I'm sure it's the same for the other Relais & Chateaux innkeepers. The imagining, creating and running of the Bedford Post Inn has been a wilder adventure than we could ever have expected.
The place itself has some real magic, though. It was one of the few buildings in the area that wasn't burned down by the British in the American War of Independence. The mid-eighteenth century main house had continually functioned as a restaurant and sometime hotel up until the turn of the millennium when the then owners left it abandoned and in a terrible state of decay. It was in serious danger of being lost forever. The local horse riding trails ran through the overgrown property and I watched, almost daily, the sad deterioration of this beautiful and lonely building.
When it came up for sale, my wife Carey [Lowell], our partner Russell and I felt an enormous obligation to bring it back to life. (Well, actually, my wife thought I was crazy, but she also came to embrace it and design it.) We felt it could one day become the center of our community...a club house, gathered, of course, around great food and great wine. But we also hoped it would be a place of extraordinary natural and architectural beauty...a place of contemplation, meditation, yoga, t'ai chi and music. A place of unfettered conversation. We set out to feed the heart and soul as well as the stomach.
We continue to feel a genuine sense of responsibility here and with it a solid commitment to have a positive effect in the world - through joy, reverence and a deep appreciation of a life lived to the fullest.
As the poet Omar Khayyam so beautifully wrote -
"My rule of life is to drink and be merry.
To be free of belief and unbelief is my religion:
I asked the Bride of Destiny her bridal price.
She said, Your joyous heart."
We share a kindred spirit with the other Relais & Chateaux Innkeepers: a genuine commitment to serve, a rather insane attention to detail, a passion for beauty in all its forms and a personal aspiration to make our world a little better for us having been here. In the 500 Relais & Chateaux properties you can be certain to find a wonderful room and a memorable meal; but you may also receive a gentle reminder in the art of life. To be fully present. To do what you love. To share one's passion and joyous heart with others.
Wishing you happy and inspired travels,
Gere on yoga and meditation:
"Meditation is such a more substantial reality than what we normally take to be reality."
Gere on karma:
"When someone has a strong intuitive connection, Buddhism suggests that it's because of karma, some past connection."
This article appears with the kind permission of our friends at Relais & Chateaux. More information on R&C's fabulous 500 member properties , including Kauri Cliffs and Matakauri Lodge at www.relaischateaux.com/
Posted 16/4/11. Updated 10/10/12
Words: Richard Gere Photos: Courtesy of Relais & Chateaux