A Catskills motel makeover comes to cable



Phoenicia’s Graham & Co. to be featured in new ‘(RE)motel’ series on Magnolia channel

When Martin Torres and Joseph DiThomas first stayed in The Cobblestone Inn in the Catskills hamlet of Phoenicia in 1997 it was a work in progress. The motel was a plain white with minimal adornments — an upgrade from its original Pepto Bismol pink dating back to its early years in the mid-20th century — the beds were covered in a dated floral design, and the rooms had doilies circa any grandmother’s 1970s home.

Torres and DiThomas, a married couple in life and in business, we’re looking for a place to get “un-jet lagged” after a trip to Japan, and The Cobblestone was one of the few places that allowed them to take their dog along with them. The couple visited the Cobblestone a few more times over the years before it was purchased in 2013 by new owners, who gave it a sleek upgrade and rechristened it The Graham & Co.

Though the couple never stayed in the reboot of the quaint motel they’d grown fond of, when it came onto the market 20 years after their first visit, they were already familiar with the enduring appeal of the Catskills, and appreciated the new property’s look and feel.

“It had legs and enormous potential,” said Torres, who comes from an advertising background and recognized the great branding the hotel had already established.

The couple purchased the property in 2018 and immediately set out to continue and complete the evolution of The Graham & Co.

“When we took over, we were determined to maintain some of the momenta that had been created early on,” said Torres. “We made a lot of infrastructure changes, upgraded the Wi-Fi — especially important since there is limited cell service in Phoenicia … The newer renovations have taken us more towards a Catskills-meets-Scandinavia approach.”

BEFORE AND AFTER: This Catskills cabin goes from 1970s to stunning

For the new look of The Graham & Co., Torres and Thomas worked with FØRM, a boutique staging, styling, and design studio based in Brooklyn, and went for a streamlined aesthetic utilizing a range of black, dark gray, and white/creme colors for the exterior, and a similarly minimal palette for the interior.

The overhaul caught the attention of a production team creating a new series called “(RE)motel” for the Discovery Channel, featuring renovated motels that were turned into destination motels or boutique hotels. Set to air in early 2022 on the Magnolia Network, formerly the DIY Network, and now part of the Discovery+ streaming service, Graham & Co.’s refresh will be featured in the fifth episode of Season One.

“[We] loved hearing about Martin and Joe’s passion for creating special experiences and memories for their guests,” said Roxy Hunt, one of the show’s producers. “As Torres [has] said, the key is to ‘surprise and delight,’ which is such a great sentiment to have in mind in hospitality.”

The producers spent three days filming at the Graham, where they interviewed the couple about the eight months they spent renovating the motel. Along with the exterior and interior upgrades, they also built a new guest room known as “The Bungalow” to offer an upscale experience for guests looking for a private suite.

Torres and DiThomas are still making upgrades. Their next big project is to add a small lodge for guests who want to come during winter. They also plan to sell the many Catskill-based products that they feature in their rooms, such as the Woodstock-based Root & Resin, with whom the owners developed their fragrance “Stony Clove,” named after the Stony Clove Creek that flows near to the hotel. They have also established their own CBD oils with High Falls Hemp based in High Falls.

In the future, they plan to introduce more entertainment opportunities for guests in addition to their current suite of activities like movies on the lawn, volleyball, and badminton among others.

“People get bored easily, and with so many new more luxurious properties [in the Catskills], we have to compete on a different level with what we offer,” said Torres. “At the heart of it, we’re a great place to explore all the Catskills has to offer.”