Wedmore Place Brings Europe to Williamsburg
Traveling unlocks the adventurer in us and stimulates our natural curiosity to learn about the customs and cultures of somewhere new.
Wedmore Place, the hotel at The Williamsburg Winery, invites guests to discover a different part of Europe with every new stay.
Each of the 28 rooms reflects a theme reinforced with appropriate antiques and works of art. All come with wood-burning fireplaces. The comfortable robes in each room are enticing to cozy up to the warmth with a glass of wine before enjoying a restful night’s sleep in a king-sized bed. The names of the rooms correspond to the regions they represent — Scandinavia, Brandenburg, and Tuscany, to list a few.
Like everything on Wessex Hundred, Wedmore Place is rooted in history. Patrick Duffeler, founder of The Williamsburg Winery, wanted to create a European style hotel, similar to one in Nuits-Saint-Georges in northern Burgundy, where he overnighted multiple times while working for a Geneva-based investment group decades ago.
“It was a wonderful place. It exuded warmth. It exuded history,” he says. “It was comfortable. It was traditional and it was unique. These are all the things I like in a hotel.”
And here’s what he doesn’t like. Back in the early ’70s, he logged more than 200 flights per year as the developer of the Formula 1 motor racing team. Waking up in a standardized room devoid of character, he’d initially wonder, “Am I in Cincinnati or Singapore?”
“These hotels, they are all the same. They had no soul, no history,” he says.
During Duffeler’s early visits to Williamsburg — starting with his first in 1961 as a recent high school graduate and including several with his parents — he felt the historic district and surrounding area needed a better hotel.
The initial design for Wedmore Place was made in 1989. Two years later, Duffeler brought aboard John Hopke, the Williamsburg architect behind all of The Williamsburg Winery’s major construction projects.
Duffeler hit the pause button due to the savings and loan crisis and recession in real estate that consumed much of the 1990s. The ground for Wedmore Place was broken in 2005.
As suggested by Patrick II, the founder’s son, the hotel derives its name from a nineth-century agreement between King Alfred of Wessex and the Danish leader Guthrum to prevent future military conflict. The Treaty of Wedmore set up geographical boundaries that led to peace in the area.
“We adopted the name Wedmore because I wanted Wedmore Place to be a peaceful place,” Duffeler says.
The sounds from Wedmore Place relate to its natural wooded surroundings far from the rumble of the interstate.
The hotel opened in 2007 with Gerald Baliles in attendance. The former Virginia Governor was also on hand for the launch of The Williamsburg Winery 22 years earlier.
“When we opened on October 7, Jerry and his wife, Robin, stayed overnight in the Venetian Suite,” says Duffeler, referring to the largest of the hotel’s rooms, with more than 1,100 square feet.
Duffeler and his wife, Francoise, handpicked the tapestries, antiques and furnishings that make each room inside Wedmore Place distinct. The pillars at the entrance to the lobby came from France as did the frame to the front door and each of the outdoor fountains.
“We bought antiques from Scandinavia, antiques from Holland, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain and France,” Duffeler said. “We gathered them all in the warehouse of an Alsatian antique dealer in Provence. He was a charming man who stored them for us.”
They were shipped in a large container to Newport News, and the Duffelers decided what would go where.
All of the rooms “are my favorites,” Duffeler said.
Even the hallways are special, reminiscent of a walk through the Louvre. Shields from each of the 28 regions are on display in the lobby. Tapestries and period paintings decorate the hallways.
The staff takes pride in its hospitality that centers on pampering. With 31 open hearth fireplaces through Wedmore Place’s rooms and shared spaces, guests will experience warm during their respite there.
The true adventurer will take advantage of the Wedmore Place passport. If a guest visits 27 times and chooses a different room for every stay, the 28th time is free.
“We give them a complete passport — hand stamped on every page,” Duffeler says.
The Williamsburg Winery owner is regularly asked how old the building is. When he replies that it was built in 2007, guests appear stunned.
“They think of it as being an old building,” he says. “That’s a compliment for me. We wanted to give it a unique feel. The wonderful thing is people come over to celebrate an event and then they come back to celebrate it again. They say, ‘I just love this place.’ And I love that.”