(Black-owned B&B / spa in DC)
“Surprising Serenity. Surpassing Luxury” is the mantra of Black-owned Wellspring Manor(www.wellspringmanor.com), an upscale bed-and-breakfast in central Maryland, just 15 miles outside the busting center of Washington, D.C. Tucked into a residential area, Lisa Alexander who owns and operates the wellness-oriented Manor with her husband Kevin, says, “We’re hidden in plain sight. Locals call us a hidden gem, especially for people of color.” The Wellspring Experience is an intersection of luxury, tranquility and culture, designed specifically for guests seeking a retreat from the noise and stresses of life.
Surrounded by trees on seven lush acres, Wellspring Manor offers guests five deluxe suites bearing names like Maya (for Miss Angelou), Cesar Chavez, and the Lin Suite, a nod to the area’s large and vibrant Asian population. “We’re in a perfectly nice little suburb here in Prince George’s County,” says Lisa, “but people do not expect the level of luxury we offer.” Black excellence in every form defines the experience, including a library comprised entirely of titles by Black authors and other writers of color, along with “The Barn,” a massive collection of changing exhibitions of visual art, all created by more than 40 Black artists from around the world.
Lisa and Kevin Alexander saw an opportunity to meet the unique preferences of luxury travelers seeking a destination that celebrates excellence in the culinary and visual arts. When they couldn’t find the experience they were looking for, despite traveling around the region — and the world — they decided to create what they were craving. The Alexanders purchased the property in 2018, after the building had stood vacant for several years. Built in 1953, the stately structure replicates earlier architectural styles. Lisa and Kevin spent more than a year developing the concept of Wellspring and another eight to nine months restoring the property that ultimately became Wellspring’s home.
Both partners brought a strong business background to the project, and their combined strategic and management skill set enabled them to endure a temporary halt in the festivities during COVID. The Manor re-opened in summer, 2021, better than ever.
The Alexanders are also the founders of the local Lake Arbor Jazz Festival, now booking top musical talent for the July 12 – 16, 2023 season. The annual event includes a well-attended Summer White Affair, and all proceeds benefit the Prince George’s Cultural Arts Foundation Scholarship Fund, a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization.
“Wellness, culture, food, music and art is what interests us,” says Lisa. “We’ve created accessible luxury, and everywhere on the property, throughout the experience, we’ve filled the space with reminders of Black excellence for our guests to discover.” The spa pays tribute to Lisa’s Jamaican heritage with an invigorating Sugar Mint treatment, and the multi-course breakfast menu gives props to soul food in its many expressions, including grits, and chicken and waffles. “We’re pork-free, so no bacon, and no lard to fry in,” cautions Lisa. “We strike that sweet spot, a fine balance between familiar, old-school, usually heavy Southern foods that are so resonant culturally, with fresh twists that make the dishes lighter and healthier, like lots of greens and ripe fruit.”
Speaking of sweet spots, how do the Alexanders work together so smoothly? “Well, of course, it helps a lot if you really like each other,” she says. “Kevin and I work well together because each of us stays in our lane. He’s the numbers guy, while I’m the creative energy. Of course, occasionally we can’t resist giving each other a little unwelcome advice in each other’s specialty. We’re both good listeners, though, and we stay open-minded, so the basis of even a professional disagreement between us is always respectful.”
In choosing a destination for a holiday, here are Lisa’s pointers:
- Are you feeling introverted or extroverted? If you’re craving privacy, a B&B may not be for you. “What guests really love about staying with us is the interactions with strangers over the breakfast table,” says Lisa. “Great conversations happen routinely over a cup of tea here. Great and lasting friendships form, almost like rediscovering family.” If you prefer to keep to yourself, you may enjoy a more conventional setting, like a standard hotel.
- Really think about the location, and match the location to your preferences. Carefully research details like pets-policy, along with proximity to local attractions. If you’re a crack-of-dawn, early-riser sort of go-go girl, choose a location with lots of activities hard-wired into the venue, where you can easily join a group that’s museum-going, pub-crawling, hiking, rock-climbing, kayaking, karaoke-ing, etc. If sleeping ‘til noon followed by a massage is more your speed, choose a setting where guests make their own leisurely way. If you’re a shopper, or a theater-goer, inquire in advance with management regarding what’s Gucci! What’s around and nearby, what’s happening, what’s good.
- Verify your B&B selection with the Inns of Color listings compiled and maintained by African American Association of Innkeepers International, and have a look at the array of choices! https://www.africanamericaninns.com/assets/aaaii-member-inns-mar2022.pdf “We love offering our guests a feeling of deep sanctuary, right in the heart of the metropolis,” says Lisa. “In that way, we’re a hybrid. We’re not off the grid or so far out there that you lose the excitement of the city, but we create an immersive relaxation, including yoga and aromatherapy, facials and other spa amenities, that just melts away all that stress.”
Book your Wellspring Manor Experience now! www.wellspringmanor.com, (301) 288-6002