In the glass-encased bar of Scribner’s Catskill Lodge, two towering figures are framed by an expansive window showcasing a mesmerizing view: The property’s owner Marc Chodock and Hunter Mountain, a wonderland for skiers in winter and outdoors lovers in the warmer months. For this first-time hotelier, the setting’s beauty and location perfectly complements his business acumen, which brings with it an innate core understanding: If you create something of exceptional value that doesn’t exist in your market, then your investment will pay off in ways that you couldn’t even imagine.
A University of Pennsylvania graduate with years of experience in the high finance world of Manhattan, Chodock fell in love with the Catskills for its natural splendor and because, in his studied view, it was “lacking the kind of hotel that the current-day traveler is looking for. I saw a tremendous demand for properties that are easy to escape to. Bali is great, but it’s the short-distance trips that get booked. My friends here in New York City work really hard, but no one has time for a two-week vacation. They want something authentic with a sense of discovery, but that’s also easy to do.”
That sense of discovery started Chodock on his quest to find something new, authentic, and desirable. “I was looking at random hotels in the Catskills.” The beauty of the region was immediately apparent, but his business experience and strong background in management—born from years of traveling the world as a consultant—had him also surveying his surroundings from a feasibility perspective. So when he came upon a structure blissfully set within a stunning mountain landscape, he knew he’d found the perfect place, one that ticked all the boxes—emotional, financial, magical. “I came out here, saw the property that would become Scribner’s, and said to myself, ‘Yes. Do it!’”
But “doing it” came with a set of unexpected challenges. “It seemed like every day I was faced with a question by our construction and design firms,” he notes. “They said, ‘You could do it this way, or for an extra $10,000 you could do something truly special.’ So I kept going way over budget. But in the end it was absolutely the right way to go because the response has been so fantastic.”
If Scribner’s, which is packed with locally crafted furniture and art, has the air of a place that doesn’t follow the hospitality handbook, that’s because Chodock wanted to create a property where the unexpected could happen. Take the hotel restaurant. “The very first time the chef cooked in the kitchen,” he says, “it was for guests! We’d never tested it. The chef actually had to prep in his own personal kitchen.”
Prior to the hotel, Chodock—who along with his wife Lisa and their dog Twain has immersed himself in Catskills life—competed in three marathons: in London, New York, and Chicago. Thus, he well understands that investments, hospitality dreams, and footraces are not sprints. And to succeed, the important thing is to plan, train, and believe. And then, like Marc Chodock, have the courage to do it.