A New Wellness Resort That Works for You

Foster Supply Hospitality, a “mission-based hotel and hospitality group,” opened Hemlock in Neversink, New York this past October. I spoke to co-founders Sims and Kirsten Foster about Hemlock’s commitment to wellness, plant-based cuisine and most importantly, its guests. 

Sims Foster came up in New York nightlife. Prior to Foster Supply, he opened restaurants in every major city in the United States, working with a generous handful of celebrated—now celebrity—chefs, developing concepts and shaping teams that surpass an elite hospitality standard. Few understand the backstage operations of fine dining as he does. Though Sims Foster prefers not to boast about his incredibly impressive career, Kirsten credits Foster Supply’s success as a hospitality company to Sims’ experience.

Photography: Bernardo Mancebo

Question: Your newest edition, Hemlock, is your first wellness retreat. Why wellness?

Answer: Kirsten and I are fortunate enough to have spent plenty of time at different spas and wellness hotels around the world pre-Hemlock. We always took note of what we liked about them, what worked for us, and what felt kind of restrictive. One point that always came up was the rarity of a place that truly embraced nature—there always seemed to be a more internal focus (fancy mosaic tiles, resorts stationed in woods with no trails). Though our hotels, aside from Hemlock, aren’t wellness focused, there’s always been this kind of accidental wellness—people coming to the country, sitting around the fire, having a drink, and feeling restored. So we asked, ‘how can we amplify that?’ And Hemlock was born. 

Q: Hemlock stands out among archetypal wellness retreats—how’d you manage that?

A: When we began developing Hemlock, we spent a long time trying to figure out, internally, what is wellness? What does it mean to us as a company? I think at the end of the day, it’s not necessarily a spa, not necessarily a massage or a facial, it’s whatever you need at the time of your stay. Someone who lives in a city might be looking for healing through nature or plant-based food, but someone else may be staying at Hemlock with friends they rarely see—making up for lost time. Hemlock is all about restoration and rest in nature but we’re not prescriptive. No judgment at all—we just don’t think we’ve figured out the magic cure for anything. We know we’ve created an incredible environment in the Catskills, one that allows people to interact with wellness from many different directions.

Q: What can I expect when staying at Hemlock?

A: What we try to do is meet a guest where they are and help them curate the experience they’re looking for. Two guests could come at the same time and plan entirely different experiences. Some people might want to wander around and get lost in the woods, then write in a journal, and others might want to go to the spa for the day and take yoga or cooking classes. We have 230 acres of private land and a fully developed trail system on site. We have our resident goats, which are a big hit—we do goat hikes everyday. We have a beautiful movement studio, a crafting studio, a wet room for clay and paints, an indoor pool, an indoor hot tub, and a full spa with 12 treatment rooms. All meals, workshops, and fitness classes are included in your rate. Everything is there for our guests.

Photography: Clay Banks

Q: Ok, so you’ll never be left with nothing to do at Hemlock—how does one choose from all of the amazing options?

A: Every guest gets their own itinerary—we’ll develop this together before they get to Hemlock. Guests can make modifications once they’re there, but the idea is we have Experience Guides, who will send a short questionnaire, five questions or so, to try to get a sense of what each guest’s goals are. It’s a collaboration resulting in an itinerary that’s either jam-packed, or flexible, or somewhere in between.

Q: What’s surprised you since opening Hemlock?

A: One thing that’s been much bigger than we’ve anticipated is the solo traveler. We have rooms called solo traveler rooms because of their size—not super small, each has a queen bed, but were built for people who come to be alone. It’s interesting—the self care thing can go both ways. We’ve seen many celebratory, thoughtful group trips, as well as the people that arrive looking to spend a couple nights alone, looking inward. The solo rooms are very active. 

Q: Tell me about the restaurant.

A: We’re a mostly plant based restaurant. For vegetarians and vegans, our menu is accessible. Occasionally, we put out an animal-based protein that’s grown by somebody we know down the street. We have amazing access to all kinds of different farmers. I’m not a vegan or a vegetarian, but I should be. So I think it’s a great introduction for people who want to dip into that world as well. Again, it leans into the idea of not being prescriptive.

Q: How does Hemlock’s restaurant compare to the famous James Beard Award Twice Nominated DeBruce?

A: The expectation is high. And I have to say the team at Hemlock is really delivering. The executive chef, Charlie Mercein, used to be on the culinary team at The DeBruce, and was trained under some really incredible staff. We’re beyond proud of all he’s accomplished. Though Hemlock’s restaurant, same as the DeBruce, works with stellar ingredients, its mission serves the long-term dietary goals of our guests. We often hear people say “Hey, I’m not a vegetarian, but if I could eat at Hemlock all the time I would be.” The idea isn’t to restrict guests, it’s to give them delicious, amazing food that makes you feel great—and hopefully helps people start on a path to be more plant based than not. 

Q: What’s next for Foster Supply? 

A: We have an exciting project coming into Newburgh—we’ll be starting construction this year, after a long pre-development period. We’re so excited about it, especially because up until now all of our projects have been in the Catskills in Sullivan County. By expanding into Newburgh we get a little bit closer to the Hudson Valley Side—stay tuned Edible readers.