Hot pool at new Catskills hotel a hit with guests

When travelers imagine relaxing in a hot tub or heated pool, a lot of images come to mind. But odds are that none include … a shipping container.

This unexpected surprise and delight is among many features to be discovered at Rest Co., a new boutique hotel in the Catskills near Bethel Woods that is co-owned by longtime friends Max King and Heath Miller.

When King and Miller decided to open their first hotel together, they knew it had to be in the Hudson Valley or the Catskills, they just didn’t know where. The duo had already collaborated on a couple of Airbnb properties in Red Hook. The success of those Airbnbs and their 20 years of combined experience (Miller owns a brand marketing company; King a construction and design company) inspired them to think about opening a hotel.

“I build out restaurants and high-end residential in New York City, and I just decided to start looking for a property,” says King.

Related: 6 new Catskills resorts opening in 2022

Crossing the river wasn’t a fluke — King and Miller were frequent visitors to Callicoon Wine Merchant, owned by another friend of theirs, and they were familiar with the area. “We all went to Syracuse University, so we’d stop there on our way up to see a basketball game,” says King. “It was very organic how it all happened.”

They stumbled upon a 1940 farmhouse/poultry barn and caretaker’s cottage that was in foreclosure in Kenoza Lake, just 10 minutes from Bethel. After purchasing the property in June 2020, they started in on renovations straight away, converting it into a small boutique hotel.

The main building has three rooms and two suites, one complete with private terrace and soaking tub

“Heath and I did the design together,” says King. “We call it minimalist farmhouse.” The rooms have a country black-and-white décor, with white-washed, rough-hewn rafters and wide pine plank floors painted black, softened with cream-colored throw rugs. Accent walls are covered in a moss green and navy-blue check wallpaper.

The low-profile furniture is modern, while the bathrooms have subway tiled walk-in showers and amenities from Hudson Made, which sources their ingredients and botanicals from within 200 miles of the Hudson Valley.

Owners Heath Miller and Max King call the hotel's design "minimalist farmhouse."

Owners Heath Miller and Max King call the hotel’s design “minimalist farmhouse.”

Rest Co.

Owners Heath Miller and Max King call the hotel's design "minimalist farmhouse."

Owners Heath Miller and Max King call the hotel’s design “minimalist farmhouse.”

Rest Co.

Miller and King call the hotel’s design “minimalist farmhouse.” (Photos: Rest Co.)

Downstairs the sophisticated bar and restaurant is painted a dark teal with velvet high-backed stools in the same color.

But the main draw can be found outside on the property’s seven acres: the hotel’s 50-foot shipping container hot pool from Modpool in British Columbia.

“The pool is 95 degrees, and when guests arrive they get a large robe and slippers. They can sit out there all day,” says King. “We’ll lower the temperature in the summer.”

The hotel also has a duck pond visible from the terraces and the poolside patio.

Since the hotel opened in February, they have been booked every weekend, according to King. The main building can accommodate 10 guests, and the cottage, when it opens this summer, will accommodate four.

“We’ll never have more than 14 guests. It’s a very intimate experience. You go to the pool, then you sit at the bar and our expert in-house mixologist Mike Roberto runs through the ingredients and finds something you like.”

Now that spring is here, they are preparing a kitchen garden, which will provide produce and herbs for the chef de cuisine Molly Lopez’s vegan-heavy menu, and for Roberto’s craft cocktails.

“We plan to do picnics and also just let a guest pull tomatoes off the vine and pick some veggies, and we’ll prepare something for them to eat by the pool,” says King. “It’s a very personalized experience when you’re here.”

The hotel provides bikes to guests to ride down to Kenoza Lake, and the nearby towns of Callicoon, Livingston Manor, Jeffersonville, and Narrowsburg are there to explore, as are the Delaware River and local state parks. King and Miller also have a relationship with Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, which is just three miles away, make Rest Co., a convenient place to stay for people going to see shows there — or who are performing in them.

“We have connections in the music industry and we’ll have bands staying at the hotel when they’re playing Bethel Woods,” King says.

King also anticipates that Rest Co. will become an overnight destination for guests of local weddings booked at larger venues. “We work with some of the bigger hotels in area and they send us overflow,” says King. “The hotel and restaurant owners here in Sullivan County are all friendly – we’re working together for a common goal.”

But King and Miller want to appeal to locals as well as city folk, and hope to have a year-round clientele who will come to stay from the surrounding region.

“Just few weeks ago a couple who lives in Hudson decided to just drive over here for a staycation for their anniversary,” says King. “It’s the perfect couple’s getaway.”

More Hudson Valley travel

Karen J. Simmons

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