Cedar Lakes Estate: Lodge-Style Luxury Meets Camp Nostalgia in the Hudson Valley
1 Team Usa Way | Port Jervis, NY
There’s a storybook magic to autumn in Upstate New York, when fiery leaves dance against a mercurial sky and the crisp, electric air is tinged with the heady scent of wood fire and sweet tree sap. It’s this magic that vacationers seek — and readily find — as they travel the winding, densely forested roads toward Cedar Lakes Estate, a Port Jervis retreat where guests can catch their breath and enjoy a deep sense of quiet and relaxation. At Cedar Lakes Estate, visitors can take in the property’s 500 acres via bike, boat, or their own two feet; hunker down in luxurious lodge-style private cabins; cook seasonal meals with ingredients harvested from the estate’s garden; and sip smooth, maple-infused cocktails beneath a starshot sky.
Cedar Lakes Estate has seen several iterations in its century-long life. Founded in the 1920s as Camp Minisink, a summer camp for urban youth, the land hosted generations of campers before shutting its doors in the early ‘80s. A few years later, the Karvellas Family purchased and restored the land, turning it into a sprawling family retreat. The property’s camp days were far from over, though, as they soon turned it into an athletics camp where both the U.S. Olympic gymnastics and soccer teams practiced. A decade later, the Karvellas Family retired from camp life and turned the estate back into a private escape for their holidays and gatherings, while renting a few of the on-site cabins to vacationers and weekenders. In 2011, the youngest generation of the Karvellas Family — sisters Lisa and Stephanie — took over the property and turned it into Cedar Lakes Estate, a Hudson Valley resort and destination wedding and events venue.
Today, Lisa and Stephanie have created a sophisticated getaway where guests can find nostalgia without sacrificing convenience, experience luxury without pretension, and escape without losing a sense of home. Solitary travelers, romantic couples, extended families and friends, wedding parties, and corporate retreat attendees, can return to a slower, simpler, and more seasonal way of living, if only for a weekend. And with the arrival of autumn, there’s no better time to experience the property. “We always say that every season here is a completely different world,” says Lisa. “In the fall, the leaves are just amazing. We have a mountaintop view where you can see for miles and miles, and all the different colors are absolutely stunning. We’re near apple orchards, and breweries, and the entire place just has a very fall feeling. It’s everyone’s favorite season here.”
- Location: Port Jervis, NY
Private cottages with en-suite bathrooms
Cabins with indoor and/or outdoor kitchens
A range of bed sizes to accommodate everyone from solo travelers to large groups
Radiant heat and air conditioning
Outdoor heated pool
Row boating, canoeing, and fishing
Barn for large events and weddings
Garden with pick-your-own produce
Private chef, yoga, and spa treatments available
A short drive to state parks, skiing, dining, and shopping
Original to the property, the office was the first house the Karvellas Family used as their vacation home. Built in the mid 1900s as the Camp Minisink library, the building is where Lisa and Stephanie greet their visitors. “We still feel like we’re inviting people into our childhood home,” says Lisa. “We’re hosts by nature, so when people come up we make sure everything is just perfect and that they enjoy their stay as much as they would if they were in our actual homes.”
With 10 unique on-site accommodations, as well as a new range of rustic camp-style cabins that sleep up to an astounding 300 people, there are lodging options for groups of every size and sensibility. A newer addition to the property, the Bluebird offers spacious, yet cozy, studio-like accommodations ideal for couples. Complete with a king bed, wood-burning fireplace, radiant heat, a kitchen, and its own outdoor patio, the cabin provides all the amenities for a romantic escape. Lisa and Stephanie designed and decorated all of the cabins themselves, and used raw materials from the grounds or nearby properties as often as possible; the fireplace stone was quarried on site, while the bench at the foot of the bed was designed by the sisters and made by the estate’s welder using local barn wood.
The Sleepy Pine Cottages were one of Camp Minisink’s original villages used to house crowds of happy campers. “They’re called Sleepy Pine because they’re surrounded by tall, wispy pines that create a really nice canopy,” says Lisa. The 10 cottages, completely renovated by Lisa and Stephanie, are ideal for small groups of friends and family that want to spend time together while still retaining their privacy.
With the help of interior designer Glenn Castle Moore, the appropriately named Garden Suites are a family-friendly cabin in the heart of the property with views of the chef’s garden. The original floors were painted in a light gray-and-white checkerboard pattern to maintain their rustic and charming irregularities while brightening up the space. Bedside tables were made from logs harvested from the property.
A Smeg refrigerator and old fashioned-stove give the Garden Suites kitchen a retro, mid-century look that evokes nostalgia and provides the cottage with its own distinct aesthetic. “Every time we build a set of cottages, it’s a new year and we have a new idea, so they’re all a little bit different,” says Lisa.
For warm, early autumn days, there’s no better way to experience the lake than from the Lakeside Cottage rowboat, from which you can take in the watercolor landscape with nothing but the sounds of nature and the gentle lapping of water. “Our guests are mostly from the city because they’re looking for something different,” says Stephanie. “Cedar Lakes is for people who want something completely serene and calm. That’s what we offer.”
Perched on a grassy knoll overlooking the lake and topped with a moss-covered cedar roof, the Lakeside Cottage is a partially-underground stone structure that was originally an ice house for Camp Minisink. A few minutes’ walk from the rest of the cabins, this storybook lodge provides guests with a little more privacy and a sense of complete removal from the outside world, “a fairytale” as Lisa puts it.
Although the interior of Lakeside Cottage was updated in 2016, Lisa and Stephanie retained the log cabin aesthetic with supple, worn leather couches, patinated hides, plush pelt pillows, a dramatic stone fireplace, and honey-colored wood walls and ceilings. This open space features a king bed, living room with a fireplace, dining room, kitchen, a blue stone patio with a grill, and a rowboat awaiting your command at the end of the dock.
If you can’t make it before the leaves drop, Cedar Lakes Estate also provides the perfect backdrop for picturesque holiday getaways. “Our whole family would come stay up here for Christmas,” recalls Stephanie. “We would all go out and walk through the woods and pick a tree — and not a little tree, a humongous tree. My dad would climb to the top with a chainsaw to cut off the tip to be our Christmas tree while we all watched from below. We still have some ‘headless horsemen’ around the property where you can see we cut our Christmas trees.”
The Sleepy Pine Cottages are each equipped with a spacious bathroom, rain shower, and either one queen or two full beds. Tree trunk tables made from logs found on-site flank a raw barnwood headboard designed by the sisters and made by nearby Lumberland Post and Beam. The juxtaposition of high end and rustic is a current that runs through Cedar Lakes. “A lot of people, when they think of going up to the Hudson Valley, feel they have to sacrifice one thing for the other, whereas our mission is to provide peace and quiet, an escape in nature, and that whimsical aspect of camp, without giving up the amenities that make you most comfortable,” says Lisa.
A 4,000 square-foot garden, where guests can pick their own produce, will be the site of the supper club the sisters plan to launch later this year. Lisa, the estate’s culinary director, along with her executive chef, has developed a food and cocktail menu that is seasonal, local, and garden-focused. “We grow about 25 percent of the produce we use,” says Lisa. “We’re super farm-to-table — not to be trendy, but because the food actually tastes better when you do that — and we do very simple, straightforward food. But it’s also very elevated, just like our entire property and experience — simple, but luxury.”
Weddings and other large events are held in the barn, a structure that was once used as a space for vaulting and beam exercises back during camp days. Modern features like floor-to-ceiling glass windows, large skylights, and cement floors offer a counterpoint to the walls made from locally salvaged barn wood. A 25-foot Prohibition-style bar, glittering chandeliers, and twinkling string lights give this rustic-modern space its romantic, whimsical flair.
Like many of life’s best adventures, half the fun of staying at Cedar Lakes Estate is getting there. Winding country roads lead you right to the property’s wooded driveway, and there’s no better time to take it all in than autumn, when the quickly ripening foliage offers one last explosion of color before winter. “We have three weeks of yellow, three weeks of orange, then three weeks of red,” says Lisa. “It’s so clear and so beautiful.”
Both the property itself and the surrounding area offer Cedar Lakes Estates guests a plethora of ways to savor every moment of their country getaway. On site, visitors have access to all 500 of the estate’s acres, where they can enjoy walking paths and hiking, a heated outdoor pool that’s open through fall, ice skating when the lake is frozen, and boating and fishing when it’s not. Stop by the Canteen to sample maple syrup tapped on the property or to stock up on American-made goods from local outfits like Hudson Made, Cold Spring Apothecary, Farm 2 Fashion, and Hudson Valley Brewery. If a day exploring the Hudson Valley is on your itinerary, start your morning with coffee and baked goods at Foundry 42, then enjoy stunning autumnal views of the Delaware Water Gap along Hawk’s Nest Road, one of the most famous scenic roads in America. Pay a visit to Finding Home Farms (where Cedar Lakes’ maple syrup is crafted) or Orange County Distillery, a fifth-generation family farm that grows 100 percent of the ingredients used in their products. Travel to the beautiful hamel of Narrowsburg for a modern take on farm-to-table at The Heron. For the ultimate day of fall festivities, head over to Warwick Valley Winery and Distillery for apple picking, wine and cider tasting, live music, cider donuts, apple pie, and more.
Hotel Fauchère, The Heron
Foundry42, Forest Hall Antiques, Maison Bergogne
Finding Home Farms, Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery, High Point State Park