Kutsher's gets a new lease on life

With the last Kutsher on the verge of retirement, the resort that inspired "Dirty Dancing" was poised to follow its Borscht Belt brethren into a long twilight of decrepitude. But in a lucky break for the 103-year-old hotel, caterer Mickey Montal and longtime guest Yossi Zablocki pooled a few hundred thousand dollars and pulled Kutsher's back from the brink. From the Times Herald-Record:

Zablocki — in charge of everything but the food — put a new hot tub in the indoor pool area that, thanks to a new filter, is now crystal clear, like the outdoor pool. The natural wood for a new outdoor kids' playground just arrived — although the old steel merry-go-round with the ladybug head he once played on stays.

"I want to breathe life in it," says Zablocki. "I don't want it to become an old age home."

So along with old favorites like chopped liver, they serve wild caught salmon on their all-you-can-eat kosher menu. They're booking hip new Jewish acts like Neshama Carlebach and the off-Broadway show "Circumcise Me" — while keeping elements of what made the Catskills the Catskills, like activities director and "Dirty Dancing" inspiration Jackie Horner, who wears a T-shirt that says "Stop Kvetching, Start Stretching."

Kutsher's reprieve from the dustbin is good news for All Tomorrow's Parties, too. The indie-rock fest has been taking over Kutsher's for three years running -- and if the resort is a little moldy around the edges, the skinny-jeans crowd seems to enjoy wallowing in it. From the Village Voice:

Kutscher's [sic] isn't just ATP's lodging—the main stage is just past the make-up counter. ATP founder Barry Hogan wasn't kidding when he described Kutsher's Country Club as The Shining meets Cocoon. “I keep expecting to walk into one of these rooms and seeing a dude in a bear suit blowing a guy in the bed,” Patton Oswalt joked last night on Stage 2. The hallways seem to go on forever, the adjacent “lake” cries out for Jason Voorhees, and I think I can hear Edith from Grey Gardens voice in the bathroom. “Every room smells like a fart gave up,” said Patton last night. That time, he wasn't kidding.

UPDATED 7/6/10: There's a great story in JTA about Zablocki's decision to revive the hotel, complete with long passages about his marketing strategy:

Zablocki is seizing Kutsher's status as the only kosher resort left in the mountains to draw new customers who require the services of a kosher hotel. His vision is to bring back guests to this relic of American Jewish life with a combination of new programming and aggressive marketing. His target audience is a younger, Modern Orthodox crowd that may not know from the Borscht Belt.

“I have someone calling every single yeshiva day school in the Northeast saying, Why don’t you come up to Kutsher’s instead of going to some roadside Best Western and bringing in your Torahs, kosher caterer, etc.? Come here. We have everything,” he said. “You don’t have to bring food, siddurim or even Shabbos candles. You don’t have to worry about electronic key cards or walking around without an eruv. Everything is taken care of.”