Blue Hills Farm: Putting the glamour into ‘glamping’
Text | Photographs: Cass Collins
A whole generation of Americans grew up with a back-to-the-earth philosophy. “Close to nature” was close to their hearts. The Woodstock Nation reveled in mud. Then they grew up. Sleeping in flannel bags on insulated pads didn’t cut it anymore. Their comfortable homes had softened them. Years of hard work made them appreciate the chi-opening worthiness of a steaming hot shower after a day communing with nature. Then there’s the need for a bathroom in the middle of the night… For those people, “glamping” was invented.
Joining the previously incongruous words ‘glamour’ and ‘camping,’ glamping is a new phenomenon that appears to be catching on like a wildfire in a dry season. For Jane Luchsinger, a ‘glampsite’ seemed the perfect use for her 35 acres of fields and woodland bordering a hunting camp in Lava, NY.
A log cabin in the trees
In 2002, Jane and her husband Jaxon, who died in 2006, built a fantasy structure on their property that married their two different but compatible ideas of an outdoor room. His concept was a log cabin. Jane wanted a tree-house. The log cabin in the trees was created as a close-to-home getaway for the couple, whose adult daughter Claudine owns a house down the road. The structure was built into the edge of a stand of Norway Spruce trees that Jane has since carefully trimmed to create an oasis of shade. It originally served as a place the couple enjoyed for cocktail hour. Now, it is a breakfast room for Jane’s bed and breakfast tent campsite, Blue Hills Farm.
The treehouse has a sturdy staircase that leads to a treetop room with windows and a solid wood floor. Everything at Blue Hills is solid. This is not the tree-house of your childhood. It boasts antique furnishings and is completely secure from the elements. Down on the ground, there is a seating area and an antique stove that Jane rescued from a chicken coop on her property and had converted to use with propane. It’s where she now prepares omelets to order for her overnight guests. She recently served dinner for 12 in the pine grove for a group of friends.
Guests of Blue Hills Farm are treated to a four-course breakfast according to their own schedule. A cold raspberry soup is accompanied by an assortment of fresh-baked goods, including Jane’s special rhubarb walnut crumb muffins, and an egg-based casserole with sausage, onion and cheese, according to her guest’s preference. An orange juice and lemon-lime spritzer freshens the palate, and china service sets the glamorous tone of the meal. An old working Victrola is one of many antiques Jane selected for her airy breakfast room from local stores like Bridgewater Mercantile in Jeffersonville, NY and Domesticities in Youngsville, NY.
Luxuries of home
The tree-house breakfast room is part two of a stay at Blue Hills Farm. Overnight quarters are a short walk away in the 16-by-20-foot tent/house. The tent is a custom-made canvas structure that is hitched to a solid reclaimed oak platform. It is fully screened, and a bathroom befitting a luxury home is attached to the tent by a sliding barn door. The tiled bathroom boasts a two-person spa-jetted shower with a pebbled tile floor and custom-designed electric wall sconces. An electric heater in the style of a woodstove keeps toes cozy in the mountain air. Antique wood planes, repurposed as towel hooks, are among the many inventive designs in the interior.
A trip to Blue Hills Farm—Blue Hills was a name given to the Catskills by early settlers—starts with an ATV ride from Jane’s red and white cottage on Route 52 through a leafy forest path. The sturdy tan canvas tent sits in a clearing among old oak and maple trees. Graceful hand-wrought twig chairs grace the porch above a welcoming flagstone. The tent is furnished with comfortably upholstered furniture, including a loveseat and chair and a carved-oak queen-sized bed with a Tempurpedic mattress. Crisp linens are topped with a bedspread custom-made by the proprietress, who is at home with a needle and thread, among her many other talents. When you call for reservations, Jane asks for your shoe size along with your dietary requirements, so she can whip up a pair of custom-felted slippers for your stay.
This is Blue Hills’ inaugural season and although it was built to cater to couples, the first guests were a father and son celebrating the son’s college graduation with a guided fishing trip on the Delaware River with local fishing guide Tony Ritter. When the two men arrived at the campsite, the son said, “Dad, we made the right choice.” It would be hard to make a bad choice at Blue Hills Farm. Nearby attractions include Bethel Woods Center For The Arts (site of the original 1969 Woodstock Festival), Fort Delaware the Upper Delaware Recreational Area the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance in Narrowsburg and many fine fishing and swimming areas as well as antiques and art galleries.
Rates are $200 per couple per night, plus tax, and include a full breakfast (and slippers!) Blue Hills accepts reservations from June 1 through November 1. For more information call Jane Luchsinger at 845/252-3864.