Lives of the Rich and Famous

When it closed abruptly in 1985, Grossinger’s Resort had just began its sixth major expansion, and attempt to reclaim the title of “World’s Largest Hotel” from the Concord and a few up and coming contenders in Las Vegas. With a declining tourist business in the Catskills already, and the scattering of Jewish families out of Brooklyn and into the rest of the northeast, the Borscht Belt’s days were numbered, and the few remaining resorts intensified their competition, building unsustainably to build market share and go down in history as the Greatest. Among frequent guests in the 1980s, vacationing here as well as performing, Evandor Holyfield, Mike Tyson, Barry Manilow and Bill Murray were Grossinger’s mainstays, and Arnold Palmer was there at what became the hotel’s final days, planning his redesign of the golf course for a 1986 season that would never arrive.

Once the property left the hands of the Grossinger family, it passed from developer to developer, alternating phases of demolition, reconstruction and languishing abandonment. By 1993, golf was booming in the region, and the course reopened, along with the clubhouse restaurant, tennis club and one building of the decaying hotel, hardly a shadow of its luxurious former life. Without the entertainment and culture of Grossinger’s’s glory days, the hotel failed in less than a summer, leaving only the golf course behind, as it remains to this day. Reaching the golf course requires driving straight through the abandoned resort complex, creating an eerie feeling for the golfers, but a perfect excuse for us exploring, and plenty of traffic to blend in with on what should be deserted roads.

Entering from the first, obvious, open door, this sight and an arresting stench of decay and rot are your welcome as newly arrived guests.

Nature has taken over here, with moss and even some fully formed plants occupying many of the bathrooms

How long has it been since you’ve seen a computer with a monitor like this?

Play room

October 1984 — program for a late season Saturday, including an Evandor Holyfield bout

Where the front desk used to be, only a reflecting pool now

Take a seat at the bar…but we haven’t had that spirit here since 1985

Approaching the pool… this was, believe it or not, part of the wing that was open in 1993, pressed into use as a makeshifted lobby.

Due to the architectural changes in the late stages of the hotel, despite being directly under the pool it takes a lot of wandering around to actually reach it from here.

…continued in part 2

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