The Blue Fox: A Midcentury Motel with a Modern Feel in NarrowsburgJane Anderson | March 28, 2023
What’s old is new again, and when it comes to the Catskills, that Midcentury Modern vibe is where it’s at. The Blue Fox Motel in Narrowsburg, open since 2020 and emerging as a go-to restaurant and short-stay option, offers a selection of 18 accommodations with a rustic-yet-pampered feel that suits city foxes and country foxes alike.
Jorge Neves has been in the hospitality business for decades, notably opening PAO! and Giorgione in West Soho, and Cuper Cafe in DUMBO. He and his life partner, Meg Sullivan, were weekending in the western Sullivan County hamlet of Narrowsburg when they came upon an old motel on Route 97, the main drag leading to town. “We had driven by multiple times and said, ‘We wish someone would buy it and do something fun with it,’” Sullivan says.
They decided to inquire about the lodge-like property, which dates to the 1930s when a restaurant, gas station, and campground operated there. By the 1950s, the Landers family—with deep roots in the area—bought it, named it the Ten-Mile River Motel for the waterway that rushes along the edge of it, and built a complex of buildings. The property includes an 11-room, log-cabin motel; another log building with suites; a restaurant; standalone cabins; and an in-ground pool.
Investors bought the property in the early 2000s, but it lay dormant, and by the early 2010s, it was bank-owned. “If you wait too long before renovating a building, it’s not possible to bring it back,” Sullivan says. “Luckily, we got to these in time. Every building has been renovated, while trying to keep the integrity and feel of the property.”
- The inside of one of the freestanding cabins.
The exteriors of the buildings were cleaned but otherwise unchanged. Four buildings contain accommodations: The Blue House, with five bedrooms and three bathrooms, sleeps 12; six one-bedroom guest suites with kitchenettes comprise another building; 11 traditional, motel-style, king-bed rooms with ensuite baths line up side-by-side in a third structure; three, one-bedroom cabins with kitchenettes hug a semi-circle on another part of the property; and the lodge-like restaurant and event space occupy the building closest to the road. The Blue Fox is pet-friendly for an additional $50 per pet, per night.
“We had a lot of fun coming up with a name,” says Sullivan, laughing. “We wanted it to feel engaging and easy to remember. And we ended up with the name of an animal that you see with some frequency around here.” The second half of the name derives from the Pennsylvania bluestone beneath the property, and, Sullivan adds, “ we love the notion of the word ‘blue’—it brings up thoughts of lounges in the ’50s.”
“We reclaimed as much as possible during the renovations,” she says. “The blue bathroom in the guest house is original, as are two bathrooms in the restaurant building.” Nine of the 11 motel rooms have as much of the Mamie Eisenhower pink bathrooms as could be salvaged. Sullivan and Neves modernized the infrastructure, adding fans, WiFi, air-conditioning, and heat, and winterizing the property so that the previously seasonal rooms are now rentable year-round.
The Blue Fox restaurant building includes a space to check in, the bar, the restaurant, and an event space that can be combined with the restaurant to fit more than 100, or partitioned off for a more intimate gathering. “It’s versatile, and perfect for private dinners, christenings, weddings, and corporate parties,” Sullivan says.
Its knotty pine walls are all original, as is the stunning, double-width stone fireplace on one wall. “We used wood from the property to rebuild the bar,” Sullivan says. The restaurant is open from 5pm to 9pm Sunday through Thursday, and 5pm to 10pm Fridays and Saturdays; it’s as popular with locals as it is with guests, says Sullivan. Patio space outside lures diners to eat alfresco in the warmer months. Currently, Blue Fox is participating in Hudson Valley Restaurant Week, which runs through April 2.
Chef Honorio Anguisca’s menu includes American classics, traditional European cuisine, and European-inspired specials. He and Neves have been working together for more than 30 years, and according to Sullivan, “They’re really a team. He’s truly a critical component to the restaurant, and we consider him family.” Blue Fox’s wine list is a curated selection from California, South America, New Zealand, France, Spain, and Portugal.
Generally, meals are not included in the price of a stay, although Blue Fox has specials that combine both. Currently, guests can come for a “Workcation”: a five-night stay to work remotely with great WiFi, cozy accommodations, and a $100 dining voucher. “We have a lot of people who come specifically because it’s so bucolic here, a great space to get a break from the city environment,” Sullivan said. “We’ve had writers and artists come up here for a couple weeks at a time. The change of scenery really inspires them.”
A big draw in the summer is the 55-by-25-foot inground pool, built by the Landers family in the 1950s and now brought up to code. A built-in bar at the pool area allows the Blue Fox to offer drink service, host events, and serve meals poolside for about 125 people for a wedding and up to 250 for a cocktail party, according to Sullivan. In the summertime, Blue Fox offers pool passes for locals at a per-day cost of $20 per adult, $10 per child.
“We just love the area,” Sullivan says. “We’re excited that people are discovering it, and we hope to be part of their fun experience.”
Blue Fox Motel
5670 Route 97, Narrowsburg