Couple Vacation Spots
Have you heard of Sullivan County? It’s the coolest bend in the Catskills these days, acknowledgment in ample allotment to husband-and-wife hoteliers Kirsten Harlow Foster and Sims Foster, whose aggregation Foster Supply Accommodation has been aperture beautiful bazaar hotels, farm-to-table restaurants and alike a nonprofit alleged A Single Bite that aims to eradicate bounded aliment insecurity.
This area—which has a continued and acclaimed history—has appear a continued way. Aback in the 1800s, Sullivan County’s bluestone bedrock was acclimated to body abounding of New York City’s sidewalks. Later, anglers apparent the Beaverkill River and created fly-fishing clubs that still abide today.
Then there was the allegorical Borscht Belt era (think Dirty Dancing). By the 1960s, Sullivan Canton was in its aureate era—one of the best accident vacation destinations in America, with added auberge beds than any added canton in the U.S. But with the acceleration of all-embracing travel, those celebrity canicule came to a halt, abrogation abaft alone resorts and economically devastated towns.
Sims, who grew up in the boondocks of Livingston Manor, remembers audition belief about the acceptable old canicule in the Catskills. “My grandparents and my ancestor talked about this vibrant, energetic, busy, economically applicable abode that I had no affiliation to aback I grew up actuality in the eighties and nineties,” says Sims, whose great-grandparents confused to Sullivan Canton in 1910.
Husband-and-wife hoteliers Kirsten Harlow Foster and Sims Foster, whose aggregation Foster Supply … [ ] Accommodation has been transforming Sullivan Canton in the Catskills.
Sims larboard to assignment in the accommodation industry in New York Burghal but begin himself fatigued aback to his adolescence home. “I accepted the accustomed beauty,” he says. “And growing up as a country boy in the woods, I consistently had this cull to appear aback and try to do my allotment to accompany an breadth I adulation aback in some way—to do some acceptable actuality in Sullivan County.”
Kirsten, who had formed in microfinance, nonprofits and banking, grew up in adjacent Westchester, but she additionally had a affiliation to the area: Her ancestor spent summers alive at one of the Borscht Belt resorts.
The brace met while fly fishing in the Catskills—and the blow is history.
Their aboriginal auberge was The Arnold House, which they originally opened in 2014 as a comfortable alehouse on Shandelee Mountain. The architecture happened to accept some apartment upstairs, which they adapted with a simple, rustic-chic vibe. It was a above hit and a auberge aggregation was born.
The alehouse at The Arnold Abode in the Catskills.
Each of Foster Supply Hospitality’s backdrop has a one-of-a-kind vibe that’s abiding in common pleasures with a avant-garde twist. The DeBruce—a comfortable abode overlooking a river—has a restaurant that was called one of the best in America by Esquire magazine. North Branch Inn is advance amid several celebrated barrio in a baby boondocks by the aforementioned name.
Kenoza Hall, a 19th aeon boarding house, has been glammed up with custom-designed furniture, clawfoot assimilation tubs, a wellness spa and a chichi restaurant with basin views. The Bungalows at Kenoza Hall—a new addition—has 10 luxe cabins with assimilation tubs, gas copse stoves and a committed “Tummler,” an activity administrator who will book excursions, spa treatments, appropriate alfresco dinners in the fields and more.
And that’s aloof a sampling: The aggregation has added hotels and restaurants in and about the region—and added on the horizon. Here, we bent up with Kirsten Harlow Foster and Sims Foster to acquisition out how they got started, what inspires them and their admonition for added entrepreneurs.
In one of the Kenoza Hall Bungalows.
A Side Hustle: “We started with the Arnold House. But I don’t anticipate that—strategically—we absolutely knew breadth we were activity in the beginning,” says Kirsten. “Neither of us got rid of our jobs, but I anticipate we both were secretly fantasizing about not actuality on planes all the time and active about like crazy people. I admired my job at the Fed, but I was additionally done with lath apartment and conferences. Coming up actuality and seeing the absolute appulse we had—not alone with guests, but additionally aural the community—had a abstruse appulse on me.”
How it Started: “The year afore we opened the Arnold House, we got affiliated up actuality and had a hundred of our abutting accompany and families—but there weren’t abounding places for them to stay,” says Kirsten. “It seemed so acrid that in a abode so beautiful—a abode that we adulation so abundant that we basic to allotment with everyone—we couldn’t acquisition the appropriate hotels. So that got us thinking: Maybe if we add apartment to the restaurant, we can advice appearance bodies how abundant it is up here. There’s a acumen why bodies were admiring to this breadth aback in the day, and all those affidavit still abide today.”
A Light in the Storm: “We were acquisitive that a ambit would bang with bodies like us from the burghal who basic a abode to escape,” says Kirsten. “The moment we accomplished that it was alive was in an early-season snowstorm in November. It was declared to snow all weekend and we anticipation anybody would cancel. But over the abutting few hours, every bedfellow showed up. So that’s aback we said: ‘Let’s accumulate going.’”
The Appeal of Sullivan County: “This breadth resonates with a lot of people,” says Kirsten. “I adulation the actuality that we’re abutting to the burghal but absolutely rural. I adulation that we don’t accept band malls and alternation restaurants. It’s alone America that has been dematerialization in our country. We accept attributes and rivers and lakes and hiking and a lot of diversity. I adulation that my kids can name every blazon of tractor and they apperceive the agriculturalist bottomward the artery and buy eggs beyond the street. It’s a allotment of activity that we accept to authority assimilate as we abide to modernize. It’s important that we don’t balloon this affectionate of artlessness and realness.”
An old covered arch bridge the Beaverkill River.
Creating a Business: “There wasn’t a abracadabra night breadth I said, “Well, now we’re activity to accept assorted hotels and restaurants.’ It was, ‘Let’s try addition one.’ And aback that one started to work, again it became added pragmatic—we couldn’t accumulate activity and authority assimilate our day jobs,” says Sims. “So that’s aback we started to ask ourselves, ‘How do we actualize the activity that we want? And how does that fit into a strategy, a spreadsheet, banking goals, aggregation goals?’ We basic to body a company, which is a accomplished altered beef and accomplishment than active a hotel. It’s architecture a team, architecture a culture, cerebration ahead, compassionate how banknote breeze works and compassionate the basic needs to abutment the growth.”
Creating Brand Pillars: “We affliction acutely about the communities that we’re in. If we’re accomplishing appropriate by our communities, again we apperceive what we’re accomplishing is appropriate for us,” says Sims. “We affliction about our guests. I got so annoyed in my career of alert to bodies allocution about demography affliction of bodies and again putting up barriers and rules and accouterment a ability that didn’t absolutely deliver. And again the third affair is that we acutely affliction about the bodies that accept abutting us. Kirsten and I both advance from the basal of the pyramid. So the added bodies we add to the team, the added bodies we feel amenable for supporting. We feel advantaged that they’ve fabricated a best to accompany us. So we assignment for them.”
Advice to Aspiring Entrepreneurs: “If you are starting your own company, it should reflect your values. So you accept to accept who you are and what you appetite to present to the world. Secondly, a lot of entrepreneurs appetite to focus on the creative, abstracted allotment of the business—and that’s absolutely important—but it agency annihilation unless you’re accommodating to put a P&L together, accept banknote breeze and accept how your eyes is accurate by a foundation that gives you a adventitious for success. Culturally, the Shark Tanks of the apple accent that flying-in-the-clouds allotment of entrepreneurialism. But you accept to adore the [business] allotment that allows you to do that.”
The appearance from the pond beneath The DeBruce, which has over 600 acreage to explore.
Managing Through Covid: “We kept all of our agents active through the accomplished pandemic,” says Sims. “In some ways, this was a actual accessible accommodation because it was axiological to who we are—if we couldn’t booty affliction of our guests because we were bankrupt down, we could focus on our teams and our community. Quite honestly, [we did it] at whatever amount it was activity to be to us.”
A Single Bite: “This is an educational affairs to advise kids about the aberration amid absolute aliment and candy aliment and that they accept a choice. It’s been about for about [five] years,” says Sims. “During Covid, we mobilized. We still had bodies on payroll, but we didn’t accept any guests to serve. So we aloof afflicted the guests aboveboard to our neighbors and formed with lots of added volunteers and went from confined 300 commons a anniversary to confined 2,500 commons per anniversary in the community. Spiritually, it helped our aggregation and us in those abundant moments of uncertainty. We’re a aggregation of action. Our ambition is to do aggregate we can to eradicate the botheration [of aliment insecurity] in Sullivan County. No one in our canton should go to bed hungry.”
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