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The Fair
November 30, 2022

Nestled into the forest or open to the sky, enveloped by the healing power of the earth.

Tucked into a grassy hillside in upstate New York is Piaule Catskill, a boutique eco-retreat that opened to the public during the Summer of 2021. The project was designed by sustainable prefab pioneers Garrison Architects, who sought to create spaces that would immerse guests in the natural setting of the Catskills while emphasizing the pristine beauty that the region is known for.

Piaule is set in the forest on 50 acres of woodland in Catskill, New York. Only five of those acres, however, were disturbed to build the hotel, allowing the property to tread lightly on the earth. “The development was keenly focused on encouraging and preserving what was native and natural to the land,” the architects explain. The site, formerly a bluestone quarry, features nature preserves and a seasonal creek that winds its way through the grounds.

Photos courtesy of Sean Davidson.

The concept for the hotel came from NYC-based creatives Nolan McHugh and Trevor Briggs, the duo behind the direct-to-consumer homewares line of the same name. The airy Japanese cotton bath towel they launched Piaule with earned a cult following, leading the pair to develop four more product collections: tableware, glassware, vessels, and sheets. The brand’s limited offering shows a considered, thoughtful restraint, befitting the minimalist aesthetic its pieces embody, with focus set on form and materiality. There is luxury to be found in that simplicity; quality and craftsmanship are laid bare when additional elements are consciously spared. A hotel was a fitting, if unexpected, next step for the tastemakers crafting beautiful homewares.

The Main House

The main house, built into the hillside, overlooks protected wetlands to an expansive view of the Catskill Mountains. Encompassing a lounge, an all-day restaurant, and a wellness spa, the building features floor-to-ceiling windows that offer guests a sense of immersion into the landscape while flooding the space with natural light.

  • The interior echoes the colors and materials of the surrounding landscape. The walls and ceilings are clad in white oak and cedar and the floors are local bluestone.

  • Piaule designed the tables in the lounge, which were handcrafted locally using storm-felled hardwood.

A dual-sided, wood-burning fireplace wrapped in zinc stands at the heart of the main house.

  • The restaurant emphasizes locally sourced, seasonal ingredients from nearby purveyors for the menu, paired with crafted cocktails, organic, local wines, and craft beers.

  • Asparagus carpaccio with mustard seed.

“The hotel is designed to foster interaction among visitors in communal spaces, while allowing them to relax at the spa and retreat to private cabins, providing an ideal getaway amidst the scenic backdrop of the Catskill Mountains”

— Garrison Architects

The hot pool and mineral plunge look out over the Catskill Mountains.

The Spa

The spa and wellness space, located directly below the main house, is sunken into the hillside and overlooks the same panorama as the communal area above. Focused on nature and tranquility, the spa is a serene space dug into the earth that offers a feel of enveloping its visitors, with a relaxation area and tea room that tuck in along private treatment rooms. On the opposite side, a pool, sauna, and movement studio open out along the exterior wall to reveal the encroaching natural surroundings that spill out across the valley to the mountains ahead.

  • Wood and stone wrap the spa.

  • A view from the pool and the cedar-clad ceiling above.

The movement studio offers a space for yoga, meditation, reiki, and sound baths.

The Cabins

The hotel’s 24 cabins dot the property, each located a short walk or buggy ride away from the main house down landscaped paths. The prefabricated wooden structures were delicately placed by crane atop stilts rooted in the earth to allow wildlife to pass below undisturbed.

 

“The lodgings at Piaule are deliberately unobtrusive—private cabins tucked into the landscape within the trees, present but invisible.”

The western walls of each cabin are made of glass that can be slid open to welcome the outdoors in. Framed by an overhang thoughtfully designed by the architects to block rain and snow from entering, the window walls can be left open in any weather condition to experience the surrounding nature. Select cabins offer balconies for additional access to the outdoors that are built to encompass existing trees and boulders.

Made in Portugal, Piaule's organic cotton sheets are in every cabin at Piaule Catskill. Photo courtesy of Jody Rogac.

The interiors of the cabins embody Piaule’s aesthetic of restrained comfort, with the brand’s signature homewares accompanying furnishings that were designed and sourced locally. Each room has an en suite bathroom with heated stone floors and bath products made in collaboration with a maker and apothecary based in Catskill.

“The guest rooms embrace the brand’s dedicated eye for conscientious style and housewares,” the hotel shares of the interiors, which also feature sconces and ceramics made by a longtime Piaule collaborator, organic bed and bath linens from Portugal, Japanese-made signature glassware, handcrafted solid oak beds and accent tables, and antique French stools.

  • A mix of Japanese and Scandinavian influences are at the heart of the hotel's design.

  • The sliding window wall of each cabin faces west, offering an unobstructed view of the mountains.

The hotel’s architects opine that during the twentieth century, “buildings became temperature-controlled and hermetically sealed as we insulated our homes from seasonal patterns,” severing the connection to our natural surroundings. With the Piaule landscape hotel, they are dismantling those barriers, offering visitors the opportunity to reconnect and immerse themselves in nature in a comfortable yet unobtrusive way.