When NYC gets too crazy and out of control sometimes, one just needs a little escape to experience everything Mother Nature has to offer fresh air, scenic mountain views, the smell of pine trees...basically, things that could really never exist in the city. Located in Phoenicia, deep in the Catskills, The Graham & Co. is a hotel that aspires to provide exactly the classic weekend away from that constant hustle and bustle. We spoke with co-founder Bianca Barattini about the hotel, the Catskills, and all the adventures around.
Tell us the story behind the name Graham & Co. Where did it come from?
We created a blog of interiors. It was a bank of images we referenced for personal projects. Most of our references were black, white or grey. Graham means grey house in Latin so we called it Graham & Co. When we were thinking of concepts for the hotel, we carried over the name and monochromatic color scheme. We chose a shade called Mark Twain.
How did you guys come about this new endeavor?
We are hardcore weekenders, obsessed with the Catskills. It was clear to us there was a cool contingent Upstate but there wasnt a fashion place to stay. After weekends of gardening, antiquing, sitting by the fire and multiple nightcaps, we decided to take matters into our own hands. We solidified details while we were stuck Upstate during Hurricane Irene.
There are four seasons of greatness in Phoenicia tubing, fishing, hiking, skiing. You can leave NYC and be here in 2 hours. You dont even need a car. The New York Trailways bus drops you off right on Main St. and the hotel is just 2 blocks away. It is the perfect weekend getaway.
What aspects of the Catskills inspired the overall concept of the hotel?
The Catskills inspires this easy rustic vibe. Everything is relaxed here. A simple and easy atmosphere translates into simple easy interiors. We did tons of vintage shopping and made choices that were unpolished but modern. Spotty cell service quickly inspired the low-fi togetherness and common spaces is a very vintage Catskills thing. We wanted to stay true to this.
Tell us about some of the design highlights of the space we love the pool deck, for starters.
The pool deck turned out more amazing than ever imagined. We expanded it out both ways while maintaining the integrity of the juniper bushes that surrounded the area. The result was definitely a game changer. One of the best moments was the week before we opened friends and family were laying all over the deck and the thought crossed our mind... should we even open? This is too much fun. The rough-cut wood walls in the rooms were worth the extra effort. They bring warmth and texture. All of the reclaimed wood was sourced locally. All of the beds, benches and tables are custom made - Judd inspired with a rustic twist, severe modernist shapes with unfinished material.
Was there a set vision or was it a slow process of visual aesthetics that developed overtime?
We knew what we wanted to do before we started the project. A lot of the elements in the hotel are things we appreciate or have at home. But if design isn't an evolution, its a failure. Since we are sourcing locally it takes time to curate and find all the perfect merchandise. We are still fine-tuning.
Who is the Graham & Co.s quintessential guest?
We are! Although, it would be pretty fashion if Anjelica Huston came to visit. We created the hotel we wanted to stay in. We are constantly asking ourselves would we be into this, would we hang out here?
What sort of adventures could on anticipate on their trip?
Our perfect weekend would be lounging by the pool, riding bikes into town, grabbing a slice and watching an outdoor movie fireside with a beer. If thats not your jam, guests can hike to the one of the highest two tiered waterfalls in New York, tube down the Esopus or spend the day vintage shopping. Skiing is also 15 minutes up the road.
Do you think Catskills will ever make a comeback?
We are 100% sure the Catskills have already made a comeback. We are just keeping it a secret. There are great things happening in Phoenicia and its really exciting to be a part of it.
Dirty Dancing took place in the Catskills. Any chances or recent considerations of a reenactment?
Anything is possible. There is an interesting dialog at the end of the movie when the resort owner says something along the lines of it feels like its all changing, people dont want to come here anymore. They want to go to Europe, 22 countries in 3 days We are pretty positive times are changing again.