Travel, Weekend Unexplored
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Weekend Unexplored: Escape from Manhattan with Getaway (Catskills, New York)

Like many overworked and overstimulated New Yorkers, I was searching for a place to escape from the concrete jungle for a weekend. I stumbled onto Getaway, a glamping company, as I was researching tiny homes for the blog. Getaway was started by graduate students, John Staff and Pete Davis, in conjunction with Harvard Innovation Lab in 2015 with a mission to help millennials disconnect from city life. The company rents tiny stylish mobile homes, approximately 160 to 200 sqf., that are equipped with a comfortable queen bed, two-burner kitchen stove, mini-fridge, full size sink, hot running shower and an electric toilet for approximate $129-$149 a night. There are 12 tiny houses spread across a 20-acre site nestled in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York. Renters are notified of the location of their cabin within a week and the cabin name and door code within 24 hours of their arrival. This concept prevents renters from stressing out about the trip. The cabins are located within a two-hour drive from Boston or New York. So, how did this glamping getaway turn out for this city girl?

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Scenic view of the Hudson River from the train ride to the Catskills

Back in July, I had tried to book a cabin with Getaway; however, there was no availability until September. I asked a college friend to come along for the trip since it struck me that this experience had shades of Blair Witch Project #2. It is invigorating and a bit scary to be in the woods by yourself and I was not ready for that. I had searched for a four-person cabin as they had two beds instead of the 2-person cabin with one queen bed. Only the 2-person cabin was available before January so I reserved that option with the assumption that the sleeping arrangement could work with my male friend. I also booked my Amtrak ticket to Hudson Station where I was meeting him. The Hudson Station is a 25-minute drive to the Getaway NY location and also has taxis available for those taking public transportation. Being a type A person, I arranged all of our groceries and cooking supplies. I was very happy that I did some planning. As we were driving from the train station to the campground Friday evening, we could not find a place even to buy firewood as everything closes at 7pm.

When we arrived at our cabin, “Grace”, we were instantly captivated by her unique design. It is only 160 square feet, but it never felt cramped with two people in the cabin. There were a few moments where we just climbed all over the cabin like little kids. After checking out the basic provisions, it reconfirmed my decision to bring my own cooking supplies and food. There was only one bottle of tomato sauce and a package of pasta that was meal worthy in the provisions that were available for purchase. We began to cook dinner since it was now 8pm. We had trouble starting the fire as the rain snuffed it out quickly. Next, our induction burner also did not work, which made any dinner non-existent at this point. I had one bar of signal on my cellphone and I called the customer representative for help. The whole thing resembled a Sprint commercial, “Hi, can you hear me now? Repeat…” It turned out that Getaway knew that one of the burner did not work, but then decided not to warn us. The site manager, who lives in Hudson, arrived an hour later with another 2-burner hot plate for us to use. We were starving at this time without a mean to cook dinner and luckily, the rain stopped and we were able to make a quick meal around 9pm. It was an eventful way to start a “relaxing” glamping trip.

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My favorite thing about the cabin was the giant picture window right next to the bed. Waking up at 7am on a Saturday to a view of trees and birds is calming and wondrous. I was more amazed that I woke up earlier than 10am on a Saturday! It must have been that mountain air circulating through the cabin or the mosquitos that woke me up. We then spent the rest of the day alternating between cooking meals on the grill and lazing around in the comfy Adirondack chairs. As there was no Wifi or cell signal, my friend and I were able to just chill without distraction. I could not recall the last time I truly relaxed without reaching for the phone to check text messages or social media updates. We also walked around the campsite and chatted with the site manager, Sam, who was personable and very friendly. We learned from him there is only one 4-person cabin at this site, hence the unavailability for months. The remaining cabins are really made for couples or friends who do not mind sharing a bed. Getaway is looking to expand the NY site in the coming year and I hope they fix this sleeping arrangement.

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What I loved about the concept and the cabin was that it is convenient for New Yorkers with all the comfort of a hotel while you are camping. What I didn’t like about our specific cabin was what we “fondly” referred to as the “hole of death”. There was a dining area in our cabin where one side had a sitting area cut out too large into the floor. As you are climbing down from the bed in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, there is a good chance you will fall into it. The edges of the hole were also sharp and needed to be sanded down. Additionally, there are a few things Getaway can improve upon, such as:

  • Providing cabins where there is an option of two twin beds instead of one queen bed. Not everyone wants to share a bed with their friend.
  • Providing a list of kitchen supplies in their email with the location. The information is available on the website, but it would have been more efficient to have a reminder all in one place. There were things we thought the company would provide such as aluminum foil for the grill, which was not the case. There was only one set of cutlery and place setting per person, which made it hard to cook since we had no plates for prep work.
  • A cotton or wooden mat in the bathroom would have helped keep the floor dry of water after each shower.
  • There should be a mirror somewhere in the cabin. It made it inconvenient to put contacts in and also to apply face lotion without using your phone. Who would want to touch their cell, which are full of germs, and then their eyes or face?!
  • Charcoal should be provided in addition to firewood at each cabin.
  • Getaway should consider partnering up with a meal kit company, such as Plated and Blue Apron, to provide pre-ordered, ready-to-cook meals. If we did not have a car, it would have been a hassle to try to cab to the grocery store and back in the countryside. It would be very stress-free if we were able to order our groceries and have it delivered to our cabin for the weekend, especially for folks who plan on using public transportation.

There are additional things that I would bring next time such as aluminum foil, mosquito repellant candles and additional paper plates. Overall, we enjoyed our experience at Getwaway so much that we are coming back in January when I was able to reserve the only 4-person cabin.

After checking out at 11am, we drove to Hudson for brunch and walked around the charming town. If you like antiques and art galleries, you can spend hours perusing the numerous boutiques. The weekend in the Catskill provided much needed relaxation for an over-connected New Yorker and Getaway made it more enticing to do it often.

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For related articles, visit the TRAVEL page or the World Travel Index.

Author: Chau Hoang

Feature photo courtesy of Getaway House

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