Villa at Saugerties
Proprietor: Amanda and Joe
Live: Saugerties, Ny
Previous Life: (Amanda) Interior Designer | (Joe) Studio / Scheduling Mgr. Post Production at The Food Network
Activities: (Amanda) Making a mean ginger lemonade cocktail, Garden Design | (Joe) Music, Making Amanda laugh ’til she cries
When did you first open?
New Years 2016
When did you purchase The Villa, and how long did it take to renovate it?
We purchased the property in the spring of 2010, a modest 1929 Mediterranean style country house with a partially renovated animal barn built around the turn of the century. Although we thought we would open later that summer, one electrical and structural surprise after another led us down a very long road that we most definitely did not anticipate. As we neared the one year mark, I had an epiphany while standing on two floor joists looking down through two floors, and looking up where the roof would be, to only see the sky, and realized that this no longer made sense. Sadly, there was nothing left to salvage and we decided it was time for The Villa to come down. So, now we had an opportunity to truly embrace our vision, if we could figure out how to do it — none of this was in our plan. We spent some time seeking financing, planning, and designing a new space with our guests in mind — a little Mediterranean modern oasis in the Hudson Valley — a place for guests to have an experiential stay focused on simple rustic food (using local, organic, seasonal ingredients), lush gardens, and thoughtful, sophisticated design inside and out. And then, hurricane Irene happened. We were living in The Barn, huddled up looking out the window to see tarps on The Villa blowing madly in the wind, while to our right we watched water running down the walls inside. Next up were the frogs popping up through the old pine floor boards, and a handful of snakes in a hole behind our bed. It was like the plagues. We survived, and once the wind died down, and the storm was over, we somehow took it in stride with a sigh and said, “Oh crap. We have to do this one now too” — and so we did. The project took 5 1/2 years to tear down and rebuild both buildings, the gardens, the landscaping, the pool —the entire property. We had a lot of starts and stops as the seasons dictated, and my Dad became ill during this time as well. It was a slow and challenging process for sure, but so worth it in the end.
How did you end up in Saugerties?
When Joe and I married, we went to Spain on our honeymoon and literally had a life changing experience in the northern countryside. We stayed at a small, humble spot run by a young couple taking over the property from an older couple. The man, who was the chef, knew that we were into simple food and beautiful wine. We were treated with such thoughtfulness and care. He asked if we wanted anything special, and we explained how we were craving vegetables and everything green after having traveled through meat heavy little towns. He whisked us away to his private garden, grabbed a basket and a pair of scissors and began cutting lettuce out of the ground, and pulled a pomegranate off of the tree. He smiled and said, “Let’s pick you a salad”. It was this moment that brought us to the first of what would become many conversations over a bottle of red, circling around a single question, “If we could do anything in the world, can you imagine what it would feel like to be able to make other people feel as happy as we do right now?” We never thought we would actually do it, but when we returned to reality, and continued to live the same day every day, and reconsidered the “charm” of our tiny studio apartment in the city that was bursting at the seams, the red wine conversations about a life change continued to the point of writing our ideas down —and after months of discussing and thinking and dreaming, we realized we kind of had a business plan. We began a long and specific search fo a place that would feel right for us. We gave up our search and began again more than a handful of times, until we found The Villa, and were stopped in our tracks. The Villa is what initially brought us to Saugerties. This modest Spanish style country house seemingly plopped in the middle of the Hudson Valley was rough around the edges, but it made our hearts sing. It was our Spanish countryside and mountain-scape. It brought us an immediate sense of peace. Being in Saugerties and the Hudson Valley, where food and wine are important, where we could be a part of a wonderful community, source locally, and easily welcome guests from major hubs and small towns alike, it soon became clear that this was the perfect spot to bring our simple motto and dream to life.
Tell us about the villa.
We describe The Villa as a tiny Mediterranean modern oasis. We are a unique bed and breakfast — a luxury stay and true escape. Our focus is on all that is good, beautiful, and delicious. The Villa has two king bedrooms and two queen bedrooms (2 adults each) to accommodate a maximum of eight guests at a time. Each bedroom is appointed with organic cotton linens, private baths with hand laid moroccan tiled bathrooms, marble sinks, and radiant heated floors. Some have incredibly deep soaking tubs with a shower, and some have large walk in showers. All of the rooms have lovely sitting areas with a fireplace, cable tv with Netflix and Wi-Fi, mini fridges with complimentary beverages, and most have French doors leading to private outdoor garden spaces to lounge or dine. The interior spaces include a large dining area with 24 hr Nespresso, tea, and afternoon fruit and cookies. The living room / library has a large wood burning fireplace, a game table, and socially distanced seating allowing guests to mingle safely. We have a 40 foot heated swimming pool and lounge area, lush dining gardens with separate tables, two streams, and an incredible lily pond with turtles, frogs herons, and more. Included with your stay of course, is a substantial healthy breakfast / brunch using local, organic and seasonal ingredients to create simple, rustic dishes.
What does an experiential stay mean to you folks?
Our vision has always been to create meaningful curated stays for a small number of guests at a time — a true escape. The concept was to offer our guests extra care to make their stay as special as possible, whatever we can do to make them happy. We work together to plan personalized itineraries including incredible nearby hikes and waterfalls, historical sites, or visiting nearby towns like Saugerties, Kingston, Woodstock, or Hudson, depending on what they want to experience, or staying onsite and lounging the day away poolside with a lemonade in hand. On many Saturday evenings we offer a special prix fixe dinner at The Barn or in the gardens, where we invite our guests to join us for a memorable rustic feast with their favorite wine to enjoy, and inevitably the evening ends with some pretty hearty laughter, and as corny as it sounds, new friendships. We are so lucky. We get the best guests.
Do you folks live on the property?
Yes, we live in The Barn.
Do you have a staff?
As the chef, the kitchen is Joe’s domain. He develops the menus, does the recipe testing, local ingredient sourcing/shopping, and I do the taste testing! The design inside and out is my domain, while managing the business, everyday tasks, and meeting the needs of our guests’ is our biggest shared responsibility. We do not have a full time staff, but we have incredible help to maintain the gardens, and a fabulous couple who helps with cleaning in-between guests. It has always been really important to us to be hands on in the front and back of house, and to keep The Villa experience as quiet and private as possible. So most of the time, it’s just us!
What separates you folks from the other small boutique inns in the area?
We can’t speak to the creation or vision of other local hospitality businesses, but we can share that The Villa was built out of total love. It has always been just Joe and me. We didn’t partner with anyone, and we didn’t really have the mindset of starting a business. We had the mindset of creating a true escape to indulge a small group of people at a time — a unique getaway that could bring people together to eat and laugh and let it all go. We knew that if we got it right, and if we could be the best at what we do, that it would work out. It sounds cliché, but we are all heart.
What does community mean to you? How has the community shaped your own business?
It has been such a blessing to be a part of a community of farmers, artisans, laborers, gardeners, restaurateurs, and makers. We love our community, have incredible neighbors, and are thrilled to support them and be supported by them. Saugerties is a gem, and we are so grateful to be a part of its growth.
What restrictions have you made in response to covid-19?
Currently, we are offering stays of three to seven days, and will actually close down in-between guests in order to have additional cleaning / disinfecting time, and to be able to air out all spaces for several days before new arrivals. We have a sanitizing station in the entry, and are cleaning public spaces multiple times a day. We ask guests to wear masks in interior public spaces, and where they might not be able to socially distance outside. We designed The Villa for guests who want to be together and also for guests who prefer their privacy, so we are fortunate to have so many places for guests to relax and dine at separate tables, or socially distanced at a larger table, both inside and out.
How are you planning on keeping your ethos of “making people happy” while also making people feel safe during these times?
We are letting our guests know what our new practices entail, so that everyone can feel secure, and to let them know that it is for our own safety as well. Despite these new procedures, wearing masks, hand sanitizing, and social distancing, not much else feels different! Our guests are savvy and responsible. They know what to do to keep themselves and others safe, but to be sure, we are also providing CDC recommended guidelines for them to follow. People are resilient, flexible, and caring. They still want to be in beautiful surroundings, enjoy beautiful food, have good conversation, and to feel connected — especially now. If we can continue to share our love through this special little place (even from a distance), and they know that we are here for them, then we are doing it right.
How do people book a visit?
Our website is currently under construction, so guests can email us at info@thevillatatsaugerties, or through instagram @thevillaatsaugerties, or at 845-246-5440.