Kutsher's Hotel and Country Club in Thompson, Sullivan County, near Monticello, New York, was the longest running of the Borscht Belt grand resorts in the Catskill Mountains region of New York State. While the region was open to any and all visitors, the Borscht Belt was so named due to the largely Jewish-American clientele that made the Catskills the primary vacation destination for Jews in the northeastern United States.
Max and Louis Kutsher started the Kutsher's Brothers Farm House in 1907 and began expanding in the 1920s and 1930s. In the 1940s, at the request of his aunt Rebecca, Milton Kutsher took over the hotel. He oversaw the hotel's significant expansion in the 1950s-1980s that created a premiere Catskills vacation destination: a "1,500 acres (607 ha) property that included a 400-room resort, condos, two bungalow colonies, two summer camps, a 18-hole golf course and lakefront." Milton Kutsher and his wife Helen (née Wasser) operated the hotels with Helen serving as the head of reservations and doyenne of the resort. The two ran the hotel until Milton's death in 1998, at which point, his son Mark took over management of the hotel.
Milton Kutsher was active in sports circles, "making the hotel the Catskills home of legendary Celtics coach Red Auerbach and Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain, who worked as a bellhop there. There was the Maurice Stokes Benefit All-Star Game, a charity basketball game that once attracted the top pro players. Muhammad Ali trained at Kutsher's, as did other world boxing champions, such as Floyd Patterson and Leon Spinks. He was an avid sports fan, and also saw sports as a way to bring young people to the resort. The Maurice Stokes Game, which raised funds for the injured professional basketball player Maurice Stokes and raised funds for needy former players from the game's earlier days, was sponsored in part, by Kutsher's and played at either the hotel or the Kutsher's Sports Academy. The game is said to have "rivaled the NBA All-Star game in talent." In the 1990s, the basketball exhibition spawned the Maurice Stokes/Wilt Chamberlain Celebrity Pro-Am Golf Tournament.
In its heyday, the Borscht Belt resorts were home to premiere entertainment. Performers such as Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Dean Martin, Woody Allen, and Jerry Seinfeld all spent their early career at Kutsher's.
The hotel offered an all inclusive vacation: meals (all kosher) were included, as well as entertainment and activities. Activities available at the hotel included golf, tennis, indoor ice skating, indoor and outdoor pools, a health club, and various kids and teen programs. There were also winter sports such as snow tubing and downhill skiing.
For many years, there had been negotiations with the St. Regis Mohawks and Park Place Entertainment to develop an on-site casino, that broke off in 2005. Kutsher's sent a letter to its long-time guests in November 2007 informing them there would be no availability for the coming summer, and Kutsher's closed for renovations. In late winter/early spring 2008, the Kutsher family entered into an option agreement with Louis Cappelli of Westchester County, New York to bring management changes and/or ownership of the hotel. The sale was not finalized, but renovations were carried out, and the establishment was re-opened as The New Kutsher's Resort & Spa' .
Kutsher's hosted the 2008, 2009 and 2010 U.S. edition of the All Tomorrow's Parties festival. It also served as the location for the annual district convention for New York's Kiwanis International and associated organizations.
Helen Kutsher died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on March 19, 2013.
Kutsher's closed in 2013. The property was sold to Veria Lifestyle, a company owned by Indian billionaire Subhash Chandra, for an undisclosed price estimated to be in the range of several million dollars. The new ownership will demolish the hotel and construct a health and wellness destination featuring a 265-room resort.
On October 10, 2013 at a woman was killed when she fell off the roof at Kutsher's—a five-story drop. She was working the New York Harvest Festival, which was set to host Ghostface Killah, The Original Wailers, Ditch, Immortal Technique and many others. A lawsuit was announced, alleging that the hotel did not warn promoters that the building was condemned that week.
A documentary about Kutsher's Country Club involving three generations of the Kutsher family entitled "Welcome to Kutsher's: The Last Catskills Resort" was released in 2012.
In popular culture
In the film Wet Hot American Summer, the M.C. of the talent show worked at Kutsher's.
- RESORT OWNER MILTON KUTSHER DIES
- From Borscht To Blackjack, The Jewish Week, August 1, 2003
- From Borscht to Blackjack
- Remembering Kutsher's, Where Pro Athletes, Vacationers Mingled
- Basketball Hall of Fame: Jack Twyman, accessed November 14, 2006
- Kutsher's Sports Academy Clair Bee Fieldhouse, accessed November 14, 2006
- Remembering Kutsher’s, Where Pro Athletes, Vacationers Mingled
- Twyman's empathy for Stokes a lesson for rest of America, Online Athens, August 3, 2002
- Hoops Legends Compete In Annual Celebrity Golf Event, Sullivan County Democrat, August 10, 2004
- Fundraising Efforts Lead to High Honors
- 37th Season
- The Final Days of Kutsher’s Hotel and Country Club, an Abandoned Resort in New York
- Borscht Belt's Last Hurrah
- "New dreams for Kutsher's – Westchester County Business Journal – Find Articles at BNET".[dead link]
- Berger, Joseph (31 March 2013). "Helen Kutsher, Pampering Matriarch of a Grand Borscht Belt Resort, Dies at 89". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 March 2013.
- Catskills Bureau Confidential: Asbestos removal at old Kutsher’s resort
- "Welcome to Kutsher's" documentary trailer page".
- Music and Movies in the Catskill Mountains