Checking In and Checking Out

Finding Refuge in Nature? At Eastwind, It's a Trend That's Here to Stay

by California Chaney
Eastwind's View from the Lushna Suite at Eastwind. Photo by Lawrence Braun, courtesy of Eastwind.

New York's charming Catskills escape, Eastwind, proves that finding solitude in nature isn't just a pandemic fad.

WINDHAM, New York — I visited Eastwind last fall when my urge for leaf peeping was particularly strong and my craving for cool air would not be satiated by the artificial breeze generated by my AC unit. I wanted somewhere I could drink wine by a bonfire, take a break from my screen addiction, and reset in nature. A city girl's cliché, however, after several months of quarantine, a nearly universal desire.

Nestled into the hillside, but still close to the quaint ski town of Windham, New York, Eastwind showed off its charm the moment I arrived. The main lodge, once a 1920s bunkhouse for fly fishermen, displayed its Scandinavian sensibility with cozy seating nooks, potbelly stoves, a calming mix of dark blue and white tones, and a raw timber bar and guest lounge. I immediately got the sense that the owners and property team were a family — that this place was not just another nature-adjacent B&B. As community-oriented as Eastwind seemed to be, the staff was adjusting to a new kind of traveler. One in need of increased privacy, not only for solitude but for safety. Cue the glampsite.

Photo by Lawrence Braun, courtesy of Eastwind.
Photo by Lawrence Braun, courtesy of Eastwind.
Photos by California Chaney.
Photo by Lawrence Braun, courtesy of Eastwind.

"Connecting with nature will continue to be as important to our guests as it has been since the launch of Eastwind in 2018," Bjorn Boyer, Eastwind's co-founder, tells me by phone after my stay. "Our team encourages our guests to live a bit slower while on property and be present by enjoying the fresh mountain air with a craft cocktail in hand, exploring all the outdoor beauty." The property's most striking accommodations are standalone A-frame Lushna cabins. Inspired by the Scandinavian style of camping that displays no need to sacrifice comfort to enjoy nature, each 220-square foot cabin includes a lofted queen bed dressed in French Frette linens, Faribault wool blankets, simple reading lamps, and private bathroom. "We want to offer guests accommodations that elevate camping without serving as a distraction to the beautiful mountains that surround them. Each cabin is sustainably designed with wood and distinctive glass, offering views as luxe as the accommodations themselves," says Bjorn. Within steps of the cabins, a cedar hot tub and circular sauna are tucked next to the trees for the ultimate forest bathing experience. In 2020, as the pandemic naturally expanded the demand for camping, so did Eastwind, by adding additional suites to its Lushna village (each sleeps up to four guests and also includes a skylight rain shower and furnished outdoor deck).

Photos by Michael Greco, courtesy of Eastwind.
Photo by Michael Greco, courtesy of Eastwind.
Photo by Lawrence Braun, courtesy of Eastwind.

When asked why it is important to bring the Scandinavian lifestyle to the Catskills, Boyer shares, "Eastwind was designed with the sentiment of lagom in mind, the Swedish word meaning 'just the right amount.' Scandinavian elements provide a design-forward interior, with minimalism and no frills complementing the serenity of the outdoors."

As the design is energized by the hotel's backcountry, so are its guests. Outdoor immersion is easily accessible via walking trails, bikes, picnic tables, hammocks and fire pits dotting the property. While the team has had to modify some of its indoor guest experiences, such as the communal weekend German pancake brunch, they do so without sacrificing service or style. During my stay, I was able to pre-order a picnic basket to be delivered outside my door each morning with fresh jams, baguettes, and a canteen of coffee. At night, cocktails and s'mores kits were at the ready for fireside delivery. 

After my weekend stay I was grateful for the time I spent in nature — embracing its slow rhythm and enjoying the peace while benefitting from a community that fosters a gentle entry into the woods. I didn't necessarily think I would be seeking refuge in nature quite the same way a year later, but here we are. The leaves are slowly changing again and I find my need for nature only increasing; I'm dreaming of waking up beneath a canopy of trees and allowing the day to unfold at the bottom of the mountain.

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