Hudson Valley Winter Survival Guide
The holidays are history, but you don’t have to hunker down under a blanket until spring. From festivals and workouts to shopping and brunch, we’ve collected great ways to enjoy winter in the Valley
Recover from the Holidays 50K
Photograph by Bob Kopac
It may be a bit nippy, but that’s no excuse to stay holed up inside. There are still plenty of reasons to get outdoors, throw a couple of snowballs, and celebrate the fluffy white stuff.
Sad to say, Rockland County’s annual Knickerbocker Ice Festival is on hiatus this year, but two other outdoor celebrations are scheduled for this month. Attendees at the Taconic Outdoor Education Center’s Winterfest can try activities such as snowshoeing, ice fishing, and tubing. Other highlights include a crafts section, live animal presentation, and refreshments. The event takes place on Winter Trails Day, a nationwide initiative that promotes staying active in the winter and taking advantage of our public parks. (Jan. 13, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. $2, $1 for children. 75 Mountain Laurel Ln., Cold Spring. 845-265-3773 or http://nysparks.com/environment/nature-centers)
Further north, the Hudson Valley Rail Trail’s annual WinterFest celebration offers myriad activities, including tractor-drawn wagon rides along the four-mile trail. Sample hearty fare from local restaurants during the “Best of Fest” chili-tasting contest, or take a stroll while snacking on roasted chestnuts and toasted marshmallows. For kids, there are games and prizes in the Children’s Tent; the more ambitious can try their hand at construction in the Lowe’s-sponsored “Build a Project” area. (Jan. 12, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. $2, children under 7 free. 101 New Paltz Rd., Highland. 845-691-2066 or www.hudsonvalleyrailtrail.net)
No doubt about it, the holidays take a toll on our bodies. But it’s a new year — let’s put all that behind us and commit to a healthier lifestyle. One way to start? Take part in the Mid-Hudson Road Runners Club Recover from the Holidays 50K (or, as club members jokingly call it, the Fat Ass 50K). Yes, that’s a five-zero, 50K — or just over 31 miles. Of course, we’re not encouraging novice exercisers to try to cover the full distance; the run is broken up into 10 three-mile loops along the traffic-free roads at Norrie Point State Park. Participants can run as many loops as they wish; those who complete the entire course get a mention in Ultrarunning magazine. (Jan. 5 at 9 a.m., snow date Jan. 6. Rte. 9, Staatsburg. There is no fee, but the required registration form and other info can be found at www.mhrrc.org.)
Let’s face it: If you have a touch-screen phone, it’s pretty annoying that you must remove your gloves to type a text message when outdoors. But the special pads on the forefinger and thumb of these Echo gloves let you tap away without freezing your digits. Find them for $38 at Hammertown in Pine Plains (3201 Rte. 199, 518-398-7075) and Rhinebeck (Montgomery Row, 845-876-1450 or www.hammertown.com).
This two-toned hat by Look at Me Designs channels the chic elegance of Downton Abbey. It’s made entirely of repurposed (or unused, in layman’s terms) wool sweaters, so you can be both eco-friendly and stylish while wearing it. Pick it up at Maria Luisa Boutique in Nyack (77 S. Broadway, 845-353-4122 or www.marialuisaboutique.com) for $48.
In our autumn fashion feature — check it out here if you haven’t already — we highlighted the comeback of Roaring 20s style on the runway. This trend is still going strong, as evidenced by this tweed cloche hat made by Wooden Ships. Get it for $38 at Rambling Rose Boutique in New Paltz (73 Main St., 845-255-3899 or www.ramblingroseboutique.com), and pop it on for a snazzy — and toasty — Jazz Age look.
Heal the Spirit
For those looking to relax, there are plenty of spas in the Valley where you can find a soothing massage or healing body treatment.
Ideal for a winter warm-up is the outdoor heated mineral pool (photo below) at Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, which allows guests to soak in 100-degree water infused with Dead Sea salts. “The minerals and compounds in these salts include sulfur, potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium,” says spa director Barbara Stirewalt. “Their absorption aids in total body health, with added benefits for skin vitality, tissue nourishment, and improved digestion.” Because of its temperature, the pool is not advised for youths, pregnant women, or individuals with low blood pressure. But, according to Stirewalt, the water warms muscles in preparation for a massage, and continues to soothe them afterward; in this way it’s also a healing treat for athletes. For the rest of us, it’s 10-20 minutes of pure “ahhh.”
Buttermilk Falls Inn and Spa’s Complete Rejuvenation treatment offers a 75-minute escape to the tropics. The Paradise Coconut Ritual Wrap and Fijian Scalp Massage ($175) begins with a virgin-coconut cream exfoliating scrub; then a soothing, warm body butter — enriched with vitamins and antioxidants — is smoothed onto your skin, along with exotic oils. A moisturizing wrap is then applied and a warm-oil scalp massage melts away tension. The result? Soft and hydrated skin, a relaxed mind, and a possible craving for fruity drinks served in a coconut shell.
Whether the idea of warm milk is comforting because it’s what mom gave you as a child, or because it reminds you of your favorite latte, it also makes for a soothing beauty tonic. The Warm Milk and Honey Wrap ($88) at Haven Spa in Rhinebeck puts a modern spin on this ancient remedy (which even Cleopatra was known to use). Your skin is first treated with a dry body brush, which removes dead skin and increases circulation. Then you’re covered with warm honey oil before being wrapped in thermal blankets and given a scalp massage. Lastly, a moisturizing milk-and-honey cream is smoothed on to seal in hydration, leaving your skin smelling delicious.
River Rock Health Spa in Woodstock has a warm solution for cellulite: the Thermal Herbal Mud Body Wrap with Vichy Shower ($115). In plain terms, it’s a 60-minute skin-softening spa experience. After sloughing away dead skin with an exfoliating treatment, you’re wrapped in healing nutrients derived from an underground thermal lake, which is chock-full of detoxifying spring water, sulfur, and phyto-estrogens. After the wrap is removed, a moisturizing cinnamon and paprika cream is applied to invigorate your skin; for long-lasting results, a twice-weekly series is recommended.
Stress, sugar-laden food, cocktails — all of these can cause your body to go into toxic overload this time of year. Bodhi Holistic Spa in Hudson has a great solution: the Herbal Hibernation Wrap ($108). During this treatment, you are cocooned in a warm, herb-infused fleece sheet that draws out impurities and detoxifies your entire body. The warmth and softness of the fleece relaxes both body and mind, and a moisturizing massage completes your stay.
Bank on Brunch
Winter weekends are the perfect time to indulge in a leisurely brunch. From award-winning buffets to menus full of made-to-order favorites, many Valley eateries offer good eats in a relaxed setting.
For an international twist on typical Sunday brunch fare, try Jaipore Indian Cuisine in Brewster. Situated in a mid-19th century mansion — which, at different times, served as actor Charlie Chaplin’s studio, a speakeasy, and a topless bar — the restaurant’s Sunday Brunch Buffet features additional options to the lunch spread served on Friday and Saturday. Expect to find a varied selection of meat, seafood, and vegetable dishes, along with basmati rice and those hard-to-resist Indian breads. The Sunday Brunch Buffet is served 12-3 p.m. and costs $15 (845-277-3549 or www.jaiporenyc.com). Click here for five other restaurants that feature a bang-up weekend brunch.
Photograph courtesy of willpower and grace®
Getting into shape is on the top of almost everyone’s resolution list; that’s why most gyms are bustling like Grand Central Station during the first few days of January. But how do you make yourself stick with an exercise regime? Trying something new can help to keep you motivated.
Give It The Boot
Sondra Faas spent 25 years competing in national body-building competitions (and has the super-buff body to prove it) and has trained people entering the military. But don’t worry, she’s not going to kick your butt — unless you want her to. “I’m not going to stand over you and call you a maggot if you can’t do something; I’m stern but caring, and I’ll work with you at your level,” says the powerhouse behind The Fit Squad — a team of super-strong personal trainers who lead popular group “boot camp” workouts and offer personal training sessions at your home or office. Faas has a private studio in Wappingers Falls, where personal training sessions start at $69. “But three or four people sometimes share a session, which is much cheaper,” she says, noting that clients also receive in-depth nutritional counseling. The Winter Boot Camp series, held at the Vassar College Athletic Center, costs $69 a month;clients can attend as many of the five weekly classes as they desire. “I came up with a lot of new exercises. There are 15 to 17 stations, so you’re moving all around,” says Faas. “Everybody is always laughing; it’s fun” (www.thefitsquad.com).
Pay While You Go
Shelling out for a monthly gym membership helps some people stay motivated. Liz Cort, owner of Fitness Fusion of the Hudson Valley, offers another alternative. Cort — a onetime collegiate basketball player, fitness competitor, coach, and mom of two — is the owner of this class-based gym located in a 1,500-square-foot facility in the historic Red Hook Chocolate Factory. There are no membership fees; instead, Cort combines several professional classes (you can register online) and an open gym “Challenge of the Day” workout: clients attend as their schedules permit and perform a sequence that Cort creates and projects onto a screen. There are classes for all levels of fitness, and Cort is particularly excited about the RealRyder® cycle bikes, which tilt and lean as you ride; these cycles burn 20 percent more calories than traditional spin cycles. Other classes include Kettlebells, TRX Suspension Training, and Kangoo rebounding. “This is unlike anything else in the Hudson Valley,” says Cort (www.fitnessfusionhv.com).
Kick Off Your Shoes
All Sport Health & Fitness in Fishkill renovated its space last year, and continues to upgrade its class options. One of the latest offerings is the popular barefoot workout known as willPower & grace®. Elite fitness instructor Stacey Lei Krauss, a former dancer, first developed the program in 2000. “You wouldn’t do push-ups with your arm in a cast, so why would you work out with your foot stuck in a sneaker?” she says. Mobilizing and stabilizing the foot’s 33 joints is what Krauss refers to as “foot fitness” — and it is an integral, although often ignored, part of healthy body conditioning. Her equipment-free cardio sculpting program (which earned four stars from Health magazine) is a full-body workout that combines elements of yoga, Pilates, and calisthenics. “It’s hot, sweaty, and strong,” says Gina Lockard-Dickson, a certified willPower & grace® instructor who teaches the All Sport class. “It’s fun too.” The class (free to club members; $10 for nonmembers) is held Mondays at 10:30 a.m. in the relaxing Mind/Body Studio (www.allsportfishkill.com).