I spent 3 days at a tiny house resort surrounded by woods and farm animals, and it convinced me that what the experts are saying is true - luxury is all about experience
- I recently visited Think Big! A Tiny House Resort in the Catskills.
- For three days and $300 per night, I stayed in a 269-square-foot tiny house in the woods on a property with farm animals.
- It doesn't sound luxurious, but the experience and convenience the resort provided was the ultimate luxury.
- It's evidence of what luxury industry experts have been saying: Luxury is no longer about aesthetic.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
For three days in October, I found luxury in the middle of the woods.
I was at Think Big! A Tiny House Resort in upstate New York's Catskills region, about a two-hour drive north of Manhattan. It's so removed that I had to wait 20 minutes for an Uber to arrive just to get into town.
My residence: a 269-square-foot tiny house, where my bed doubled as a couch and I fell asleep to the sound of falling acorns, on a sprawling property teeming with goats and chickens.
It was nothing like dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant or staying a weekend at the Four Seasons, but that's exactly what made it so luxurious. It proved to me that what the experts have been saying is true: Luxury is no longer about aesthetic.
Wellness and price give the resort luxury hallmarks
The tiny house resort certainly has a luxury price point.
Rates range from $250 to $350 a night depending on the season and time of week. Sleeping more than two guests per home requires an extra charge of $25 to $45 per person a night. There's also an $85 cleaning fee. My total, for a two-night stay, came out to $685, or $300 a night.
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It also offers luxury wellness experiences, like an outdoor cedar soaking tub and a wellness tent, where you can get a massage. The most popular offering is a 60-minute massage, plus an hour-long private soak in the tub, for $160 per person. Set back in the woods and strung with bistro lighting for a soothing ambiance, the wellness area has the tranquil vibes of an indoor spa. There's also a heated pool onsite.
When I asked the resort's owners, Margie and Melissa, what they think made the resort a luxury experience, it was these amenities they pointed to. I agreed, but to me, that wasn't the defining point of resort's luxury.
Finding luxury in convenience and experience
The luxury was this: I could easily have not left during my visit, nor did I want to.
Winding paths through the woods, a waterfall, and autumn foliage offered a reprieve from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. Why would I want to head into civilization when I could enjoy the outdoors in a way I can't every day?
It helped that the tiny houses were spaced apart, so it felt like I was the only person there when I really wasn't. The resort, Margie said, is technically zoned to a campground; there are only four tiny houses where 50 could fit.
This creates two other luxuries, according to Margie: privacy and views. She and Melissa prioritize windows when they design the tiny houses for this purpose. Mine overlooked trees and a sloping path toward the creek.
Everything I needed was at my fingertips. There were kayaks, a hammock, firewood, freshly laid eggs for breakfast, lawn games, and a "Snack Shack" stocked with games, books, movies, and food - all you had to do was return the entertainment after its use or Venmo the resort for snacks or meals.
That's not to mention the tiny house itself, which was well stocked with amenities - a hair dryer, soaps, towels, cookware, heat, and a regular toilet (most tiny houses have compost toilets). It wasn't your typical camping trip or log cabin stay in the woods.
It all created convenience and experience, which defined luxury for me.
It embodies the shift in luxury toward experiences
I couldn't help but think that what experts across several luxury industries have been saying is true: Luxury is no longer about aesthetic.
Luxury is about comfort, New York-based designer Andrew Kotchen, founding principal of architecture and design firm Workshop/APD, said in an interview with Mansion Global.
"A beautiful hotel, for example, is not luxury if it's not relaxing," he said. "It's not just about rich materials spread throughout. The world we live in thinks the more money you throw at it, the more fancy materials, the more luxury it is. It's not true. Certainly there are baseline conditions of quality and craft, but it's really an experience."
Hillary Hoffower/Business Insider
The focus on experiences explains why luxury condo developers are pouring money into "well-being" amenities, such as outdoor yoga decks, zen gardens, or infrared saunas. And, as the tiny house resort's wellness center proves, the hospitality industry is also adopting this tactic. Even an array of spas and studios offering treatments like cryofacials and weeklong retreats are delivering those experiences, Business Insider's Lina Batarags wrote.
They're all catering toward wealthy millennials in particular, who are spending more on health and wellness. But wellness is just one way places are creating experiences. Luxury hospitality hotels are also offering personalized experiences unique or tailored to guests, Batarags reported.
And then there's the concept of feeling at home. As Margie put it to me, "Luxury is about being cozy. Luxury is more about nesting, coiffed to the point where you don't have to leave."