Traveling down the dirt road, we started to feel apprehensive. We had been told to “bring flashlights”, which tipped us off that we weren’t staying in the usual motel. We parked in the dirt parking area and went across the street. We were greeted by Bill, looking like what Jerry Garcia would be today – long silver beard and a gentle way.
Not realizing what we were in for, we hadn’t packed for one night. We loaded 2 weeks of suitcases onto an electric golf car and piled in – and on: Bill, my wife, my 8 year old daughter, and me. Off into the woods we went on a muddy track, bouncing and, I was sure, destined to get stuck or maybe hear banjo music. Neither happened.
About 1/4 mile in, we arrived at a delightful group of rustic buildings, each unique and interesting. We were shown to our “Wood Loft”, an accommodation above the wood shop. Built by hand from logs, we had a comfortable queen sized bed with nice sheets, plus a twin bed and a pair of “window seat beds” at the end of the room, in front of a huge recycled steel-framed window, which covered the entire end of the room. There was a stained glass window and many subtle touches, like a branch left on a timber post to form a coat hook.
My daughter immediately claimed the window-seat bed and absolutely loved it. Then she climbed the logs forming the cathedral ceiling and played jungle gym. Heaven to her.
We were shown the essentials – the “Pizza bar”, an open-air room with a wood-fired pizza oven and lots of seating; the “Wine bar,” an open-air room with a cozy wood stove and various fruit wines on the menu, and the “bath house.”
Yes, there is one communal bath house. It has a 2-person solar shower with propane backup. Mickey will heat up the water if the sun hasn’t been cooperating. Yes, there is a “composting toilet”, but it is no outhouse. The room has absolutely zero unpleasant odor. A clever design uses the heat of decomposition to draw air down through the toilet and out a high ventilation stack. The floor is tiled, and the seat is nice wood and there’s a window to look out. It was not in the least off-putting to use, and actually loved it. Of course, you can pee in the woods, too.
Because there was a large family reunion pizza party that night, we ate at the wine bar. While the usual fruit wines were a bit sweet for my taste, Mickey had found a case of great Barolo and was very generous dispensing it to me. I don’t know if a regular production grape wine is usually available, so I wouldn’t count on it. You might bring a bottle of your favorite, or, for that matter, a bottle of scotch.
Mickey started a charcoal fire and fired up a small propane stove to cook us dinner. He set to amusing my daughter, who was having a great time. Mickey has a huge collection of music on his iPod, which feeds a solar-powered music system. He seems able to handle most any request. Our dinner was very good, especially given the rustic surroundings. Yes, we had crudites for an appetizer, but it was fun. Our steak got overcooked because Mickey got a bit distracted, but with such a generous host, I couldn’t have cared less. The Cornish hen was good – precooked and heated over the wood smoke. It’s not “Foodie” food, but, hey, it’s in the middle of the woods. If you’ve been camping, you know that everything tastes better in the woods!
Just because the compound is off the grid doesn’t mean that there isn’t ice and fresh food. They bring in coolers from the road with whatever they need. The salad was cold, as was the wine. This is how they charge their golf carts too.
We struck up a conversation with Ricky, a mason who was trading his work for – well I’m not sure, accommodations, I guess. Ricky took me on a tour, showing me the lean-to accommodations (very romantic and private, for two, as well as the sauna, lodge, stage, recycling center (they recycle everything), ponds, etc. Artwork is everywhere – from “old man winter” carved into the end of one of the logs on the sauna to sculpture of giraffes in the wood, to “pants”, trees cut and turned upside down to give the impression of a lower torso. All very cool.
Chatting with the friendly folks having the Pizza reunion, it turns out we have a connection through my niece. Small world!
The weather had been very wet, but there were no bugs. Apparently the huge number of frogs living in the ponds eat them. We didn’t use bug dope.
We went to bed a bit on the early side (maybe 10 or 11). Conversation was lingering in the bar, and, when asked, they lowered their volume to a whisper. It was a minor inconvenience to have to get up to pee at night, negotiating the rustic steps in the dark. The bath house was lit with torches, an oil lantern, and some candles – very nice actually. I might bring flip-flops next time.
In the morning, Mickey made us a nice bacon and egg breakfast. Yes, the pastries weren’t right from France, but, again, you’re eating them in the woods in a beautiful setting. Mickey brought out some peanuts in the shell, and my daughter had great fun feeding them to “Mr. Nuts”, a trained squirrel. Afterward, Mickey offered to let her drive the golf cart (huge thrill), and took her around. The generosity of the hospitality is a huge attraction.
Two other commenters have noted the cost. They charge per person, but my daughter was free and they made her a special off-menu dinner (homemade Mac and Cheese, warmed on the charcoal grill). Our $220 charge included everything (except tax and tip), including quite a bit of dinner, wine (and in my case, quite good wine), and breakfast. I’m not sure what tip, if any, was expected, but I was so grateful, I tipped generously.
By way of analogy, a Holliday Inn is a dinner that you bought at Walmart. Pollywogg Holler is a hand-thrown ceramic plate bought from the artist. It is definitely not for everyone. You have to enter with an adventurous spirit and an open mind and a flexible mindset. In return you will get an experience that I doubt you will ever forget. That is not something that you can say about a Holliday Inn stay, or perhaps even a stay at the Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons.
Highly recommended if it’s “your kind of thing.” Also, it would be a great family reunion spot. They can sleep about 35 people dormitory style, or 7 parties in privacy. We plan to return.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Since 1987, Pollywogg Holler Bed & Breakfast creators Bill and Barb Castle have been entertaining guests at their Eco-lodge with an emphasis on art, nature and being kind to the environment. Now managed by their oldest son, Mickey & his wife Tammy.Book an overnight stay for the full experience, or come by to visit on Wednesday evenings and Sunday afternoons for Pizza and see the new projects that are in progress ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Pollywogg Holler Eco Resort