Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Many a bride and groom have set themselves against the backdrop of the spectacular mountain vistas, open river valleys, and bucolic farmland of the western Catskills, to the delight of their family and guests. Weddings here offer the perfect outdoor setting at an affordable price while giving guests the opportunity to feel like they’re on a mini-vacation with so much to do before and after the main event.
Wedding season in the mountains runs from mid-June through the mid-October. Choosing the season is highly personal. Early summers is resplendent with brilliant hues of green as the trees leaf out and as the hayfields green up, while perennial flower beds and fruit trees can be found flowering everywhere. Summer’s warmth, evenings with shooting stars, and tables set with wildflowers appeal to many. Probably the most popular time, though, is fall with the sugar maples turning a kaleidoscope of colors from gold, to chartreuse, to pumpkin, to burgundy and bronze. A few intrepid souls do choose a winter theme – a wedding that probably has guests riding a chair lift, skiing down a mountain, and dining fireside as part of the festivities.
Many weddings are held here because couples are looking for more affordable options where they can do much of the planning themselves. Do-It-Yourself weddings are intimate and fun and offer plenty of opportunity for personalization and savings. Imagine: Rehearsal dinner hosted on the vintage train ride. The bride arriving by horse drawn buggy or vintage car. Ceremony next to a restored farmhouse out on the lawn. Wedding reception in the old barn or under a tent, maybe even pondside. Local fiddlers tapping out atune. A huge bonfire in a field maybe. And starry, starry skies for sure.
Another aspect much appreciated by the happy couple and their guests are the great locavore food resources. Creating the perfect menu featuring locally raised meats, cheese, and veggies is easy. Plan for a pig roast, chicken BBQ if your wedding is more casual. Local goat and sheep farm supply cheese, yogurt and organic milk to whip up delightful appetizers or desserts. Grass fed beef, pork and poultry farms provide delectable main dishes – remember to work far enough in advance to place your order. Organic vegetable farms provide everything from micro-greens to heirloom tomatoes to a bounty of root vegetables and squashes – as well as perennial flowers for the tables.
If you want a little help with the planning, wedding support services are growing in number. The quirks of hosting a wedding high up in the mountains is made easy when local planners know all the ins and outs to ensure everyone has the best time possible. Two local companies – Catskill Weddings www.catskillweddings.com, as well as Celebration Creations www.celebration-creations.net -- offer their skills and insider knowledge to help the happy couples out.
Most area lodging has a two night minimum, so wedding guests become vacationers as well. But they’ll never be at a loss for things to do or places to relax. Guests often amuse themselves with golf, fly fishing, biking on a rail trail or down a ski trail, horseback riding, kayaking, yoga, antiquing or simply lounging on the porch or next to a river or pond.
Great Western Catskills Tourism
The Great Western Catskills is a three hour drive from New York City metro area, and a great central location for guests coming from eastern Ohio, to Maryland to Boston. To learn more about outdoor fun for wedding guests to have, Stay-and-Play Packages or any other activities in the western Catskills, log on to: www.greatwesterncatskills.com.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
The Western side of the Catskills is the first mountain range east of the Rockies that gets hit with weather systems as they cross the plains. Not only that the Great Lakes provide just the right conditions to bring storm systems that pack a precipitation punch to the upstate region. This translates into lots of fresh powder at area ski slopes, like Plattekill Mountain in Roxbury, NY. In last years whopper of a storm, Plattekill was tapped by the National Weather Service as receiving the most snowfall of the storm – almost 9 feet!!
Plattekill maintains its charm as a challenging mountain that is incredibly family friendly. Double black diamond runs thrill expert skiers. The ski school offers great instruction, a bunny hill and two side trails for easier runs. Plattekill is open Friday-Sunday from 8:45 a.m.-4:15 p.m. Plattekill will be open for ten days straight for school break starting with the Presidents’ Weekend holiday. Saturday nights are especially exciting with snow tubing available in two sessions, from 5-7 and 7-9 p.m. Holiday week will have additional tubing nights as well. Check the conditions live with their mountain cam at www.plattekill.com. New to the mountain this year is a boatload of infrastructure improvements.
Keeping Plattekill’s trails in peak condition is a constant effort. The mountain has almost 100 snow guns, 7,000 feet of buried snowmaking pipe, 1,000 feet of heavy electric wire (and nine electric stations) to power 2 new fan guns, a grooming machine, and new rental equipment. A great way to understand just what it takes to get, make, and keep snow can be found on a new winter blog that features mostly Plattekill but also other winter activities in the region. http://winterinthecatskills.blogspot.com This blog has a little of everything from links to local teenagers terrain park videos, interviews with the snow making and grooming staff, as well as ice fishing and local village round-ups.
A number of nearby lodging facilities have partnered with Plattekill Mountain to offer money-saving packages. The most popular offering is one of their two BOGO (Buy One Get One) options. When visitors stay with a participating lodging facility, children 17 and under will receive one free lift ticket for each paid adult ticket (limit two). Adults without children can save big too. Buy a full day lift ticket for Saturday and get Sunday’s lift ticket free. The mountain boasts a great family cafeteria, upstairs lounge bar, child care center, fireplaces throughout and sunning benches on the deck.
If your winter adventure tastes are more leisurely, Delaware County has many fine cross-country skiing and snowshoeing options. The ideal cross-country or snowshoe route is the 26-mile rail bed known as the Catskill Scenic Trail running between Roxbury and Bloomville. Use of the trail is free. For additional information on the rail trail, visit http://www.catskillscenictrail.org. All this activity is in Roxbury which boasts the award winning boutique motel, The Roxbury - check out their theme rooms at www.theroxburymotel.com.
The Great Western Catskills Facebook page now includes a Photo of the Day section so you can remember just for real how much is on the ground, and be inspired to plan a visit. When it comes to lodging options, the Great Western Catskills features accommodations that include everything from cool and hip inns, charming bed and breakfasts, affordable and accommodating motels to private rental homes complete with fireplace and firewood. For winter lodging packages visit the getaways section of the area’s travel website.