Catskills Resorts

Also known as the “Jewish Alps,” the area commonly called the “Borscht Belt” comprised parts of Ulster, Sullivan and Orange counties and was home to more than 1,000 hotels, resorts, summer camps and bungalow colonies in the 1940s, 1950s an 1960s. Resorts such as the Concord, Nevele, Laurels and Kutscher’s attracted some of the biggest names in show business and hotels were so vast, many boasted their own golf courses, salt water pools and air strips. In a time before affordable air travel, the Catskill Mountain area was a little bit of heaven to city dwellers, especially Jewish families who came to the Catskills knowing they would find familiar foods, language and culture, with some hotels offering kosher meals, and others offering comics whose well-worn shtick was interspersed with liberal use of Yiddish words and phrases. With the advent of affordable air travel in the post WW II era, destinations like Miami Beach, the Caribbean and Hawaii began to divert travellers from the Catskills. By 1965, the glory days of the Catskills were coming to a close. Tastes were changing and hotels, resorts and bungalow colonies began to close their doors. Over time, most of the big hotels closed, but the area retained its unique Jewish flavor. Orthodox families continue to come to the area and there are hundreds of bungalow colonies and Jewish bakeries, delis and provisions store in towns like Fallsburg and Ellenville. Some hotels were able to modernize and reinvent themselves for a new generation of visitors. The Granit currently operates as the Hudson Valley Resort and the Stevensville Hotel reopened as the Swan Lake Resort Hotel. Still, the area is peppered with hundreds of abandoned dwellings where families and children once laughed and played.
For an extensive list of Catskill area properties as well as oral histories and links to films and videos, click here: http://catskills.brown.edu/links.shtml#sullivan