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"We're grateful for how terrific an adventure it was… There is so much history, so many memories… and I still have them. They're part of our family." Former Kutsher's President Mark Kutsher
The end of Kutsher's
Story by Dan Hust
MONTICELLO December 3, 2013 The longest-lasting of the famed Borscht Belt mega-resorts owned by a family which defined it for more than a century passed into new hands last Wednesday.
That evening, the Kutsher family concluded the sale of their Monticello resort to Veria Lifestyle, a subsidiary of media magnate Subhash Chandra’s global empire.
No price was disclosed, but sources say it was several million dollars for all 1,310 acres, which includes the main hotel, golf course and the former Camp Anawana.
Opened in 1907 in the infancy of Sullivan County’s attraction to New York City Jewish families, Kutsher’s became one of the premier destination resorts, featuring sports and entertainment luminaries from Muhammad Ali to Woody Allen and rivalling famous neighbors like the Concord, Grossinger’s, the Pines, Brown’s and the Raleigh.
Thanks to the Kutsher family’s unceasing involvement, Kutsher’s survived longer than them all into the 21st century, until the realities of aging buildings and guests and several failed attempts to work with gambling interests shrunk the offerings to just a few themed events and Jewish holiday observances.
“We really stopped operating the hotel in 2009,” said Mark Kutsher, who ran Kutsher’s in its final years with his mom, Helen, who passed away earlier this year.
“We’re grateful for how terrific an adventure it was,” Mark affirmed.
“There is so much history, so many memories,” he added, “... and I still have them. They’re part of our family.”
Now the iconic resort is being entrusted to a new group, headed by one of the world’s richest men: Chandra, whom Mark called “a very impressive man.”
Veria Lifestyle plans to create a health and wellness destination featuring a 265-room resort, where up to 1,000 guests at a time can spend three to 21 days enjoying indoor/outdoor sports, spa and therapy services, various amenities and perhaps a soundstage/TV studio.
Preliminarily called the “Veria Lifestyle Management Center,” the proposal would turn Kutsher’s into a holistic treatment and healing facility based on Eastern natural medicine philosophies.
Veria officials declined to comment for this story, but according to documents filed with Sullivan County and the Town of Thompson, the company estimates 330 permanent jobs will be created (and five retained from the now-closed resort), along with 10 new construction jobs in the first phase, calculated to be $12.4 million of the $91 million project.
None of the plans include casino gaming.
Save for the main hotel towers which are slated to be stripped down to their steel and concrete skeletons and then rebuilt much of the resort’s buildings will be demolished in the next few months, indicated attorney Walter Garigliano, who represented the Kutsher family in the closing.
“In large part,” he confirmed, “it will be torn down.”
Veria has already acquired the hotel’s sewage treatment facility and sealed a tax abatement deal with the county’s Industrial Development Agency (IDA), which includes a master development agreement.
Garigliano, who as the IDA’s attorney has recused himself from the agency’s involvement with Veria, indicated the project could have as big an impact on the Catskills as the coming casinos.
“I think it’s transformational,” he remarked. “They’re building an upscale resort, and I think it’s a first good step in the right direction.”