Since the beginning of time, humans have traveled for different reasons. Be it to explore and discover new lands or, as people popularly pursue these days, to ‘recharge their batteries. The latter part of it covers tourism.
The origin of the modern tourism that we see today can be traced back to almost the 17th century when a bunch of young nobles from western and northern European countries decided to take a trip around Europe. This was called the Grand Tour. It was only the start of a phenomenon that has now grown to be a multi-million-dollar industry.
One of the biggest contributing factors to this ever-growing and flourishing industry happens to be luxury tourism. In recent years, luxury tourism has especially become a prominent choice that people make to maintain a heightened social image. Although the services offered in luxury tourism are all premium and exclusive, they have a major drawback to them, which is their adverse effect on the environment. These high-end services come at a price, and nature has to bear the brunt of it.
In contrast, there exists a more sustainable form of tourism in the industry, which is called ‘Agritourism.’ Agritourism is not just sustainable for the environment but also brings one back in touch with mother nature. Several recreational, entertaining, and educational activities are carried out on a farm or ranch in agritourism, which is a refreshing new experience in the life of today’s humans living a life far away from nature. In addition to this, it is also good for the local community’s economy.
Several agritourism sites have emerged in the last few years to offer people an exclusive farm life experience, and one of the popular locations in the States today is The Cozy Peach at Schnepf Farms. The Cozy Peach offers the best in the business services to its guests to make their stay extremely hospitable and relaxing.
In the following interview, Carrie Schnepf, the Owner of Schnepf Farms, and Kylee Biggs, The Cozy Peach Concierge, talk about the comprehensive and unique experience that their agritourism offers and share some valuable insights from the industry.
Please brief our audience about Schnepf Farms, its USPs, and how it is currently positioned as a leading name in the US hotels and hospitality industry.
Schnepf Farms is a fourth-generation family farm that has transformed from a large commercial farming operation to an agritourism destination. Visitors to the farm can enjoy a UPICK organic garden; we are the largest peach grower in the State. We have a country store and bakery, a petting zoo, train rides, and more.
Schnepf Farms also hosts large music concerts, seasonal festivals, and events, and we host over 200 weddings a year with our three wedding venues. One of our more unique experiences on the farm is a glamping stay at the Cozy Peach, a private campsite with 10 Vintage airstream trailers complete with flat-screen TVs, your own front grass yard, patio Keurig Coffee machines, and bedding and robes.
Tell us more about your offerings, through which you have ascertained your stronghold within the hospitality space.
One of the unique features about the farm and staying at the Cozy Peach is the space. Once your reservation is made, your Cozy Peach experience begins. You get your very own unique trailer with its very own private fenced front yard and intimate patio with a bonfire. This is an all-inclusive experience where you get to enjoy gourmet burgers for grilling on the first night; all delivered to your trailer. Enjoy sitting around the bonfire to make smores. You will wake up to a gorgeous sunrise and a hot country breakfast delivered to your trailer.
Our concierge makes sure you have your garden list for picking fresh veggies the following day. You get to ride the vintage bicycles out to a unique picnic area or the UPICK garden. Visitors can also enjoy feeding animals or just relaxing in their trailers and reading a good book.
The evening ends with your very own private farm-to-table dinner, or you can join other guests at a group farm to table dinner. You grill the meat, but the baked potato, grilled vegetables, warm baguette bread, and salads are all delivered to your trailer. Prior to checking out, guests at the Cozy Peach will visit the Farm Bakery for fresh coffee and pastries and a ride around the farm on Schnepf Farms’ narrow-gauge train.
Carrie, please brief us about your journey in the hospitality industry and how you’ve contributed towards the success of Schnepf Farms though your role.
I come from the city and the world of television news, where I was an anchor at KPHO TV-5 in Phoenix. I moved to Queen Creek when I married the mayor of the town, who was also a farmer, Mark Schnepf. The town had only 4500 residents, and we ran a vegetable stand and were potato farmers, and we grew peaches.
Over the next several years, as traditional farming became more difficult, Mark and I started transitioning the farm into an agritourism destination. We added a bakery, and the country store started doing festivals, large music concerts, added amusement rides, and school tours.
We added three wedding venues and Queen Creek’s first hotel called “The Cozy Peach,” a ten-trailer Comfortable Glamping Stay. During the pandemic, the Cozy Peach became one of the top places to stay, according to USA Today. Because the living space is private, each trailer became a perfect escape for all guests.
Considering the COVID-19 pandemic, what challenges did you face, and how are you currently driving your company to sustain operations while ensuring the safety of your employees?
One of the best things we have going for us is not only our location. Being located on a private family farm, but also the individual trailers with private fenced front yards and patios. Guests felt like they have 300 acres to roam and be safe through this scary pandemic.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the hospitality space?
If you dream it, then build it, and remember, hospitality is about sharing, respecting, and being kind. Share your vision with others by letting them enjoy your dream, and while they are there, give them an ‘experience.’ The experience is the easy part because it is easy to share things you love to do.
How do you envision scaling Schnepf Farms’ operations and offerings in 2022 and further?
We are adding additional trailers and an additional glamping area featuring cabins. We are adding a fourth wedding venue and expanding the farm bakery.
What is your opinion on the future of the hotels and hospitality industry post the pandemic?
I think the future is bright but also concerning. With what is going on in the world at this time, you don’t know-how is going to affect your overall operation. Hospitality on the farm is about experiences. Even during the pandemic, we were allowed to remain open because we were an essential business, providing food for people. Now that things are opening back up, large events are happening, the hospitality business is excited to see rooms fill up and people back traveling and visiting.
The Convention & Visitors Bureau is traveling again to conferences, and in Arizona, the return to normal has moved much faster than in the rest of the country. Still, in the hospitality business, I feel that we can’t take everything for granted. High inflation and more choices mean you have to make sure the experiences that people have when visiting are extra special.
And you can tell the Cozy Peach is extra special just because of the appearance when you arrive, the check-in process, the little tour of each unique trailer, the comfortable beds, and the story of our 4th generation family farm. It’s not your typical stay, and that’s just the way we like it.
Awards and Recognitions
- Selected by USA Today as one of the top places to stay during Covid (2022).
- Featured in “Comfortably Wild,” a book on the top 40 glamping sites in North America.
- Arizona Highways Feb 2021 feature, New York Times October 2021, listed on one of the top 10 things to do in the Fall in the Southwest.
- Arizona Highways Feb 2022, USA Today March 2022, as part of Mesa Fresh Foodie Trail to visit the farm during Peach Season.