Garth Roberts and Doug Plummer, the gregarious proprietors of the American Hotel in this storied old town, embody the generosity of the American spirit more closely than anyone I can think of. When my mother and I arrived at the hotel last Friday evening, we entered into a warm and cozy space filled with music and quaint charm - as well as laughter! Doug and Garth were decorating their Christmas tree in the lounge with two friends from Cape Cod visiting Sharon Springs for the Christmas party at The American the following night. Douglas swiftly introduced himself and immediately insisted that we help decorate the tree, which we very happily did. Garth prepared some drinks for us and we all decked the tree in red, white and blue ornaments (nothing less for The American Hotel!) as we got to know each other.
Doug ponders where to place the next ornaments. The 1,200 lights on the tree (red, white and blue) give incredible sparkle. All of the ornaments are Americana in theme, including some from the Martha Stewart Everyday collection!
My mother makes sure the lower branches get their share of razzle-dazzle too!
The next morning the tree looked so beautiful standing in the lounge. I was proud to have placed several dozen of the ornaments!
The American was saved from virtual collapse when Doug and Garth purchased it in 1996 for just $18,000. Structurally unsound in every way (there were gaping holes in the roof, sunken floors and crooked walls) it was doomed until they embarked on a tremendous, five-year restoration effort with the help of friends and generous loans. In 2001 they opened their doors to the public, and it's been successful ever since, even spurring a new revitalization of the town: four businesses opened thanks to the energizing tail-wind of the American's restoration.
The hotel has been featured in The New York Times and has won numerous awards for excellence in hospitality and dining. (The food in the four-star restaurant is cooked by chef Lee Woolver and is incredibly delicious!) Doug and Garth have also entertained some notable guests, including Rachael Ray, who featured them in her magazine and her Farm to Table series.
The nine guestrooms at The American are tributes to rural comfort. They are perfectly appointed, cozy spaces, each with their own ensuites. One lays in bed at night, tucked under down-filled duvets, listening to the quiet sound of the wind in the trees outside.
By the time it came for us to depart, we had made friends of Doug and Garth. They each kissed and hugged us goodbye as we promised that we would be back. For now, I have gorgeous memories of my stay at the American and feel fortunate to have been even a tiny little piece of its ongoing history. The American Hotel was built in 1847 by Nicholas LaRue of Esperance. At the time, it played host to some of America's finest glitterati, including Oscar Wilde. Ulysses S. Grant and several of the Rockefellers also made Sharon Springs a getaway destination. Shown above are some of the old postcards of the hotel (many of which are framed at The American today) and old stationery from the hotel.This is The American today! I snapped this photo before the big snowfall on Saturday. This is the room where my mom and I stayed. Completely cozy and comfortable in every way!These are some of the other rooms in the hotel. It was primarily vacant during our visit, except for one other room. The window at the end of the hall showcases the snowy landscape outdoors.The dining room is spacious, comfortable and elegant. Breakfast is served free of charge to all guests of the hotel - incredibly delicious breakfasts! Brunch is also regularly served and dinners are extraordinarily tasty.