At a luxury farm resort, you can rest your head only a few feet from nestling lambs, apple orchards, or dairy cows.


A new kind of vacation trend is sweeping the nation. Seekers of serenity and seclusion are finding it in the pasture, experiencing the tranquility of being tucked away with only the birds to sing them awake. But they’re not roughing it.

Farm resorts are located in rolling hills throughout the country — The High End spoke to three owners in Virginia, Montana, and California. All three are family-owned businesses with powerful histories and a love for the outdoors. “Guests are always wondering ‘What is farming really like?’” says Erin Cowden, owner at Fort Lewis Lodge in Millboro, Virginia. “We are a true working, family farm and consider ourselves stewards of this land.”

The Cowdens have run this operation for decades: Erin says that the farm was first carved out of the wilderness in 1754, and was purchased by their family in 1959. In 1989, they extended the farm into the farm stay that it is now. Three generations of their family have farmed this land, and it continues to be a labor of love.

Fort Lewis Lodge now offers 23 different accommodations, including lodges, silos, and hand-hewn log cabins. There are plenty of ways for guests to join in the collaboration on the farm, but also to rest and relax if desired. Additionally, they are conscious of their carbon footprint, and aim to teach guests about the ways in which they can be more green.

“Our vision: a regenerative farming mindset. We want to return carbon and other missing elements to the soil, support biological diversity, restore a natural, self- supporting system, and produce sustainable, nutritious, and tasty food,” Cowden says. “It’s our hope that guests walk away with a better understanding of where their food comes from.”

They have farm-to-table dining with fresh ingredients, and their own natural mountain spring that provides all of the water for the Lodge. Other unique opportunities are their wood-fired sauna, and the fruits of their fragrant peach trees in late August.

Whatever the garden is growing, they are serving, Cowden notes.

With the same love for their garden, ABC Acres, owned by Tim Southwell and family, operates in Hamilton, Montana. Tim and wife Sarah took the reins of the 80-acre property in 2011, and are seeing business booming as people aim to get outside more.

“The pandemic awakened a misplaced love and appreciation for the natural world,” Southwell recalls, as he talks about the luxury lodging trend. “A farm stay is a slower-paced break from the everyday, where one can take in the sunrise, enjoy a meditative walk in deep thought, and witness the magic and unpredictability only nature can provide.”

On its website, the property titles itself an immersive permaculture preserve, which can be seen through the blooming bananas, pineapples, guavas and more. ABC Acres also runs its own “Honey Operation” and other earthwork tasks.

Here there are also opportunities to join in on farm tasks, or to sit back and relax. Located in the beautiful Bitterroot Valley of Montana, the four rental homes for visitors are located near transcendent walking trails and a fully stocked farm shop. Guests can help herd goats and collect chicken eggs, take a day trip on the water to Lake Como, or explore the property’s own Botanical Tropical Greenhouse.

“A farm stay is the vacation,” he notes. “No trips to town or lines for dinner or the local show, just an opportunity to arrive, settle in, and take in the surroundings.”

Another place known for its gorgeous location is temperate Mendocino County, California. Located along the Navarro River and entrenched in robust orchards, Philo Apple Farm is owned by Karen and Tim Bates, who have raised 4 children as skilled farm hands.

The property has three quaint cottages and one “room with a view” (a room above the main dining area) for guests to stay in. Here, the primary production is jams and jellies, but Karen explains that instead of joining in on tasks on the farm, the goal of most guests here is to sit back and simply “do nothing.”

“I think it’s a really good way to experience a place, on a different level than a hotel or even a bed and breakfast,” she says of farm stays. The best time to travel to the Philo Apple Farm is usually the summertime, when the river is glistening in the sun, and is ready for swimmers.

In the cottages, guests can enjoy their own private plunge pools and outdoor showers, morning coffee on their porches, and stroll around the picturesque orchards.


Bates tells The High End that the property also serves as their family compound, where they’re currently working on building a home for one of their daughters and husband. The matriarch of the farm, Sally Schmidt, even has her own cookbook, which has been endorsed by numerous chefs, including the head chef at The French Laundry.

The ultimate goal of any farm stay, and each of these owners, is for guests to reconnect with the natural wonders around them.

“Nature is never dull,” Southwell says. “Whether it’s the first spring rain, baby animals, evening owls, amazing summer storms, or the quietness of winter … there is always something alive and happening … you just need to slow down and look.”