Scribner's Lodge, Upstate NY with Zipcar

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Located in the heart of the Catskill Mountains, Scribner's Lodge is a 38 room hotel perched right opposite Hunter Mountain. What used to be Scribner Hollow Motor Lodge in the 60's, Scribner's renovated and reopened in 2016 as a place for modern explorers, complete with a downstairs restaurant with mountain views, a lounge and library, outdoor fire-pit, and uniquely designed suites. It's the perfect place for a weekend escape from the city and just a two-hour drive North of Manhattan. 

Our Catskill suite slept up to 6, with two double bunk beds and a queen, boasting mountain views from our private balcony. The rooms are light-filled, decorated with vintage rugs and custom-built furniture with each suite is unique in layout. 

 

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"Since 1966, this building has welcomed and warmed the spirits of adventurers seeking refuge from their daily lives and explorers looking for something new." 
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Downstairs at Scribner's own restaurant Prospect, you'll be spoilt with floor to ceiling mountain views. The bar flows into the restaurant area and you'll find seating nooks around nearly every corner. 

Serving up breakfast and dinner, with brunch on weekends, Prospect make use of the local ingredients available within the Hudson Valley- and there's no shortage of incredible fresh produce available in the region. With an impressive cocktail menu, après ski here melts into the dinner hour where if you hadn't ever experienced hygge, you're sure to have now. 

 

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The common space features a pool table, board games, central fireplace and a perfectly curated library with new and old selections. At 5pm, you're invited to the outdoor fire-pit for Smore's-oclock, with everything you need already in your room and waiting upon check-in. 

Our two nights here were just right for recharging the batteries. With lazy mornings in the library and uno battles around the fire before dinner, Scribner's is a cosy retreat from the bustle of New York City and exactly the sort of Winter getaway we needed. 

 

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Scribner's Catskill Lodge

13 Scribner Hollow Rd, Hunter, NY 12442

www.scribnerslodge.com

 

EXPLORE

Having a Zipcar on this trip gave us the freedom to drive around and explore the area. Aside from skiing & snowboarding at Hunter mountain, there's so much to do in the Catskills all year round. 

Using Zipcar you can reserve a car by the hour or the day, picking up your vehicle from one of many locations around the city. I've been using Zipcar for the past year now and it makes it really easy to run errands or take trips out of the city, especially as the gas is included and you don't have to deal with any paperwork or long rental car office queues. It's as easy as reserving a car online or on the app and then unlocking the vehicle with your card so you can hit the road.

If you want to try it out for yourself, join here and you'll get $25 off your first reservation.

 

The Town of Hudson

Just a 40 minute drive through the Catskills, you'll find the town of Hudson, NY. Filled to the brim with gift and design stores, cafes and great places to grab a bite, this is probably my favourite town in Upstate New York.  Be sure to check out WM Farmer and Sons for dinner or brunch on weekends.

 

Phoenicia Diner

Located just off the highway near the small town of Phoenicia, this diner is my favourite in the world. Serving all the classic dishes but using locally sourced ingredients, Phoenicia really knows how to do a diner brunch. 

5681 NY-28, Phoenicia, NY 12464

 

Mountain Cinema

Local theater on Main Street in Hunter showing the latest releases and indie flics, on Main Street in Hunter.

7971 Main St, Hunter, NY 12442

 

Bowling

Cheap games, classic tunes and friendly locals. For my birthday we went bowling at a local spot which felt like stepping back in time a little bit. There's a couple of alleys in the area, too:

 

Hoebowl

305 W Bridge St, Catskill, NY 12414

 

Bowlers Club

RR 9W, Saugerties, NY 12477

 

 

Kaaterskill Falls Hike

A two stage waterfall on the Spruce Creek, if you're headed here make sure to stay on the designated path and in Winter, crampons are a must.

 

 
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The DeBruce, Upstate NY

Since moving to New York earlier this year, I've more and more been missing the outdoors so having the Catskills and sweet towns in Upstate New York just a few hours drive away makes it all the more easy for a quick escape to the mountains and to be able to hit reset. 

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I'm a big fan of Zipcar, where you can reserve a car from hundreds of locations around the city and pay an hourly or daily rate to hire a range of vehicles. It's simple to use with plenty of cars available and you use a keycard to unlock it, so there's no dealing with long rental car office queues and paperwork of any sort. It's as easy as reserving a car and hitting the road. 

Heading North, The DeBruce is nestled close by to the town of Livingston Manor and is an easy & beautiful drive just two hours from the city. Part of the Foster Supply Group (which also includes The Arnold House and North Branch Inn which I visited a couple of years back), The DeBruce recently opened in 2017 with 14 guest rooms and is a one-of-a-kind experience. 

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Overlooking the Willowemoc Valley, The DeBruce an inviting and cosy space where you can be sure to park your car and not return to it until you check out. With direct access to 1/2 mile of private river rights for fly fishing and 600 acres of mountain trails as it's backyard, it's the perfect opportunity to explore the surrounding area by hike, cross-country skiing, birding or snowshoeing. 

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Food is an integral part of The DeBruce experience and you're sure to be spoilt. With a cosy downstairs clubhouse where you can sit fireside with a unique cocktail or local brew in hand as well as a glass-windowed dining room with views of the mountains, slowing down and enjoying the flavours of the surrounding land was a memorable part of our stay. 

For guests, Breakfast and Dinner are included, with Dinner on Saturday an impressive and beautifully presented signature 9-course meal. Executive Chef Aksel Theilkuhl has created a culinary experience which utilises ingredients foraged from surrounding land as well as local suppliers. With the menu always changing and adapting to the availability of produce, you'll be spoilt with fresh, in-season flavours that are uniquely dreamt up. 

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"The DeBruce focuses on conveying a story about its own particular place and time. 
An experience and emotional memory that lasts in guests’ thoughts long after they have returned home."
 
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The building itself is over 100 years old and has truly stood the test of time. What I loved is that the renovations of the entire property keep the original charm and aesthetic of which was once one of 20 boarding houses in the Valley. 

There's plenty of spots to rug up with a good book and a coffee- from the Great Room which feels like stepping back in time, to the Conservatory, a cosy lounge with an original fieldstone fireplace. There's also a tackle room, where you can gear-up (or off), overlooking the swimming pool which sees's long Summer days. 

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Venturing Upstate has got to be one of my favourite New York memories because being in such a lush and relaxing setting has always been up there as the most dreamy setting to be with friends. As the colder months sneak up on us, nothing sounds better to me than a hot toddy and a crispy Fall afternoon. Thank you to the gorgeous team at The DeBruce for allowing myself & my nearest and dearest the opportunity to rug up and enjoy some incredible food, stunning scenery and the best skillet eggs I've ever tasted.

 

The DeBruce

982 Debruce RdLivingston Manor, NY 12758

www.thedebruce.com

 

Zipcar

www.zipcar.com

 

My guide to Tulum, Mexico

My appetite is a driving force when choosing a new destination to visit and Mexico had been on the top of my list for quite some time for this very reason. As I’m living in the Northern hemisphere this year, there wasn’t any excuse and I took the quick 3 and a half hour trip from New York City on the last weekend of Summer to soak up the sun with my friend Bethany who flew in and met me in Cancun. 

Tulum filled every expectation and more and whilst we only spent four days here, the long sunny days and being instantly whisked into relaxation mode has us leaving like we’d just spent two weeks on the beach. 

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Getting there and around: 

We flew into Cancun airport, hired a car and took the easy 2 hour drive down the highway into Tulum beach. Be careful of speed bumps called ‘topes’ and the always changing speed limit.

If you don't fancy driving, you can easily arrange a hotel transfer and then use bikes to cycle around Tulum beach or hail down one of the many taxis that drive up and down the beach road. 

 

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Where to eat:

Hartwood

I picked up the Hartwood recipe book about a year ago now and was drawn to it’s fresh recipes and stunning photography. Getting the opportunity to eat here was such a treat and an absolute must. It’s the name at the top of everyone’s list so get there when they open at 6pm to put your name down if you don’t have a reservation. We dined on grilled octopus, plantains, sticky honey glazed sweet potato, grapefruit margaritas, flourless chocolate cake and cheese flavoured ice-cream. 

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Chamicos

This beach front restaurant is about 15 minutes drive away from Tulum beach but is located quite close to the Grand Cenote and Dos Ojos so if you’re visiting them, this is a perfect lunch spot. With hammocks to laze in and a reef to swim in after you eat, this is the definition of a long lunch. The food is cheap and quick but incredible none the less. I recommend getting the whole fried fish and the ceviche. 

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Taqueria La Eufemia

We went back to La Eufemia multiple times for it’s laid back vibe, fresh watermelon juice and fresh fish tacos. Located on the beach front, this is the spot for a chill afternoon of music, tequila and cheap eats. 

 

Nomade

We visited Nomade Hotel for a coffee and lazed in their Moroccan inspired lounge area filled with cushions and lanterns. A nice chilled out afternoon spot if you’re like us and are looking for a caffeine fix. 

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Where to stay:

Casa de las Olas

www.casadelasolas.com

We absolutely our stay at Casa de las Olas where everyone instantly felt like family. The property was designed 40 year ago and is the only 100% sustainable hotel in Mexico. It’s incredible design adapts to all the elements that surround it, utilising the ocean breeze for constant air flow and making use of the local cenotes and rain water, the design and set up of this relaxed hotel is impressive to say the least. The hotels uses all organic, biodegradable soaps and cleaning products made by hand in the town. 

Casa de las Olas is located at the end of the beach road, right next to the entrance to 40 million acre Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. The beach is only steps away from the rooms where you might be lucky enough to spot the hatchings of baby sea turtles who nest on this quiet end of the beach. 

Breakfast and lunch is such a treat with resident chef Lulu whipping up dishes made with the freshest of ingredients which are all locally sourced from family farms, making each dish vibrant with flavour and colour.  With fresh yoghurt and granola, hot coffee, freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and a special daily dish like avocado on toast or sopes, waking up here each morning and dining with other guests at the communal table under the canopy of palms was a dreamy way to start the day.

What I loved most about Casa de las Olas is their dedication to sustainability and creating an eco-friendly place that doesn’t damage the earth in any way. Their transparency and honesty is so admirable and I can’t wait to return. 

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Casa Malca

www.casamalca.com

We spent two nights at Casa Malca, a newly opened 40-room art hotel which has a quirky, eclectic and vibrant collection of artwork spread throughout. The property itself, which once belonged to Pablo Escobar has three swimming pools, one which sits in an underground cave as well as a large restaurant where breakfast, lunch and dinner is available. 

The rooms at Casa Malca are light filled with floor to ceiling windows and each feature different contemporary artworks making each space original and different from the next. 

One of my favourite parts of Casa Malca was the lobby entrance where a sofa and chairs hang from above and at the top of a tall spiral staircase, you’ll get sunset views of both the ocean and the biosphere. The hotel is private, unique, sophisticated and beautifully curated and will no doubt leave you feeling pampered and energised. 

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Where to explore:

Mayan Ruins

At the very top of the beach road, you’ll find the Ancient Mayan Ruins of Tulum which are definitely worth exploring. It costs 70 pesos to enter and you’ll want to make sure you go early in the morning to avoid crowds and the blazing sun as there’s not much shade to duck from it. This 13th-century, walled Mayan archaeological site at Tulum National Park overlooks the seaand is incredibly well preserved. Bring your swimming togs if you want to take a dip in the crystal clear ocean below. 

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Cenotes

The many cenotes in the region are what make Tulum so magical and the Yucatan area is known to have some of the world’s most widespread range of underwater sinkholes and cenote caves.

The cenotes are inhabited by fish, turtles, and bats and before entering you’ll be asked to shower off so that you don’t have any lotions or creams on but watch out for mosquitos as it’s a breeding ground for them.

We visited the Grand Cenote and can recommend arriving early to avoid hoards of tourists. It cost $10 USD to enter and both lockers & snorkel gear were available to rent for an extra cost. 

Another popular cenote near Tulum is Dos Ojos which is known for it’s deep diving. The cave system of the cenote is known to be at least 61km long and 118m deep. We were also recommended ‘Pet Cemetery’ Cenote which is located close by and has 28 sinkholes to explore. Your entry fee includes snorkelling gear and a guide who will lead you through the dark caves that feature jaw dropping rock formations covered in stalactites and stalagmites. 

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Tips:

Make sure to bring bug spray, sunscreen and a good hat as the sun is strong.

Most places accept US dollars but be aware that you’re not going to be paying the best exchange rate. I’d recommend bringing Mexican Peso’s with you to avoid having to use an ATM. 

Bring light clothes as it can get very humid and sticky.

 

A note about sea turtles:

  • Turtle nesting season is from May to October in Tulum and if you’re lucky enough, witnessing this is one of the most amazing experiences. Hatchling usually take place at night when sea turtles are not as visible to prey like birds, crabs, racoons, dogs and fish and use the light of the moon to guide them safely to the ocean. 
  • If you do see baby sea turtles hatching on the beach, it’s really important that you don’t pick them up on their way to the sea or shine a light on them to take a photograph. Only one in 1000 sea turtles make it to adult hood and have such a small chance of survival that shining a light or startling them can reduce this even more.
  • If you encounter a turtle, remain quiet, still, and at a distance. Otherwise, the frightened turtle may return to the ocean without nesting.
  • Don’t leave any rubbish around and if you see any, pick it up. Turtles often confuse plastics with food and If they eat it, they will die when this trash blocks their intestines.
  • If you’re walking on the beach at night, be careful about where you’re walking and only use a red LED light to guide the way. 
  • Be careful where you walk on the beach. Turtle nests are sometimes marked with sticks by volunteers but be careful not to stand in one or play ball games close by as it can destroy the nests. 
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