Woodstock Lodge says it will sue the Travel Channel

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

A cable piece, “Rotting Woodstock,” started screening last week on Hotel Impossible, a show on The Travel Channel and currently in rotation, has become a huge topic of conversation around town and county. For the owners of the Woodstock Lodge, profiled in the contentious segment starring host “hotel expert” Anthony Melchiorri, it’s all part and parcel of a lawsuit now.

Meanwhile, questions have been flying: “How in the world is the Woodstock Lodge and Havana Café allowed to remain open after what I saw on the television show,” came one. “Utterly amazing and scary and embarrassing to Woodstock and people from the area like me.”

In the program, things start off pleasantly enough as Melchiorri drives up to what was once the Pinecrest Lodge, opened a century ago by Mordecai Berkowitz and known for years as a respectable seasonal getaway with cabins, a private lounge area, and a great pool all nestled under tall pines just outside the hamlet center. In the last decades, it’s been known as one of the few late night spots in town. But it’s obvious things in the show will run awry fast; the previews tease as much. And the host’s brusk Brooklyn approach as much as guarantees a confrontation.


Melchiorri, who spent 20 years working as a New York City hotel manager before starting his own Argeo Hospitality consulting business and capturing a primetime Travel Channel slot, meets Carlo and Annie Pombo, owners of the renamed Woodstock Lodge for the past 17 years. He hears how hard it’s been, but seems charmed by the setting, the town, main building’s bar area with giant stone fireplace, its side porch restaurant area. Then the rental cabins come into view and flaws unfold: lots of dust, rips in furniture, damp floors, mold.

By program’s end, the Hotel Impossible crew — who usually come in, list complaints and do some fast renovations before leaving — have brought in mold, asbestos and basic infrastructure experts from around the area who show them, and us, the details of the Lodge’s cabins conditions and call them unsafe and in need of demolition. Yet despite big kitchen and menu problems, Melchiorri feels things can be turned around if the restaurant is upgraded and made a destination. After all, it’s pointed out, it is Woodstock, and the Hudson Valley is all about foodies these days.

Enter hell, stage right. Carlo Pombo tosses the host, allows him back in, then tosses them yet again before finally letting them finish a redo on the front bar/reception and dining rooms. Only without anything but a voiceover at the end. And then comes this week’s news: They’re suing Melchiorri, the producers, and the Travel Channel.

“We’re going into litigation,” said Annie. “We really can’t say anything.”

Who’s in charge?

Meanwhile, those questions have kept coming in. How have they stayed open? How can things get so bad?

Granted, some people we watched the episode with identified with all Melchiorri and crew were uncovering. Moist walls, black mold showing up, disappearing foundations, bad wiring? Dust and old carpeting in need of replacement?

Then there’s the fact that a similar episode shot last winter, and shown in late April, depicting a similar stand-off and renovations at the Catskill Mountain Lodge in nearby Palenville turned out alright in the end.

Upon investigation, it turns out that motels, hotels and cabin colonies are regulated by state law, and overseen by the state Department of Health which mandates permits and inspections to be overseen by county health departments, or cities if over 50,000 in population. Similarly, the New York State Department of Health’s Bureau of Community Environmental Health and Food Protection “works to protect the public health by assuring that food service establishments are operated in a manner that eliminates hazards through design and management, resulting in a decreased incidence of foodborne illness in our communities.”

We checked in with the county as to their inspection processes, and whether they were actually handling such matters for the state…and were repeatedly told that no one could answer press questions without the okay of either a commissioner or the county executive.

Finally, we turned to the Town of Woodstock, where supervisor Jeremy Wilber filled in some of the place’s long history, including several years when its restaurant was run by the legendary Marylou Paturel of Café Espresso fame…and confirmed that oversight and inspections were definitely in the county’s hands.

“Which does not mean that the town has been totally oblivious,” he added.

Until the courts get involved…?

There are 64 comments

  1. Maureen

    The inspectors definitely have some explaining to do…..how dare they sue the show…the proof was there…

    1. susan

      I had the show on mu DVR and watched it last night!! Arrogance from the dirty cleaning person who didn’t even clean up the diarrhea in the room and then cleans it with a little tissue getting it all over her hands!! A dirty pig!! Anthony was absolutely right on and professional. He deals with Mike and Ike! The nasty owner who has put children and people at risk with his rotting and filthy hotel with exposed electrical wires and an exposed septic tank. The nerve of them to even file a frivolous lawsuit!

  2. Jacqueline Manganaro

    Your place is a dump and you were the one’s to call Travel channel good luck w/ the law suite as he had professionals there who showed all the un healthy living conditions if you have the $ to sue why don’t you just use that $ to fix the place up to livable condition the fact that you use the Woodstock name is ever so embarassing, just fix it after all your mortgage is paid off I think your ego’s were hit below the belt and justifiably so ! To reiterate use the $ your paying an Atty to fix that s–thole up and maybe take the Woodstock name off by far you do not represent Woodstock and or the clean healthy motels in town, I will and have been e-mailing our town about this one and have started a social media attention on it and will continue to do so until the job is done right. Anthony has more then enough evidence on film therefore to sue will be yet another waste of money not to mention YOU asked for his help. Thank you, a lifelong Woodstock resident save your $ on legal fee’s and do the right thing !

    1. Katydids

      Well said. The owner brought the Travel Channel to their property in hopes of increasing sales and revenue. Did he REALLY think that Anthony would ignore such egregious safety issues that would compromise the integrity of the show?

  3. John Thornquist

    This is the kind of PR that money simply can’t buy. And the decision to start a lawsuit is a terrific way to stretch those marketing dollars to ensure that the story stays in the news.

  4. Mae

    It is very unfortunate that the hotel/lodge owners did not listen to Melchiorri and his panel of experts. Before the owners try to sue anyone they must think about all of their previous guests who are now experiencing some type of breathing or other health issues (as a result of staying at their hotel) who may and should decide to sue them! The owners need to apologize and beg Melchiorri to come back and help them. Or, they must do the responsible thing and close the hotel before one of the health agencies closes them down.

  5. Kali

    I have read the reviews on the Woodstock lodge from travel adviser and feel sickened for the families that have come to this place over the last 17 years. Such a shame that the board of health in this county is so incompetent to allow such a dangerous situation to continue for any amount of time, even up to 17 years. Thank you to the travel channel for exposing this crime. I hope that they visit every place that has those kind of reviews…some one should…and apparently it’s not the concern of the board of health.

  6. Andrew K

    As a resident of Woodstock, I have been living with the going on’s at woodstock lodge for many years. The biggest complaints I have as a resident are: underage drinking causing accidents, noise and unruly behavior spilling out into the residential streets outside the lodge. The owners and the local and state authorities had no interest in addressing my complaints until the TV show aired. The question begs to be answered is: who got paid off to let this condition continue to this point? Everyone in town knew about the goings on in “Rotting Woodstock Lodge”.

  7. Charleen

    I think the county or whatever government entity supposedly oversees this “Lodge” has been ABSOLUTELY & TOTALLY REMISS in INSPECTING this “LODGE” & everyone who has stayed there under these conditions should go together and file a CLASS ACTION LAW SUIT against the government agency in charge & the owners of the WOODSTOCK LODGE for allowing their LIVES to be ENDANGERED !!!!!!!

    P.S. — NO JUDGE in his right mind will uphold the Lodges’ lawsuit if he/she sees the condition of this “Lodge” !!!!!!! If they’re smart, they’ll drop the suit & sell the land !!!!!! It should bring in enough to get them through their later lives as they stated the “Lodge” is PAID OFF !!!! iT’S A SHAME they allowed it to deteriorate the way it has. With regular upkeep & repairs to the structure as needed this could have been a viable “lodge”, however it was simply UNTOUCHED for the 17yrs this couple has owned it — TRULY LAZY & “SORRY” !!!!! I just can’t fathom how they could ENDANGER SO MANY PEOPLES’ LIVES in those dilapidated buildings or how they could serve them that horrible “FOOD” and I use the word FOOD lightly !!!!!
    Why hasn’t the governing body SHUT THEM DOWN for ALL THESE DANGERS ?????????? WHY ???????

  8. Carolyn star

    I think the cabins need repairing..
    For sure! But Annie and Carlos run a wonderful
    Resturant . The food is excellent and the service
    Is wonderful.. It’s my favorite resturant !!
    So sue me..
    Things just got out of hand.
    Too bad!

      1. Kristi

        That sounds like the best idea, Toby. The cabins are SO dilapidated, inside and out. Between the uneven floors, saggy roofs, rotten wood throughout, all the bathrooms in need of renovations, as well as replacement of the electrical and septic systems it seems like the smartest idea would be to start again from scratch. (And never trust Carlo to do any more “repairs”, LOL)

        There really needs to be an in-depth investigation as to how the lodge could have remained open when supposed “inspections” by the county are required periodically. Someone must have had a cozy relationship with the Pombas in order to pass these supposed “inspections” because these problems didn’t crop up overnight, and are plainly visible to the naked eye. Let’s see what happens next..

  9. Sandy Wilburn

    I think the State of New York needs to close the lodge. Instead of the owners building a new home. They should have invest profit back into the company. Shame on the owners!!

  10. anonymous

    I SINCERELY regret not having filed an official complaint with the health department and BBB after a one night stay @ the Woodstock Lodge last summer. My room was infested with BED BUGS, which were subsequently brought into my new york city home via luggage. The ordeal cost my family and I a small fortune to remedy, my apartment had to be fumigated, etc., etc. The night after my stay I was covered head to toe in bed bug bites, as confirmed by my dermatologist. It is a travesty to public health and to Woodstock’s good name (where I also have a home) that this place has been able to stay in business and it calls in to question the ethics of those in charge of overseeing inspection. After seeing the “Hotel Impossible” footage I feel that it is my civic duty to take legal action (as Charleen suggested), as it is the civic duty of both the Woodstock Authorities and its residents to make sure this place gets shut down.

    1. Tenshi

      You may still have recourse. I would recommend checking with a NY Attorney to find out the statute of limitations since every state is different. In my state, it’s 4 years, and the time resets itself with the discovery of new information (IE: Discovery of irrefutable PROOF that the bed bugs originated from their slum, as shown on TV)
      It may be worth your time, even if you only receive reimbursement for all of your expenses related to that stay, including the travel costs.

      Good Luck. I really hope you, and all others who are in a position to sue these scam artists, exercise your legal rights and take them to the cleaners. They were even kind enough to build a new house, at your expense, so you’ll have something nice to put a lien on =)

    2. George W

      You Definitely, should file complaints with the health department and any other agency that you think might listen.

      I sent them a constructive message…but of course they are too ignorant to listen to my suggestions. I was in multi-family property management for 20 years. So needless to say I know a bit about rental properties.

      They replied stating

      “Fxxk You”

      There’s no helping people like this…

      I can’t wait to see them shut down.
      Of course, they will probably sell out and make a bundle on the land.


  11. L

    The owners are selfish & arrogant! I’m shocked this place is STILL open! How can you own a small lodge for 17 years and not know what’s going on??? He knew, he just didn’t want to use any of his money to upkeep!
    Actually this place needs to be condemned and the owners put behind bars for being WELL aware of the condition of their buildings! I’ve actually seen condemned places that looked safer than the Woodstock Rotted Lodge!
    Thank you Travel Channel for trying to help, at least you exposed the arrogant owners! They need to be ordered to shut down & sell it to someone who will appreciate lodge ownership and actually PUT money into the property instead of bleeding it dry!!!

  12. ConcernedCitizenofShandaken

    How can this place still be allowed to operate as a hotel? Obviously, we need to ask whether the building inspectors were paid off here — how can we not? The worst part came when they showed the rotted top of the septic tank where a child could fall in through the rusted metal. How awful! The Woodstock Lodge has to be shut down.

  13. Clayton E.

    I think that there are a lot of people who are supposed to be some version of “the law, the authorities and the justice system” sweating that their looking the other way for possible pay is going to take down a lot more people than the scum who run the place. Woodstock where is your spirit of rebellion against the system now???? I don’t blame you for your fear. It is natural… So find some creative way to put pressure on the
    black stain on our town before they win and continue to hurt our reputation, our residents and our guests. If nobody does anything to fight for right then we are all doomed to let the bad guys run our town, our county, our state and our nation…Does crime pay? In this example it appears to sadly.

  14. Joan Laufer

    I think Woodstock agencies are either blind, stupid or being paid off. I stayed there and I agree it is a hellwhole.
    Need a civic suit for sure against the agencies that oversee health etc as well as the owners..who should be made to stay in isolation for a minimun of one year in EACH of their cabins!
    Joan Laufer

  15. Ed

    I think that Einstein had Carlo and Annie Pombo in mind when he said, “Two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity and I’m not sure of the former.” This lawsuit is going to open a big can of beans, because the Travel Channel attorney’s will subpoena the inspectors and the town officials. After all, Wilber said that the town knows and did nothing, in typical political double speak. Maybe we should ad Jeremy Wilber to Einsteins list.

  16. Mark

    How this place is still open is unreal, we stayed there for a Ramble and what otherwise was a great weekend turned into a nightmare, among many lowlights I could describe the worst was finding a dead mouse in the toilet bowl when we came home from the Ramble, my only regret is I flushed it down the bowl, I should have put in the key depository and had it drop out into the waiting hands of the person collecting the keys. PLEASE start a classaction suit and lets close this guy down, he is arrogant and an @#$%*&@!!!

  17. jodi a

    Wow…i stayed there about 15 years ago and wasn’t happy back then. My boyfriend and I just stayed in Woodstock this past vets day weekend and drove by to see what the lodge looked like figuring, maybe the next time we go, since its so close to town, we could stay there. I thought that in 15 years, they might have fixed it up a little…i guess not. I would never stay there again but the one thing i DO remember was what Carolyn Star said…the food in the restaurant was really good! They should definitely fix it up…theyd have a great business…the location is awesome

  18. Anna S.

    What a shame! My late husband and I stayed at the old Pinecrest Lodge, back in the 1970s, when Michael Berkowitz ran it. Michael was kind and personable, and the lodge was charming. We stayed in a cabin with a working fireplace. It was rustic, but decent. The main lodge bar area was homey, and the restaurant had food good enough to please my gourmand husband. but that was then, an this is now. What a shame.

  19. DonC

    I recently watched the episode on the Travel Channel and couldn’t believe what I saw!! I am a 65 year old man that has been to the beautiful town of Wooodstock, NY countless times, including the now famous Woodstock Festival back in the day. I find it very hard to believe that town, county or state officials allow this “dump” to remain in operation. Not only is it a severe health hazard to those people who visit it, but it is also a huge “black eye” to not only the beautiful town, but to the entire region as well. Now the owners want to sue Anthony and the Travel Channel? For what, exposing their ignorance? I would LOVE to be in that courtroom and watch.

    In closing, I would like to say that this place has NO RIGHT to be open to the public and endangering health and safety. Also, the town, county, and state have NO RIGHT allowing it to remain open. What a shame is an understatement!!!

  20. Roy

    Both Mr. and Mrs. Pumbo should be in Jail! And since they are not, the leadership in the City of Woodstock should be held accountable….personally! This is a criminal health hazard.

    1. Jasper Janssen

      Not with that asbestos problem. Those cabins need to be remediate for asbestos before you can bulldoze them. Unless of course you pay the asbestos inspectors to look the other way.

      The amount of money it will cost to remedy the asbestos properly might well push the equity they have in the entire property into the red, or definitely everything except the restaurant itself.

  21. Teresa

    They have a rotted out septic tank, with an exposed opening that a child could fall thru???? You people are absolutely nuts, especially the inspector of Woodstock; you let these people remain open after black mold is found in the carpets & walls? Can you just imagine what’s behind the wood paneling shown in the rooms???? Mr. Town Supervisor, what are the townspeople paying your salary for??? For you to sit around and do nothing??? Seriously, this place is not “artsy”! I used to live in the area and these cabins are pure trash. The name on the establishment should be changed to say “Woodstock Town Dump”. Period. Also, Mr. Pombo is totally delusional; apparently the black mold in his cabins has altered his perception of what the real reality is of his business. And now they have the nerve to sue Travel Channel & the host of the program??? And those two UN-DID the beautiful re-do accomplished in the bar area????

  22. Kathleen

    Wow I watched the show dec 2 2014 couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The owners should of just rebuilt. People could get sick. All I can say is wow I’m shocked that they r suing. I think that the show hotel impossible is a great show, Anthony does a great job and it’s always good to see how at the end of the show how nice they do it. Those owners should really care about the people who stay there. I’m so shocked at what I saw.

  23. Heywood

    After watching this episode of Hotel Impossible, I will be marking the Lodge, the City of Woodstock and the County of Ulster off my ‘to visit’ list. It’s an utter failure of government NOT to protect citizens from not only health hazards, but potential electrocution or drowning in a septic tank. I can imagine a large number of other hotels/motels with similar problems. The businessmen of Woodstock should be asking some hard questions of their city leaders and inspectors on why this lodge,or any others, should still be open. It only takes one rotten apple to ruin the entire barrel,but I fear there are more than just one rotten apple.
    “Missing Child Found Drowned In Septic Tank”…now that’s a disgusting headline…

  24. l

    It is a shame that a hotel was allowed to get to such a deplorable condition and still remain open. It does however expose that local and county officials have a blatant disregard for human safety. That scares me, how many more establishments in this area of NY are in similar condition? Is it safe to visit a restaurant in this area? Are the local “officials” competent, common sense tells me otherwise? From the outside, it appears that the local and county officials have more empathy for the business owner than they have respect for tourists. My impression is that their loyalty lays only with the dollar, with no intention of providing a safe and responsible environment to residents and visitors. No matter how this is presented it appears that there is a severe case of dereliction of duties within the local and county governments. These officials should be held responsible for their actions, lack of. Nothing less than resignation of their duties should be acceptable to the constituents within the county.
    Being from outside of the area I, for one would not stay or dine in ANY establishment within that entire county.

  25. Douglas F.

    What else would you expect from an owner who celebrates and has a Che poster in his office? Of course he is a total dirtbag who celebrates a un-American mass murderer.

    1. John Sterling

      Thank you Douglas for pointing out the Che poster. I was shocked when I saw it. Unfortunately many have been led to believe Che Guevara was some noble revolutionary when in fact he was a blood thirsty murderer.

      1. Jepchamp

        The Che poster is what shocked you?? Not that they have the nerve to call that toxic waste dump a hotel? I think your priorities are a little messed up. I’ll bet this guy voted for Trump.

  26. Charlie

    Considering this place is still open and the state, county, and town officials do not look too concerned about the health of visitors, I would seriously question the condition of every hotel in the area. I have have thought about visiting Woodstock, but now will plan to stay at a hotel in another town. Considering how well they clean the rooms, I would not want to eat food from the kitchen.

  27. Erika

    No one should stay there. Unsanitary and unhealthy. I don’t see why they haven’t been shut down. Absolutely horrible!

  28. Poppy

    Woodstock is rotting.
    It’s run down, sad, flooded with crazy people walking the streets and without taxis or any town that cares for anyone who lives there.
    The statement is true! I can’t wait to move out of here. People are strange, snippy and rude as well!
    It is the worst town in beautiful NY, strange and has ruined everything for me, just walking around you meet the strangest people, you meet paranoid people screaming about diseases in bookstores, Mexican girls are rude at markets, farm stands are scummy and full of gossip. The place is a rotting town and I made the mistake to think it’s some sort of utopia. I”ll be much happier when I leave Woodstock! And I have!
    There is no law suit, it’s true!

  29. Poppy

    I highly advise anyone considering moving to upstate NY to avoid living in woodstock! It has ruined our lives. Too many strange people. It’s a festival town, to live here is seriously different.

  30. Joel Ramos

    I watched the episode and as it progressed, the owner was beginning to irritate me. I’m no psychologist but it seems apparent he has personal issues. His wife’s face showed some stress and probably just by being married to this guy. My jaw dropped when he took a metal table to cover the sewage that was seeping out of the ground. Good fix! Yes, I was surprised that the show’s host didn’t see how steadfast he was in his obduracy. That place is beyond repair. It needs to be burned down to the ground, demolish everything and start from scratch. That’s going to cost more than the $150,00.00 the owner claims he has. The big question is why this place is still in operation.

  31. Ben

    Just seen HI with my wife, we almost had to throw up during the program , as Antony used to say; are you f……. Kidding me!!! This place is still open for business? The owner AND the local authorities should be sued, the hotel closed immediately and demolished

  32. Janek Kowalski

    Hi from POLAND 🙂 Yeap we watch the “Hotel Impossible” here too! :))
    We just (my wife and I) saw this episode on the Travel Chanel… absolutely astonished! WTF was this? I knew I need to find out more about this in the internet and so I came here.
    I agree with most of the comments posted here.

  33. Denise

    Having just seen the episode of Hotel Impossible, which I love, I was saddened and appalled to see the story of the Woodstock Lodge. I’ve been visiting and staying in Woodstock for decades; in fact, in 1982 I stayed at the Woodstock Lodge when it was the Pinecrest and had a wonderful time. Even back then it was a bit on the “rustic” side, but reasonably clean and safe. The restaurant back then served great natural foods, and had an excellent reputation.
    My sense is that the Pombos came along and bought it, thinking they could have a bit of “home” (Cuba) there for not too much money. They were clearly not interested in running a Woodstock-style hotel. One thing that was never said in the show was who did call Anthony. I assume either it was Mrs. Pombo in a secret and daring move unknown to her husband, or else an anonymous townsperson dropped the dime, wanting to effect some change on the place.
    I see that the WL is now for sale. I hope that someone buys it who has a vision of the kind of hotel that Woodstock deserves to have.

  34. Ann American

    I love the First Amendment to the Constitution. That is because no Amendment precedes it. Therefore, let the Four Winds blow.

  35. Your name

    The December national geographic. Now on sale at your local news stand buy it today.

    What was the name of the previous county health inspector who was outed for not doing his job and the next inspector quit and left the state entirely

  36. Chas

    The town of Woodstock and the county should be ashamed of not acting on this maybe a judge should have the town council and county health officials and thier family’s stay there ohh did I leave out nys health dept.

  37. Savanna

    Just watched this episode. Suing the show to get money for renos. Good luck with that one. The husband is one rude, arrogant prick. Poor sad hen-pecked wife. Place not suitable for chickens.

  38. Ulysses S. Grant

    Not sure if others have seen, but the lodge was sold last summer, and the new owners are completely transforming the property: they’ve hired prominent local architects, and are demolishing all of the existing cabins and replacing them with new ones: http://thelodgewoodstock.com/

  39. serj

    i would sue that idiot for health safety reasons. why isn’t that garbage closed already? wtf are the authorities doing???

  40. Nina

    Hello from South Africa 😁 just saw the show on travel channel as well..I sincerely hope that the wife is alright. It’s clear to see that she is being abused mentally. No one deserves to go through the hell that is – Carlo Pombo. Arrogant pig.
    I’m so happy to see that someone else is now in charge of the lodge. Goodluck to you! I will be sure to make a stop at the new lodge

  41. Susan James

    I live in Orange County NY, about a 40 minute drive from Woodstock. NYS Gov’t is run by corrupt puppets only interested in lining their pockets. It’s only a matter of time before NY goes bankrupt with all the welfare it pays out. Tax payers are fleeing in record numbers and I for one can’t wait to get the hell out of here!!

  42. J. Parsons

    Reality tv?
    The place is a dangerous dump, no question.
    Asbestos doesn’t cause lung disease, it causes cancer. Mesothelioma.
    The experts on this show were a joke. Inspectors wear hazmat suits. A small amount of asbestos and one time exposure are dangerous. To identify it and then continue to be exposed was shocking. And ignorant.
    Based on the age of the place and its condition, checking for asbestos should have happened before anything else. By real inspectors.
    A lawsuit by the crew making this thing and the health risks they were exposed to would be reasonable.
    Reporting this to the health department and then following up would make good tv.
    As always, what was scripted?
    No conflict makes for boring tv.

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