Pines Resort: A Now-Decaying Summer and Winter Getaway in the Catskills

Clare Fitzgerald
Photo Credit: Cory Seamer / Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

The United States is home to many abandoned hotels that were once the go-to for tourists looking to get away. The Catskill Mountains, in particular, saw great popularity, leading to the construction of numerous hotels. One of these was the Pines Resort, which today sits in graffiti-covered and water-damaged decay.

From Daisy View Hotel to Moneka Lounge

Pines Resort is located in Fallsburg, New York, in the Catskill Mountains. The region was known as the “Borscht Belt,” due to its popularity with New York City‘s Jewish population, which regularly vacationed there. It’s estimated 500 resorts operated in the Catskills during its heyday.

Window-lit stairway at the Pines Resort

Photo Credit: Cory Seamer / Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

Reception desk with a single skate atop it

Photo Credit: Cory Seamer / Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

The Pines Resort began as the Daisy View Hotel, a small tourist facility that offered showers and baths with cold and hot water – an amenity in the 1920s. It was unsalvageable after being ravaged by a forest fire and was replaced by a mission-style hotel called the Moneka Lounge.

Operating as the Pines Resort

In 1946, the Moneka Lounge’s owners sold the hotel to Harry Cohen and May Schweid, who renamed it the Pines Hotel – later the Pines Resort. Under their ownership and those after them, the property grew to be one of the largest in the Catskills, alongside the Grossinger’s Resort and The Concord.

Graffiti-covered exterior of the Pines Resort

Photo Credit: Cory Seamer / Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

Pool filled with vegetation

Photo Credit: Cory Seamer / Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

Chairs jutting out of a pink wall

Photo Credit: Cory Seamer / Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

The resort experienced a period of expansion between 1946 and the 1960s, during which a recreation building was constructed, as was an additional hotel, adding 35 rooms. In 1959, its $75,000 indoor pool was built, along with a bridge that connected the cabana on one side to the “Bamboo Room” on the other. KISS frontman Gene Simmons briefly worked as the pool’s lifeguard.

Empty room with graffiti-covered walls

Photo Credit: Cory Seamer / Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

Window-lit hotel room

Photo Credit: Cory Seamer / Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

Between 1959 and 1961, architect Herbert D. Phillips designed a portion of the resort’s Modernist-style buildings, including a new lobby, card room and the aforementioned pool. The lobby was particularly extravagant, connecting guests to many of the amenities. These additions were followed in 1962 by the construction of the Persian Room nightclub, the Wedgwood Room lounge and the Viceroy Room ballroom.

The nightclub, in particular, saw a host of famous faces, including Buddy Hackett, Joan Rivers, Robert Goulet, Tony Bennett and Tito Puente.

Outdoor pool filled with vegetation

Photo Credit: Cory Seamer / Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

Graffiti-covered machine in the corner of a room

Photo Credit: Cory Seamer / Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

Couches along the wall of a debris-filled room

Photo Credit: Cory Seamer / Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

The final additions were convention rooms and more guest rooms, along with a nine-hole golf course, ski chalet and chair lift, and an ice skating rink. These came about in the mid-1960s, around the time the Borscht Belt began to experience its decline.

Decline and closure of the Pines Resort

With tourists now flying to tropical destinations, many of the resorts in the Borscht Belt began to experience financial struggles, including the Pines Resort. In an attempt to keep money coming in, 78 condos – the Pines Country Estates – were developed, with owners permitted to use the resort’s amenities. An additional 600 homes were slated for construction.

Fireplace in the middle of a decaying room

Photo Credit: Cory Seamer / Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

Graffiti-covered room at the Pines Resort

Photo Credit: Cory Seamer / Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

Another hope was to add a casino, following the introduction of legislation that would allow gambling in the Catskills. The bill didn’t pass. This, along with a roof collapse in 1996, signaled the beginning of the end for the Pines Resort, which closed in 1998.

Decay and water damage

Following its closure, the Pines Resort was purchased by Fallsburg Estates LLC, which hoped to redevelop the property. This never occurred, as the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The case took five years to resolve, with Fallsburg Estates agreeing to pay $1 million in back taxes. The property reassessment was also lowered to $500,000.

Window-lit hotel room

Photo Credit: Cory Seamer / Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

Outdoor pool filled with vegetation

Photo Credit: Cory Seamer / Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

Unattended reception desk

Photo Credit: Cory Seamer / Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

Many buildings and amenities have since been demolished, including the Wedgwood Room, the ice skating rink, the Viceroy Room, the indoor pool, the café and the Persian Room. Others suffered suspicious blazes, believed to be arson. In July 2008, the town of Fallsburg ordered the property’s owners to demolish a handful of wood-framed buildings in a state of collapse, including the clubhouse, the Sheridan, the Marlboro and the former annex.

Overturned furniture in a debris-filled room

Photo Credit: Cory Seamer / Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

Empty bed frames against a hotel room wall

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The Pines Resort remains abandoned, with its buildings left in a state of continued decay. The ceilings have collapsed due to water damage, mold and moss cover the walls and floors, and broken glass is strewn across most of the property. Scrappers have taken anything of value, including electrical wiring and copper pipes, and over the years it’s become a squatter’s den and a place for illicit parties.

Graffiti-covered kitchen at the Pines Resort

Photo Credit: Cory Seamer / Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

Debris-filled room

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Sky Bridge and stair building at the Pines Resort

Photo Credit: Cory Seamer / Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

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Demolitions have occurred on and off since 2011, but there has yet to be a concrete plan presented as to the Pines’ future. Among the developments put forth include the construction of 300 homes and the reopening of both the golf course and the ski chalet.