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One of a Kind

Updated: Apr 23

By Mary Carpenter • Photos Supplied

A Renaissance man — or woman — is someone with genuine competence in and understanding of multiple fields which complement each other to make him/her a more talented and productive individual. There is no better way to describe Rick and Matt Vidal, owners of NewVida Preserve in Jay, New York than as present-day Renaissance men.

Rick earned his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania and was a consultant for McKinsey & Company working in pharmaceutical research and development of new drugs. Matt graduated from Columbia University, earned his law degree from Fordham University and was an associate at a New York City law firm.

While the Vidals were living and working in New York they went looking for an opportunity, something that would get them out of the city and immerse them in nature. They found it in the Hudson Valley town of Rhinebeck. They bought an historic 400-acre property, named it Cascada Farm, and created an experiential retreat with private cabins, each uniquely set in the mature forests, rolling hills and cliffs, trout creeks, and roaring waterfalls. The farm offers opportunities for outdoor recreation and indoor pampering, such as available massages and personal chefs. Rick explained, “Our hospitality business started as a hobby, but has grown to include a vision for making sustainability financially viable.”

With Cascada Farm operating successfully, the Vidals were ready for their next venture. On a trip to the Adirondacks, they found the former Paleface Ski Center located on Route 86 in the town of Jay. The property opened in 1961 and for nearly 20 years was a popular ski resort in winter and a dude ranch in summer. After years on the market, the lodge, an 11,000 square foot mansion located on the top of Bassett mountain and the accompanying 1,200 acres was showing its age, but it had potential. The Vidals were interested.

Matt and Rick hiked the property to view first-hand what it had to offer. “It took us a few months to get our hands around the enormity of it all,” Rick said, “but once we did, we were all in.”

Dealing with the town and the Adirondack Park Agency posed a challenge, but the partners were not to be deterred. “With our experience in the hospitality industry, we were confident we could make our vision a reality,” Rick emphasized. The couple closed on the property in late 2022, paying $6.5 million according to the Essex County Office of Real Property.

That’s when the real work began. To get started, the Vidals hired a team to overhaul the space and open the property they named the NewVida Preserve in stages. “Our goal was to develop a place that would be a destination for visitors, but also a gathering place for the community,” Rick explained.

By July of last year much of the remodeling of the 2,500 square foot former lodge was complete and the restaurant opened in the Great Room with its 50-foot A-frame ceilings, beautifully restored wood-work, and views of Whiteface Mountain. “We quickly attracted a loyal following from Jay, Wilmington, Keene, Lake Placid, Elizabethtown, and even from Plattsburgh,” Rick offered. “People have responded well to our farm-to-table menu which changes depending on the season. We focus on traditional ingredients, but present them with our own special twist.”

In August the Craft Bar opened, providing a small plate menu, a billiards lounge and live music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.

By December, 80 percent of the remodel was complete and services were up and running. Fourteen suites, accommodating 32 guests, were ready to welcome skiers. With Whiteface Mountain only seven minutes away, NewVida was a busy place.

Wellness services, such as massage and yoga, are now available for guests and day visitors using both the indoor and outdoor spaces that make NewVida unique. The property’s vast trail system is open for hiking, biking, climbing, and winter sports. In the next few months, the Vidals project the completion of a pool and spa wing.

Also offered are a variety of private event spaces perfect for small get togethers (up to 50) and large gatherings (up to 250). Combined indoor and outdoor events can accommodate up to 400 guests.

The Vidals are proud of what they have created, celebrating NewVida Preserve as an off the beaten path, private retreat that caters to people looking for an authentic experience in the beauty of the Adirondacks. “We provide a hybrid. Rather than an in and out stay, we attract people who are looking for the convenience of a short-term rental with the amenities of a hotel,” Rick explained. “Consistent occupancy is our goal.”

Much has changed at NewVida over the past year and a half, but ask the owners if they are finished with their redo and you will be met with an enthusiastic ‘No’. “We have much more to do,” Rick enthused. “Hub #1 — the redo of the lodge, the house on top of the mountain and updating the grounds — is nearing completion, but Hubs #2 - 5 are ahead of us. We will be looking for another round of investment. In Hub #2 we will build private cabins to expand our accommodations in order to welcome up to 50 guests. During Hub #3 we will move across Route 86 to build an event space and a microbrewery. Hub #4 will focus on a lodging hub and agrotourism and #5 will be long-term housing for retirees and young professionals. Along the way we will add a Business Center that will offer leasable spaces and an outdoor recreation center.”

NewVida Preserve is the largest year-round resort in the High Peaks and the closest full-service property to Whiteface Mountain. In the hospitality industry, where location can be everything, the NewVida Preserve certainly has that.

While the Vidal’s ambitious plans are just getting underway, the owners are enthusiastic and committed to see them through. We wish them well.

NewVida Preserve

6394 NYS Route 86

Jay, NY 12941

518 946-6192

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