© 2017 Alexandra Marvar

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Catskill Mountains Revival

For CNN TRAVEL, JULY 2017

(CNN) — Drive about 90 miles north of New York City, and you'll begin to see the pine-covered peaks of the Catskill Mountains rolling across the horizon, with Pennsylvania's Pocono mountain range at their western edge and the wide, blue Hudson River at the east.

State routes wind between ski slopes and waterfalls, passing through colorful villages such as Woodstock before dipping back into relative wilderness. But in those quiet woods and towns, a shift is taking place.

For the past century, the Catskills have been best-known to outsiders for the tourism empire that helped define it from the early 1900s up through the 1970s: The "Borscht Belt."

So called for the predominantly Jewish clientele who summered there, this string of resorts hosted some of the greatest performers of the era, not to mention setting the scene for Frances "Baby" Houseman's summer of love in "Dirty Dancing."

But in the past 30 years, the tradition of whole New York families summering together in the Catskills waned, and since, most of these star-studded, amenity-rich resorts have been shuttered and left to ruin.

As of 2013, even the legendary 13,000-acre Kutsher's had deteriorated to nothing more than few condemned buildings, which tenuously hosted the occasional music festival even while being gradually reclaimed by the wilder forces of nature. Then, it sold to a developer. One day soon, the property will reopen as a yoga resort.

The revitalization of the Kutsher's property is no anomaly: Over the past six years, after decades of hibernation, the region is experiencing a tourism renaissance.

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