The Queen Anne Victorian mansion was recently repurposed into a super-stylish, boutique hotel/event space, great for savoring the slow life in style. Resulting from the combined passion and shared vision of its two newbie proprietors—John Martin, fondly referred to as “The Bride Whisperer” and his low-profile partner, Rafael Galiano who jokingly refers to himself as merely “The Groundskeeper”—Park Winters is the kind of place that once visited holds a place deep in your heart.
Building an event space smack dab in the middle of as-far-as-the-eye-can-see farmland, surrounded by fields of corn, alfalfa, sunflowers and fig trees, presented many challenges. However, Martin and Galiano's friends and neighbors showed a willingness to support their dream, going so far as to donate many of the fabulous antiques you'll find placed throughout the Inn.
Case in point: a wealthy matriarch of a nearby farm, after hearing about the project, called to offer a gift for the Inn. "I have this huge antique piano that has been sitting around for years gathering dust bunnies. Please take it and put it to good use," said Barbara Stanwyck. The piano now serves as a gleaming focal point in one of the Inn's simple, country chic, living rooms.
The mansion is filled with inviting gathering spots including a thoroughly modern, airy, all-white (Martha Stewart would kill for it) kitchen. A casually, artful arrangement of fresh field flowers added a gleeful pop of color while two oversized glass canisters chock full of walnuts paid homage to Yolo County's fifth largest crop. Note the many magnificent crystal chandeliers sprinkled throughout the Inn, including the bathrooms.
Before strolling up the winding, carved, wooden staircase to the second floor, notice the artistic fireplaces and the gumdrop hues of the original stained glass windows. Pick from any of the four sunlit bedrooms (it's impossible to go wrong), each oozing comfort sans the girly décor so often encountered in country inns. Bountiful amenities include: a large flat screen TV with premium satellite channels, complimentary Wi-Fi, Tourmaline hair dryer, Egyptian cotton sheets, hypo-allergenic pillows, crisp white robes and yummy smelling EO organic bath products.
I loved my 400-square-foot Fountain Suite with its immense bathroom, double-headed glass shower and private terrace overlooking the English-style garden and koi pond. Across the hall in the Olive Suite, my sister was curled up in her king bed, so thrilled to catch up on the latest episode of Scandal, that she barely noticed the gorgeous view. Another steep flight up brings you to the communal, camp-like loft, sporting various sleeping nooks filled with vintage beds and a huge flat screen TV. The Loft space would be great for a children’s slumber party or a place to gather with good friends and fun conversation.
Park Winters is rapidly staking its claim as a premier wedding venue with over 20 ceremonies already booked since its opening in May. The lushly landscaped property offers a textbook (or in this case, storybook) backdrop for an unforgettable event. Before moving here, the knowledgeable Martin & Galiano tag team owned a glam wedding venue in San Francisco, making them experienced planners.
My sister and I felt like two young girls playing “let’s pretend” as we wandered the grounds, planning a perfect, make-believe wedding. We’d have a really fun rehearsal dinner in the refurbished barn, complete with a DJ-ready dance-the-night away amplified sound system. For the main event we’d start with cocktails, something creative using fresh herbs from the culinary garden. We split on whether to do passed appetizers around the 1500-square-foot salt-water pool (with chameleon colored lights) or stations tucked away in the fig forest and almond orchard. Weather permitting, we’d dine al fresco, under the full moon shining on the surrounding corn fields, Zumba-ing in the breeze, knowing if it got chilly the mansion could easily accommodate 50 for a sit-down dinner.
The 35-foot tower, adjacent to the main house, boasts a private kitchen, living room, and third floor bedroom with fantastic 360-degree views of the fields — a compelling choice for the couple’s wedding night. Parking, music, catering, photography, flowers, you name it — John and his associate, Katie make it happen, always with cheery smiles and the know-how to keep the bride stress-free.
I was especially smitten by their newest offering, Grow Your Own Wedding Garden. The lovebirds are encouraged to visit Park Winters about six months prior to the wedding to plant lettuce and assorted veggies. These will be harvested right before the Big Day and used to wow their guests with very special farm-to-table offering.
I know this all sounds wonderful, but what if you’re not planning a wedding? No problem! One needn't take vows to spend time at the Inn. We adored our girlfriend getaway that included ridiculously delicious breakfasts cooked by Chef Sharon Kelso. Each morning after we piled our plates sky-high, sampling about six freshly baked dishes such as warm Blackberry Brie Pastry Bites and Low-Country Cheesy Shrimp Grits, we’d head out to our garden table where we contentedly munched our divine meal while listening to birds busily sending out their morning tweets.
It's a snap to envision Park Winters as the perfect, one-size-fits-all (as long as you want to do it in style) destination for a family reunion, a little mother-daughter bonding, a corporate retreat, a romantic escape, or a glamping getaway. Galiano told us about a recent wedding where “50 fabulously-fun women in heels ended up camping in our backyard.”
Whatever your plans, rest easy because Park Winter’s credo, “Simple. Country. Luxury.” will exceed your expectations. Follow them on Facebook to find out more about a soon-to-be-launched Guest Chef Series. (I think I heard whispers about Tom Brady, Gisele, and their personal chef doing a class?)
Janice Nieder could be the love child of Indiana Jones and Julia Child. She was a specialty food consultant for 12 years in New York, with a client list that included Tavern on the Green, Dean & Deluca and Sign of the Dove. After being bitten by the travel bug, her culinary adventures took her to over 90 countries, where she shared a smoked monkey dinner with a generous Shuar Indian family deep...(Read More)