Troutbeck leads the way
by emme martin | Photography by Matthew Mancuso
At Troutbeck, the goal has always been to provide guests with an authentic experience. It’s a unique place situated at the eastern edge of the Hudson Valley in Dutchess County, New York. Here, the surroundings contain a particular type of magic that enhances restoration to the fullest. The countryside views and the hiking and fishing opportunities are the first clues of Troutbeck’s idyllic environment. However, a quick Google search will reveal a rich history that implies more than your average estate-turned-inn. It continues to be a place of intention many years later.
The property began as a private estate built in 1765 by the Bentons, a prominent agricultural family from New York. Dinner parties at the estate often saw the likes of Mark Twain, Henry David Thoreau, and Ralph Waldo Emerson stopping by. When Colonel Joel Spingarn and his wife, Amy, bought the estate in the early 1900s, it evolved into a refuge for writers, poets, creatives, and social justice advocates. Sinclair Lewis, Ernest Hemingway, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, and President Theodore Roosevelt were among these distinguished guests.Today, Troutbeck continues to honor its legacy as a creative refuge, welcoming everyone who desires to get away for a bespoke experience. One of the ways it does this is through its locally sourced menu by Chef Gabe McMackin, the previous chef-owner of The Finch restaurant in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, where he earned a Michelin star in his first year of operating. McMackin brings a deep understanding of hospitality and virtuous cooking to the table at the inn. To him, good food comes down to a simple philosophy: if you respect the food, it will respect you. To McMackin, the art of producing a respectful meal requires support from the entire community. It begins with the seasons, which advise the farmers on what to grow. Then, these growers put considerable care and time into their crops that directly reflect the land. “Forming relationships with the local farmers is essential to understanding the food you consume,” McMackin says. Their connection to local vendors in the Hudson and Harlem Valleys allows Troutbeck’s culinary staff to offer guests the purest form of nourishment in true farm-to-table style. It also reinforces the concept of food as a collective experience.
The grounds at Troutbeck convey rich stories from years past, and new ones continue to be written all the time.The chef explains that energy is preserved in the food thanks to its brief journey from the ground to the table. “When you pick something, the energy changes. It may lose density, water, etcetera.” Therefore, the more straightforward the transportation method, the more alive and fresh the food tastes and the better it is for the consumer. Planning the menus at Troutbeck is a celebration for McMackin. First, his team takes inventory of what is available locally and goes from there. He explains his process as creating meals that make “special sense.” For example, he enjoys honoring the richness of color in the fall or the spikes of green in the spring. In the wintertime, warm barbecues give guests a sense of comfort. The relevance to the seasons and local fare connects guests to the moment and place in a profoundly holistic way—“the way,” as McMackin describes. The multiple dining outlets at Troutbeck offer different menus depending on the occasion, as any fine curator of experiences would suggest. So, a watermelon salad or lobster roll complement an afternoon by the pool, or perhaps some Pointy Snout caviar with a bottle of champagne will be on the lineup. The Pool Grill may be the most relaxed of Troutbeck’s dining options, but it does not hesitate to enrich an already sublime moment with something luxurious. Special occasions or romantic date nights are in store in The Dining Room, which seats seventy-six and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But of course, for the most intimate nights, in-room dining is always a possibility. When McMackin explains his secret to Michelin-star quality hospitality, he underlines the importance of genuine synchronicity between the staff and guests. When the team works together, the sanguinity is contagious. “The employees look for the same experience as the guests,” says McMackin. Everyone has a similar mission: to feel connected to each other and the land. Each guest room at Troutbeck is different from the next, thoughtfully located in existing structures that have been updated to meet modern standards. The Manor House contains seventeen guest rooms with charm and novelty throughout. There are also the Benton Cottage and the Garden House, which each include four bedrooms and elegant amenities, such as sumptuous Frette linens promoting the most restorative sleep of one’s life. The property is meant to feel like home—a full-circle connection to its earlier days. Nothing is rigid at Troutbeck. Even the wellness center is versatile; the studio may hold a yoga class one day and a dance class the next. Letting go of expectations lends a feeling of levity as guests wander through the beautiful Hudson Valley and come back to sit by the fire. The grounds at Troutbeck convey rich stories from years past, and new ones are written all the time. “The kind of experience guests have is up to them,” McMackin says, and the staff is happy to facilitate whatever that may be. So, whether they come for a relaxing getaway from the frantic city, a work conference, or to recharge their creative juices, everyone is invited to experience the unrushed way of Troutbeck.
— V —
To learn more about Troutbeck or to book your stay, visit troutbeck.com