By Katie DeTar
My best childhood memories center around weeks spent at summer camp. I would meet again with old friends made the year before, enjoy swimming lessons and crafts, and convene for the evening meal in the dining hall. A recent overnight at the Kaatsbaan Lodge in upstate New York brought me back to those joyful days while catering to my now grown-up tastes.
Situated on 73 acres just outside of Saugerties, in the Hudson River Valley region of New York State, the recently renovated resort—formerly known solely as Total Tennis—is well-known as a premier tennis destination in the Northeast U.S.
In operation for more than 40 years, Total Tennis initially offered basic accommodations with a main focus on tennis instruction and camps for youth and adults. Recent updates improved guest rooms and amenities, hoping to entice non-tennis travelers to experience the Kaatsbaan Lodge as a relaxing home base for visiting the many historic and outdoor adventure sites in the region.
The sprawling complex features 20 outdoor tennis courts—a mix of red clay, synthetic clay and all-weather hard courts—and four platform tennis courts. The indoor tennis center features five courts and a fitness center. The program is rigorous, with a 4:1 student to instructor ratio and enthusiasts participating in sessions as long as five hours each day.
After a day of tennis, entertainment options include gathering in the main lodge for cocktails and conversation or, in the summer months, near the outdoor bar and new pool area. On weekends, the resort’s activity barn hosts DJs and dancing. An indoor hot tub is open to guests daily. As a whole, the resort exudes a comfortable atmosphere of sporting camaraderie and relaxation.
Following an easy check-in process, my traveling companion and I toured the property and watched some of the action on the courts. The main lodge, activity barn, and outbuildings are centered around the beautifully landscaped pool and walking trails. The property is rustic and charming, with window boxes cascading with flowers, and craftsman style furniture beckoning guests into a comfortable stay.
Dinner that evening had a welcoming feel, as friends and strangers met at communal tables in the dining hall. My traveling companion and I were asked to join three other guests as they were arriving for dinner following their day of tennis camp.
One of our table-mates, a busy mom from a nearby town, had booked her visit that morning, eager for some personal time away from family life. Two other guests at our table—friends traveling from Rhode Island and Boston—were return visitors to the Kaatsbaan Lodge, and enthusiastically shared their fondness for the resort, noting the high-quality tennis instruction, the friendly nature of the staff and guests, and its overall relaxing, social experience.
Our meal was simple, yet fresh and delicious. Offered buffet style and all-you-can-eat, the staff served up two main choices (we enjoyed the trout and chicken) along the chow line, as well as various sides and vegetable options. There’s also an extensive salad bar, dessert, fountain drinks, juice, tea, and coffee. In season, some of the local produce and eggs come from the resort’s own small organic farm. The dining hall is warm and rustic, with tennis-themed art adorning the walls and large windows overlooking the resort. After dinner, the adjacent bar area filled with laughter as guests enjoyed cocktails and conversation.
The next morning, the breakfast buffet overflowed with eggs, sausage, fresh fruit, baked goods, and French toast. The hearty meal, coffee, and juice fueled the tennis players for a day on the courts, and kicked-off our day of exploring the area.
The guestrooms fill seven buildings nestled into the foothills of the Catskill Mountains, and are within walking distance of the tennis facilities, dining hall, pool, and social areas. Recent renovations updated many of the rooms, all of which offer access to the outdoors. Our two-room suite had a mid-century modern vibe in addition to being adorned with tennis-themed colorful artwork. We relaxed on the outdoor deck, taking in colorful views of the hills that evening. The overall accommodation experience was simple yet comfortable, great for a weekend escape.
About Saugerties, New York…
A launching point for exploring the nearby 5,800-acre Catskill Forest Preserve, Saugerties’ historic district spans five blocks, home to antique shops, historic residences, boutiques, and cafes. The upstate town is a popular overnight escape from New York City, at just over 100 miles from Manhattan. Several waterfront nature preserves, including the Falling Waters Preserve and the Esopus Bend Nature Preserve, offer great bird watching, kayaking, and hiking.
Nearby, the Saugerties Lighthouse is a must-see. A short hike along a sandy path leads to the lighthouse, jutting out into the Hudson River. Mind the tides or you’ll be hiking through rising water! The current lighthouse dates from 1869 and—thanks to a conservancy established in 1985—the renovated lighthouse continues to aid in navigation. The upper floors can be rented out for an adventurous overnight, and tours of the interior are offered in season. An island patio connected to the lighthouse via a walkway offers a great place to rest at a picnic table while taking in sweeping views of the Hudson River.
A visit to Opus 40, located just seven miles from the Kaatsbaan Lodge, will expand your definition of art. The sculpture park is the life’s work of artist Harvey Fite, who spent 40 years (hence the installation’s title) tirelessly crafting a labyrinth of walkways, totems, ponds, and rock walls into the natural landscape around his home. The backdrop of Overlook Mountain—the Catskills’ southernmost peak—makes the intriguing art piece all the more stunning.
- 49 rooms and suites spread across 7 buildings, with 13 rooms in the main lodge. All have direct access to the outdoors, and deck or terrace options.
- Rooms do not have televisions
- Massage and spa services offered
- High-speed wireless internet service throughout the resort
- Breakfast, lunch, and dinner served buffet-style in the main dining hall
- Rate options include full dining or breakfast only
- Two full-service bar areas
- Activity Lodge with Saturday DJ parties
- Complimentary wine and cheese gatherings hosted on Monday and Saturday evenings
- Outdoor heated pool
- Go Green: The resort incorporates a commitment to sustainability by generating 35% of its electricity from solar power and encouraging recycling and composting.
- Odds of Encountering Children: Varies from season to season. During the school year, Kaatsbaan Lodge and Total Tennis cater to adults and their tennis instruction. In the summer months, the lodge and Total Tennis hosts kids’ camps and youth tennis clinics.
Kaatsbaan Lodge and Total Tennis
1811 Old Kings Highway
Saugerties, NY 12477
– Photos by Michelle Blaakman.
Featured products, services and/or travel arrangements may have been complimentary in part or in full; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion.