Of the many inns we have visited, there are very few which have taken a theme and executed it so beautifully as L’Auberge Provencale (new website coming soon) in White Post, Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley. We’ve shot the inn and restaurant several times and every time we are there, we’re awestruck at the great attention to detail, particularly the way the Provence theme is so pervasive and consistently addressed. From the French-style orchard to the ochre-stained plaster walls covered with French art to the fragrance of lavender in the garden to the house-made croissants that arrive in a basket at breakfast each morning. More than all of that is the sense of quality and craftsmanship that you tend to see in all things French. Farm-to-table dining is trendy these days…but these guys have been doing it for 30 years! The sum total of all this recreates the experience of visiting a fine Auberge in the south of France, right in the backyard of one of the most populated regions in the US–the Washington DC metro area.

At the end of this post, you’ll find a recipe for a fantastic rustic onion tart; be sure to check it out.

Here a few shots from our last shoot:

Lauberge Dining Outside 03 XL Capturing the Essence of Provence...in the Heart of Virginia

Alfresco dining at L’Auberge Provencale’s Restaurant…go totally French and enjoy a long nap after the meal!

Lauberge Gardens A 10 XL Capturing the Essence of Provence...in the Heart of Virginia

The kitchen garden at the inn. These guys were doing “Farm-to-Table” long before it was cool

Lauberge x background 06 XL Capturing the Essence of Provence...in the Heart of VirginiaNatural-pigment ochre that one finds in ancient buildings in Provence is also found throughout the Inn. It’s all in the details!

289358646 ubUmK XL Capturing the Essence of Provence...in the Heart of Virginia

Imported French tile in the bathroom

Lauberge Provence B 09 XL Capturing the Essence of Provence...in the Heart of VirginiaProvence-style picnic in in the orchard

Lauberge Provence E 02 XL Capturing the Essence of Provence...in the Heart of VirginiaA still life in the inn’s gardens

Lauberge Food entrees 22 XL Capturing the Essence of Provence...in the Heart of VirginiaSome of the beautiful creations from the Inn’s kitchen

Lauberge Food entrees 16 XL Capturing the Essence of Provence...in the Heart of Virginia

Local Morel mushrooms and fiddle-head fern pasta

Lauberge Gardens A 04 XL Capturing the Essence of Provence...in the Heart of VirginiaThe gardens at the Inn looking towards the Inn’s orchard

Lauberge Food entrees 25 XL Capturing the Essence of Provence...in the Heart of VirginiaOnion Tart – The recipe is below

Provençale Caramelized Onion Tartlet with Fresh Thyme Flowers

Makes Two Tarts

INGREDIENTS:

2 oz Butter, room temperature

1/4 oz Dry Yeast

3/4 Cup of Warm Water

1 0z. Sugar

1 Tsp. Salt

1 Egg

12 0z. Bread Flour

 

In Mixer, Hydrate yeast in Water.  Add egg,  add sugar, and 2/3 flour.  Let proof in bowl and then add last 1/3 of flour with butter and Salt.  Let proof again, about 30minutes.  Remove from bowl and place on floured surface.

Punch down and roll into 2 12″ diameter circles 1/4 inch thick.  Put on Baking Pans.  Let proof again.

 

While the dough is proofing on the baking pans make caramelized onion topping.

INGREDIENTS:

4 Large Vidalia Onions cut in have and sliced into strips about 1/4 inch thick.

2 tablespoons fresh Thyme (de-stemmed)

1 cup of White Wine

4 tablespoons of Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper to Taste

1/4 cup of fresh thyme flowers

In Skillet sautée onions in Olive Oil. Add salt and pepper and cook for about 10 minutes. Add White Wine.  Cook until the Onions are translucent and onion begins to change to a light caramel color.  Add Thyme and Remove from heat.

Put onion mixture on top of dough. Bake at 350 degrees until the crust is golden brown.  .  Just before serving drizzle with Provencale Pizza Oil or Olive Oil and garnish with fresh thyme flowers and freshly ground black pepper.

 

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Continuing our look back at recent travels in Virginia…a completely different type of inn than the previously-covered Inn at Warner Hall. Next on the itinerary was Fort Lewis Lodge, a 3200-acre “country resort”,  right in the middle of Virgina’s most rural county, Bath (not one traffic light in the whole county!) and not far from the renowned Homestead Resort and historic Warms Springs. The inn has miles of crystal-clear stocked trout streams, a mountain, beautiful fields and is dotted with ponds; it’s basically an outdoor-lover’s paradise. The accommodations are housed in a group of buildings sprinkled around the property, the centerpiece being the lodge with it’s stunning glazed-tile silo. The rooms in the lodge are comfortable but simple, shaker-style. The log cottages are more luxurious and full of character. Our challenge here was to “sell” prospective guests on all the wonderful things you can do right on property–no need to travel once you drive up the long, long driveway. Loyal guests return to this property in part for the rooms but more for the pristine nature of this spot and all the outdoor activities available.

I think we captured a bit of the one-of-a-kind experience Fort Lewis Lodge offers….

FortLewis Exteriors Biking 02 X2 Wonderfully Wild: Fort Lewis LodgeA couple biking on Fort Lewis Lodge’s private drive – this is how you enter the property

FortLewis Exterior Lodge 06 X2 Wonderfully Wild: Fort Lewis LodgeThe lodge with its great silo

FortLewis Exterior Pavilion 08 X2 Wonderfully Wild: Fort Lewis LodgeThe pavilion is a recently constructed open air common space, with expansive views

FortLewis Exterior Pavilion 04 X2 Wonderfully Wild: Fort Lewis Lodge

The pavilion by night – complete with dramatic fireplace

FortLewis Exteriors Artist 02 X2 Wonderfully Wild: Fort Lewis Lodge

We weren’t the only ones capturing the natural beauty…

FortLewis Food Dining 09 X2 Wonderfully Wild: Fort Lewis LodgeThe lodge-style dinner is a buffet of very fresh homemade salads and casseroles – featuring a perfectly-grilled meat or fish

FortLewis River Fly Fishing 05 X2 Wonderfully Wild: Fort Lewis LodgeFly fishing in Fort Lewis Lodge’s private stream

FortLewis River Fly Fishing 08 X2 Wonderfully Wild: Fort Lewis LodgeThe Prize – a perfect rainbow trout

FortLewis River Kayak 03 X2 Wonderfully Wild: Fort Lewis LodgeThe inn offers kayaks for its guests

FortLewis Rooms LewisCabin 01 X2 Wonderfully Wild: Fort Lewis Lodge

One of the inn’s log cabin accommodations

FortLewis Exterior x Misc 04 X2 Wonderfully Wild: Fort Lewis LodgeExterior of log cabins at Fort Lewis Lodge

FortLewis Exteriors Mill 04 X2 Wonderfully Wild: Fort Lewis LodgeThe entry porch into the Mill Building – where the cozy pub and dining room are located

If you are a member of the press and want to see or use any of the 200 + high resolution images from this shoot, just email us  for the password to the Jumping Rocks Media Bank  page for Fort Lewis Lodge.

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If Virginia is for Lovers, we must be lovers…because we’ve spent more time in the last 12 months in Virginia than any other state. We’ve been back to shoot for some old friends and have also discovered some fantastic new inns. We will cover this “Virginian Odyssey” in a number of separate blog posts; there is just too much to flesh out in one post. Today we’d like to do a little show-and-tell about the remarkable Inn at Warner Hall.

The Inn at Warner Hall in the Tidewater region near Williamsburg is a stunner–one of the most beautifully-renovated historic properties we’ve photographed in our 8 years in this business. The quality is evident at every turn. Every guest room is elegant, spacious, beautifully decorated and (lucky for us photographers) there are windows everywhere.  Innkeepers Theresa and Troy Stavens transformed this property into an inn and supervised its epic and immaculate renovation. There is a tiny bit of history here: it was the home of George Washington’s grandparents (GW learned to waltz in the grand parlor) and the property has close connections to Queen Elizabeth II (who has been here), Robert E Lee and Captain Meriwether Lewis. Read a little more about the history here. Situated at the end of a long and dramatic driveway, the property has views of  and frontage on the Severn River. Our challenge was to capture the grandness of the property, the views from both inside and out, and add a sense of “approachability”, i.e . mood and romance, through propping, styling and the use of models.

Here a few highlights:

WarnerHall Exterior Facade 04 X2 History, Luxury and Hospitality: They Have it ALL at Warner Hall!The wonderful long entry to The Inn at Warner Hall

WarnerHall CommonRooms 12 X2 History, Luxury and Hospitality: They Have it ALL at Warner Hall!The beautiful parlor where George Washington learned to waltz as a teenager

WarnerHall Rooms Elizabeth 01 X2 History, Luxury and Hospitality: They Have it ALL at Warner Hall!The Elizabeth guest room has a great view of the river

WarnerHall Rooms Meriwether 02 X2 History, Luxury and Hospitality: They Have it ALL at Warner Hall!The non-water views are also great, like this view from the Meriwether Room

WarnerHall Exterior Boathouse X2 History, Luxury and Hospitality: They Have it ALL at Warner Hall!The boat house is a popular place to watch the sunset

WarnerHall Exterior Boathouse X2 History, Luxury and Hospitality: They Have it ALL at Warner Hall!The Inn at Warner Hall offers a “dinner basket” that you can enjoy anywhere on the extensive grounds. This couple took it down to the boathouse.

WarnerHall Exterior Porch 05 X2 History, Luxury and Hospitality: They Have it ALL at Warner Hall!The second floor porch is a great place to chill

WarnerHall Exterior Facade 21 X3 History, Luxury and Hospitality: They Have it ALL at Warner Hall!An adorable couple breaking after a ride through the Gloucester County back roads around the inn

 If you are a member of the press and want to see or use any of the 180 high resolution images from this shoot, just email us  for the password to the Jumping Rocks Media Bank  page for Inn at Warner Hall.

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One of the highlights from this spring was shooting The Inn at Woodhaven in Louisville,  Kentucky. This inn really has it all–great decor, real value, excellent setting, the best breakfast yet and–most of all–a great vibe, thanks to long-time innkeeper Marsha Burton.

From a pure photographer’s standpoint, the inn is a dream–from the enchanting (I don’t use that word often) Gothic Revival architecture to the charming diamond-shaped windowpanes to the enormous 14-foot Gothic arched doors.
Check out some of the highlights…

Woodhaven Rooms Attic 10 X3 Derby Schmerby! Go to Louisville for the Inn at Woodhaven!! The Attic Suite bathroom

Woodhaven Porch Back 05 2 X3 Derby Schmerby! Go to Louisville for the Inn at Woodhaven!! One of two inviting porches at Inn at Woodhaven

Woodhaven Rooms Rose 04 XL Derby Schmerby! Go to Louisville for the Inn at Woodhaven!! Great textures and colors in the guestrooms

Woodhaven Rooms RoseCottage 11 X3 Derby Schmerby! Go to Louisville for the Inn at Woodhaven!! The gardens of private cottage on the property. Yes this is an urban inn!

Woodhaven Rooms Rose 11 2 XL Derby Schmerby! Go to Louisville for the Inn at Woodhaven!! Those diamond shaped windows are wonderful, except for the window washer!

Woodhaven Food 13 X3 Derby Schmerby! Go to Louisville for the Inn at Woodhaven!! And after a long two day shoot, what better way to wrap it up than a cold mint julep..where else…on the verandah.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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You know you’ve been around the block when you find yourself re-photographing the same room, sometimes even 2 or 3 times! A lot has happened with fashion and style in 8 years and the savvy innkeepers are keeping up with the trends. We just returned from a New England trip (one of several this year) and wanted to share some highlights…and particularity Sugar Hill Inn’s latest redo. By the way, all three of these inns are Select Registry members.

Sugar Hill Inn, Sugar Hill NH 

339673694 UcJas L New England Highlights: Fresh Rooms and Stellar Cuisine
Bickford Bath, before
339674285 CZ6VV L New England Highlights: Fresh Rooms and Stellar Cuisine
Bickford Bedroom, before

This room was brought from the past into the present with a bold new color on the walls, cheery new bedding and some new furniture, focusing on style and comfort. Its amazing what a few new components can do for a room! This was not an extravagant high-budget redo, but results are dramatic. Great job guys!

 

 

 

 

 

SugarHill Bickford 01 Edit X2 New England Highlights: Fresh Rooms and Stellar Cuisine
Sugar Hill Inn’s Bickford Suite, after

 

SugarHill BickfordBath 01 XL New England Highlights: Fresh Rooms and Stellar Cuisine

Sugar Hill Inn’s Bickford Suite Bath, after

 

More contemporary styling and camera angles helps convey the new decor approach at Sugar Hill.
Rabbit Hill Inn, Lower Waterford, VT 

We’ve had the pleasure of shooting Rabbit Hill–what we consider THE classic American country inn–many times. Leslie and Brian, aside from being good friends, are an inspiration in every aspect of the hospitality business–from their smart marketing to their commitment to guest comfort to their justly famous hospitality. This time we focused primarily on food, and capturing “the life of the inn”–from the guests to the staff to the action in the kitchen. Here are a few highlights:

RabbitHill Kitchen Dinner 11 XL New England Highlights: Fresh Rooms and Stellar Cuisine
Some of the great fresh food products the chefs have to work with at Rabbit Hill Inn

 

RabbitHill Kitchen DinnerPasta XL New England Highlights: Fresh Rooms and Stellar Cuisine
Making ravioli in the Rabbit Hill kitchen

 

RabbitHill X Guests 13 XL New England Highlights: Fresh Rooms and Stellar Cuisine
Supreme Innkeeper Leslie helping guests plan their activities

 

RabbitHill X Guests 18 XL New England Highlights: Fresh Rooms and Stellar Cuisine
Innkeeper snapping a shot of guests trying their hand at one of the addictive Stave puzzles

 

RabbitHill Kitchen Pastry a 01 XL New England Highlights: Fresh Rooms and Stellar Cuisine
Pastry chef putting finishing touches on dessert

Inn at Weston, Weston VT


This was our first visit to The Inn at Weston, a charming Vermont country inn located in Weston,  famous for (other than the Inn) The Vermont Country Store and The Weston Playhouse. What struck us (as former innkeepers) was how well the rooms were appointed and designed. We usually shoot a few bathrooms at an inn like this,  but every one was pretty stellar so we had to shoot them all! Most of the rooms are fully-loaded: fireplaces, fancy tiled showers or jetted tubs, and spacious, comfortable sitting areas. 

Although the dining room was closed during our visit, we shot food and it was pretty stunning as well. One of our favorite places was the pub, which was loaded with atmosphere. Hoping to get  some great snow shots, we were instead faced with freakish 70 degree days and endless Vermont mud. We will be returning in the summer to get shots of their lush and beautiful gardens.

Weston Rooms Waite 05 XL New England Highlights: Fresh Rooms and Stellar Cuisine
Many of the guest suites feature a peek-through, from the spacious tub to the fireplace…a recipe for romance, right?

 

Weston Rooms Tuttle 02 XL New England Highlights: Fresh Rooms and Stellar Cuisine
Weston Pub 02 XL New England Highlights: Fresh Rooms and Stellar Cuisine
Mark as fire-tender, the pub at The Inn at Weston

 

Weston x Food 23 X2 New England Highlights: Fresh Rooms and Stellar Cuisine
Arctic Char Over Spinach and Rice Cake
Weston x Food 11 XL New England Highlights: Fresh Rooms and Stellar Cuisine
Cauliflower soup sound dull? Not with Chef Michael’s treatment and delicate garnish

 

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