New: Gray Barn Inn opens at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary in High Falls - BlueStone Press
August 21, 2019

New: Gray Barn Inn opens at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary in High Falls

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The Woodstock Farm Sanctuary has taken a decidedly luxe turn with the opening of the Gray Barn Inn, a from-the-ground-up new construction inn featuring five en suite rooms. The structure itself feels a bit as if a modernist fell in love with a farmer: a classic barn shape cleverly subverted by clean lines, modern angles, and tall windows. Local starchitect Marica McKeel of Studio MM is responsible for the daring, modern design, which beautifully contrasts its rural context. Based in NYC and upstate, McKeel is known locally for the Tinkerbox House and Lantern House, both in Kerhonkson.

“It was extremely rewarding to work on this project with the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary because the sanctuary serves such a great purpose in connecting people with animals,” McKeel said. “The Gray Barn Inn creates a new space that gives guests an opportunity to connect with the sanctuary animals and their surroundings in a more meaningful way. “We were inspired by the amazing views of the Gunks from the property, and the traditional farm and barn structures dotting the site and the surrounding Hudson Valley. We wanted to create a structure that is rooted in its relationship to the rest of the farm and encourages the guests to reflect on their relationship with all living beings.”

Stepping into the space, guests are met with soaring cathedral ceilings adorned with a single spare sputnik-style chandelier: clean lines, natural materials, and the wonderful feeling of an open space unfettered of clutter. Massive windows bring the outdoors in, and a large deck juts out the back with sweeping views of a rescue goat pasture, the Rondout Creek, and the Shawangunk Ridge – further connecting the guests’ connection to the surrounding sanctuary. The interior is Scandinavian style meets rustic modern, focusing on naturalistic minimalism, leaning heavily on wood, and dark metal and stone. Contrasting elements like live-edge wooden tables and handmade mugs with industrial simplicity of dark iron create a calming mostly white-and-neutrals space interrupted only by the view out the windows and the oversized prints of a few of the sanctuary’s animal residents. Some of the furniture nods ever so slightly at mid-century modern and offer pops of warm colors that help, along with the communal table and kitchen bar, in making the space feel comfortable and welcoming. Programs manager Jess Davis confirmed, “We really wanted to create a welcoming space with a communal area to support and promote the work we’re doing around farmed animal advocacy, and for guests feel immersed in that work.” She continued, “The common areas on the first floor, such as the lounge and dining areas and the large terrace with outdoor seating, were built using Universal Design concepts and are fully ADA compliant.” 

The heart of the communal space is the kitchen, with its large slab marble bar, shining stove range and massive fridge (stocked with every conceivable non-dairy milk & creamer on the planet). And it’s this kitchen that just might be the site of your very own vegan conversion story, compliments of hospitality coordinator Leigh Goldstein. Goldstein makes fresh, delicious and accessible vegan cooking look not only effortless but also preferable to any other breakfast option in town. Come 8:30 a.m. every morning, the marble island is studded with a mouth-watering vegan breakfast spread. The offerings will change with seasonal availability of ingredients but so far include vegan quiches so good that you’ll have to double check they’re actually vegan, fresh berry crumbles with nuts, homemade granola crumble and nondairy yogurt and breakfast sandwiches stuffed with seitan, vegan bacon and fresh vegetables. Fresh fruit and endless pots of locally roasted coffee round out the meal. Goldstein also makes sure there’s additional food around, like vegan yogurt parfaits, fresh fruit and bags of gourmet potato chips, in case of snack attacks.

Goldstein is a longtime vegan who comes from a “social justice” family and a strong background in social work and urban community development. It quickly becomes clear that she, like everyone else who works at the sanctuary, doesn’t just work there – they are also passionate about the values of sanctuary. However, to the credit of the workers and volunteers, none came off as aggressively pushy of a vegan agenda. More effectively, most, like Goldstein, were very compassionate and eager to connect, and their clear-eyed optimism was contagious.

The “cause marketing” (“cause marketing” defined, according to Wikipedia, as “when a company’s promotional campaign has the dual purpose of increasing profitability while bettering society”) is gentle and effective. Each of the five guest rooms is named after one of the animals at the sanctuary and features a massive photo of the animal on the wall as the focal point of the room. The Agnes Room, for example, is named after one of the beloved matriarch pigs at the sanctuary, and while lying in bed, one faces her larger-than-life sweet face on the wall. Sheets and towels were chosen not just for their opulent softness or thickness but also because the company, Parachute, offered organic linens via an ethical supply chain. The toiletries, which you are encouraged to take home with you, come from William Roam, a women-owned, environmentally conscious toiletry brand that is (obviously!) plant-based and cruelty-free. Davis assured that “all aspects of the inn will align with and support our mission to advocate for animal rights in alliance with other justice movements.”

In addition to breakfast, every stay at the Gray Barn includes a private tour of the sanctuary. Walking around the sanctuary, it’s hard to not hear Louis Armstrong singing “What a wonderful world” as chickens groom each other, rabbits lazily nibble spring grass, new baby goat rescues totter to doorways to say hello, and pigs clearly lavish sun and mud, as happy as, well, pigs in mud. It’s not uncommon for Brooklyn-based vegan Instagram and YouTube stars (like the recent visitor Rebecca Doudak, or, as she’s known on Instagram, “vegan bodegacat”) to be spotted frolicking among the blissful livestock. Programs manager Davis is excited. “We are creating a space for people to fall in love with farmed animals, and we anticipate people becoming quite interested in the work we are doing. We hope that guests will want to return again and again, to try new menu options and spend time and make meaningful connections with the rescued animals, like Clyde the rooster or Sassy the goat!”

Rooms start at $250 a night, with a modest increase during “season.” The sanctuary currently hosts weddings and larger events, for up to 200 guests, at its larger onsite venue, and anticipates that the Gray Barn Inn will offer intimate wedding party accommodations, act as an event staging area, corporate retreat hub and is photo-ready for just about any intimate events for up to 40 people.

Visit https://www.thegraybarn.org/ for more information, or stop by the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary located at 2 Rescue Road (off Lucas Turnpike) in High Falls. Now open to the public 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays only, with four tours offered per day.

 

Gray Barn Inn

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