By Ariana Chomitz
Sip Darjeeling grown minutes from your breakfast table, brush the dirt from a garden snack, and feel the solar energy that powers your villa sink into your skin. These tactile details are the simple luxuries that you might find when you skip a typical hotel experience and opt for a farm stay instead.
Serving as both agriculture and accommodation, these environmentally responsible properties will reset your rhythms to the natural cycles of the gardens and groves around you. On a farm stay, you can watch your food travel from field to table (and even help it get there) and commit to helping the environment and local communities. Here are a few places around the world where you can enjoy some sustainable relaxation.
Perched on a low cliff above calm, crystal clear waters, the Bohol Bee Farm’s villas and gardens are a perfect midway point between jungle and ocean. Stepping stones wind between scrubby island trees leading to your rustic guestroom veranda; to the creative kitchens featuring produce pulled steps from your table; and to the airy spa where you can try traditional Filipino hilot, or body scrubs. The farm’s celebrity bees keep the organic gardens buzzing, while their delicious honey appears in the restaurant, the spa’s beauty products, and the local goods boutique. Daily tours of the garden, the weaving studio, and the beehives are a highlight, explaining the farm’s core values of social and environmental sustainability.
Just outside of Darjeeling, escape to a time gone by, where hills of lush tea grow around the Glenburn Tea Estate, a working 19th century plantation turned luxury stay. The restored colonial bungalows have verandas and sitting rooms that look out to the Himalayas and bordering river valleys. Stay in and be pampered, hike the lush green land, tour the tea plantation to learn how tea is made, or visit the nearby tea picker villages. Your stay is both relaxing as well as socially responsible; the Glenburn Tea Estate works widely with local schools by overseeing libraries, sponsoring the education of children, and providing volunteer teachers.
Stay in bamboo bungalows and treehouses at this ecolodge in Tabanan, the “rice bowl” of central Bali. Your balcony might peek out over the “food forests” of cacao, coconuts, and jungle fruit, or provide you with endless entertainment from the two rescued Sumatran monkeys on site. Sarinbuna’s dedication to responsible tourism goes further than saving energy and recycling; during your stay, you can sign up for courses like permaculture and sustainable gardening, or Indonesian language and art. Further afield, you can trek Bali’s volcanos, bike the rice fields, or watch dancers at the village temples.
Stay among an ancient olive grove on the Eumelia Organic Agrotourism Farm and Guesthouse, where each environmentally friendly holiday home comes with its own private garden. Relax in your cozy, stylish villa, or sign up for classes in yoga, soapmaking or horseback riding. Help out in harvesting the sustainable farm’s olives, grapes, almonds and herbs…or just indulge in consuming them! With mountains in the distance, gorgeous beaches nearby, and sundrenched vineyards, Eumelia offers a variety of options to enjoy the beautiful natural landscape.
BelCampo’s expansive jungle lodge and organic farm encompass a 12,000-acre nature reserve bursting with wildlife, outdoor adventures, and incredible agritourism initiatives. Local farmers tend to tropical fruit trees, harvest coffee and garden produce, and look after livestock. Guests can hike the Chocolate Trail or Sugar Cane Run, kayak the Rio Grande, or stay in your private suite and spot toucans and monkeys from your deck.
Situated on a restored coffee plantation, Xandari’s bright, artistic villas, provide easy access to the resort’s gardens, nature trails, pools, and greenhouse. Learn about the coffee growing and harvesting process firsthand, then later enjoy their coffee in the restaurant or as part of a body treatment at the spa. Xandari has also created a program to strengthen the natural resources around Costa Rica’s Central Valley while diminishing their operation’s footprint. Among the many eco-initiatives, guests are encouraged to plant a tree before they leave this botanical wonderland.
Once a coffee plantation, Gibb’s is now a large farm for fruits, vegetables, herbs and livestock as well as a collection of charming cottages. Local families from between the Great Rift Valley and Ngorongoro Forest contribute to the farm’s traditional East African hospitality, nurturing the farm’s connection to the community and the land. Outside of the spacious cottages and welcoming farmhouse, guests can go on safari adventures, unwind at the spa, or visit nearby villages for cultural activities.
Henne Kirkeby Kro is a place for gastronomy aficionados looking for a farmstay getaway. The main restaurant, run by chef Paul Cunningham has an attached luxury inn and farm, which is operated by the Skouboe family. Five thatched-roof cottages were individually designed with elemental touches to mimic the surrounding wilderness and are adorned with modern art photography. The 200-year-old garden is the largest of its kind in the country, providing both restaurant patrons and guests at the inn a truly farm-to-fork experience.