—Combining the comforts of home with sleek elements of Scandinavian design, Eastwind Hotel is everything–and nothing–like the country cabins you are used to.
Nestled among the soft peaks and foliage of New York’s Catskill Mountains, the Eastwind Hotel’s signature navy exterior casts a striking contrast against its landscape. Paradoxically modern, natural, and timeless all at once—its juxtaposition may be one of the first details, but certainly not the last, to catch your eye during your stay. About two hours from the New Jersey border, the boutique hotel offers the ideal escape from hectic daily life, and with it, the opportunity to regain perspective amid the beauty of nature. In times such as these, Eastwind’s emphasis on a down-to-earth, adaptable experience is more inviting than ever.
Founded in 2018 by Montclair couple Bjorn Boyer and Julija Stoliarova and their friends, the first-time hoteliers were drawn to the Catskills by their shared love of the area. For Boyer, the Catskills evoke fond childhood memories of exploring, skiing, and hiking. Upon discovering the low-key property encompassed by scenic views of Windham Mountain, Boyer recounts how the team was united by a single goal: “to create a unique Scandinavian home away from home that would help bring friends and families together.”
With the help of their various backgrounds in hospitality, the founders combined their strengths to turn their plan into a reality. After months of collaboration, Eastwind carefully took the shape that it resembles today—an expansive property offering uniquely designed accommodations, high-end amenities, and inviting gathering spaces across its sprawling 17 acres.
Home Away From Home
In a town long connected to winter activities, Stoliarova, who also doubles as the hotel’s creative director, desired to create a calming retreat to complement a day spent in the great outdoors. Because of this, she drew on the property’s history as a bunkhouse for fly fishermen and hunters dating back to the 1920s. Evidence of this background can be observed in the thoughtful selection of vintage books, sporting equipment, and art adorning the walls of most Eastwind rooms. However, what sets Eastwind apart as a refreshing alternative to the antiquated, stuffy mountain homes of the past is Stoliarova’s incorporation of the increasingly popular Scandinavian design into the property’s rustic ambiance. Drawing on the Swedish concept lagom, meaning just the right amount, Eastwind’s rooms combine “clean, urban touches” with the raw resources of the area.
A fitting display of Eastwind’s style can be found in the hotel’s mid-century “King’’ rooms. In the bedroom, navy and yellow knit accents, along with the woodland-inspired art lining the walls, give the room a soft country feel. At the same time, sprawling windows, white-washed walls, black sliding barn doors, and simplistic light fixtures carry the room into the present, almost resembling a hip New York City loft. A similar balance of styles exists in the room’s suite model, where French doors open into a living area characterized by a retro fireplace, painted stone walls, and geometric prints throughout.
Though each of Eastwind’s rooms differs slightly in decoration, their tranquil effect is the same. Stoliarova’s airy, minimalist aesthetic proves the perfect complement to the sweeping mountain views outside, making it feel as if you are still connected to the wilderness while observing from the comfort of your bed. Faribault wool blankets, Frette linens, and Zenology bath products top off each room, sealing the deal on your upscale yet wholly natural experience.
The Eastwind Hotel offers 26 accommodation options, from rooms within the main building to suites in their Hill House—a secondary location along the forest line. With the aim to “explore all the beauty that nature has to offer,” states Boyer, hammocks, fire pits, saunas and trails can be found scattered across the property’s numerous acres. Additionally, Eastwind is only a five-minute drive from Windham Mountain, a center with over 54 ski trails, six terrain parks, snowshoeing trails, tubing slopes, and more. Through access to these diverse features, guests can take on the great outdoors full speed ahead or embrace a more laid-back approach, simply enjoying the crisp mountain air. Eastwind’s new Lushna Suites, launched in September 2020, take this idea to a whole new level.
The Lushna Suites, A Scandinavian Approach to Camping
Resembling little wooden tents set among the trees, the three pet-friendly suites lie at the intersection of glamping and tiny house living. With all of the amenities you could need, this lodging expands upon its one-room predecessor, the Lushna Cabin. The 400-square-foot buildings are each equipped with a lofted-queen size bed and adjoining A-frame windows, providing breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding Catskills that every influencer dreams of. In the quaint living space that lies below, a pull-out sofa allows the suite to accommodate four people total. Beyond this, the property opens to your own private deck and seating, where you can take in the expansive greenery firsthand while lounging in a complimentary Pendleton robe. To enhance your relaxation, each unit comes with its own outdoor shower, hammock, and fire pit, though upon request you can also acquire a barbeque to fire up your own meals.
For the aspiring novelist, or really any digital-worker longing for a change of scenery, the suites offer a writer’s nook off of the living area. A similar spot exists within the hotel’s main building, though only the Lushna Suites have the benefit of possessing their own. Complete with a desk and sweeping windows, this stylish corner is designed to draw on nature for inspiration.
“Eastwind is a place to disconnect and align yourself with your thoughts,” explains Stoliarova. “That said, we included a few areas within our accommodations where your creativity can run wild. By adding the writer’s nooks in the Lushna Suites and the vintage typewriter within the Writer’s Studio, we hoped to encourage our guests to depart from their electronics—and put pen to paper. Perhaps releasing thoughts top-of-mind, writing poetry inspired by the nature they’re immersed in, or finally writing that novel.”
Though in theory they are Eastwind Hotel’s most rustic lodging alternative, the standalone Lushna Suites are both self-serving and refined. With an en-suite bathroom, fridge, and Wi-Fi, you can exist there happily without ever having to branch out to the outside world. In a society that has become accustomed to this reclusion over the past year, the Lushna Suites reminds us that, when done right, it can actually be a thing of luxury and healing.
Top-Tier Service Amid a Changing Reality
Eastwind’s ambitious latest project is also one of the many examples of how the hotel has provided safe alternatives for the socially-distanced traveler. According to Boyer, business has unsurprisingly looked very different this year. “With air travel greatly slowed in 2020, we learned the strength and impact of our local and regional community of travelers. Being about two and a half hours or less from New York City, Northern New Jersey and Philadelphia, upon reopening, we’ve had the great privilege of welcoming guests who were eager to take advantage of what’s driveable and safe within their own backyard.” Regardless, ensuring the comfort of their beloved neighboring guests is a top priority for the hotel, even when it means constructing entirely new living accommodations; “We’re proud to be able to meet the high demand from guests looking to immerse themselves in nature and enjoy the outdoors while keeping safety top of mind.”
As a result of these changes, the Eastwind Hotel’s service has become even more catered to the individual experience and convenience. Check-in has been reimagined as a contact-less affair, to take place over text while you drive up to the secluded mountain venue. During this interaction, you will be asked if you’d like to receive a breakfast basket–consisting of croissants, granola, fresh fruit, coffee, and more–along with your preferred time of delivery the following morning. While this is a welcoming treat that will make anyone feel like royalty, the best thing to come of their adapted service is the craft-cocktails that can be ordered straight to your room. For any other requests during your stay, simply shoot a text to the front desk and their staff will take care of it. If your idea of a peaceful getaway in today’s climate includes virtually no human interaction, this is an experience Eastwind is willing to make happen.
For those who come for a more interactive stay, Eastwind also currently offers semi-private supper seating in the Salon via reservation on Friday and Saturday evenings. Here, you will find a full bar set among cozy pine paneling, farm tables, and groups of eclectic plush seating centered around a roaring fire. Whatever you choose to partake in, the hotel’s aim remains unchanging; “Our team encourages our guests to live a bit slower while on-property and be present by enjoying a craft cocktail, making s’mores and embracing the human connection,” says Boyer. At the end of the day, your time at Eastwind is yours to make of it, all depending on your comfort level and preference.
Though Eastwind has been highly successful in its first few years of opening, Boyer and Stoliarova continue to divide their time between the hotel and their New Jersey home. Boyer shares, “We are lucky to call both Montclair and Windham home in different ways as we are consistently traveling between the two locations.” Because they like to have a hands-on approach in running the hotel, they try to spend as much time on property every time their children are off of school.
The family has turned their hotel’s mantra into a reality; the location truly has become their “home away from home” as well. With the frame of such nostalgic family moments in mind, this sentiment reinforces the notion of what Eastwind is all about—getting back to the basics. Re-learning to enjoy the simple things in life. Spending quality time with the people we love most. At this imaginative mountain hotel, these are things they believe a pandemic should not get in the way of.
Main image by Lawrence Braun