I don’t know. I guess I just feel compelled to offer a public and incredibly heartfelt “thank you”. In talking with guests, friends, whomever… I always say that Farmhouse is, first and foremost, a labor of love for me. It’s my baby, my extended family and truly a pride and joy. Every single bit of it. We conceived the notion of a Michelin starred restaurant (before Michelin was even in CA) and a world-class hotel when we were still just a funky B & B. I look at what we are today, and I just have to marvel and remember to say thank you.
Today, Joe said “We may be the most decorated hotel in America today”. He didn’t say it in a bragging way, or with a shred of arrogance. He said it with wonder in his voice, and I have to say that I think that all of us, here at Farmhouse, feel that way. From Travel and Leisure’s #1 hotel in California to (just this week) finding out that we are Condé Nast Gold List’s #3 hotel in North America and Canada. We also just received our Michelin star for the 13th year running. The accolades continue to astonish me. Some awards are given by editors, some by peers and some by people who’ve been here, fallen in love, and continue to take the time to vote for us in readers’ polls.
It’s impossible to describe how incredibly good it feels to be part of a team that operates at the level of Farmhouse. From top to bottom our employees are dedicated to our mission: to give each guest what we call “the Farmhouse Experience”.
Whether we are serving them in the restaurant, booking or planning their time with us, or cleaning their guest room, our team serves our guests like they would serve a valued friend. I have a saying, “Snapshot of Perfection”. Every detail, every day. If it’s something a guest may see, it must be perfect. It may drive my staff a little crazy, but I can’t remember the last time I found a piece of garbage or a dead flower on our grounds. And I try to remember to say thank you to the people who make that happen.
As long as I live, I’ll never forget the night in 2016 that we received Virtuoso’s Best of the Best Award for our Culinary Program. If you don’t know Virtuoso, it’s an organization comprised of member travel advisors and agencies, and member hotels. You must be selected, and it’s highly prestigious. Joe and I had just joined the year before, and were attending, for the second time, their Virtuoso Travel Week. Travel Week is a blast. Get this, it’s four days of four-minute meetings with some of the top travel advisors in the world. FOUR MINUTES each. And you have just under 300 meetings by the time the week ends. It’s like musical chairs with no music. Some people don’t enjoy it, but I love it.
Anyway, at their gala they announce their hotel winners in several categories. We couldn’t attend the first year, but we’d been nominated for our culinary program, and us being us, we assumed it was no big deal. And we were pretty sure we wouldn’t win anyway. Not that our program’s not amazing, it is. But best in the world? We decided to attend the gala just to see. So, we walk into the event and we realize there are thousands of people in the ballroom. We grab a glass of wine and chuckle to each other, “Maybe we should have prepared a speech”. Ha-ha.
Then, it’s time to sit down for dinner and awards. When Joe and I find our table, way up in front, and realize we are seated with Virtuoso’s Development Director, I start to think, “uh-oh”. Then, Karyn sits down next to us and gives me a look. You know, a look. When the waiter comes by with wine Karyn puts her hand over mine and gives me the look again. And I said, “We are going up there, aren’t we?”, she just nodded. Joe and I looked at each other in sheer panic and skipped the wine. Now, I forgot to mention that Joe loses his voice. And most times when we travel he comes home with no voice. And with this trip it was already gone. We were both stunned, so excited, so proud of our team, and grateful to all the Virtuoso advisors who had advocated for us to win the award (it’s voted on by all of the Virtuoso members). We were also scared to death. The room was FILLED with our peers. And remember, no speech? So, our name is called, and we go up. And I looked out into that huge audience and I thought about our little hotel and our astonishing WORLD-CLASS team, and I just started crying. Joe couldn’t talk, and I’m crying. Joe’s croaking, I’m sobbing and everyone’s clapping. I finally pulled it together enough to say something over the clapping.
In that moment, I really realized what we had in Farmhouse. That we weren’t just a small, family-owned hotel in Sonoma County. Somehow, some way, we and our team had created something that was unique, memorable and everything we’d hoped it could be. Our little hotel had found a place among global industry leaders.
We had received some impressive recognition before that night. And we’ve certainly obtained more since. The future for Farmhouse and the group of outstanding individuals that come together every day to make the magic happen, is so bright. And for me, this holiday season, I am especially grateful. I continue to be inspired. And I’ll continue to say thanks.