Destination Editor Joseph Kornik and his wife paid a visit to
Keswick Hall at Monticello in Keswick, Va. His report follows:
he moment we arrived at Keswick
Hall, we felt as though we had stepped back in time. Outside, the
Tuscan-designed villa brought to mind Italian Renaissance
Inside, the property's main hall was adorned with antique
armoires, sofas and desks plucked from a time gone by. The
6-inch-thick tiles on which we stood had been rescued from chateaux
ruins throughout Europe.
But what we didn't see impressed us just as much. There were no
computers, no ringing phones and no brass luggage carts rattling
through the halls. Keswick feels different.
"Guests tell us that once they get to Keswick, it's very hard to
leave. I think that's because we don't really feel like a hotel at
all," said Doug Camp, director of sales and marketing.
"Many people have heard about Keswick, but there's a huge
difference in hearing about this property and experiencing this
Located a stone's throw from Charlottesville, Va., at the foot
of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Keswick Hall is intimate, with 48
rooms, including three master suites with balconies overlooking a
golf course and a formal garden.
It wasn't always that way. What's now known as Keswick Hall was
built in 1912 as a private home named Villa Crawford.
The estate was converted to a country club in 1930, fell into
disrepair, and was purchased in 1990 by one Bernard Ashley, who
restored and expanded it. (The floor tiles in the foyer were
At the same time, the golf course was redesigned by Arnold
Palmer and expanded to its current 6,307 yards.
Orient-Express Hotels acquired the property in 1999, added a $1
million infinity pool and spent another $500,000 upgrading the
guest rooms and public areas, which are now decorated with antiques
and original works of art. In fact, during our visit, Camp said he
was trying to arrange a visit from PBS' Antiques Roadshow.
Our suite included a four-poster bed and a hand-painted armoire,
At your service
A lot of post-Sept. 11 visits, Camp said, were about escaping
reality, particularly for clients based in Washington, which is
about a 90-minute drive away.
He described Keswick as tranquil, "a place where you don't have
to worry about a thing."
This is especially evident at Keswick's afternoon tea, where
butlers in tuxedos zigzagged about the Crawford Lounge, serving
sandwiches and blends of imported teas.
The staff was professional, friendly and attentive, manifesting
what Camp called "a level of service guests will be hard-pressed to
find anywhere else." Even when the property is sold out, Keswick
maintains a 4-1 staff-to-guest ratio, Camp said.
"Everything we do here is so personalized, so geared to meeting
our guests' needs," Camp said. "It is, without a doubt, what sets
Donna Christensen agrees. Christensen, an agent with Betty
Maclean Travel in Naples, Fla., a Virtuoso member agency and one of
Keswick's top producers, said she sells the hotel to her upscale
clients based on its service.
"My clients have come to expect it," Christensen said. "I book a
lot of repeat clients. You're not going to find Keswick's level of
service at other properties.
And that service extends to travel agents. Christensen said
Keswick has worked "many miracles" for her in the past, such as
finding a client last-minute space on sold-out weekends.
"I know that if they are bending over backwards to accommodate
me, then they're doing the same thing for my clients once they
arrive," she said.
Membership in the Keswick Club, which boasts a roster of
celebrities, offers all the privileges of a country-club, such as
open access to the hotel's facilities.
But guests staying at Keswick have those very same privileges:
use of the golf course; tennis courts and clubhouse; spa and health
club; the indoor/outdoor pool; the Jacuzzi; and the new infinity
Other activities include, biking, fishing and croquet, or just
strolling the grounds.
Area attractions include the Keswick Hunt Club, horseback riding
on nearby farms and hot-air ballooning.
The Keswick concierge will arrange off-site trips for guests,
including tours of Charlottesville and the University of Virginia;
Thomas Jefferson's Monticello (see sidebar); James Madison's
Montpelier; and James Monroe's Ash-Lawn-Highland. Tours of nearby
vineyards also are available.
Prices and plans
All of this luxury doesn't come cheap. Rack rates run between
$450 and $825.
However, Keswick Hall offers a year-round Romance Package for
$274 per couple a night and a Golf or Spa Package through Nov. 1
for $210 per night. Keswick has Thanksgiving and Christmas plans,
In addition, event planners can arrange corporate groups and
weddings at Keswick. The property includes 8,000 square feet of
meetings and conference space.
Book it: Keswick Hall at Monticello
Phone: (800) 274-5391
Number of rooms: 48