To celebrate its first winter, the Arnold House, located in New York’s Catskills, is hosting its first Ice Fishing Derby Feb. 27-March 1 — which they hope to be an annual event. The two-night weekend package includes an ice fishing kit for each room, a bonfire at the lake, hot toddy’s made with local Prohibition Distillery Bootlegger Bourbon and a little friendly competition — the winner of the Derby will have a cocktail named after them at the Tavern at the Arnold. When not ice fishing, guests can go on a winter hike, snow shoe, cross country ski, visit the alpaca farm, enjoy tastings and tours at the local breweries and distilleries, relax at the Arnold Spa, or just hang by the fire and play board games.
We caught up with 38-year-old Sims Foster, co-owner of the the Arnold House in and senior vice president of Commune Hotels, to have him answer our Proustian Travel Guide, in which we pose a series of question, and learned a bit more about the wristwatch-obsessed trumpet player.
What are you most proud of?
Through many decades my family's continued involvement in the fabric of our hometown community. In a transient world, it’s meaningful to me to have deep roots in one place. Where hard work and care for a town is passed down from great grandparents to our generation.
What is your favorite thing to splurge on?
Firstly, my wife. And watches. I never thought I’d be a watch guy, but there is no use in denying it. I'm out.
What was the best gift you’ve ever received, and who was it from?
My first trumpet from my parents when I was 9. At the time, I thought it was a terrible gift because I wanted a boom box instead. But that's why we don't let 9-year-olds make too many important decisions. That trumpet influenced the trajectory of my life by being the catalyst for so many lessons, travel experiences and moments of expression. Plus it helped pay for college. And it didn't require batteries.
When traveling, what do you never leave home without?
My green Varvatos military-style blazer. People are getting sick of seeing me in it, but it’s so functional. It’s like Linus' blanket to me now.
Describe the perfect weekend during the Ice Fishing Derby destination.
You arrive at the Arnold House in the Catskills Friday night with someone you love and head immediately to the Tavern downstairs. The fire's blazing and you get going with a Roscoe Amber Ale or a Catskill Brewery Nightshine. By the time you've ordered a second beer, you're very relaxed. Enjoy some locally caught Beaverkill trout for dinner and then head out to the barn as the local rockabilly band starts playing. Three hours later, you're still sitting at the bonfire with the new friends you've made.
Saturday includes a great massage at the spa, a hike in the woods, a canoe paddle, and fishing on Shandelee Lake and a coveted nap in the hammock. After an amazing meal on the deck under moonlight, it’s s’mores time again followed by a little Scrabble battle before retiring way too early for a long nights sleep.
Sunday is a late sleep in and after saying goodbye to the Arnold team you mosey your way through the Sunday farmer's market in Callicoon, stop off in Jeffersonville, Roscoe, and Livingston Manor to check out the great bakeries, vintage stores, and small town shops. Then, as you get closer to your real life, your daydreams about buying that Catskills country house start to feel more like a priority.
What is your favorite neighborhood (district, street, or area)? And why?
My favorite part of the Catskills is northern Sullivan County. I'm biased of course having grown up there but it’s a beautiful place with long range views, mountain top lakes, farms tucked into our valleys and lots of space to wander and think. And all the towns in the area have real main streets that are being built back up with people that are passionate and invested in the area. There's nothing fake about the places or the people. We may have some faults but being inauthentic is definitely not one of them.
What makes someone a local in this destination?
Being a local is not necessarily about how long you've been there. We have a great mix of families that have been there for generations and people who have made it their home, either full time or part time, recently. What makes someone a local is that they adopt the humble spirit of the place and take an active part in its betterment. It’s a place where action speaks much louder than words.
If you had to give a visitor one keepsake from the destination, what would it be?
A fly rod, a Royal Wulff fly, and the ability to not let truth get in the way of a good story. And maybe the visceral memory of a swim in a lake or river on one of those really hot summer afternoons.
For more information on the Arnold House's Ice Fishing Derby Weekend, visit the website.