At Airlie, we are in the people business. Our main charge each day is to serve all with gracious welcoming and a kind spirit. We know it as hospitality, defined as “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.”
This week, we wanted to introduce you to our goose dogs. We love them so much, we thought you might, too. Bill and Duke come from Flyaway Farm in Locust, North Carolina, where Rebecca Gibson and her team train Border Collies to control geese, deer, double-breasted cormorants, egrets and sandhill cranes. Like all of the working dogs from Flyaway Farm, Rebecca trained Airlie’s goose dogs to be well-socialized, using positive reinforcement techniques to ensure a hard worker with a great attitude.
As one of Airlie’s Catering Sales Managers, Shiloh Wolfrey is responsible for helping the bride and groom plan one of the most memorable days of their lives. From finding the perfect venue to the finishing touches, Shiloh creates weddings that feel like fairytales. Having started at Airlie as a banquet server, Shiloh knows everything that goes into the big day, down to the smallest detail.
Airlie’s picturesque setting in the rolling foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains makes it a perfect place for your next Instagram post. Whether it’s a group photo, romantic couple shot, or a quick selfie, we invite you to pick your favorite spot and tag us (@airlieva) to document your visit.
At Airlie, we’re always adding to our menu of fresh, seasonal cocktails. Between the local distilleries and our on-grounds garden, each drink is uniquely Virginian. While our culinary team gathers inspiration here in our corner of the world, they also gain influence by extralocal experiences.
Keeping that in mind, we decided to check out what some of our fellow historic hotels were serving up for the summer months. We were excited to try our hand at mixing these (and tasting), as well as sharing some of our own new recipes.
A former civil engineer, Lora Vennettilli Gookin turned a hobby into an entrepreneurship when she started making cakes. It all started with her daughter’s first birthday cake.
Even then, baking was still simply a hobby. Eventually, Lora’s hobby brought her to Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Arizona. She then opened her business, Gâteau, in Arizona in 2008 and has been operating in Virginia since 2011. To date, Lora has created over 900 cakes, and is excited to open a bakery/café in Warrenton, Virginia later this summer.
Diana Crowley, Airlie’s Meeting and Special Events Manager, helps to plan all the meetings, conferences and retreats at Airlie. Diana spends her days communicating with her clients and preparing for their stay, writing event orders to aid staff in events, and oversees the day to day operations of the catering and planning staff.
“The best part of my day is when guests arrive on property,” Diana said. “It gives me an opportunity to walk the grounds and interact with our guests.”
Here at Airlie, we like to think we are not like most hotel properties. With the expansion of our very own Airlie farm happening right now, we are definitely blazing a very special trail. From fresh produce, herbs, flowers, and even livestock, our farm is growing rapidly. I interviewed Airlie’s executive director, Chuck Smith, to get the inside scoop about the new and exciting stuff happening.
Many of our guests are surprised to learn our historic hotel gets its name from Airlie Castle in Scotland, which dates back to 1432. Harry Connelly Groome, who founded Airlie in 1899, visited the castle during a golf trip to nearby St. Andrews and noted strong similarities in the rolling terrain to his own property in Warrenton, Virginia.
Horticulture has been a lifelong passion for Ella O’Donnell. Growing up on a working farm in South Carolina, Ella enjoyed tending an heirloom rose garden with her grandmother. Through the years, her love and knowledge of horticulture and floristry grew. She became an active member of local garden clubs and worked as the lead bridal consultant and designer for one of the most preeminent commercial florists in northern Virginia.