Widgets Magazine

Innkeeper Alane Kelly of the North Fork Guest House on Turning Her Classic Victorian Home into a Modern Boutique Hotel

Q: How did you get to the North Fork? A: My husband & I lived in Brooklyn and we love to cycle, and we came to the North Fork to cycle, it’s beautiful biking here.

Then my husband got a job at Brookhaven National Lab. I was trying to figure out what to do, and we went by this house, and I fell in love with the potential—you can walk to seven or eight wineries & tasting rooms, Bedell is right next door, the back yard overlooks the vineyard.

I thought wow, what a great modern B&B this could it be.  At the time it was an old Victorian style B&B, but I had a vision of how to keep that classic Victorian house while updating it with a modern aesthetic.

nf-map-of-wineries

Q: Did you have any hospitality industry experience?

A: Hotels are something of an obsession for me. My career started in travel and hotel marketing, so I have travelled a lot, stayed in a lot of hotels for my career.  Part of my passion for this project has been to create an experience for guests, not just offer a room to stay in.

The 1921 house has all the classical beauty of an old house, but as part of the renovation we’ve given it modern amenities. The décor is modern, the rooms furnished with new bedding, wall paper, light fixtures—our hope is that it feels like a boutique hotel to guests, even though you’re in our home.

queen-guest-room

The two things we splurged on in the remodeling were the kitchen and the beds. The beds are top of the line Stearns & Foster, and designed our kitchen around stainless steel Thermadore appliances. People really like the open concept and that we are not behind closed doors while cooking their breakfast.

We also have a totally separate seating area that’s rather like a hotel lobby, plus a front porch and a back patio, with a view of Bedell Cellar’s vineyard.

shared-living-space

Q: You mentioned creating an experience, not just offer a room. What do you mean?

A: We feel an important part of our job is to be on hand as concierges and ambassadors for the North Fork, so we can help people map out their itinerary for the day—which wineries, based on what they like, should they visit? What experiences would really suit them? There are so many options out here, and it’s really important to us for our guests to have a great experience on the fork.

Also, people may not realize it, but you can really escape the hustle & bustle here, relax in a way that just isn’t possible in the city--we have the water, beautiful landscapes, and all these amazing wineries at our fingertips.  I partner with the nearby ones; for example, my guests receive special attention from Bedell Cellars. I can call ahead and let them know my guests are walking over. Bedell Cellars is a really nice neighbor to have.

We intentionally don’t have TVs in the guest rooms to support that escapist dimension, but we do have high speed Wi-Fi so people can stream if they want. Also, we have a designated massage room where our guests can shed the stress of the city.

front-porch

It’s really about the guest experience and trying to make it as simple as possible for them during their stay with us.

Q: A key part of a bed and breakfast is the breakfast. What’s the North Fork Guest House breakfast like?

A: Breakfast we thought about a lot; we took a course with a local chef. We wanted to create a personalized experience. We wanted our egg or waffle dish personalized to the guest while using local ingredients.

breakfast

We also always offer a homemade baked good, homemade granola, locally roasted coffee,. (From the Nofo Roasting Company.)

We serve coffee & tea at 8, breakfast at 9. People don’t always eat together anymore, so it’s nice to sit family style at our long farm table, though guests are also welcome to sit outside instead, and some do.

breakfast-is-served

We make an effort to use local whenever possible, whatever is in season.

Q: You’re one of the stops on the Annual Cutchogue Holiday House Tour on December 3. What can ticket holders expect when they visit you?

A: Well, each ticket holder will visit six stops; each of four B&Bs, plus the historic Cutchogue-New Suffolk Schoolhouse, plus the Cutchogue Village Green for the tree lighting.  At each B&B guests will see a beautifully decorated house, enjoy tasting plates from a local chef, wine from a local vineyard, and music.

At the North Fork Guest House, the chef will be Peter Berley, a James Beard Award winner, who is normally found in Jamesport’s Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, and we are pairing up with Bedell Cellars. We will also host local retailers Phoebe and Belle and North Fork Natural, so guests can window shop for holiday presents.

Q: Sounds wonderful, and so very Cutchogue. Is supporting local a holiday-time only thing?

A: No. Our three rooms were booked every weekend last year in part because fellow B&B owners would refer to me when they were booked, and I reciprocate. I always send my guests to local stores too, like Phoebe & Belle across the street, North Fork Natural and Revel North Fork in downtown Cutchogue. Small business sticks together out here.