Editor’s Note: Travel, dining and wine tasting can be complicated right now. Use our inspirational ideas to plan ahead for your next outing, be it this week or next year.
How many times have you gone on vacation only to return home feeling, well, like you needed another vacation?
Finding the time and place to relax is more important than ever. But getting away from it all can prove a challenge—especially right now. Amid coronavirus concerns and restrictions, US travelers are finding new ways to unwind by seeking out getaways that offer “fresh air, bucolic scenery, and ample room for physical distancing,” according to Business Insider. Unique accommodations such as treehouses and airstreams are growing in popularity, along with the latest travel trend: farm stays.
A recently opened property in Healdsburg, NewTree Ranch, is tapping into these travel trends by offering guests a breath of fresh air, plenty of space to roam and an opportunity to connect with the land.
Wellness with a twist
Less than 15 minutes from downtown Healdsburg, yet far away from the crowds, the secluded NewTree Ranch bills itself as a wellness retreat. But, unlike other wellness retreats, which tend to be heavily regimented, it puts the guests in charge of their experience.
If you want to spend your stay working remotely, lounging by the pool, and going for the occasional walk, you can do so. But if you would like a more immersive experience—connecting with nature, unleashing your creativity, unblocking your emotions, or confronting traumas, fears and anxieties—then this can be arranged, too.
NewTree Ranch’s particular approach to wellness is based on the idea that, by disconnecting with the outside world and reconnecting with ourselves, we can shift our perspective and achieve a more relaxed state of being. Co-founder and CEO Edward Newell experienced this for himself when he gave up a busy career in the corporate world to start this Healdsburg retreat. He says he used to work constantly, taking more than a dozen flights each month and spending most night in hotels, working until he went to bed.
“Now I’m relaxed all the time,” said Newell, noting how he used to seek out something like a massage in order to unwind. “Relaxed is a state of being, but we grow up thinking it’s something to be provided externally,” he added.
A ranch of one’s own
Another aspect that makes NewTree Ranch stand out from other retreats is the amount of privacy it provides to its guests. There’s only one guest accommodation on the property—The Ranch Estate, which sleeps 8. If you book a stay (minimum stay is four nights), you’ll have the 120-acre property all to yourself—sharing space only with the owners and the staff, plus a few animals. All of this comes at a price, of course: $4000 per night for the ranch estate.
The ranch estate has four bedrooms and bathrooms, a large living room with fireplace, a spacious kitchen, a formal dining room, and numerous light-filled nooks to relax in, including an outdoor lounge area with a fire pit, dining table and a solar-heated pool. Guests also have access to a glamping safari tent, complete with a hot tub on the deck.
Cellphone service is spotty at the ranch and while the estate does have wifi, this is the only place where guests can get a good signal. Newell mentioned that a few guests have requested to have the internet turned off from Saturday to Sunday noon. “People love that,” he said, “(they) really notice how they connect more (with each other) in those 24 hours.”
A cold plunge
NewTree Ranch offers an array of wellness experiences—some included, some for an additional cost.
It’s up to each guest to tailor their stay according to their own interest, and comfort level. Some visitors might play things simple—collecting eggs from the lively chicken coop, taking a plant-based cooking class, or spending time with the two Scottish Highlander cows, Kathy and Eddie, a spirited donkey named Fuzzy, and other animals that reside on the ranch. Others might dive deeper, booking experiences such as the “lakeside sound journey” with Tibetan singing bowls, or challenge themselves by spending an afternoon learning breathing techniques—part of what’s called the Wim Hof Method—before taking a dip in a bathtub filled with ice water.
Each experience at NewTree Ranch is intended to provide a fresh perspective and healing to the participant. The sound journey, for example, aims to “align and restore energy fields, and release tension or stress,” while the Wim Hof experience allows participants to “reconnect with the body’s inner wisdom.” The Wim Hof Method instructor at NewTree Ranch, Chuck McGee, says that the ice bath part of the experience is intended to train the body to better handle stress, pain and difficult circumstances.
While the idea of being submerged in ice water may seem extreme and anxiety inducing, Wim Hof—a Dutch extreme athlete—has attracted millions of followers worldwide, who swear his method has cured everything from depression to diabetes.
Farm-to-table for real
Newell, who lives on the ranch, wants to show people where their food is coming from and guests can expect the real-deal farm-to-table experience.
The plant-based culinary program at NewTree Ranch is led by chef Matteo Silverman, who sources ingredients for his dishes from the onsite biodynamic farm. Guests pay extra for these meals and can choose from a variety of board options ranging from $50 to $110 per person, per day.
The menu at NewTree Ranch changes with the seasons. On a recent visit, dishes included welcome crudités with creamy eggplant baba ganoush and dried apples with walnut butter; whole spelt pizza topped with shishitocini (shishito peppers pickled like pepperoncini) and fresh-picked veggies for dinner; pink ravioli made from two slices of watermelon radish stuffed with thyme-scented cashew cheese and topped with a Thai basil puree; and chia seed pudding or a savory autumn vegetable frittata for breakfast. Most meals are paired with fresh juices, like honeydew and melon, watermelon lime agua fresca, or a verbena cucumber refresher.
If guests would prefer to cook their own meals, they can do so in the ranch house’s expansive kitchen, making use of fresh ingredients from the farm or bringing their own produce.
3600 Wallace Creek Road, Healdsburg, 707-433-9643, newtreeranch.com