Staff Spotlight: Hector Cruz, Executive Chef

Airlie Executive Chef Hector Cruz

If you have recently visited Airlie for business or pleasure, you have tasted the culinary influences of Chef Hector Cruz. As Airlie’s new Executive Chef, Hector brings years of experience as a Garde Manger, master of cold food creation and colorful display to the table – quite literally – and his exceptional talent with a carving knife adds a flare to buffet bravura.

Chef Cruz Watermelon Carvings

Hector’s watermelon carvings at August’s Chillin’ & Grillin’ event.

Inspired by his Puerto Rican heritage and south Florida upbringing, Hector’s personality shines through his menus with bold yet approachable flavor profiles and creative use of locally grown products.

Born and raised in Miami, Florida, Hector became interested in cooking by helping his Mother in the kitchen. Not only was she the family cook, routinely hosting the extended family for meals, but she also ran a catering business, which also offered pastry services. When Hector was 11 years old, he began assisting his Mother during holiday meal preparations and first began to understand his passion for the kitchen.

Hector attended Johnson & Wales University in Miami, and while in school began working at the Ocean Reef Country Club. Under the tutelage of Chef Mark Galludet, Chef Nelson Millán, and Chef Rafael Torano, Hector climbed the ranks at Ocean Reef. He was eager to learn, citing that often times when his shift was complete, he would find himself observing other culinary specialties such as Pastry.

In 2007, Hector was presented with an opportunity to move to Boar’s Head in Charlottesville, Virginia, and work with his mentor, Chef Galludet. Hector continued as Garde Manger Chef, but due to the fast-paced nature of his environment, wore many hats and went on to lead the team of talented culinarians.

Taking on the Executive Chef role at Airlie is an exciting new chapter, as Hector puts it, “a new property means a new challenge.” He is looking forward to working with his Culinary Team, which includes Head Gardener, Katey Wietor. “The opportunity to plan menus based on what’s fresh from our own on-site garden is very special. I’m excited to collaborate

Hector alongside Chef Tyler Canon and Katey in the Organic Garden.

Hector alongside Chef Tyler Canon and Katey in the Organic Garden.

with Katey and spend time in the garden hand-selecting herbs and produce regularly.” He continues, “I believe in the Airlie vision and am excited to build upon their rich history, which includes environmentally-friendly roots and a strong culinary program.” Alongside Sous Chef Brian Donato, and Garden Bistro Restaurant Chef Tyler Canon, Hector will work to add his signature to Airlie’s menus, including new and exciting flavors inspired by the team.

What is your favorite thing about Airlie?
The people and the camaraderie. We work as a team and have fun while we’re doing it. The team across the board at Airlie is passionate about what they are doing.

What do you do when you’re not at work?
This summer I planted a garden at home with lots of herbs, tomatoes, and peppers. I was pleasantly surprised with about 30lbs of tomatoes – not bad for a first harvest! I also love preparing traditional Spanish “home-cooked” meals.

Why do you love your job / cooking / creating new dishes?
The people – specifically, feeding people to make their day special. Whether it’s a wedding, luncheon or Thursday evening dinner, I believe food can make someone’s day. That’s why I chose the hospitality industry; to serve people, and make their day extra enjoyable. 

What’s your favorite vacation spot?
Anywhere in the Carribean I can see clear water for miles around and relax on the beach – especially Puerto Rico. I try to get there once a year. I also have family in The Bronx, NYC and visit there often as well – although it’s a very different type of vacation. 

Favorite meal?
Traditional Puerto Rican food. My favorite is Roasted Pork with Pigeon Pea Rice.  The cuisine is hard to find in Central hector-bistroVirginia, so I mostly cook this dish at home.

What is your favorite kitchen utensil or tool you could not live without?
Definitely my knives. Chef Nelson Millán from Ocean Reef made a carving knife for me, which travels with me everywhere.

What would you do if you won $1 million in the lottery?
Spend lots of time with family. Maybe start a food truck business.

Who is your hero and why?
My three mentor chefs from Ocean Reef. Chef Galludet gave me the opportunity to move and advance my career. Chef Millán and Chef Torano both gave me inspiration and vision of all there is to do in our industry. When I was mastering Ice and fruit/vegetable carving, they told me, “it’s not easy, just keep working towards your goals as success takes a lot of hard work.” To this day, I live by those words and share them with my team regularly.

Who living or passed would you like to have a meal with?
Definitely my parents. Since I moved away from Miami 9 years ago, I don’t get to see them as much, and always enjoy sharing a family meal together.


Staff Spotlight: Katey Wietor, Head Gardener

Katey Wietor, Airlie Head Gardener

Have you ever wondered who is behind making the Airlie Organic Garden both beautiful and bountiful with fresh vegetables, herbs and flowers? Meet Katey Wietor!

Hailing from Romeo, Michigan, Katey always had a garden. After high school, she went to Western Michigan University katey-flower-bucketto pursue an art degree, and then changed lanes to pastry, graduating with a degree in pastry arts from Macomb Community College in 2012. During the transition, she worked as a waitress at Michigan’s first organic restaurant, Mind, Body & Spirits, and experienced daily interactions with local farms. She also worked on a lavender farm, participated in the beginnings of the Michigan Young Farmer’s Coalition, and on a few occasions helped cook for a weekly breakfast salon (Selma Cafe) in which the proceeds went to providing loans to local farmers.

In late 2013 Lisa Jaroch, the owner of Cold Frame Farm, offered Katey a short-term part-time position and encouraged her to apply to the Organic Farmer Training Program at Michigan State University. This intensive nine-month certification focused on diversified vegetable and livestock farming including hands-on experience on a 10-acre farm in addition to lectures and assignments. After completing the program, Katey became interested in flower farming, and landed a temporary position at Greenestone Fields in Loudoun in 2015. When her time at Greenestone was coming to an end, she found Airlie and was excited to get back to growing vegetables. She joined Airlie as Head Gardener in April 2016.

What is your favorite thing about Airlie?
The people. I enjoy being a part of a large team and being able to interface between departments and sectors of the property where everyone has different experience. I worked at a hotel in Michigan while doing pastries and enjoyed it but didn’t realize how great it was until I arrived at Airlie.

What do you do when you’re not at work?
I’m learning how to play the banjo.  My boyfriend is a seasoned fiddle and banjo player, and is giving me lessons. I also enjoy canning, making desserts and flower arranging. 

Why do you love your job / being in the garden?
I love being outside, growing things, and developing a relationship with the space. I’m immersed in the environment and have started to notice things like bird schedules, for example. I’m experiencing nature in a deeper way.

katey-pruning-flowersWhat’s your favorite book?
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. It’s a collection of his poetry. The way he talks about the natural world is appealing. He wrote about many topics spanning from personal, to natural, to political, but his poems about nature are rambling, unique, and spellbinding. 

What’s your favorite vacation spot?
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It has a pure, raw, and natural beauty. The lakes look like oceans, you can’t see to the other side most of the time. Being a Michigan native, the lakes are a strong part of my identity.

Favorite meal?
Thai food. Panang Curry with Tofu. I love to cook, and while it is sometimes a laborious effort, it is worth it to make your own food.


What’s the best advice you’ve ever received and from whom?
Right now my friend and talented flower farmer, Casey VanNest likes to remind me to “stay scrappy”- meaning do what you have to do to get the job done well, using what you have.

What would you do if you won $1 million in the lottery?katey-sunflowers
Buy a farm and tractor, combine the farm with an animal rescue operation.

Who is your hero and why?
Anyone doing the work and putting the hours in to make something great…it inspires me to keep hustling.

Meet Katey in person at our Chillin’ & Grillin’ event on Friday, August 26th from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. Click here to learn more on our website.

Intern Takeover Week 5: That’s a Wrap

Airlie Sales and Marketing Summer Intern Emily Smith

Hi everyone, I have some bad news; this is my last blog post for my intern takeover! I really cannot believe my time here at Airlie is already up! Time really does fly when you are having fun! I remember my first week of work in May being so nervous and feeling unprepared. Now it is almost August, and I feel confident in my career path and have more knowledge than before thanks to everyone here at Airlie. My coworkers were nothing short of caring, kind, helpful and hardworking. SHOUTOUT TO STEVE AND MJ THE MARKETING MASTER MINDS!! We were the three musketeers this summer and I cannot thank you both enough for being so patient with me and allowing me to be a member of your team! I have practiced my graphic design skills, learned how to problem solve and tackle a challenge, gained knowledge of the hospitality business, gave being a sales woman a try, practiced my photography skills and became an expert social media Airlie Summer Interns 2016poster!!

I also really enjoyed my time with the other intern here at Airlie, Aakash Sundar! Although he isn’t a hokie like me (he goes to Ole Miss) he did an awesome job helping out with Airlie’s financials and food costs as the finance intern. I loved hearing about all the stuff Aakash was working on every week because it was always so different from what I was doing and it was cool that we could learn from each other’s experiences. To be honest, half the time he was talking about something related to math and numbers I got lost!! Thanks for an awesome summer Aakash and good luck at Ole Miss. ☺

This past week I have finished up last minute projects and helped getting everything ready for the sales blitz that starts Monday! I am so excited to hit the road next week with the sales team and get some real field experience! With my time winding down I wanted to make sure I got to experience everything Airlie had to offer, so I ran the new fit trail that was just built around the property. Choosing to run the trail on a hot 90-degree day was probably not one of my better decisions… BUT the fit trail was SO cool!!! The scenery is beautiful and the stops along the way were great exercise!

Emily Fit Trail AirlieI could not have asked for a better internship at Airlie! Thanks for following my adventures throughout the summer. Until next time!

~ Emily Smith, Sales + Marketing Intern, Summer 2016

Intern Takeover Week 4: Dial and Design

Airlie Marketing Meeting

You know what they say, “you learn something new everyday.” That could not be truer with my experience thus far at Airlie. Everyday I come into the office not only am I surrounded by a beautiful property and great co-workers, but I gather information that is going to last me a lifetime.

Emily designing graphics for AirlieThis week I worked on a lot of different projects at my desk (yes, unfortunately I did not adventure around Airlie that much.) As a marketing intern I am able to put my creative side to work. I am asked to design and create ads, menus and other pieces used around the property. One of my more fun projects was a fishing pass that guests could use while fishing at one of Airlie’s bodies of water. The pass is two sided and is worn on a lanyard. Although it is simple, I had a lot of fun learning how to use InDesign and Photoshop to bring my ideas to life. I am able to sketch out my ideas on paper and then transfer them to the computer. These tools with InDesign and Photoshop are going to carry with me throughout my time at Virginia Tech and in the workforce!

I have also designed menus for wine dinners and cooking classes held here; those projects really expanded my knowledge and allowed me to practice my graphic design skills.

This week I was also handed a rather large project: The August Holiday Sales Blitz. For those who do not know, a blitz  is when a sales team hits the streets  in a short amount of time and visits different companies to sell their brand. My job not only included looking up and logging in contact information for over 200 companies, but then calling on those companies Northern Virginia conference center holiday partyto set up appointments. I also designed a “giveaway” card we are going to hand out to the companies we visit during our travels. For this project I was allowed to dive in and kind of do whatever I want with designing the cards (how awesome is that?!) It’s the best feeling to know not only am I helping here at Airlie, but I am also learning so much.

On Wednesday we also had a long and important marketing meeting (these long meetings happen about four times a year!) Of course the intern ran out during lunch and brought everyone back sandwiches (very cliché, I know!!) But spending most of my Wednesday in a room with such creative, fun and smart minds was awesome. Everyone was able to share their ideas and figure out together how we can sell and market Airlie to the best of our abilities. We talked about what worked for us, what didn’t work and what events we have coming up! As a team we also started to plan for Breakfast with Santa in December (how did this year go by so quickly?!).

Although I had to do some hard work, I had a blast doing it all this week.  Before coming to Airlie, I really wanted to grow my graphic design knowledge, and I really have since being here! I also have expanded my sales resume… Making all of those sales calls was scary, but I am glad I was able to learn how it is done correctly. I can honestly say this internship is teaching me skills that I would not have been able to gather otherwise.

Intern Takeover Week 3: Flora, Fauna & Food

Airlie organic garden

Wow is all I have to say about this week at Airlie. I swear the more time I spend here, the more I learn and discover.  This week I finally had some time to explore the property a bit more in depth, and trust me, there is A LOT to see. Airlie’s property is unlike any in its industry, with formal gardens, an organic growing garden, lakes, beautiful rolling hills, and oh yeah, the wildlife. I came face to face with the largest snapping turtle I have ever seen. The big turtle pictured was snapping-turtle-airliemaking its way from a small pond to lake Stanley, which is located right next to Airlie House.  He did not seem very happy to see me, so I quickly took a photo and let him be. I continued my exploring to find flowers blooming, fish swimming in all the bodies of water around the property, geese and the famous swans.  Airlie is host to the largest captive free-swimming swan collection on the East Coast, and gosh are they cool!!



airlie-garden-summerI stopped by the organic garden this week as well. Airlie’s garden is a REAL garden, and by that I mean it is huge and there are fruits, veggies, herbs and flowers as far as you can see. The gardener, Katey, is awesome and extremly dedicated to keeping the garden in tip-top shape all the time.

Along my travels around Airlie, I made sure to take plenty of photos that I would then use to post on social media to promote the property.  I am learning how to edit photos, post on social media to help market Airlie and then how to read the outcomes and reports of those postings. Being behind the scenes in the marketing process is really interesting and educational. I am learning more here about marketing than ever before!
The rest of my week constisted with helping around the office, working on projects,  sitting in on meetings and of course running errands (what intern doesn’t do a little of that?!) The best part of my week? Definitely the food!! Check out this burger I had for lunch, it almost looks too pretty to eat :)




Intern Takeover Week 2: Meetings and Photo Shoots, Oh My!

Warrenton hotel activities: biking


This week has already gone by way too quickly here at Airlie. Even after the craziness of the holiday weekend, Airlie seemed to still be buzzing with excitement. The first half of my morning  on Tuesday was spent at the weekly Sales and Marketing meeting. With so much going on at Airlie between the conferences, weddings and leisure guests, it is crucial to meet once a week to discuss and iron out the wrinkles to ensure every guest has a great experience. At the weekly meetings, I have learned how important working together as a team really is.

Northern Virginia meetings team at AirlieCommunication, understanding and being opened minded to others are essentials to having a well oiled and functioning Sales and Marketing team. Every meeting I attend I learn something new, whether that be how to conduct myself in a meeting or how to solve the problem at hand effectively. In the meetings we often discuss sales strategies, how to build a stronger customer base and maintain current client satisfaction. The energetic team allowed me to snap a quick selfie with them before we headed back to work .

Thursday at Airlie was nothing short of exhausting—in the best way. My day started at eight o’clock sharp for a photo shoot. The Warrenton hotel recently purchased new bikes and we teamed up with the owner of Priority Bicycles to take some photos. A few of my coworkers, along with myself, jumped on the luxury bikes and rolled around Airlie’s beautiful landscape for about two hours (not a bad way to start the work day).  Seeing behind the scenes of a shoot was eye opening; I never understood how much detail and work Bicycling at Airlie, a Northern Virginia hotelgoes into making everything look perfect. A wardrobe malfunction almost set us back, but working as a team made it an easy fix. Patience and flexibility are also important in making the photo shoot a successful one. Airlie truly cares about the little details, and this photo shoot is the perfect example. Not only are the bikes top of the line, but they put the time and effort into displaying and promoting the Priority bikes to the best of their ability.

So far so good here at Airlie– I think I am getting the hang of this interning thing. Cannot wait to see what next week has to offer. :)

Sales + Marketing Intern Takeover

Emily Smith, Airlie Sales & Marketing Intern


Happy Friday everyone, my name is Emily Smith and I am the new sales and marketing intern here at Airlie! I am a junior at Virginia Tech majoring in marketing and I am fortunate enough to be spending my summer at Airlie learning and helping out all over the property. For the month of July I am doing a full intern takeover of Airlie’s social media, so, sorry – you all are stuck reading my posts for awhile. Stay tuned for my blog posts every Friday for a week ‘wrap-up’ of all the crazy adventures I had at Airlie, because trust me, this is no normal internship (this is way too fun to be called work!!).

The 5 W’s of Your Company Picnic


A company picnic can be a wonderful way to show appreciation to your team. As with most quandaries of life, the 5 W’s can lead the way to a successful outcome!

1. Who? Determine the number of guests.

In addition to shaping the event budget, this magic number will likely pose more questions. Will this be for team members only or will an invitation be extended to families? Will the event be during weekday work hours or over the weekend?

2. What? Food and fun.

Part I – Consider a Theme
A theme is a great way to make the company picnic more than “the company picnic.” The theme can set the tone beforehand and inspire excitement, potentially boosting attendance. It may also help make the planning process easier when considering invitations, food, music, activities, and decorations. Plus, the options are endless: Oktoberfest, Carnival, Around the World, Outdoor Theater…

Part II – Food Rules
Typically determined by the other W’s, the type of food selected plays a very important role (to some, the most important!) in the event. At Airlie, we source proteins from local farms to create an exceptional cookout, barbecue, pizza

Airlie Archery Tournament

Airlie Archery Tournament

bar among many other offerings. Think outside the box with options like s’mores around the firepit or shaved ice stations.

Part III – Activities!

Interaction is key for any team event and is a proven morale booster. Plus, having activities be a part of the picnic is just plain fun. Some Airlie favorites include capture the flag, archery, skeet shooting and scavenger hunts.

 3. When? Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall…

Start with a season, and then narrow down to a singular date. Instead of the traditional summer event, maybe a spring fever outing or fall harvest day will work best for your company. No matter what you decide, allow adequate time for planning purposes. Additionally, hosting a weekday event may allow for increased venue availability, especially in the summer and fall months. However, if families are on the guest list, a Saturday or Sunday may be preferable.

Airlie Pavilion - Northern Virginia Meeting Venue

Airlie’s Pavilion set-up for a Picnic Lunch

4. Where? Choosing a venue.

After the selection of a date, the venue should be the first big decision made regarding the company picnic. Variables to consider include distance from the workplace, adequate parking, rain shelter or indoor facility options and accessibility.

5. Why? Let us count the ways.

Simply, a company picnic is a great way to thank employees for their hard work. Gathering the team together – for a casual day of fun will strengthen relationships and inspire productivity. A report from RedBalloon/AltusQ found that companies with high employee engagement levels were up to 10 times more likely to see an increase in sales and profit than those with lower engagement.

Of course, Airlie would love to host your company picnic. Learn more about our facilities, or send an e-mail to our sales team to discuss the specifics of your event immediately. Happy planning!

Get Active at Airlie this Summer

Airlie Pool


After a prolonged chilly winter followed by weeks of rain, we’re sure of one thing: it’s time to get outside! At Airlie, we’ve spent the last few months preparing for the sun to make its grand return with new additions to our summer activities line-up.

Schedule some time on the range and test your aim. We will outfit you with all of the essentials needed including a recurve bow, arrows, and wrist protector. Archery is also a great activity to consider for team building activities or family reunions.

Skeet Shooting
Are you up for the challenge? Sharpen your focus at our Skeet Shooting Range.  A shotgun, shells and safety equipment are included in this activity package lead by an Airlie Certified Range Master. No experience necessary, so give it a try. Ready, aim, fire!

Tennis & Volleyball
Reserve court time and enjoy a friendly game of tennis on Airlie’s two lighted HarTru courts. The adjacent permanent grass volleyball courts serve up fun all season long, and offer a great way to get active with the whole family! Tennis racquets and volleyballs available to borrow from the Front Desk.

Nature Activities
Encapsulating over 300 acres, Airlie grounds beckon exploration. Discover a variety of native wildlife including geese, swans, fox, turkeys and more. Airlie is also home to a number of non-indigenous tree species, which are marked throughout the property. Complimentary bicycles are available to borrow and glide over our many hills, taking in the picturesque vistas on two wheels. Borrow a pole and cast a line at Lake Stanley or one of the 6 other bodies of water on Airlie grounds. While you’re out and about, don’t forget to visit our Virginia is for Lovers LOVEwork on Lake Stanley Hill. Tag your photos with #LOVEairlie and we may share your snaps on our social channels. Make your day extra special by ordering an Airlie picnic basket to take along on your adventures.

Take a stroll through our four-acre organic garden and visit the vegetables which will adorn your plate later on in Garden Bistro restaurant. Walk through the hoop house, say hello to our Silkie Chickens, and see the bee colony in action. The Formal Gardens adjacent to Airlie House are 200 years old and inspire a surprise around every corner. Across the road a charming blue gate leads to the Petersen Butterfly Garden. Read a book in the gazebo or allow the sounds of the babbling brook lull you into relaxation mode.

Outdoor Pool
Opening for the season on Monday, May 23rd, Airlie’s outdoor pool provides a relaxing oasis to while away the summer days. Open daily from 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m., bring a book and soak up the rays on a chaise lounge, or under the shade of a market umbrella. Take advantage of Gourmet-On-Demand, and have a meal delivered poolside. New menu selections include an Airlie House BLT, Reuben Sandwich, Flatbread Pizza and All Natural Chicken Wings.

The Kids Will Love…

Lawn Games
Ask the Front Desk about our activities area, and get back to the basics of summer with your favorite lawn games. Enjoy Cornhole, Giant Jenga, Horseshoes, and Croquet. Equipment is set-up daily by 10:00 a.m.

Bumble’s Explorer Basket
Perfect for discovering the nature and wildlife at Airlie, Bumble’s Explorer Basket comes with a magnifying glass, bug kit and binoculars, among other kid favorites.

Daily Ice Cream Bar
Visit the pool deck every afternoon from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. to enjoy treats from the Airlie Ice Cream Cart. Cone or cup, pick your favorite flavor and enjoy in the shade.

Fire Pit Fun
As the sun fades, gather around the fire pit for some good old fashion family fun. Pick up a s’mores kit from Whistling Swan Pub and roast marshmallows as you sink into an Adirondack chair.

We look forward to seeing you (outdoors) this summer at Airlie!

Earth Day 2016


Happy Earth Day 2016!

This morning we unveiled our special project – a Virginia is for Lovers LOVEwork! The first of its kind in Warrenton, our LOVEwork is made from 95% recycled materials and is a symbol of our continued commitment to sustainability. We are excited to welcome the community to Airlie to see the LOVE and have some fun with it. An extra special ‘Thank You’ to Triple R Welding, Trex, and Lowe’s, who generously donated materials for this project.

Airlie's Managing Director Kevin Carter Welcomes Staff, Guests, and Community Members

Airlie’s Managing Director Kevin Carter Welcomes Staff, Guests, and Community Members

Airlie's Engineering Team reveals the LOVEwork

Airlie’s Engineering Team reveals the LOVEwork











It's time to reveal the LOVEwork

We can hardly wait!

Airlie's LOVEwork









Mac Clevenger of Green Seal talks about Airlie's long-standing certification

Mac Clevenger of Green Seal talks about Airlie’s long-standing certification











Later in the day, Airlie staff enjoyed an Earth Day celebration with Black Fig Pizza Company. Final tallies for donations were also completed, and we finished the week with dog and cat food for the SPCA, clothing and sock donations, and a variety of canned goods and non-perishable food items. Thank you to the Airlie Green Team for their tremendous organization of 2016 Earth Week events. The week was a success and we’re looking forward to next year already!

The Earth Day Tree

The Earth Day Tree

About the Earth Day Tree

About the Earth Day Tree

Airlie Staff Celebrates Earth Day

Airlie Staff Celebrates Earth Day