June 15, 2024

The Boston Globe

Lumen Nature Retreat, an upscale campground on 20 acres, affords nature with panache.

The interior of a lykke-category cabin at Lumen Nature Retreat in Woodstock, N.H.
The inside of a lykke-category cabin at Lumen Nature Retreat in Woodstock, N.H. CHRISTOPHER MUTHER/GLOBE STAFF

NORTH WOODSTOCK, N.H. — The rain stopped simply in time for sundown, and what a gloriously weird sundown it was.

I had been listening to raindrops loudly drum on the home windows of my 150-square-foot cabin on the Lumen Nature Retreat for an hour and assumed I’d be spending the rest of the night listening to David Bowie’s “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” and watching cat movies as a result of that’s just about my definition of an ideal wet night time.

However when the clouds broke, my definition shortly modified. The sky glowed orange, and because of this, the swiftly-moving brook that ran instantly behind my minimalist, Nordic-inspired cabin additionally glowed orange. I had by no means seen something prefer it. Though the skies had cleared, there have been nonetheless patches of fog that stubbornly clung to a couple bushes, giving the impression that monumental clouds of cotton sweet had been randomly positioned within the close by forest.

Earlier than you bounce to conclusions, I used to be not beneath the affect of any illicit substances. The brook was orange, there have been cotton sweet bushes, and the Nordic-style cottage within the White Mountains was actual.

The story of how the Lumen Nature Retreat, an upscale campground (I’m stubbornly not a fan of the time period glampground) in North Woodstock, N.H., got here to exist is sort of as unlikely because the orange brook on the property. House owners Susan Zhao and Boris Bordkovich by no means camped till effectively into maturity. Zhao, who grew up in China, stated tenting “wasn’t a factor” for her. Bordkovich, who grew up in Lithuania, had additionally by no means camped.

However in 2018, the couple determined to place their company jobs on maintain, purchased a 20-year-old Toyota Land Cruiser, and took an epic street journey from Boston to Argentina. It was a final hurrah earlier than beginning a household and transferring into the following stage of their lives. They slept in a tent on the roof of their SUV for seven months, with occasional breaks at lodges, as they drove south by means of the Americas.

“It was magical,” Bordkovich stated. “I believe the tenting experiences had been considerably extra memorable and story-worthy than typical lodges. We couldn’t shake the entire tenting concept once we got here again. It was caught in our minds.”

East Boston couple Boris Mordkovich and Susan Zhao had been impressed to start out Lumen Nature Retreat in New Hampshire after a seven-month street journey. – CHRISTOPHER MUTHER/GLOBE STAFF

Even Zhao, who appeared a tad much less enthusiastic than her husband about roughing it, was enchanted by her experiences.

“Essentially the most memorable moments had been the nights we truly had been outside, typically simply by ourselves,” she stated. “We had an evening once we camped out in a bit nationwide park in Peru and the whole Milky Means was simply lit up in entrance of us. It’s simply so fascinating and also you simply bear in mind without end.”

However as soon as again in the true world, immersed of their day jobs and now with a daughter, the pair nonetheless thought of tenting and performed with the concept of opening a campground. It was extra of a unfastened idea than a plan, however once they noticed the previous Waterest Campground on the market in 2021, they shortly reached out to the homeowners and bought the 20-acre campground, plus 50 adjoining acres. The property abuts the Pemigewasset River, has the Eastman Brook operating by means of it, and consists of two ponds. For the second, they haven’t any plans to broaden past the 20 acres.

One in every of two saunas at Lumen Nature Retreat has views of the countryside. – CHRISTOPHER MUTHER/GLOBE STAFF

Their concept for the campground, which they renamed Lumen, was to create a spot the place folks may go tenting with out bringing all of the bric-a-brac concerned with tenting. Bordkovich and Zhao wished to create a spot the place folks may simply deliver their toothbrushes and begin tenting. Spoiler alert: You want greater than a toothbrush.

There are 4 classes of lodging at Lumen (starting with least costly to most): A-frame tents, safari tents, lykke Nordic cabins, and hygge Nordic cabins. Charges vary from $100 to $400 an evening relying on which kind of dwelling you select and seasonal demand. Cabins include a kitchen with cookware, an induction cooktop, and fridge. They’ve Bluetooth audio system, leather-based couches, and, after all, beds, linens, and towels. All websites have Adirondack chairs, smokeless fireplace pits, and beds, linens, and towels. Even the tents are outfitted with electrical energy and a few home equipment. Verify-in is contactless and achieved by means of your telephone and electronic mail.

As an added bonus, there are two saunas. You’ll be able to guide a non-public session so that you don’t end up with towel-wearing strangers.

A safari tent at Lumen Nature Middle within the White Mountains. – HANDOUT

I’ve stayed at glampgrounds, campgrounds, Airstream lodges, and hipster tiny cabin getaways to various levels of success. All of them have their pluses and minuses. I discovered the largest plus of staying at Lumen to be the privateness and the environment. There are 35 tents and cabins on 20 acres. I wasn’t on prime of my neighbors the way in which that I’ve been at different locations. (I’m taking a look at you, AutoCamp.)

A lykke cabin at Lumen Nature Retreat in Woodstock, N.H. – CHRISTOPHER MUTHER/GLOBE STAFF

I used to be additionally impressed that many of the cabins and tents had been both overlooking the brook or one of many ponds. I may see the brook from the again window of my cabin and felt like I used to be in nature.

The draw back is the bathhouse. That means there aren’t any showers or bathrooms within the cabins. As a substitute, everybody makes use of a big, centrally positioned bathhouse. For those who’ve ever gone tenting, you already know the sort that I imply. It’s a big constructing with bathrooms, showers, and an extended counter with sinks. Within the case of Lumen, Zhao and Bordkovich have tried to make the bathhouse extra like the lavatory in a boutique resort with nice lighting and posh soaps. However, the underside line is that when nature calls within the night time, it’s good to take the rechargeable lantern in your cabin or tent and make your approach down the street. It’s darkish, so don’t neglect that lantern. I additionally advocate a spritz of insect repellent.

The communal bathhouse at Lumen Nature Retreat is designed to be an upscale model of a regular campground bathhouse. – CHRISTOPHER MUTHER/GLOBE STAFF

Provided that I’ve a childhood background in tenting (and the scars to show it), I do know the routine. Whereas no services within the stylish, minimalist cabins means there’s extra room for enjoyable, it additionally means there’s no operating water. So when you cook dinner, you’ll must do your dishes in a delegated space outdoors of the bathhouse. Bear in mind, it’s tenting, in any case.

Talking of roughing it, the opposite amenity lacking at Lumen is Wi-Fi. That is by design. It provides you the choice of actually escaping by turning off your laptop computer and as an alternative taking within the brook or mountain climbing within the close by White Mountains. However don’t fear, cellphones have reception right here. For those who encounter a wet night time, you’ll nonetheless be capable of take heed to David Bowie and watch kitten movies within the consolation of your dry lodgings.

Sundown casts an eerie orange glow on the Eastman Brook on the Lumen Nature Retreat in North Woodstock, NH. – CHRISTOPHER MUTHER/GLOBE STAFF

11 Sugar Plum Lane, N. Woodstock, N.H., 603-764-7244. [email protected].