Couple turn rural Saukville estate into a resort

Photographers find a gem hidden behind the pines and turn former Feith property into a destination for those seeking a peaceful retreat
By 
JOE POIRIER
Ozaukee Press staff

Nestled on 17 acres of pine trees in the Town of Saukville, Abloom Farm Resort is becoming a destination for guests seeking a tranquil getaway.

“This time of year gets really quiet in the hospitality business, but we’re still booking,” said Dale Stenbroten, who owns Abloom with his wife Katy Rowe.

Last year, the couple bought the property at 2839 Hwy. 33 from the John and Elizabeth Feith family, which called it Tranquility Tree Farm. After a couple months of renovations,  they opened Abloom as a relaxing site for retreats, weddings, family get-togethers and corporate events.

“We didn’t know what to expect when we started renting our home, but we really wanted this to be a low-key place where people can enjoy quality time together,” Rowe said.

Stenbroten and Rowe, former Town of Grafton residents, have been professional photographers for more than 30 years. They said their assignments have taken them around the world, which inspired them to start a home-rental business because they often stayed at other people’s residences.

For 10 years, they searched for a property in various states like Florida and Texas.

When researching homes, Rowe and Stenbroten said, the key ingredients they looked for were history, nature, privacy and the ability for guests to travel in a group.

They eventually decided on the farm in Saukville because of its natural surroundings and proximity to communities such as Port Washington and Cedarburg.

“We were mesmerized by the nature when we first visited this place,” Rowe said. “There were deer, owls and a foxes. We were like, ‘This is perfect.’”

Stenbroten agreed.

“The beauty of this place is that you feel you’re just far away up north, but it’s close enough and convenient to be right next to Port Washington and a half-hour drive from Milwaukee,” he said.

The Feith’s daughter Sue Shannon lives next door, and Elizabeth Feith recently visited the family home.

“They love what we’re doing,” Rowe said. “We modernized two Peabody-like chairs Elizabeth left here. We’ll be sure to give them a prominent and glorious spot in our home.”

Stenbroten added, “The place has a lot of character still and we really appreciate what the Feiths did. We want to honor that because this was their pride and joy. We’re trying to keep the character and at the same time make it contemporary and fun.”

Before offering their property to guests, the couple spent about six weeks updating the house, which included installing new windows, renovating the farm kitchen into a bridal suite and converting a parlor into a kitchen.

The 4,600-square-foot home can accommodate as many as 20 guests with four bedrooms and five full bathrooms. The property is available for rent through Airbnb.

“There’s a really cool community vibe around Airbnb, and the trust level is unique because not only does the host get reviewed but also the guests,” Stenbroten said. “That allows you to relax as a host and enjoy the community aspect of having people you don’t know come into your home to stay.”

At first, Rowe said, she was hesitant to share her home with strangers.  

“I thought it was so weird but I guess we were crazy enough to try it out,” she said. “When we started renting, I realized we were having all these wonderful people who would leave the house cleaner or better than I would imagine. Sometimes people leave behind flowers, a book or a bottle of wine just to show their appreciation.”

Guests have the option to rent half the house or the entire dwelling. If the whole house is occupied, the couple will stay with friends or rent another place through Airbnb.

They said the property has been booked almost every week since opening, and their clientele comes from around the country and even abroad from England and Australia.

“Because of Airbnb, we get exposed to an international audience,” Stenbroten said.

While Airbnb homes are available in Port Washington, Cedarburg and Sheboygan, there are only a handful in the Saukville area, Stenbroten said.

With the success of their operation, Stenbroten and Rowe are considering getting a hotel designation with Airbnb to add more guest rooms.

Wedding season is a few months away, and prospective clients are lining up to see the farm.

“We hear a lot of people say they wanted to get away from the regular wedding machine and do something a little more authentic and down to earth. It’s been a very strong pull for us,” Rowe said.

Another attraction for guests is that they can bring their dogs.

“It’s kind of a niche for us to accommodate people’s dogs. It’s been a real blessing for travelers,” Stenbroten said.

When first starting out, Stenbroten and Rowe said, they didn’t know what to expect, but they are amazed with how well their home has been received by strangers.

“We had a gut feeling it was the right spot, but we were a little nervous because we didn’t know if people would come to Saukville,” Stenbroten said.

“There’s a real magic to the place especially with the pines and forest. It’s really majestic, and I think that’s what attracts attention when people tour the property.”

 

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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