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bar at at Habitas-on-Hudson in Staatsburg NY

We Are Upstate NY With Habitas-on-Hudson Co-Founder Oliver Ripley

By inside + out | April 26, 2023

Inside+Out is pleased to present our exclusive interview with Oliver Ripley, co-founder and CEO of the Hudson Valley’s latest luxury hotel, Habitas-on-Hudson. Located in the hamlet of Staatsburg in Dutchess County, Habitas offers locals and urban travelers a year-round, countryside retreat with “Community” as its driving force. Curated onsite experiences and activities are geared toward creating connection between guests powered by music, wellness rituals, adventure, art and great food.

The main manor house (the former Belvedere Mansion) and two adjacent properties feature 30 guest rooms, along with their farm-to-table restaurant, Social. More than just a deliciously inviting restaurant, Social offers DJ sets, live music and dance performances from Friday night to Sunday afternoon where friends gather around shared meals, drinks and conversations. Adjacent to our restaurant, The Pub offers an authentic pub experience styled with deep red hues, cozy nooks and high bar stools to create a laid-back gathering spot—day or night. Now that you have the vibe of this Hudson Valley hotspot, let’s get to know Oliver Ripley..

 at Habitas-on-Hudson in Staatsburg NYHabitas on Hudson Luxury Hotel in the Hudson Valley

INSIDE+OUT: You have properties around the globe. What inspired your vision for Habitas-on-Hudson as your first US hotel?

OLIVER RIPLEY: Habitas, first and foremost, is a diverse community of like-minded people who share similar values and a mindset. We don’t define ourselves with material labels, or by our race or the jobs we have. We seek to collect experiences over possessions. The world we live in has become isolated by technology and social media, a world where we communicate with people through apps and online. We want to create a better future for ourselves, we want to travel, create memories and share experiences, meet new people, make friends, have adventures, reconnect with our loved ones, and through traveling expand our minds.

Our vision for Habitas-on-Hudson was to bring an experiential manor house to the heart of the Hudson and to commit to our expanding community of like-minded, conscious travelers. This is our seventh ‘Home’ across four continents and our first US property. What we’ve created at Habitas-on-Hudson is a true countryside retreat and a playground for the curious seeking a playful escape from the city.

How do you define an eco-resort on a historical property?

We’re committed to eliminating single-use plastic throughout all of our homes and bringing that promise to Habitas-on-Hudson. We offset all of our carbon emissions and the proceeds from future concerts and screenings at Habitas-on-Hudson will go to supporting reforestation. We recycle religiously and work with local organizations to manage excess waste by composting and recycling.

lounge at Habitas-on-Hudson in Staatsburg NY

What are you most proud of when it comes to Habitas-on-Hudson?

Our location is incredible and the fact that we’ve taken an 18th-century, historic neo-baroque manor house and two adjacent structures and have enhanced the offering and made it relevant again for today’s traveler is gratifying. We’ve made old new while keeping the flavor and experience of the original manor and have shone a spotlight on a unique and nature-rich destination that people will want to return to again and again. Whether you want to relax and play board games with a classic cocktail, take a nature hike or enjoy a sound bath and yoga class, you’re free to relax and unwind however you’d like.

Who did you work with for the design of the hotel and restaurant?

The building was originally owned and designed by Andre Balazs, however when Habitas took it over, the brand completed its full renovation and added finishing design touches throughout the property. This included a revamp of the main communal living room and outdoor areas. While keeping the ‘bones’ of this charming countryside retreat, it was important that Habitas’ design style was reflected throughout the property.

How did the naming of the rooms come about? There’s the Hunter Room named after author Hunter S. Thompson and the Maya Room named after the poet Maya Angelou in the Manor, and the rooms in the Lodge and Stonehouse are also unique. What other fun touches will guests expect?

Named in honor of the renowned poet and author Maya Angelou, Maya’s Room sits on the second floor of our Manor and provides a luminous space to rest, relax and recharge, with no terrace to ensure total privacy. Similarly, Hunter’s Room is named after the notorious journalist & author Hunter S. Thompson. Hunter’s Room is also located in the Manor and offers two distinct entrances, one through the liveliness of the Manor and a discreet private back entrance leading directly to our wooded grounds. This room offers a private balcony with views of the pond.

The names of the Lodge and Stonehouse rooms are inspired by the structural design elements of the building. Our Lodge Rooms feature a minimalist design with one-of-a-kind details and pops of color, and access to the Lodge’s wrap-around outdoor deck for lounging and a direct connection to the natural surroundings. Our Stonehouse rooms feature a variety of room types including The Loft, The Suite and The Quarters, which boast a spacious living room, a desk for remote work, an en-suite jacuzzi bathtub and a private outdoor terrace facing the hillside. The property features a tennis court, and will soon offer a padel court, a swimmable pond and a barrel sauna.

dining at at Habitas-on-Hudson in Staatsburg NY

dining room at Habitas-on-Hudson in Staatsburg NY

Let’s step into the kitchen: Tell us about Social, your menu and your executive chef?

Social puts prominence on locavore and farm-to-table dining. Our menu sources locally-grown ingredients from neighboring New York farms while embracing the seasonality of local produce. Our Head Chef, Nicholas Cox comes from Kentucky and is a New York restaurant veteran. Some of his signature dishes at Habitas-on-Hudson include; vanilla labneh and granola with lemon curd and fresh fruit and his lamb kofta kebab sandwich with tahini, roasted tomatoes, sumac red onions and pickled cabbage has become something of a staple at lunchtime. Social is also gathering somewhat of a reputation for its brunch offering where guests enjoy dishes like crunchy granola banana pancakes and a rich shakshuka with poached eggs.

Dining at Social Restaurant Habitas-on-Hudson Dining at Social Restaurant Habitas-on-Hudson

What impact does Habitas-on-Hudson have on the community?

Our approach to hospitality is unique and we strive to be completely sustainable. Because we are vertically integrated we carry this through to the operations and every interaction with our guests and the local community. A typical management company is dependent on multiple ‘layers’ whereas we encompass the entire process end-to-end. We strive to have a positive impact on the local Hudson Valley community and ingratiate the community with our offering.

red bar at Habitas-on-Hudson in Staatsburg NY

Tell us about your programming and do you encourage guests to experience the local shops, outdoor activities and attractions?

Our guests love trying out activities surrounding adventure and we work closely with local vendors and businesses to provide authentic learning and culinary experiences.  Our Habitas community has shown us they like to experience the immediate communities and visit local shops, eat local produce and try out all of the local experiences on offer. In the case of our Spa, we’ve partnered with Rain Spa, a wonderful local spa that brings their wellness expertise to our guests for spa services on the property.

Outdoor yoga and activities at Habitas-on-Hudson


What is one question you’re constantly asked or the biggest misconception about your work?

People are often skeptical that sustainability is possible in luxury tourism. More and more hospitality brands are starting to adopt sustainable practices today though and hold each other accountable, which is a good thing. It’s happening slowly, but leading by example is a proven way to have a meaningful impact, not only on guests and staff but on other hospitality brands as well.

Tell us something about yourself that people might be surprised to know.

We never set out to create a hospitality company. We started by bringing our friends together around experiences in Los Angeles, San Fransisco, New York City and Burning Man. Habitas was born out of passion. We wanted to create experiences that we would enjoy and our friends would too. When we opened our first hotel we had no idea what we were doing and this was key because we did things differently. We wanted to create a feeling of home and belonging and it attracted other like-minded people.

Bedroom Suite at Habitas-on-Hudson bedroom at Habitas-on-Hudson in Staatsburg NY

What is missing in the area that you wish we had?

Can’t think of anything. The location is just perfect the way it is.

What can we expect from Habitas-on-Hudson in 2023?

We have a team of in-residence experts on the property who are creating seasonal offerings including outdoor winter activations and for summer a barrel sauna and cold plunges. In the warmer months, guests can enjoy archery, an outdoor cinema and tennis as well as weekly Sunday concerts and communal family meals too.

What is your current state of mind?

Always looking ahead while evolving and enhancing the homes we already have in place making sure our guests are happy. We just announced Habitas Atacama, our 11th home in the Habitas family, so we now have properties in Tulum, Bacalar, San Miguel in Mexico and soon to open Santa Teresa in Costa Rica, as well as one-of-a-kind concepts in Namibia and AlUla in Saudi Arabia, in addition to Caravan Agafay and Caravan Dakhla in Morocco.

The Pub at Habitas-on-Hudson in the Hudson Valleyaerial view at Habitas-on-Hudson in Staatsburg NY

Photo by Pepe Molina, courtesy of Habitas-on-Hudson
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Visit Habitas-on-Hudson
10 Old Route 9, Staatsburg, NY | 845-318-9185

For more information about Habitas-on-Hudson or to book a stay, visit the hotel’s website. For each guest who stays at Habitas they donate to their RISE Fund, which supports local communities, creates jobs, and gives back to local environmental and social causes

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