Wildflower Farms represents the pinnacle of a wave of nature-focused hospitality projects in the upstate that have opened since the pandemic. For New Yorkers and other urban dwellers in the Northeast and around the world seeking to disconnect from the beauty of the Hudson Valley, the resort offers a singularly luxurious package, from the excellence of its surprisingly progressive to its spacious, carefully designed cabins. Thistle Spa is a testament to the growing importance of wellness for hotel guests in this part of New York. But perhaps the most appealing aspect of a visit is that Wildflower is, as its name suggests, a working farm, as you are delightfully reminded of throughout your stay. My wife and I took our kids on vacation before dropping them off with local friends and spending a romantic day and night alone celebrating our anniversary. So trust me when I say Wildflower is ideal for families and couples.
Set the scene
Many upstate properties get immediate demerit for not being sufficiently separated from a noisy freeway. Wildflower, which you approach via a long dirt road, is not one of them, although I would have liked more separation between the large gravel parking lot and some of the infrastructure in the back -house from the rest of the hotel. As soon as you leave your car, however, you’ll forget about it, your attention diverted to what Wildflower calls the Grand Porch, a covered open-air common area between the shop and restaurant, with a central foyer that’s the hub of the resort. seaside. All day, urban refugees from Patagonia and Arcteryx post here for coffee, small plates, s’mores and some of the most photogenic (and delicious) cocktails in New York State.
Wildflower seeds were planted seven years ago when Phillip and Kristin Rapoport, residents of nearby Gardiner, purchased the former 140-acre tree nursery (and dairy farm before that) with the intention of share with New Yorkers who felt like they had to head west for high-end nature immersions. As you walk along the paths that surround the hotel, you sometimes come across the old product of the property, growing in straight rows. Working in partnership with architects Electric Bowery and interior designers Ward and Gray, the Rapoports, avid hikers and climbers, have transformed the site into a luxurious showcase of the region’s beauty, including the Shawangunk Kill, the river that runs runs along the woods to the west of the property. , and the Shawangunk Mountains, or “Gunks,” a scenic rocky ridge north of Wildflower.
There are 65 self-contained cabins in all, just under half of which are in the woods, up the hill from the buzzing Shawangunk Kill soundtrack. The rest are floating on the meadow, most with unobstructed views of the continuing drama of sunlight and mist over the Gunks. All have private patio space and floor-to-ceiling windows to bring the beauty indoors. My family stayed in one of the five Ridge Suites which, in addition to providing a great view of the beautiful landscape, had a gas stove in the bedroom and a round wood-burning fireplace in the living room (where the kids slept a pull-out sofa); a generous dressing room; a superbly organized minibar; an outdoor shower; and best of all, a cedar hot tub sunk into the deck that turned out to be the perfect spot to watch a sunset.
Food and drink
The resort’s restaurant is called Clay, after the sticky, tough but rewarding soil that nurtures the crops grown on the property. Clay, which is open seven nights a week and is geared towards serving the needs of the local community as well as Wildflower customers, offers an eclectic, New American menu with pan-Asian accents full of unexpected delights. Order a bunch of small plates, which are all wonderful; a mysterious and haunting dish of celeriac with dates and a succulent squab stand out in my memory, as well as an incredible dry-aged porterhouse for two (or three, or four), cooked over an open fire and served with Szechuan peppercorns and a white bean chimichurri that makes a delicious evening treat. Also, if you go to Clay for brunch, you have to order the cinnamon roll, even if you’re not the pastry type; it will ruin you for more cinnamon rolls, but it will be worth it. The menus, in addition to being seasonal, vary depending on whether you are at the Clay or the Great Porch. Sitting by a crackling fire on the latter, I had one of the most wonderful cocktails in recent memory, a hauntingly romantic concoction of rye, Campari and Cardamaro (a lovely Italian wine-based aperitif that I clearly need to know better), alongside delicious warm olives and spicy nuts.
Thistle is a major focus for Wildflower, with a range of treatments that incorporate plants grown on the farm or elsewhere on the property. Prior to their treatment, guests can lounge on daybeds by the serene indoor saltwater pool and adjacent sauna. (There’s also a lovely outdoor pool and two hot tubs, just steps from the entrance, and a generous room for couples’ treatments.) A nice touch: the bone broth tub alongside the teas and usual nuts.
Wildflower is located in one of the most classic and accessible corners of the Catskills, just two hours north of town. The historic 17th century hamlet of New Paltz is the closest regional point of interest, with the excellent restaurants of the fast-moving river town of Kingston a little to the north and the beloved villages of Woodstock and Saugerties a little further. far. For hikers, bikers, and mountaineers, the Gunks are right there, and countless trails and natural wonders are a short drive away, either side of the Hudson River. Many great art destinations in the area including Storm King, Dia Beacon and Opus 40, not to mention the many notable galleries that have opened in the area.
Warm, genuine and diligent, but still somewhat disorganized. Perhaps that was to be expected, as Wildflower hadn’t even been open for a week yet, and achieving consistent, high-quality service has been an elusive challenge for nearly every upstate property. over the past two years. But given the kind of experience it promises (and its price), Wildflower has to become a well-oiled machine, which I have no doubt.
You hope a luxury resort in the Hudson Valley would be a great place for families, and Wildflower delivers on that promise, without compromising on its core mission of being a one-of-a-kind adult sanctuary. The main way it achieves this, besides just being a beautiful place in the country, is by carefully packaging its experiences on the farm. My kids loved learning about what’s grown on the six-acre farm during a tour with Jax Hughes, one of Widlflower’s handsome ‘farm farmers’, who looks like he’s just stepped out of the pages of a life magazine of your best rustic life and has proven to be natural with children. After that, he took us into the woods to plant railings. Another day we visited the chicken coop and collected some eggs which we brought to Clay to make for breakfast (the extras we gave away to friends later) and fed beets to some of the pigs. more attractive than we have ever seen. There is also an extensive network of trails through woods and meadows, and a natural playground with a small zipline. There’s no kids’ club, and there aren’t enough activities (at least not yet) to keep a family busy for more than a few days on the property, but the surrounding area is a kid’s paradise. families, and as Wildflower adds new experiences (like classes at its Maplehouse cooking school), it will become an even more family-friendly destination.
A preservationist mindset motivated the purchase of this area by the Rapaports and informs how it is used. Only 4% of the land has been developed and 54 of the property’s 141 acres have been subject to a conservation easement, 33 of which are in agricultural conservation to support continued agriculture in the Hudson Valley. The station design was designed to achieve Energy Star certification.
Additionally, the resort participates in community solar as a way to reduce its carbon footprint and reduce greenhouse gas emissions while supporting the regional economy with clean, locally generated electricity. Wildflower Farms also rightly views education as central to its sustainability mission; his various farm experiences, including those my family participated in, were designed not only to be fun, but also to promote the preservation of heritage breeds and small local farms.
All public areas of the hotel have accessible entrances and pathways. There are also accessible spaces in the self-parking lot, and accessible transportation can be arranged with advance notice. The exercise area, swimming pool and hot tub are all accessible. The hotel offers four accessible cabins and suites in total, across all three room categories.
Anything else to mention?
While I’ve talked about the farm experiences as great for families, they’re also great fun for single adults, and the resort offers a bunch of other nature immersions that are geared more towards adults, including including forest bathing, foraging, lessons in pickling and preserving, flower arranging, snowshoeing and much more. More comes too, from classes at Maplehouse to a farm stand to outdoor dining experiences among cultures.
The complex also includes several private gathering spaces, both around Clay and in the soon-to-open barn at Maplehouse, which seem tailor-made for weddings and other celebrations. One last thing: I challenge you, when checking in or out, not to buy anything wonderful – a gardening tool or a Saipua bar of soap or a set of towels or a poncho – from the shop beautifully curated (designed by Gardenheir New York), where the reception is located.