Kutsher's Hotel

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Coordinates: 41°42′07″N 74°41′28″W / 41.702°N 74.691°W / 41.702; -74.691

Kutsher's Hotel and Country Club in the Town of Thompson, Sullivan County, near Monticello, New York, was the longest running of the Borscht Belt grand resorts (in the Catskill Mountains area 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."[1][2] Milton Kutsher and his wife Helen (née Wasser), ran the hotel side-by-side, 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, along with Helen, who continued to greet guests daily into the 2000s.

Milton Kutsher was very 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 even 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.[2] The Maurice Stokes Game, which initially raised funds for the injured professional basketball player Maurice Stokes and went on to "raise funds for needy former players from the game's earlier days",[3] has been sponsored, either totally or in part, by Kutsher's and played at either the hotel or the Kutsher's Sports Academy.[4] In the 1990s, the basketball exhibition spawned the Maurice Stokes/Wilt Chamberlain Celebrity Pro-Am Golf Tournament.[5][6][7]

Part of the hotel's empire included the Kutsher's Camp Anawana and until recently, Kutsher's Sports Academy.[8]

In its heyday, the Borscht Belt resorts, and Kutsher's in particular, were home to premiere entertainment. Performers such as Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Dean Martin, Woody Allen, and Jerry Seinfeld were some of the many notable performers to grace the stage of Kutsher's nightclub.

The hotel offers an all inclusive vacation: all meals are included (they are kosher) as are entertainment and activities (some activities, such as golf, include an extra charge, however). Activities available at the hotel include golf, tennis, indoor ice skating, indoor and outdoor pools, a health club, and various kids and teen programs. There are also winter sports such as snow tubing and downhill skiing. It is said that the hotel served as the inspiration for the 1987 movie Dirty Dancing.[9]

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 late in 2005. Kutsher's sent a letter to its long-time guests at the beginning of November 2007 informing them there would be no availability for the coming summer, and Kutsher's closed for renovations. In the late winter/early spring of 2008, the Kutsher family entered into an option agreement with Louis Cappelli of Westchester County, NY to bring changes to the management and/or ownership of the hotel.[10] The sale was not finalized, but renovations were carried out, and the establishment, still family-owned, was re-opened and re-branded as The New Kutsher's Resort & Spa.[11]

Kutsher's hosted the 2008, 2009 and 2010 U.S. edition of the All Tomorrow's Parties festival.

Kutsher's serves as the location for the annual district convention for New York's Kiwanis International and associated organizations.

In the film Wet Hot American Summer, the M.C. of the talent show worked at Kutsher's.

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.[12]

The hotel re-opened for business in 2012.

Helen Kutsher died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on March 19, 2013.[13]

On October 10th, 2013 at about 12 a.m. a woman accidentally fell to her death from the rooftop 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 has been announced, alleging that the hotel did not warn the promoters that the building was condemned that week.[14]

In December of 2013, it was announced that the 1,310-acre property had been 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 plans to demolish the hotel and construct a health and wellness destination featuring a 265-room resort. The hotel will be demolished in the coming months. [15]

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