Photos courtesy of Richard Travers, 81 North
Former antique dealers are transforming a historic Ulster County building at 81 North Main Street into a luxury hotel at the foot of the Shawangunk Mountains.
It doesn’t matter where you come from 81 North is the kind of place where you feel at home. With suites decorated with beautiful artwork and exquisite vintage furniture, what was once a historic telephone building is now lavish accommodation for visitors to Ellenville.
With views of the Shawangunk Mountains and cozy fireplaces, along with delicious dining and a plethora of outdoor adventures, guests will be amazed at what this little town inn has to offer.
Richard Travers and his partner, Cheryl, have always had a soft spot for Ellenville. Longtime residents of the Accord, the couple often found themselves driving through the village of Ulster County. The Hudson Valley is full of historic estates and beautiful buildings from bygone eras. One in particular, the 1929 Ellenville Telephone Building, immediately caught Travers’ attention.
Over a meal one day, Travers casually mentioned his interest in the building to his friend Eric Cafero, owner of Italian restaurant Tony and Nick in Allendale. In a strange twist of fate, Cafero – who is also a real estate agent – represented the building in question.
Soon, in 2016, the couple sold their Accord home and ultimately bought the Ellenville home they had always wanted.
The Travers renovated the building on the property with the intention of opening an antique store downstairs and listing the three apartments upstairs on Airbnb. At first, everything went as planned. Grace’s Antiques debuted, fully stocked with tchotchkes and works of art from the Travers personal collection. Then came COVID-19.
The antiques trade proved particularly difficult in the midst of the pandemic. With customers handling items all day, it was nearly impossible to keep merchandise clean and secure the COVID store. It was then that the Travers decided to combine their passions for antiquity and hospitality, and landed on the concept of 81 North as a destination.
With the advent of the Inn, the Ellenville Telephone Building has evolved into a luxury boutique hotel in every sense of the word. All three apartments on offer to guests are fully furnished with items once on sale at Grace, as well as antiques and artwork that adorned the couple’s former estate.
When you enter the place, you basically enter the Travers’ house. Hospitality is, without a doubt, the name of the game for the duo.
“It’s kind of like an extension of the 30 acre estate we had at Accord,” says Richard Travers. “We entertained our friends, now we have guests. So it’s just an extension of that. Simply with people we haven’t met yet. ”
The Travers take pride in the fact that 81 North was the first boutique inn established in Ellenville since the town’s first building was constructed in 1789.
“Ellenville is experiencing an economic recovery and we are happy to be a part of it,” he adds. “We like being a luxury hostel in the area and we appreciate the contact with people.”
Currently, only two apartments are available for booking. By June 2021, a third apartment and a common meeting room – a library / lounge with bar – are expected to be completed.
The third apartment will feature two and a half bathrooms, two bedrooms, and a 500 square foot patio, making it the perfect option for families and groups.
As for the existing suites, the first is a bedroom with brown and gold accents, with stunning views of Shawangunk Ridge. The second apartment, also a bed and a bathroom, is rich in sky blue and forest green hues. It presents works of art representing local scenes from the Rondout valley associated with period pieces. All suites are equipped with a kitchen suitable for self-prepared meals, a bidet and self-controlled heating and air conditioning.
When it comes to exploring what Ellenville has to offer, 81 North is perfectly located. The inn is within walking distance of all the restaurants in the village, as well as the Shadowland Theater and a plethora of local shops. The duo are big fans of the Ellenville street food program, implemented during the warmer months. On weekends, Canal Street closes, live music concerts, and all the local restaurants take their dining tables outside.
The larger Ellenville area offers a plethora of outdoor activities for casual hikers and adrenaline junkies. In the 1970s and 1980s, the small town made a name for itself in the hang-gliding world. Today, the area is home to three major hang gliding schools and is considered one of the best educational sites east of the Mississippi.
Most weekends, gliders can be seen hovering over Shawangunk Ridge. Cycling, mountaineering and camping are just a few of the many excursions one can take part in while visiting.
“As a lover of the outdoors,” says Richard, “you can’t beat the deals in the Shawangunk Mountains. They are amazing. There is the Mohonk reserve, there is Minnewaska, there is Sam’s Point. That’s not to be taken away from the Catskills, of course, but the Shawangunks are quite unique.
For the Hudson Valley couple, a perfect day in Ellenville begins with a hike. Then the couple will grab a bite to eat at a local breakfast spot. Then an afternoon in the Shawangunks is spent biking or rock climbing. In the evening, dinner is enjoyed outside whenever possible.
While there is no shortage of outdoor entertainment in the Ellenville area, 81 North caters to homebodies as well. With kitchens in every suite, beautiful comfortable interiors, and stunning views of the Hudson Valley landscape, staying indoors and relaxing is an equally enjoyable alternative to a day spent in the mountains. In short, the hostel is for everyone.
“If you have cabin fever where you live,” says Richard, “you can escape here. If you want to stay indoors, you can. We are set up so that you have full control over your environment. ”
81 North Main Street, Ellenville