Catskills resort owner hopes to reopen hotel that inspired ‘Dirty Dancing’

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The Grossinger’s Catskill Resort Hotel was once a vibrant vacation destination that served as inspiration for “Dirty Dancing” screenwriter, Eleanor Bergstein. She fashioned the fictional Kellerman’s to be a place filled with activities for families visiting from New York City, much like the Catskills resorts she visited with her family.

The resort in Liberty, New York, has been closed since 1986, and since then, it’s become dilapidated and is most definitely no longer a place anyone would want to stay.

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But the property’s owner, Louis R. Cappelli, recently applied to the State Department of Environmental Conservation asking that a portion of the ground be designated a contaminated site. If approved, he could receive state funds to clean up portions of the property damaged by illegally chemicals dumped. The New York Times reports as of Aug. 9 that his application is still under review.

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Cappelli told the Times that starting with the soil and groundwater would be a first step to making the property suitable for visitors once again.

This is a project that Cappelli has been looking to start for quite some time, considering the once lush grounds — complete with gazebos and swimming pools — are now overrun with wildlife. But, the news of a new casino opening in upstate New York in 2018 convinced him to get the ball rolling.

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“For 17 years I’ve been a lone wolf trying to do this, and I really haven’t been able to accomplish it because of the enormity of the task,” Cappelli told the New York Times. “But now that the casino is in fact going to be opening up there, I think the opportunity now exists to have this kind of original dream come true.”

The hotel was once a grand place for New Yorkers who were looking to escape the city. Jackie Robinson is said to have vacationed there, and Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds had their wedding at the location.

In its heyday, the place oozed luxury, but Cappelli isn’t looking to recreate the resort exactly as it was.

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Instead, he hopes for something more modern.

“I want to build what is a 2017 model of Grossinger’s — with some sort of memories still there,” he told The Times.

Despite the fact that the film “Dirty Dancing” wasn’t actually filmed at Grossinger’s but instead at a resort in Virginia, here’s to hoping the hotel can bring back some of the charm that Kellerman’s had.

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About the Author
Augusta Statz
I have a B.F.A. in Writing from the Savannah College of Art and Design. I’m an avid writer with a genuine sense of curiosity. I feel the best way to absorb the world around you is through fashion, art and food, so that’s what I spend most of my time writing about.

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