Photos courtesy of Wildflower Farms
The Auberge Resorts Collection hotel welcomes guests with bespoke accommodations and unforgettable experiences.
Wildflower Farms wants guests to go home with a story.
A good story, of course, and one filled with adventure and exploration. Think the type of story you tell to friends over dinner or dream longingly about as the hustle and bustle of life sounds around you.
With a prime location near the Shawangunk Mountains in Ulster County, Wildflower Farms makes it easy for visitors to do just that. Open since fall 2022, the hotel is a partnership between owners and managing partners Phillip Rapoport, Kristin Rapoport, and Zachary Kleinhandler. It’s part of the Auberge Resorts brand, a collection of luxury hotels and resorts with a presence throughout the United States and across the globe.
According to Philip Rapoport, it was a love of the Hudson Valley that prompted the trio to craft a one-of-a-kind resort in the region.
“Fifteen years ago, my wife, Kristin, and I came to the Hudson Valley for the first time and immediately fell in love with Gardiner,” he explains. “Several years later, we purchased the site for Wildflower Farms and embarked on a seven-year journey to create something that has never existed in the destination.”
Indeed, Wildflower Farms is a standout concept in the region. Part resort, part farm-to-table hotspot, part natural escape, the hotel seeks to find a harmonious presence within the Hudson Valley. Stays here are all about chances to unwind in nature and experience the myriad activities the surrounding area has to offer.
“We created Wildflower Farms around an appreciation for nature as a form of luxury,” Philip Rapoport notes “For people with fast-paced lives, something simple like pulling a carrot from the soil or enjoying a ripe tomato directly from the vine can feel incredible luxurious. Wildflower Farms offers guests design that is rooted in nature, easy access to hiking, locally curated experiences, outstanding cuisine, and a hyper-customized yet warm approach to service.”
Speaking of the décor, it’s the sort of aesthetic that immediately invites you to take a deep breath and feel at home. Architectural firm Electric Bowery designed the space to evoke the atmosphere of a country home that has been shaped by memories and stories over the years. Inside, Ward + Gray tapped into early design movements in New York with a charming nod to the region through motifs of the land surrounding the property. Open windows feature prominently throughout the design, inviting guests to stop and admire what is perhaps the most inspiring element of all: the Hudson Valley.
In regard to the rooms, guests at Wildflower Farms have a choice from among 65 bespoke accommodations. For families and couples, the 60 freestanding cabins offer space to move around while still feeling connected with nature through private patios and lounge areas. The five Ridge Suites add even more luxury to stays here, thanks to breathtaking views of the Shawangunk Ridge, multiple private terraces, indoor and outdoor showers and fireplaces, and a private hot tub (because you know you want it). Accessible rooms are available as well.
And did we mention the amenities? Look to the mini-bar for a curated offering of local and socially conscious snacks selected by Rachel Krupa’s NYC-based The Goods Mart. In the bathroom, custom cedarwood soaps from SAIPUA pair with towels from Hudson’s MINNA. For book lovers, a delightful selection of large-format books from Phaidon touch on topics like gardens and nature.
Once guests settle into their rooms, it’s time to experience all that Wildflower Farms has to offer. And we do mean experience, since the resort offers an ample selection of customized things to do that incorporate seasonality and tap into the vibrancy of the region. Throughout the year, guests can feed the chickens and collect eggs to be used at the restaurant, tour the farm, take wellness classes, and hike along the three miles of onsite trails. The Green Room lets visitors explore the sounds of New York artists and sample spirits from the Hudson Valley. A short stroll away, Tuthilltown Distillery is the perfect place to take a tour, with special single-barrel tasting tours available for Wildflower Farms guests at select times each day.
Depending on the season, Wildflower Farms makes sure to incorporate several special activities as well. In late-fall and winter, for instance, guests can take up everything from pressed flower pottery and making their own floral focaccia to pickling and preserving and stargazing in nature. For guests who want a hands-on experience, the Maplehouse serves as an onsite, interactive farm education center that offers weekly cooking classes and events throughout the year.
“We wanted to create an antidote to urban life that honored and respected the beautiful nature of our area,” Philip Rapoport notes. “We built this resort to offer the type of guest experience we were looking for ourselves – design that is rooted in nature, with easy access to hiking, wellbeing experiences, outstanding cuisine, and warm service. This is a very personal project that we are deeply passionate about, and we are elated to finally welcome friends, family, and travelers from around the world to this extraordinary destination.”
With such an emphasis on the Hudson Valley, it’s hardly a surprise that Wildflower Farms boasts a tempting farm-to-table dining program, too. The focal point is Clay, the restaurant which resides in the resort’s main building. Helmed by Chef Rob Lawson, Clay serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner with an emphasis on rustic, New-American cuisine. On the menu, the theme of storytelling is once again present, since Lawson tells food stories with each dish through the uses of ingredients sourced from local farms and crafted in ode to the region that surrounds the restaurant.
Speaking of the ingredients, they’re often as local as it gets, with many of them coming straight from Wildflower’s very own farm. In addition to the six-acre organic fruit and vegetable farm, the property also features orchards, a culinary mushroom farm, aromatic herb and flower gardens, and a heritage breed animal program. Founding farmers Jax Hughes and Brady Loux focus on growing for flavor, with an emphasis on unique varietals that evoke different tastes and textures. On the restaurant’s menu, these ingredients find homes in dishes like garden milk bread with summer tomatoes, farm eggs with honeynut squash, and Wildflower Farms pork chops with chicory and Anson Mills grits.
And what’s a decadent dinner without a spot of vino to pair with it? Led by Wine Director Vanessa Price, a sommelier and author in her own right, the hotel’s wine program features wines that emphasize New York State vintners, with a special section on the menu just for them. Conveniently, the restaurant also has a dedicated section for wines under $100, aptly dubbed the “100 under $100” list.
While Clay may be the main attraction when it comes to dining at Wildflower Farms, it’s not the only one. In season from May to September, the Dew Bar resides along the property’s outdoor swimming pool and is a hub for warm-weather bites and sips. For coffee and pastries, The Great Porch is the perfect place to savor a light breakfast while admiring views of the Shawangunks. Throughout the year, seasonal dining is a focal point across the property, with everything from orchard wood-fired pop-ups to farm dinners under the stars and Miele kitchen tasting experiences available.
Looking ahead, Wildflower Farms is excited to further develop it experiential offerings in the Hudson Valley.
“In 2023, you will see a host of activities come to life at Maplehouse, our interactive farm education center where chefs test new recipes, farmers hang their harvest up to dry, and local artisans offer pottery and baking workshops inspired by the seasons,” reveals Kristin Soong Rapoport. “We are excited about our upcoming visiting chef programming, which will provide Wildflower Farms guests with intimate opportunities to get hands on with some of the world’s most decorated chefs through meaningful conversations, classes, and events.”
Kicking things off in 2023, Wildflower Farms will welcome Gramercy Tavern’s Chef Michael Anthony during January 27 and 28. A number of wellness partnerships and retreats are in the works as well. For the full lineup of upcoming programming, visit the resort’s website.