Profile: Ole Retlev, Trustees Innkeeper at Field Farm

The first thing everyone notices about Field Farm is its utter tranquility.  

Driving down country roads surrounded by vast, unconquered forests, you eventually reach a bucolic meadow enveloped in stillness. In the middle of the meadow sits a one-of-a-kind mid-century bed and breakfast. When you arrive, a soft-spoken man greets you at the door. 

“People come here and sometimes they’re a little frazzled, either from the traffic, or they can’t remember if they turned off the iron when they left home…but when they sit down and have tea and look out at Mount Greylock, they totally dissolve because it’s so incredibly quiet,” said Ole Retlev, Trustees innkeeper at Field Farm. 

Ole has helped guests relax and unwind by welcoming them to our 316-acre gem in the Berkshires for the past 14 years.  

Originally from Sweden, Ole has crisscrossed the globe during his eclectic career, living everywhere from Mallorca to Bermuda to Vermont while working as a yacht captain, ski instructor, and even starting his own furniture company. While living in Utah in the early 2000s, and with decades of experience as an innkeeper, he made the decision to return to New England and run the Guest House at Field Farm. Ole said he knew he would take the job as soon as he walked inside.  

“This place just felt right. It was very comfortable and familiar for me,” Ole said of Field Farm. “Coming from Scandinavia, Massachusetts has so many similarities, we have the same granite, the same birch trees, the same mushrooms and wildflowers, the same red barns and miserable winters, everything is very similar which is kind of nice.”  

The unique six-room bed and breakfast is a 1948 Bauhaus-inspired house designed for Lawrence and Eleanor Bloedel, avid modern art and furniture collectors of the time. Lawrence bought the more than 300-acre property, formerly a farm run by Nathan Field, when he returned from WWII. The property was donated to The Trustees by Eleanor in 1984.  

The house and landscape feature period artwork and thirteen sculptures in the surrounding gardens. In the interior, 90 percent of the Bloedels’ original furniture from more than a half-century ago remains in the house. 

“My father was a Danish architect, so I had this déjà vu walking in and seeing all this mid-century furniture.” Ole said. “The week before I started, my girlfriend and I went over to Denmark and walked around Copenhagen and got refamiliarized with all the mid-century furniture and designers.” 

With more than 45 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Ole said the key to being a good innkeeper is finding the balance of tending to the guests needs while also giving them privacy.  

“That’s been my theory all along: stay away, but you’re always there,” he said.  

That theory has led to a lot of success at Field Farm, where Ole said many guests rebook their stays year after year and bring their friends and family to visit. He said some people have even booked all six rooms for a family reunion weekend. 

“Interacting with the guests and meeting new people is what keeps me doing this,” he said.  

According to Ole, there have been more Trustees members visiting the property this year than ever before (Trustees members, along with Founders Circle members, get discounted reservations at Field Farm).  

“Many of them come from Eastern Massachusetts, and when they arrive, they say they’ve never been to the Berkshires or they never knew of this place,” Ole said. “So it’s nice when people discover something new. And especially for the members, when they come back, they’re proud of this place.”

Field Farm FALL SPECIAL: Plan your cozy autumn retreat now and take advantage of our specials and perks:

  • November 1-18: Stay two weeknights and get the second 50% off… Stay three weeknights, and the third night is on us. Use Promo Code ‘FallSpecial’ when booking at the Guest House.
  • Stay with us in November & December and receive 2 free trail passes to Notchview, our premium Nordic Ski Center located in Windsor, MA. This is available only when snow allows.
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Winterlights at Naumkeag

Fall and Winter in the Berkshires

Beyond Field Farm, there’s so much to do at our Berkshires properties this fall and winter, whether that’s going for a hike at Bartholomew’s Cobble, cross country skiing at Notchview, or enjoying one of our upcoming events and exhibitions.

Our nationally acclaimed annual Winterlights celebration kicks off on Nov. 26! You can check out the dazzling holiday lights display, free of charge, during a special Founders Circle night at our flagship Berkshires property, Naumkeag on Jan. 6th or farther east at Stevens-Coolidge House & Gardens in North Andover on Dec. 16th, or at the Bradley Estate in Canton on Dec. 2nd. If you can’t attend these special Founders Circle Winterlights events, click here to purchase tickets for any date and time that’s available.  Winterlights sold out last year so reserve your tickets early! 

Cross country skiing at Notchview is right around the corner! With over 25 miles of trails to explore, there is something for everyone. Almost half of the trails are groomed and track-set for classical cross-country skiing and five miles are groomed for skate skiing. A separate trail system is for “skijoring,” or skiing with dogs. You can also snowshoe alongside the ski trails or go off track and explore the backcountry. The season runs from November to March, weather dependent, and members have access to ski season passes! 

You can also join us for a virtual event about nineteenth century Concord and its community of thinkers whose impact on philosophy and literature spread from New England to all corners of the globe. Cultural Resources Program Director at The Trustees, Cindy Brockway, will moderate a discussion with Robert A. Gross, author of The Transcendentalists and Their World. Robert visited The Trustees Archives & Research Center (ARC) to research the book. The discussion is being held in partnership with the Boston Public Library and American Ancestors New England Historic Genealogical Society. Click here to register and see more details about the event. 

We also recently opened an exhibit on Mohican history and culture at Mission House in Stockbridge called Mohican Miles. The exhibit covers a wide range of topics including an overview of Mohican history, the Tribe’s historic relationship with The Trustees, and displays of historic objects belonging to the Tribe. The exhibit provides a place for an indigenous group to tell their own story in their own words on their own historic homelands.  

Visit our Places To Go webpage for more ideas on activities and destinations in the Berkshires!