Friday, July 15, 2016

House of Payne

As a teen in the '90s, the American hip-hop group House of Pain was very popular with my generation. Now, with our new acquisition of the Payne House, I can't help but affectionately think of it as The House of Payne :)

The Payne House sits to the left of the Gristmill parking lot along the Warm Springs Run.  It appears to date back as far as the early 1800s when Warm Springs was a bustling village with a large hotel, spa scene, and stagecoach traffic on their way to the western territory.  I think a visit to our local historical society is much needed to gather more facts and information!

In any event, we are excited to unveil this new addition to our property.  The Payne House will offer another guest suite, a redesigned office/guest registration space, and more event space for special dinners, cooking classes, and wine tastings.  It is a great complement to our property will enhance the guest experience.

We hope to relocate the office to that space within the next month, and have the guest room open for booking by the end of July.  Please stay tuned for details on the Payne House as they unfold.  

Now Jump Around!

Sunday, February 21, 2016


As you will note from the date/time stamp, it's been a while since my last blog posted.  I often find myself wanting to share, but private person that I am, I tend to keep things in, worrying that what I post won't be relevant, and thinking that no one wants to read what this innkeeper has to say anyway.

I recently sat down with a fellow innkeeper and had am amazing one on one conversation where I could really ask anything I wanted and share my experience.  It was so nice to speak to someone who has been in the business and can empathize and relate to our inn-keeping hits and misses.  During that conversation we got on the topic of blogging, and I relayed to her how impressed I was with her consistent blog posts and the sheer ability of being able to come up with things to discuss.  It was at that time she encouraged me to continue blogging and, ultimately, sharing.  

So, with that bit of sage advice, I am inspired, and ready to give it another go.  

It is been a full 5 years of inn-keeping this month.  In 2011 we jumped in with both feet and no plans to look back.  I'd say that in those 5 years we've kept our eyes forward with only a few "what have we done" conversations.  As I reflect on the past 5 years, I'd say we have mostly had the good fortune of incredible experiences as innkeepers.  We have made some great guest friends along the way, worked with amazingly talented individuals, and have found a peacefulness among the stresses of running a business.

I'll leave you with a fun quote and a silly photo of us this winter  enjoying a moment together on an afternoon off.  It seems appropriate at this moment.  

"The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades" -Timbuck3

Thank you for reading :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

In Vino Veritas

We can all agree that John loves wine (ok, me too!).  He has drastically enhanced the restaurant's wine cellar by increasing the offerings to well over 200 different wines, and stocking it with wines from around the world (Lebanon for example).  John is constantly seeking out wines to carry in the cellar and rarely does he price wine that much over retail, so you are sure to get a great deal if you choose a bottle from the cellar.  Ask John why he does this and he will reply that he wants people to try new wines and be exposed to different wineries and varietals they may not have had before.  Wine is supposed to be fun, and not intimidating.  John feels passionately about that and is happy to navigate any and all guests through the cellar.

That said, we took a trip in March to visit California wine country.  We had some great tastings lined up with wonderful and somewhat exclusive wineries, and also a meeting with Spencer Graham of Elizabeth Spencer to go over wines for the wine dinner we had on April 10th.  It was a such a great visit to Napa and Sonoma counties.  We met some fantastic people, tried amazing wines, and of course ate delicious food.  Below are some photos from the trip.  Many of the wines we tried we either carried or now carry in the cellar.  Be sure to stop by and try some of these wonderful representations of California wine.

Vines in Calistoga 

Tasting Room at Elizabeth Spencer.  The line-up was fantastic!

Amazing wines from Colgin that we were lucky to taste.  They are considered "Cult Cabs".
Peter Michael wines are so delicious.  Loads of ripe fruit.  Very palette pleasing.

Martinelli Zin from Sonomoa.  We hope to get these in our cellar one day.
Mmmm...Lynmar!  Amazing Pinots and Chards.  Another winery we hope to have in our cellar.
John and the wind blowing machine.

The mustard was in full bloom and made for some stunning vineyard scenes.

Darioush Winery.  The winery  is like no other in the valley.  Great reds and whites.  Grab a bottle if you can find one.

Fun winery that has a long history in the valley. 

The cat at Salvestrin.

Wow, this is some old Rose.

We even found an old Mill and were lucky enough to get a private tour!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

And the Winner Is...

We are so excited to once again receive certificates of excellence from TripAdvisor.  Both the Inn at the Restaurant were acknowledged for their excellence.  Our friends, fans, and guests are so great to share their experiences.  We were skeptical at first, thinking that only negative experiences would be posted and shared.  We were so wrong.  Our guests are outspoken about their great visits/stays with us.  We are so thankful and honored!

Additionally, we are so excited to share that we were named the 2012/2013 Bath County Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year!  We will be honored at tonight's Business Appreciation dinner.  It is so exciting for us to be recognized for our hard work and determination.  It is humbling to know that our peers not only nominated, but voted for us to receive this award!

Thank you for your support.  Our victories are your victories.  Without your continued support this wouldn't be possible.

All the best from Warm Springs!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Where did the year go?

Wow, we are finding it hard to believe that another great year has come and (almost) gone.  It was a busy one for us!  We managed to accomplish so much at the inn this year.  While keeping our noses to the grindstone (pun intended :) we finally looked up and it was almost winter.  For those of you who didn't have a chance to visit the inn this year we thought we should provide you with a little recap, although you may have (hopefully) followed our journey via facebook.

So, we started really working on the inn in January.  With the help of some extra hands we completed bathroom renovations in the Spring Suite, Singapore, and Croft rooms.  We also painted the entire Mill (restaurant) both inside and out.  Stained the deck and bridges, had the pool completely resurfaced, paved our parking lot, hired a new Executive Chef, added a nice little woodstove to the office, added updated vanities to the Barley and Wheat rooms, and made 5 short videos about the inn, all while seeing a small increase in business for both the restaurant and inn.  To say the least it was a remarkable year!  A few pictures follow of the completed projects, but we hope you will come and see them for yourselves.

This winter we hope to have more time to blog and share inn news with you.  While we will slow down a bit in the colder months it won't stop us from continuing to work on the rooms.  We have plans to decorate a few and will share their progress along the way.

Singapore room with a new bathroom where there was once just a shower in a closet!

The new Singapore shower is HUGE and has a 3 different shower heads for maximum enjoyment.  One is a rain shower from the ceiling.

The new Spring Suite bathroom offers a dual vanity.

And a relaxing jacuzzi tub awaits you.

The Mill is stunning!  The repaint was a huge undertaking, but a wonderful and worthwhile outcome!

The Croft room gets upgraded with a large soaking tub, new flooring, and some fresh paint.

Ahh the pool...a complete resurfacing leaves it sparkling and new.  We look forward to reopening it Memorial Weekend.
Thank you for your time!  Happy Holidays!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Spring Has Sprung!

Yay!!  Spring is here.  I can't say "finally" because we had such a mild winter and spring started showing up in January.  Yet, it is March and officially spring.  This is one of our favorite times of the year.  The gardens around the inn start to develop, the daffodils pop up.  Birds are singing loud and proud and working hard to build their nests, or spruce up the ones they left from last year.

Ramp with dew
Best of all, spring is the time for ramps and morels.  Two of my favorite foods.  Ramps are an early spring vegetable with a strong garlic like odor and a pronounced onion flavor.  They are nothing short of superb and are the ideal addition to eggs, potatoes, trout, pasta, pizza (that's right!), butter, etc.  We like them from raw to cooked, from root to leaf, and all the in-between.  Right now they can be found on our menu broiled with fresh trout and a little beer.  John is famous for pickling them and preserving them for later, or adding them to butter and then topping a delicious Rib-eye with said ramp butter.  I love to put them in a blender with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a little Parmesan cheese to make a pesto which can be used on pasta or as a pizza base.  Quite possibly even more fun than eating them is the time spent in the woods digging them.  John and I look forward to the afternoons we can spend hiking through the forest (in WV) with our digging tool of choice, our dog Turley, and the promise of a full grocery sack of ramps.  We recently took a lovely drive on the scenic highway in WV to go to one of our favorite ramp digging spots: Tea Creek.  This is a stunning part of the state located in nearby Pocahontas Co., WV.  It is about a 45 minute drive from the inn west on highway 39 through Marlinton, WV and then north off of Rte. 219. 

John, Turley, and ramps

Did I mention we also love morels?  These little mushrooms are not as easy to spot as the ramp and grow in abundance right here in Bath Co.  Friends and locals tell tales of scooping up pounds of these delicious mushrooms, but don't think they will share their morel spot; that secret is taken to the grave.  I often wonder, because I've yet to find one, if folks who point me in the "right" direction, are really just sending me further away from their morel spot.  Nah, now why would they do that :)?  Luckily we just have to wait patiently for someone to pop by the back door with bags full of morels for sale to finally enjoy them.  If you can find them, and I hope you have more luck than I, enjoy them, because they are here for a such short time in spring, and although you can buy them dehydrated nothing compares to a freshly picked morel.

Whatever it is you love about spring, and I could go on and on, we hope that you will someday make a trip to experience spring in Bath Co.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

What to do, what to do...

People find many things to do in Bath Co. in the warmer months, but they often wonder what to do in the winter.  Winter is a really great time to visit the area.  First of all, it isn't always as cold as many people think.  In fact just yesterday it was near 60 degrees.  On those nice warm days it is an excellent time to go out on many of the great hiking and biking trails.  You can spend hours out in the woods.  Another great winter activity is fly-fishing.  Native trout enjoy the cooler water temperatures and they are still swimming around in the rivers and streams.

On the colder days we suggest skiing at either the nearby Homestead Resort or taking a little bit longer drive to Snowshoe Mountain.  For beginners the Homestead really is a great spot.  It can be expensive, but if you bring your own rentals or skis/snowboards it can be more affordable.  The Homestead also offers snowboarding, tubing and ice-skating.  All of these activities are available for anyone, even if you aren't staying at The Homestead.  For those willing to make the drive to Snowshoe for a day of skiing it is well worth your time.  Their slopes are fantastic and great skiing for the east coast.  A lift ticket gets you access to both the slopes at Snowshoe and the lesser known Silver Creek ski area.  It is a fantastic deal to have access to both ski areas and there is a complimentary shuttle that will take you back and forth.  We suggest skiing Snowshoe in the morning before it gets too crowded, and then move on to Silver Creek in the afternoon where the lift lines are almost non-existent.
Croft Room fireplace

Feel like curling up with a book in front of a fireplace?  Then you ought to book one of our fireplace rooms.  We have 7 to choose from at the Inn.  Fireplaces are stocked and ready for you to simply light a match.  Need more wood?  No problem, just give us a call and we will bring you more logs to keep your fire going all night long.  It is actually the perfect winter activity.  At the inn we have small library of books ready to be lent to you and also a nice supply of board games to keep you entertained.

Highland County Maple Festival
"Hub and Spoke" is a common term used by the travel industry to describe a destination that can be used as a hub that offers small day trips to other areas.  We are one such destination.  We are a short drive from Staunton, VA (Blackfriars Playhouse), Roanoke, VA (Taubman Museum), Charlottesville, VA (Wineries and Monticello), Lewisburg, WV (The famed Greenbrier Hotel, Carnegie Hall and the Greenbrier Valley Theater), Lexington, VA (VMI and W&L, the Stonewall Jackson House and Natural Bridge), Highland Co., VA (Maple Festival-March, VA Trout Co.), Snowshoe, WV (previously mentioned), and many other fun little out of the way places.
Someone you might find in the Pub

 We hope that we have given you an idea of some of the great activities that can be done while in the area in the winter time.  Of course visiting the area to simply relax and do nothing is always a great idea.  You can stay at the inn and not need to leave.  Let us know before you arrive and we can have a box lunch prepared for you, so that you can stay inside and get some much needed R&R.  Dine in the Waterwheel Restaurant at night, which is conveniently open 7 nights a week.  Cap off the night with a drink in the Simon Kenton Pub and chat with the locals who will tell you tales of the area their favorite things to do all year round.