We talked to: Downton Valley
We recently had a fantastic conversation with Downton Valley, a beautiful, welcoming B&B Home for women to visit, whether they are from out of town and passing through for business or pleasure, or simply enjoying a staycation "getaway" from their home nearby! It's the ideal spot for adventures, relaxation, and delectable fare. With numerous trails on the property as well as plenty of outdoor relaxation options (from decks and patios to fire-pits and pools!), there is truly something for everyone to enjoy.
Could you give us an overview of your business—what made you start it, what excites you about it, etc.? What made you choose Northampton as the location for your B&B Home?
Bonnie and I built our home 3 yrs ago, with the intention of having it be a place where our kids could return with their families as they grew and expanded. As time passed, our vision evolved, and we realized we truly wanted to open our home and six and a half acre property to guests and share with them the beauty of our land and all that it has to offer.
Our Bed and Breakfast Home (B&BH) welcomes women 21+ from all over, whether it’s couples enjoying a getaway, moms visiting their students at Smith, or businesswomen just passing through town who want a quiet, welcoming home base. We feel so incredibly fortunate to have amazing views of the mountains, trails for year ‘round activities, and plenty of beautiful outdoor spaces from decks to fire-pits to our saltwater pool. Our guests can also venture on to the trails that comprise the parcel next door to us—17 acres of beautiful land for even more hiking, snowshoeing, and wandering!
And how are things going in general for your business?
We are doing great! Out of an abundance of caution and concern for visitors, we purposely waited until last October to book our first guest. We also require guests to be vaccinated and boostered, so that we can continue to be as careful as possible. At this point, we really want to spread the word that we are here, open, and eager to host guests.
Recently, we’ve taken some trips to events with a large female following in both Delaware and Provincetown, and we’ve used those travel experiences to spread the word. We also went on the Melissa Etheridge cruise, which was both fun and useful for getting the word out there! And of course, we are trying to be as consistent as possible with social media posts—with the help of our tech-savvy kids--to showcase our property, amenities, and all the great/unique features our B&BH has to offer.
What are some challenges you’ve encountered in the past two years since the beginning of the pandemic, both personally and professionally?
One main goal is to pay it forward, as it is not lost on us how fortunate we are in so many ways. While we have worked really hard to be where we are and who we are, we also truly feel like we live in a resort and we want to share it. In this time of Covid, it's a priority for us to be as safe as possible and keep ourselves and our guests healthy. We adhere to the CDC guidelines and have strict Covid regulations. This is not just a B&BH, it’s also our home, and we try to be as present and engaged as guests want us to be, while also giving them the space they need. It’s been a treat and a privilege to invite guests into our home and give women a safe, welcoming, and lovely “home away from home” experience.
As a business owner, what do you do to unwind/relax/rejuvenate?
Bonnie reads and listens to music and loves playing word games. I participate in triathlons, and I love our indoor pool and gym, which I use for training. When we’re not busy with our day jobs (I am an attorney and Bonnie is an artist and works as an Assistant Teacher in the infant room of the Early Learning Center at Deerfield Academy) and hosting guests, we just love spending time together and enjoying our home and land. In fact, we like to have date nights on the property because we prefer being there over anywhere else!
Is there anything you’re excited about regarding the business in upcoming months, from events to other things?
I guess as a new business, we’re still excited for every reservation. Every time we receive a new notification, it’s like the first one all over again! It’s an honor to be able to welcome such a diverse group of women, and be as attentive to individual needs and requests as possible.
During the initial phases of the pandemic in 2020, Bonnie and I got into watching Downton Abbey, which we’d never seen before. We got completely hooked, and started dreaming about not only the B&BH, but also how we could incorporate aspects of the show into the space. We kept tossing out ideas for names that would be connected to Downton, and then, as we were finalizing the B&BH with our attorney, he asked, “How about Downton Valley?” And it just seemed like the perfect fit! We currently have two rooms, the Dowager and the Isobel, with the Cora room in the works. And we’ve been coming up with names for our various trails, based on locations in Downton Abbey. There are also other fun little nods to the series throughout the house that fans will appreciate.
In the near future, we’d love to partner more with other local businesses, and help to promote one another. With our other jobs, it is definitely challenging finding time to not only fit in a second business, but also promote it. And yet in the end, it’s so rewarding and fun. I don’t love to travel extensively, so having people come to us is the perfect setup. We have some dreams for the future regarding outdoor spaces—I would love to eventually have a pickleball court! For now, we have three separate decks, two outdoor fire-pits, our heated saltwater pool, and plenty of other spots for folks to gather outside.
We have had a few people contact us about hosting house concerts, and we certainly have plenty of space to have little events going forward. For now, we’re just excited for new guests, and of course, any who are looking to return. Some of our recent guests were so thrilled with the B&BH and property that they did not even want to venture beyond it to explore the area. They said, “Maybe next time–we just want to stay put on this visit!” Bonnie and I just feel so overwhelmed with gratitude and joy that we get to open our home up to others, and we want them to become as enamored of it as we are. Whether they are coming from far away or a half a mile down the road, we want to make it a destination for relaxation, fun, and making memories. In other news, we just learned that we were voted a finalist in the Best of the Valley 2022, which for a newly opened business, is very exciting!