When the completely renovated Paradise Farmhouse at Norman Bird Sanctuary was revealed this spring, it was clear an extraordinary new chapter in this historic home’s book had arrived. It is the oldest structure on the 325-acre NBS property, dating back to the early 1700s when it was a mere shack for tenant farmers. Newport County has no shortage of fellow properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but most don’t invite you to functionally have an awesome, unplugged slumber party there!
I recently had the opportunity to experience what the intention of the renovation has been all along: to enjoy an educational, out of the ordinary, unplugged retreat complete with gentle meditation, yoga, gourmet food, friendship and more.
After being welcomed with chilled, spiced almond milk (amazing!) and cookies, then settling into the home which can accommodate overnight accommodations for up to 16 people with 6/7 bedrooms, it was off to the studio cottage just footsteps from the main home. Here, Innerlight Yoga instructor Jen Myers led a restorative meditation and yoga session that quieted the mind and set the tone for the weekend. Myself and a handful of other guests were also preparing for the Norman Bird Sanctuary 5K run the next morning.
Next, it was time to gather around the farmhouse table for a healthy but hearty spread prepared by culinary superstar and private chef Jessica Gorman which accommodated carnivores, vegetarians and the resident vegan. (The vegan set the tone for a laughter-filled dinner ahead when he asked: Do you know how you can tell if a person is a vegan? They’ll tell you within 5 minutes of meeting them.)
Note the last menu item. Never had Avocado Chocolate Mousse? I don’t think most people have but this unbelievably creamy delight, served in a flaky phyllo cup and topped with edible “robin eggs” left quite the impression.
Flowing wine and lively conversation followed around the table until it was time to retire for the night and for me, to start my first summer beach read. (It was hard to remember that downtown Newport, which was likely hopping as tis’ the season, was just about 5 minutes away.)
Upon entering our bedrooms, we were all greeted with Aveda toiletries from Natural Creations salon in Newport:
And the bathroom was stocked with indulgent Farmaesthetics soaps and gels:
The next morning we awoke to the smell of fresh coffee brewing and a spread of homemade granola, fruit and toast with homemade jams. Just steps from the 5K starting line, we all enjoyed the exceptionally scenic route which included 180-degree view of second and Third Beaches. NBS’s fabulous Leslie Muir said is was the most participants the race had ever seen at nearly 500 and it was no surprise this beautiful, sunny morning drew even the most novice runner out of bed!
After the race we headed back to the studio for apres race blueberry and chia smoothies and a restorative yoga session. Showers and a little R&R were followed by a full lunch spread which included cauliflower soup, strawberry and spinach salad, and grilled flat-bread pizzas with sliced pears and asiago cheese. The rest of the day was our to explore the trails, hit the beach or choose our own adventure.
I had a commitment Sunday so I missed the morning guided bird walk and after brunch hike to Hanging Rock which is the cornerstone of all Paradise Farmhouse retreats. I’ll be headed out to experience those this summer. Though the calendar year, there will be opportunities to experience a retreat here, or your company, group or extended family can custom craft a stay at this extraordinary property. For more information, visit: http://normanbirdsanctuary.org/farmhouse/
For another unforgettable experience, buy tickets now for 2nd Annual Norman Bord Sanctuary Bake on the Beach July 19 for a classic New England clambake on the shores of Third Beach!
A special thank you to the unstoppable Lisel Woods, Norman Bird Sanctuary’s Director of Marketing for organizing this experience.
All photos except for the last of the living room are property of Newport Stylephile and must be used with permission.