Old Stone Farm, Staatsburg, NY
What happens when a successful Long Island businessman, with a social conscience and a desire to “give back,” dies suddenly, leaving a 236-acre farm in Dutchess County to his horse-loving, yoga teacher wife? The result is Old Stone Farm, a “boutique retreat and wellness center,” born from Sherry Kahn’s eff ort to keep her husband Stu’s dream alive.
Kahn has ambitious plans for the property and its impeccably restored stone houses and barns. Old Stone Farm is both an inn and conference center that Kahn hopes can grow into Stu’s vision to foster “spiritual development, deep education, entrepreneurship, and global change in an atmosphere of openheartedness and natural beauty.”
The natural beauty is unmistakable. Entering the property from Route 9G’s prosaic stretch of gas stations and straggly trees, visitors are greeted with a sudden view of idyllic horse country: barns, fences, and rolling hills. The property is picture-perfect and absurdly pastoral, with fl ocks of Canadian geese, grazing horses, and bounding deer.
Old Stone Farm is meant to be a sanctuary, and no detail is ignored. “We like to pretend there are no cars here,” off ers Kahn, and indeed, there is not a car in sight. The farm suff ers none of the smells and noises of most working farms; it is more like the living evocation of a work by romantic painter George Stubbs— relaxation is unavoidable.
The buildings are light-fi lled, with a spare, Colonial New England feeling, yet are much more comfortable than our forefathers would have dared imagine. There are 10 guestrooms above the spa, each named for one of the farm’s well-loved horses. Assembled over the years, Kahn’s liberal collection of naïf paintings and Americana adds a charming aspect of discovery around each turn. Stay packages include meals meticulously crafted to each guest’s preference, which are served in three intimate dining rooms.
Housed in a reassembled historic barn, the spa is organized around hisand-hers locker rooms, designed with 18th-century-style built-in cabinetry throughout, and off ers a nod to early 20th-century spa culture through its vintage lockers and tile work. Everywhere, a disarming sense of quiet prevails.
A full array of massage modalities is available in three traditional massage rooms, including therapeutic massage, hot-stone treatments, and aromatherapy. These are deeply carpeted sanctuaries to relaxation, endowed with plush tables covered in Frette linens. The spa also offers custom-built cedar steam-cabinets for sweating as Edgar Cayce recommended (the head remains cool), and a wet room for scrubs, wraps, and panchakarma—treatments based on ancient Indian Ayurvedic principles of health.
Perched atop a hill is the yoga barn, a well-equipped studio for classes with exposed beams and a two-story grid of windows framing magnificent views. Recent workshop subjects include dream decoding, yoga, and mystical Judaism.
Like a platonic ideal that seems too good to be true, yet with perfection easily recognized, Old Stone Farm is a labor of love, informed by a vision. “I try to hear what Stu is saying to me,” Kahn admits. Her project embodies a strange and beautiful marriage of horse culture, spiritual seeking, and luxury accommodations.