As an over-achieving and over-taxed New Yorker myself, I often look for ways to take short getaways to replenish my energy and spirits. Generally that entails LEAVING New York City whenever I can! So when it is possible, I find a good friend, a good book and kick back on a Metro-North train heading up the Hudson River.
To me, there is nothing more relaxing than watching the river waters drift easefully along the foothills of the Hudson River Valley. It does something to soothe the mind and stir the soul””and this particular weekend, it is exactly what the doctor ordered!
My objective is to capture a bit of this river's serenity and hold it captive over my 2-day weekend stay. My destination this time? Buttermilk Falls Inn & Spa in Milton, NY.
Upon arrival at Buttermilk Falls, we are graciously picked up by one of our hosts, Malin Nilsson, wife of Robert Pollock, the inn”™s owner. Having a good friend in common, I am assured of an extra special weekend!
Robert and Malin are gracious hosts and tell us about the history of the Inn dating back to its early beginnings as a trading post in 1680. Intrigued by this detail, I take a peak at the common sitting room of the main house and quickly decide it is a place to crash down into a plush sofa and take a nap for the first hour! Funny how complete silence can exhaust you!
Exploring the Natural Landscape
After my nap, it is time for a tour of the grounds. The landscape is simply breathtaking as the Inn is situated on 75 acres of lush gardens and rich farmland nestled gently along the banks of the Hudson. As we cross over the bridge at Swan Pond, we are invited to explore some of the most beautiful natural treasures. At every turn, we are greeted by wildflowers and grasses and beautifully orchestrated art installations that seem somehow organic to the land. Old style country directional signs designate pathways to all attractions: the river, spa, rooms, farm, and restaurant. Following the signs, we walk down the terraced gardens to the river below and sit along the bank for a couple hours and listen to the birds while lounging on a comfortable chaise longue. It almost seems surreal. They have seriously thought of every luxurious detail!
After what appears to be my second nap, my girlfriend and I head back up to the main house and join the owners for a BBQ on the outdoor terrace overlooking the river. With a hearty glass of local red wine and some homegrown vegetables from their on-site organic farm, I have decided I am in paradise. After dinner, we take a walk up to Millstone Farm, the Inn”™s own 40-acre organic farm that supplies all the fruits, vegetables and herbs for the Inn”™s kitchens and restaurants. The farm also features the Aviary House, the home of the Inn”™s heritage breed chickens and peacocks. Who knew they got along so well? It is pretty impressive to watch them interact.
Since we are in the mode of playing with the animals, we head on over to the farms other livestock area””a sanctuary preserve where Llamas, Angora Goats and Alpacas (who were recently rescued) are allowed to roam free along four natural acres. It is truly a unique experience to see these beautiful creatures happy in their natural environment.
The next morning when we awaken, we head over to Buttermilk Spa for a yoga class. The spa is situated on over 70 acres of cascading lawns, winding streams and is footsteps from the actual Buttermilk Falls from which the Inn gets its name. The spa follows a green philosophy utilizing solar and geo-thermal energy to heat its sauna, steam room and infinity pool. The spa also offers a bevvy of all-natural and organic products as well as well-being services such as acupuncture, healing therapy, reflexology, massage, facials and mani/pedis. The spa is also now serving up a healthy organic spa lunch either poolside or outside “picnic style” on the beautiful grounds.
Barn House Yoga
Yearning for more yoga (as I always do), I asked about a dedicated yoga studio with a daily class schedule and was told that Buttermilk is (as we speak) building a yoga and pilates studio in the Barn overlooking the farm”™s fields. It is a 2,500 square foot space currently being transformed into a serene yoga and pilates studio with four massive picture windows with idyllic views and private bathrooms and changing facilities””slated to open Oct. 20, 2011. Hhmmm”¦ wondering if they need a full time yoga teacher? Not a bad deal to get to live up here!
Buttermilk Falls has the most unique accommodations I have experienced in this particular area. Stylistically, it sports a combination of beautifully restored rooms circa 1764 in the Anning Smith Main House as well as a former barn and five freestanding guesthouses. All 17 guest rooms and suites are restored exquisitely to the charm of the period while still incorporating the latest in modern conveniences and luxury. The newer freestanding houses enjoy the latest in modern design and elegance. Having a strong interest in design, the owner, Robert Pollock has created spaces that are visually exciting and sensually engaging.
Henry”™s at Buttermilk
Now on to my favorite attraction! Being a real foodie and an Ayurvedic Nutritionist, I yearn for real local, fresh and organic fare and Buttermilk has recently launched the talent of Chef Paul Kelly to deliver on just that. Henry”™s is the exciting new farm-to-table restaurant, named after the owner”™s son. This restaurant features the best in organic local cuisine securing most of the restaurant”™s resources amidst its 40-acre farm including fresh berries, vegetables, free-range eggs, herbs and freshly harvested (without cruelty) from the farm”™s beehives. The cuisine is a celebration of the fare and bounty of the Hudson River Valley. Everything is either harvested on property or sourced locally from other farms and artisan producers. The wine list is also largely secured from the Hudson Valley and Finger Lake regions. For special engagements, Henry”™s features a unique 10-person Chef”™s Table in the kitchen. I have hence decided where my next birthday celebration will be!
My getaway weekend has sadly come to a close but not without experiencing a deep relaxation in the heart of the Hudson River Valley. If you are looking to get away for a short weekend, you are really only 1.5 hours away from the most extraordinary healing experience. Spread out over 70 acres of river-edge property, you will surely forget you are anywhere near New York City. Buttermilk Falls Inn & Spa does not disappoint. It is not your typical B&B. It combines natural wildlife preserve with organic living and well-being sensibilities. This eco-friendly establishment reminds us how to commune in harmony with nature and to co-exist peacefully and sustainably. Nature is indeed our true home and Buttermilk Falls celebrates that premise every day.