Laid-back Luxury

We spent Easter with my godfather, Chuck Elmes, at his 1760’s estate home in Middletown, NY. As we pulled up to his picturesque, 400-acre polo farm (Blue Sky Polo), Chuck walked down the dusty drive to greet us; hair wind-blown just-so, small tear in the breast of his sweater, hands dirtied from a hard day’s work… but he had had time to set the dining room with his fine china and crystal.

Chuck was raised on a plantation in Georgia and as a young man he moved north and entwined himself in the country club & real estate worlds. That and his love for polo inspired him to start a polo club. The man knows his way around a horse farm, a clay court and a boardroom. He’s as rugged as Robert Redford and as refined as him in The Great Gatsby. He’s the definition of laid-back elegance and exactly what Ralph Lifshitz has been bottling and selling for decades.

After getting the Easter feast going, Chuck took us for a little drive around the grounds. The views and smells—saddle soap and leather—refreshed my fond childhood memories of watching polo games and riding his exceptional ponies.

Aside from the sprawling, perfectly-level fields abuzz with matches, there is a sideshow at Blue Sky that Chuck [loves and] has brought to the forefront in recent years. He boards dogs in what he calls The Pet Camp. It’s like Canyon Ranch for canines. He has roughly 70 pups at any given time (from around Manhattan and its ‘burbs) and he honestly knows each and every one by name (and personality). By day the dogs romp around a racetrack, play in the fields, swim in the pond and sunbathe. And at night, one by one, he calls them in and they slip into their individual horse-stall-suites.

While on the topic, I recently found a great little London-based pet boutique, Mungo & Maud. They will be launching a US online store next month. The wooden dog bowls are polished and chic and the adjustable rope leads and collars are very cool.