Faded Catskills Classic Has Mystery Buyer; Currently Seeking Backup

At the Nevele!There’s so much to do!Or don’t do a thing!People do that, too! For native New Yorkers of a

At the Nevele!
There’s so much to do!
Or don’t do a thing!
People do that, too!

For native New Yorkers of a certain age—say, 35-40—these words evoke powerful associations. A montage of racquet sports and pillow fights. Cozy firesides and fancy dinners. A sprightly synthesizer.

The promise of A place you go! With your family!A place Where you feel at home! And you’re glad to be—at the Nevele! (At the Nevel-EEE!)

This was the 1981 ad for the Nevele Grande Resort, a cylindrical hotel in the Catskills.

The hotel, which closed in July, is scheduled for auction today, September 1—but according to Auction America Realty, a contract had already been signed on the property following an offer yesterday afternoon. A representative for Auction America said that the company was “not at liberty” to disclose the price or buyer, and that the auction would proceed as planned to seek backup offers on the Nevele. According to the auction listing, the property includes 432 hotel rooms, an 18-hole golf course, skating rinks, and 2 “NightClubs/Bar.”

“Nevele” is “Eleven” spelled backwards—according to lore, after the eleven nineteenth-century schoolteachers who discovered the waterfall from which the hotel takes its name. This is a nice story, even if it yields a name that sounds unprepossessingly like “Neville.”

The Nevele shone in the Borscht Belt golden years. When the Jewish Museum of Maryland curated a 2007 exhibit on Jewish-American vacationing history (“The Other Promised Land”), they included a postcard of the Nevele’s Stardust Room.

In recent years, though, the hotel suffered. In April, the hotel was fined $5000 and ordered topay out $35,277.60 in restitution for worker’s compensation claims.

“The Nevele, like many other businesses in this economy, came upon some hard times and fell behind in its payments,” an attorney representing the hotel told The Poughkeepsie Journal at the time.

Earlier this summer, Ulster County found that the hotel also owed more than $700,000 in back taxes.

And there were other issues.

The greatest food and service is the rule, promised the 1981 jingle. But in May 2008, a disgruntled vacationer named Steven Ayers filed suit against the Nevele for breach of contract. He had organized a group of 740 visitors, and they had found their stay unsatisfactory.

“Many of the rooms had a distinct, unpleasant odor, there were feces on the floor in at least one room, and blood stains on the bed sheets in a least one room,” reads the court document. “The temperature in the rooms was unbearably cold due to the lack of heat, and no one could take a shower due to the lack of hot water.”

Mr. Ayers wanted $75,000 for his trouble; the former guests who started Nevelesucks.com just want someplace to air their grievances. The site offers a litany of complaints, a photo tour (“if you think you’re ready”), and a forum featuring threads with subject lines like “The Nevele Grande—Like Looking at a Dead Person,” “If you think staying there is bad try working there!!!” and “OMG Bed Bugs.”

But buried amid the gleeful disgust are memories of favorite camp counselors and musical acts from back in the day. This, after all, is the sort of complaining that can only come from a place of devotion. Why else would Nevelesucks.com offer “I survived the Nevele” t-Shirts in two different styles?

It was up to you, but you should have gone—to the Nevele!

Stay tuned for updates on its buyer.

mfischer@observer.com Faded Catskills Classic Has Mystery Buyer; Currently Seeking Backup