On his 25th birthday, Christmas Eve, Derek Murdock was diagnosed with brain cancer. Murdock, who lives outside Pittsburgh, had been getting headaches but had no idea anything serious was amiss.
Artist Cindy Harris has created watercolor depictions of each Quiet Place rental, which are used on the website
Timber Trail House
At Naples Chalet, the sun sets overlooking the south end of the lake
One of 20 Quiet Places: Candlewood sits on 80 acres, with 4 ½ miles of nature trails on the property.
Two days later, a tumor the size of a small pear was surgically removed. Next would come a series of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, but Murdock's girlfriend, Jena McCormick, wanted to give him a quiet weekend away first. Her one criterion: "far away from anything." She began Googling and discovered The Quiet Place.
The Finger Lakes-based vacation brand, owned and operated by couple Eric Moon and Jan McKie, is actually 20 places: a consortium of remote and rural rental cottages, cabins and lodges of varying sizes, owned by a dozen people, scattered throughout the region from Bloomfield to Naples.
Their mission, says McKie, is to "pamper from a distance by providing a beautiful, relaxing sanctuary."
After consulting Moon and McKie, McCormick booked South Hill Lodge atop Bristol Mountain with panoramic views on 600 private acres. The lodge had a fireplace, flat-screen television, Wi-Fi and a hot tub. But most of all, it offered just what they needed: space and peace to process the life-changing jolt of Murdock's illness.
"The weekend away totally made me forget I even had anything wrong with me," says Murdock. "It was so beautiful to wake up early and watch the sunrise over the mountaintops and watch the deer come out each day and eat from the crop field just across the yard."
The Quiet Idea
Moon and McKie launched The Quiet Place in 2000 with one secluded vacation cabin in Bloomfield.
Eric Moon is a transplanted Californian—a former radio broadcaster and now a voiceover freelancer. Married previously, he owned a B&B in Farmington with his wife from 1987 to 1992 until they sold the business and divorced. In 1995, Moon met McKie of Rochester, a divorced graphic designer who occasionally took care of Moon's pets.
"I was fortunate enough to convince her to take care of me, too," says Moon. The couple and their two cats live in Bloomfield, sharing his rustic A-frame house with serene woodland views and a private pond.
In 2000, their neighbor Cindy Harris, an artist and design studio owner, told the couple about a nearby cabin coming up for foreclosure auction. It sparked an idea that Moon had—a vacation rental with a bed & breakfast attitude, where they could indulge guests without actually sharing a living space. Their bid was accepted and, later, when describing the concept at a dinner party, their hostess commented that it sounded like a "nice quiet place."
"Bingo! We had the name," says Moon.
Grateful to Harris for the auction tip, they commissioned her to create a watercolor of the Bloomfield cabin; she has painted images of all the quiet places that followed.
The couple had no formal expansion plans, but the Bloomfield cabin did so well they decided to add a second location in Honeoye in 2004.
Through the years, the couple began hearing from others who wanted to join their family of properties. But very few of the inquiries make the cut. The property has to be just right and the owner has to have the right attitude—it's all about going above and beyond a typical vacation rental.
"Working with Jan and Eric and seeing them grow from the purchase of the original quiet place to 20 properties has been gratifying," says Harris, whose expressive watercolor images on The Quiet Place website have become a key branding element. "Each and every one has its own spirit and essence."
Owners rarely meet their guests. Moon and McKie manage and market the business from home, taking reservations for all the places, including their two cabins. The other owners pay the couple a percentage of their bookings while maintaining their individual properties, cleaning and stocking their houses with fresh supplies and amenities, from towels and Q-tips to kitchen staples and firewood. Guests just need to bring their own groceries or are steered to Wegmans.
That preparation helps quiet guests' minds even before they arrive. As Murdock says of their stay, "This place was literally set up for someone who would show up with nothing but what's on their back and they could make it work."
Steve and Rachelle Cromwell own Quiet Place properties Sunset Lodge and Sky View Lodge, and also a gift shop, Divine Designs Boutique, all in Naples. Steve, also a manager at Hazlitt's Red Cat Cellars, says Quiet Place couples are pretty easy to pick out in a crowd: "laughing, relaxed, smiling and connected to each other. They are almost starry-eyed."
He'll spot them browsing in his shop or sampling wines in the Hazlitt tasting room. "It is quite a surprise when I ask them which Quiet Place they are staying at and they respond, 'How did you know?' " Cromwell says.
People come alone, in pairs or with a group (some places accommodate up to six adults) to honeymoon, celebrate anniversaries or birthdays or just take a break.
Whatever the reason, this Finger Lakes getaway offers something elusive in our daily lives: quiet.