Introducing The MadronaAuthor:Lindsey Shook
San Francisco-based designer Jay Jeffers—along with a group of investors including his brother Kyle Jeffers—recently announced the acquisition of the historic Madrona Manor Inn. Located in the heart of Healdsburg, the iconic hotel was originally built as a gabled private residence in 1881 during the Aesthetic Movement, a style that celebrates “beauty for beauty’s sake.” Globally recognized and respected for his signature collected cool style, Jeffers is currently reimagining the property into a modern interpretation of the movement that was sensuous and decadent.
With 22 guest rooms and suites, the eight-acre property features the main house dubbed ‘The Mansion’, The Carriage House, The Paddock House and The Bungalows that will provide guests with a mix of well-appointed studios, one-bedroom suites and secluded one-and two-bedroom bungalows, most of which boast working fireplaces, private exterior entrances, and private balconies or patios.
Aside from the delicious design, guests will enjoy an imaginative culinary dining experience helmed by Chef Jesse Mallgren, who earned the restaurant a Michelin star every year for the past decade. Set across intimate indoor seating areas within various rooms, as well as ample outdoor seating, including a lively heated and covered, open-air terrace overlooking the mature gardens, locals and tourists are welcomed to partake in full-service dining and drinking throughout the day.
Set to reopen as The Madrona in late 2021, The Madrona will be managed by Mosaic Hotel Group, a collection of individually branded, modern boutique hotels under the umbrella of Palisades Hospitality Group, a leading, full-service hospitality company. Mosaic creates award-winning hotels, including North Block Hotel in Yountville, CA, El Dorado Hotel & Kitchen in Sonoma, CA and Olema House in Point Reyes, CA, that authentically capture the best of their destination through design, atmosphere, dining and experiences. We spoke with Jeffers this week to discover more behind the design and why The Madrona will soon be the Wine Country’s most sought-after destination.
-Hotel ownership is daunting! What about this property enticed you to make such a big decision? I first saw the Madrona Manor on Memorial Day of last year, and from the moment I pulled into the driveway and laid eyes on it, it was calling my name. I spent two hours that day exploring and falling in love with the property. While I knew it would be a lot of work, I could envision what a beautiful future it had. Slowly but surely, we pulled together a team of incredible partners including hospitality expert, Cory Schisler, and my brother, Kyle, who handles commercial real estate finance. We’re thrilled to have closed on the property in February 2021.
-Preservation of historic properties is becoming more and more important for retaining California’s architecture integrity. Why is that so important to you? I have such a great respect for historic properties, and maintaining them is part of our culture, not just in California, but across the country and the world. It was important to me that the Madrona Manor’s architecture be respected, but reimagined to be more modern, exciting, and designed for the world we live in now. They say, “they don’t build them like they used to,” and in this instance, that is especially true. It’s extremely exciting to have something built in the 1880s with so much history and soul that is vastly different from the modern farmhouse architecture you often see today.
How does the history inspire your approach to the new design? The property was originally built during the Aesthetic Movement, which was a reaction to Victorianism that was sensuous, fanciful, and all about beauty for beauty’s sake. The Aesthetic Movement was made popular by Oscar Wilde in the UK who said that everything in your home should either be functional or beautiful or both, otherwise there’s no point in having it in your home. That’s something I really took to heart when creating the new design. Interestingly enough, Oscar Wilde came to San Francisco on a book tour in 1882, the same year the original home was built! I like to think the original owners, The Paxtons, paid attention to the Aesthetic Movement, and I wanted to honor that while adding my own modern touch.
–I know you still have much time left before opening, but what types of experiences and programming can we expect at The Madrona that will set it apart from other local hotels? Guests will be able to enjoy an unexpected and inspired culinary programming. We plan to utilize all eight acres of the property for culinary events, bringing in more international influences and different types of beverage programming that appeals to both the local community and the typical Wine Country traveler. We want people to fully take advantage of The Madrona’s vast, beautiful grounds through culinary experiences or simply by taking your glass of champagne out and getting lost on the property before dinner. There’s an element of romanticism and excitement about that, which sets it apart from other hotels. We’re also looking at other experiences exclusive for guests of The Madrona that go beyond typical wine tastings to celebrate Sonoma in other ways.
-How will the Madrona reflect Northern California sensibilities? Having built my design career in San Francisco and Northern California, I have taken inspiration from iconic designers like Michael Taylor. There is a touch of formality in what we do, but our design is also relaxed, comfortable and inviting. When designing homes, I never want people to feel like their home is too precious to enjoy and entertain, and The Madrona will reflect the same. We want people to be wowed by the design, the architecture and the views, but still feel relaxed and welcomed from the first moment of arrival. The rolling wine country hills combined with the property’s history, screams quintessential Northern California.
-I think we are all starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel in regard to the pandemic. How do you hope the hotel will lift our spirits? With wine of course! I’ve lived in Napa Valley for ten years, where the first nine were weekends only. After a few days filled with sunshine and delicious food and wine, I’d head back to San Francisco feeling refreshed, like I’d just been on vacation for a week. Whether you live 30 minutes away or you are flying halfway around the world, we want The Madrona to be an escape from reality. It’s a place where you can leave your phone in your room and enjoy the surroundings and the people you’re with. It’s a place that locals can escape to for lunch or dinner or to unwind in the parlor with a glass of wine. The Madrona truly is for everyone, and we can’t wait to introduce everyone to it.