“Orange! Blue! Lime Green! And there is illumination!”
On a chilled November day, with the dreariness of winter looming and the promise of seasonal depression’s return, I decided to don my favorite boots and camera and actually leave my house.
The reward was quite magical. I made it just in time to witness the “initial illumination” of the Roxbury at Stratton Falls. I watched as Dracula’s Fangs and the Terrazza of the Titans and The Faerie Forest simultaneously came alive, not to a traditional countdown, but to a countdown of colors, those of the property logo.
Beforehand, the Mayors of Magic (owners Greg Henderson & Joe Massa) stood on a balcony and thanked the gathered townspeople, contractors and friends for supporting their dream of two and a half years: The Roxbury at Stratton Falls – a sequel to the world-renowned motel, The Roxbury. Finally coming to fruition, the couple highlighted their gratitude for the “magical fairies in a fairy forest,” their employees.
“The most important group we are to thank, because, without them, we are nothing. That is our staff,” said Greg. (I decided right then and there, if I ever needed a job, I will be sure to knock on one of their lime green doors.)
Next was a prosecco toast. If that doesn’t cheer one, what will? Oh – perhaps the whimsical music floating through the air, emanating from invisible speakers. Or, the happy hugs from friends you almost forgot you had. That happens in these hills – we hunker down and forget there exists friends that are actually happy to see our face on something other then a mobile screen.
Overall all, the general effect was one of transportation to a scaled-down version of a Magic Kingdom experience. Here, in Delaware County, in the Catskill Mountains of Upstate New York.
For me, the Mountain Girl, the way cool part of the invitation was being welcomed to explore the grounds. Stratton Falls has always been off limits, a road-side capture, through obtrusive, low hanging branches. Access to the bottom of the cascade has always been on private property. And still is. When I heard the Roxbury’s expansion included the falls, I wondered, as I always do, how one can own water, and the explorer in me was quite miffed. I don’t like being told where I can’t go. On the other hand, as a property owner myself, I understand there is a certain stewardship expected, with safety and liability playing key roles.
So Saturday afternoon, I descended the perfectly placed steps, steadying myself on the rustic log railings, winding past the rock faces dripping with icicles, along a path that could very well have been there forever. I heard the sound of water rushing over a cliff, and chuckled as I passed the strategic seating areas, an invite to romance or rest. I didn’t feel the cold, or care about the burn my legs would feel on the return trek. Like a bride reaching a groom at the end of a long aisle, I reached the falls, breathless and excited.
I almost missed this! I clicked away, finding an angle that kept me (mostly) dry. For a waterfall chaser, this is the penultimate moment, capturing a coveted falls at water level.
Sure, my photo shoot was rushed. This is the reoccurring punishment that a procrastinator self inflicts. I had to scurry back to the top, because I knew the illumination was due to happen. I followed the amplified voices of the Mayors of Magic, reaching the edge of the crowd just in time.
Yes, I made it.
And so did they. These hoteliers, creators, imagineers, they made it too. They made it happen. So many dreams are conceived in these mountains, not many make it to full term. On good weather days, anything seems possible. So we make plans and then Winter comes and good intentions grow as cold as the plunging temperatures. As a food and lodging writer, I have seen a high percentage of the Catskills businesses I report on end within their first three years. Sad but true. But this place, this place has staying power.
I guess what I am trying to say here is this. Despite the minuscule jealousy I may hold that I will most likely never have millions of dollars backing my dreams, and despite the speculation that such a fanciful design could fit into our landscape, I am grateful this place exists here, just a seven minute drive away. It is proof that dreams do come true, and hard work pays off. I am grateful I got to walk to the bottom of the waterfall. I wish I had seen the inside of the fanciful cottages and the restored mansion for myself, but that’s what social media is for.
- My friends at AisleWalkPhotos.com took the awesome footage below, so check it out.
Lastly, thank you to Greg and Joe, Mayors of Magic, Stewards of Stratton, for the marvelously fantastical and purely magical execution of your vision, and for inviting the community to join the experience.
To book by phone, call 607.326.7200
Rebecca Andre wears many hats as a photographer, food & lodging writer, reporter, web designer and poet living and working in a lovely Delaware County hamlet with her husband and daughter. She promotes local businesses and musicians, and can be reached at MoonflowerRA@gmail.com – All photos within ©Rebecca Andre unless otherwise noted.