Before buying a New Paltz home in 2016, I’d been visiting the Hudson Valley almost every week since 2007. At a conservative estimate, this means I’ve eaten 800 meals here. But three of the finest dinners I’ve ever enjoyed in the area came in the space of four recent weeks.
What’s going on? Did I rub a lucky rabbit’s foot and win the dining lottery? Or is the food scene in the Hudson Valley going gangbusters? These exemplary meals were enjoyed at three exciting new spots: Piaule, Chleo and, most recently, Casa Susanna.
Casa Susanna serves as the restaurant for Camptown, a newly opened hotel in Leeds. Now, stop me if you’ve heard this one before: This hotel has a central lodge — for eating, drinking and lounging — plus a number of cabins strewn across the property. Perhaps one day the Hudson Valley will reach peak cabin-based hotel. But to paraphrase Tom Cruise as Maverick, after being told that one day his type will be extinct: “Maybe so — but not today!”
In fairness, Camptown is different from other such lodgings, whose owners generally purchase vacant land and then begin construction. Camptown was originally built in the 1930s when it served as Carl’s Rip Van Winkle Motor Lodge. But now it has been gussied up by real estate development firm Mountain Shore Properties and Kim Bucci and Ray Pirkle of Ramshackle Studio, who own Rivertown Lodge in Hudson. What an intriguing idea — to herald a new age of Catskills tourism by reimagining one of its near-forgotten old-timers.