This Month’s Featured Article

Overnight Adventures

By Published On: June 3rd, 2023

It’s a celebratory year for Gatherwild Ranch – a glamping destination that initially opened in New York’s Germantown area in 2017. After operating for six years, the luxe habitat faced challenges regarding zoning legislation, which prompted the business to cease operation.

Luckily, the close-knit community surrounding Gatherwild Ranch pitched in to save it. Beyond showing their support via a letter-writing campaign that resulted in 50 letters, neighbors and friends rallied by showing up to voice their opinions at local zoning board meetings. After one year of local and legal challenges, Gatherwild Ranch was granted a “use variance” to operate again in Germantown. This means that the ranch can use or operate its property in a manner typically restricted by zoning requirements.

The reopening

In June, the upscale glamping destination will re-open with a few upgrades, including revamped spaces and amenities. Gatherwild’s eight curated spaces will be welcoming outdoors adventurers – and those who are more inclined to shelter indoors – for some serenity and R&R amidst the countryside’s trees, rolling pastures, and open sky, which is punctuated with twinkling stars.

Gatherwild Ranch’s accommodations infuse a bit of glam into the traditional camping excursion. Guests can enjoy immersing themselves in nature while indulging in many of the comforts of home. For those wondering what’s so luxurious about Gatherwild Ranch’s experience, founder and owner, Laura Sink said it’s about showing up with nothing but your clothing. That means no tent in tow as well as no need to pack bedding, bug spray or food and beverages. “We provide luxury linens, beds, and the basics for your stay – from soaps and toiletries to cooking and eating utensils, bug spray, and wine openers. All tents are elevated on wooden platforms, for a degree of separation from nature and a comfortable stay,” said Sink.

This year, Gatherwild Ranch offers a mod bathhouse facility complete with flushing toilets and Moroccan artisan-tiled showers with a view of the orchard and Hudson Valley skyline. The ranch’s grounds provide several covered areas for lounging (complete with air conditioning – how’s that for luxury camping?) and a wood stove heated library.

Each uniquely designed accommodation offers propane heat for the chillier months (it is open May through October), and outdoor sprinklers for cooling off on those scorching summer days. Staff is always onsite to make the glamping experience as effortless and exceptional as possible.

Curated shelters

According to Sink, glamorous camping has become a recognizable concept. “It definitely appeals to people in urban environments who don’t want to lug any camping gear, but it also appeals to those that might want to stay in a fancy hotel. It’s like a hotel under the stars with better smells and sounds,” she said.

There are a total of eight unique accommodations or “sites,” which are a combination of cabins and upscale bell tents. The price ranges between $175 and $375, depending on whether overnighters are booking on a weeknight or weekend and which accommodation was selected. “Hopefully that provides an opportunity for everyone to stay,” said Sink.

Among the accommodations are The Pink House – a charming bungalow equipped with a queen-size bed. Discreetly situated, The Pink House boasts a private sun deck, hammock, picnic table, fire pit, and Adirondack chairs.

There’s also the Caravan – a tiny artisan-designed and made caravan on wheels. It sleeps two in its full-size bed and entices with its picture window, private picnic table, firepit, and Adirondack chairs.

Other accommodations include the A-Frame, another artist-designed and -made cabin that fuses a modern vibe with a rustic aesthetic. Appropriate for two or a small family of three, it features a queen-size bed, rooftop deck, private picnic table, firepit, and Adirondack chairs. The A-Frame boasts AC and is equipped with electricity.

The most spacious and traditional of all is the Guest House – a renovated offset of an 1850s farmhouse that is modernized with AC, electricity, an in-house coffee maker, and reliable wi-fi. A small sun porch is ideal for sipping coffee, unwinding with a book, or remote working if that’s in your schedule.

There are also a few options that are true to the traditional tent experience. The Stargazer Tent offers on-site parking with a potential for electricity – upon request. Situated close to the bathhouse, Stargazer is ideal for families and couples. It boasts a queen-size bed, but can easily accommodate up to one additional adult or two children. Located in a private space at the back of the orchard, the Luxury Tent has a low deck that overlooks the landscape. It also has a private picnic table, firepit, and Adirondack chairs.

In addition to a king-sized bed, the Luxury Tent offers the largest sunbathing deck. Placed in a central location, it is ideal for families or couples and can accommodate up to one additional adult or two children. Surrounded by private grassy knolls, the Luxury Tent has a private picnic table, firepit, wi-fi service, and Adirondack chairs.

Offering a spectacular view of the ridgeline, the Firefly Tent entails the longest walk from the bathhouse and parking area. Ideal for those who pack lighter, it has a private picnic table, firepit, and Adirondack chairs.

Finally, there’s the Upstate Tent, which also offers a view of the ridgeline. It features a cantilevered deck that overlooks the pasture and promises a stunning sunrise when weather permits. It has a full-size bed, spacious deck, and private picnic table, firepit, and Adirondack chairs. 

In the evening, solar lights glow inside all tents without electricity, and the stargazing at Gatherwild is spectacular.

Inspiration and experience

“I could never have fulfilled this vision without my husband, artist and co-dreamer, Paul Jacobsen,” admitted Sink. The vision was built on a creative journey and personal need for Sink to create with her own hands.

The entrepreneur has always enjoyed designing and building. “The idea of creating beautiful small shelters meets my artistic desires as well as the criteria for a practical application. Shelter is a fundamental need, and building that on one’s own is very empowering,” she added. 

Sink credits Jacobsen for the design and build of the A-frame and Caravan, which she believes are the most adorable micro shelters on the property. “He builds small wooden models first to link the vision in his mind to a plan of action. Sharing this with others is part of the great joy. We have really found a spectacular connection to nature here and it’s exciting to see guests from the city get to experience that from the comfort and wonders of their little magical accommodation,” said Sink.

A former industrial designer and engineer in New York City, Sink practiced her trade for 12 years before relocating to the Hudson Valley to launch Gatherwild. “I suppose I still use the tools and skills that I learned in design school and throughout my career in a more freeform environment and with less toxic materials. I occasionally still 3D model and render out my ideas,” she mentioned.

As for Jacobsen, he remains a full-time artist and occasionally takes on projects at Gatherwild. The site’s tractor and mower have become his tools for sculpting the landscape.

Relax or explore

Gatherwild Ranch’s premises are ideal for unwinding with a book, practicing meditation or yoga stretches, or doing whatever guests fancy during their down time. Upon awakening in this nature-centric environment, visitors can opt to partake in various activities. “A lot of favorite activities revolve around petting the goats and watching the ducks on the pond from your spot on one of the lounge chairs,” said Sink.

For those looking for some old-fashioned fun, Gatherwild boasts a game room complete with ping pong and cornhole as well as other fun games. It also offers complimentary bikes that guests are welcome to borrow for leisurely cruises around the area. “We find the casual meetings of a few guests throughout the property are more ideal than planned group events. The community element happens rather organically. People love to have their fires directly at their sites and see the glow illuminating their cozy accommodations,” said Sink.

A morning ritual includes Gatherwild’s team collecting eggs at its on-site coop and providing complimentary coffee in the community kitchen. Gatherwild offers a tour of the ranch and pick-your-own sessions in the garden depending on what’s in season. The grounds are also home to a camp shop and at press time, Gatherwild’s team was working on obtaining canoe access on the Hudson River via a local guide.

Since Gatherwild is immersed in the rolling countryside, of course there are lots of great hikes for those who like to explore. A few mild hikes in the region include Poet’s Walk Park and Tivoli Bays, but there are also more challenging hikes such as Overlook Fire Tower in Woodstock for more extreme peaks and views.

The team at Gatherwild offers a list of nearby shops, cafes, breweries, and cideries as well as art space offerings, including Art Omi and Olana State Historic Site. Other ideas on the list include enjoying a picnic or floating down the river on a canoe.

Dining options

This season, guests can enjoy breakfast on site. “We are creating a breakfast basket this year, which contains local produce, local meat, and eggs straight from the chicken and duck coops,” said Sink. Lunch and dinner options include cooking in the shared outdoor kitchen space, complete with a rooftop deck, or grilling at your own glamping site. For those who yearn to dine out, there are lots of options in Hudson, Rhinebeck, and neighboring towns.

What an experience

I had the pleasure of staying at Gatherwild in 2018 on a fun anniversary adventure. Although it poured, it was romantic, cozy, and warm in our stylish tent. “Feedback has been positive and people recognize the very special experience. It’s so nice to have return guests say that their experience was the highlight of their year, and we see a lot of special occasions,” said Sink.

Several guests have told Sink that one person in their party vibes with the great outdoors while the other does not, so Gatherwild checks all the boxes for a “perfect low-pressure introduction to nature.”

2023 and beyond

Sink is excited to offer many upgrades this coming season. “We put some workshops in the books, so stay tuned for botanical dying, burlesque camp, and wellness retreats,” concludes Sink. That sounds like an interesting and innovative lineup. I’m certainly making plans to revisit Gatherwild this summer or fall. •