to the 1920s, but the new interiors and expansion represent the region’s quaint style, reinforced by substantial luxury embellishments. No two of the 15 rooms look the same—though each places an emphasis on comfort. Common spaces pop with color and nostalgic references. An on-site gym services contemporary needs. And a seasonal pool, outdoor tables and a large fire-pit connect the thoughtful indoor energy to the 12 surrounding acres.
“From the moment you walk through the front door, the feel you get is that of a welcomed guest in a close friend’s home,” says owner Jay Jacobs, a resident of the Catskills and an overall attentive, thoughtful person. “The warmth of the wood-burning fireplace, the cozy living room, designed for comfort and easy conversation all lend itself to that at-home feeling. And, when shown to your room, each one uniquely designed and distinctly different from every other, the sense you get is that you actually are in the home of a close personal friend.”
Jacobs was familiar with the property long before owning it. “My wife and I stayed at the inn back in the early 1980s and loved the charm, warmth and coziness of the place,” he says. For a while, it had been the preeminent bed and breakfast in the area but it shuttered more than a decade ago, then transitioned into one family’s vacation compound. “As soon as it came back on the market,” he says, “I knew that it should reopen as an establishment serving the public and I had no doubt that we could bring it back to its former glory—and even better.”
The Shandaken Inn reflects changes in the picturesque Catskill region—notably a return of New Yorkers interested in outdoor activities by day and premium hospitality experiences by night. Jacobs recognizes this but sought to honor the past generations who passed through. Behind the inn’s tiny, timeless bar (with nearby Woodstock Brewing beers on tap), “The Clubhouse” restaurant draws its name from the once famous Rip Van Winkle Golf Course. The Shandaken Inn was once the clubhouse for the defunct course. Each of the guest rooms take their name from former Catskill resorts and summer camps. An old phonebooth, a remnant of an older iteration of the inn, has been restored and greets guests upon arrival.
Jacobs does not allow the Shandaken Inn’s design to live in the past, though. He hired interior designer Alise Yang of AY Designs to translate Catskill signatures to contemporary flourishes. Natural wood can be found in La Lune and Old Hickory furniture, as well as custom railings and end tables. Plaid fabrics, patterns and textured wallpapers from Phillip Jeffries all add dimension. Visitors will also find Frette linens and robes, MALIN+GOETZ bath products and serene design interventions.
Guests, if looking carefully, will also notice owl decor and sculptures placed throughout the property. The reasoning is quite sincere. “They represent my biggest challenge in business: ‘who’ is going to take great care of the guests? Owls represent the great team that you need to make any venture a success,” Jacobs explains. He continues that in addition to the owls, “all of the art is local and was personally selected and, with a few exceptions, even personally hung.” Alongside Yang, Jacobs personally selected “the wall coverings, furniture, fabrics for every one of the guest rooms and public spaces.”
The comforts of the Shandaken Inn are not all design-related—and some are more palpable than others. One of the less tangible attributes happens to be Jacob’s nurturing background as a summer camp owner. He bought his first camp at the age of 24 and has acquired and supported many beloved destinations for youth in the decades since. “Developing what I would consider the ‘perfect’ country inn started with a focus on blending comfort, warmth, convenience and hospitality,” he says. “When you think about it, while the mission and structure may be different, whether you are caring for children or grown adults, the bottom line is that you are caring—and that’s what we seek to do well at the Shandaken Inn.”
Images by Kira Turnball, courtesy of the Shandaken Inn