Labor of LoveAuthor:Lindsey Shook
Acclaimed interior designer Jay Jeffers pours his heart and soul into Healdburg’s newest yet most historic boutique hotel, The Madrona
“I have always secretly dreamed about owning a little hotel. I love hospitality and all the details that go into making a property special. This one spoke to me. I didn’t find it, it found me,” says designer Jay Jeffers about Healdsburg’s highly anticipated new boutique hotel—The Madrona—that is now open and welcoming guests to experience its bold, spirited spaces designed by Jeffers and his firm.
“It was happenstance that I saw it Memorial Day weekend during the height of the pandemic,” he recalls. “If Covid had not happened, I would have been traveling elsewhere and none of this would have come together.” Obsessing over what could be, Jeffers dreamed of transforming the historic property into something special. “When I met a consultant who worked for the past owners, I realized I could actually turn this concept into a reality,” he says. “The real defining moment occurred when I sent my brother—who is a partner at Acore Capital, a financer of large hospitality projects—the numbers and he said it was risky, but this could really work!”
Located in the heart of Sonoma, the 24-room hotel was originally built as a gabled private residence in 1881 during the aesthetic movement and later converted into a bed and breakfast. “The Madrona is a part of the community and has played a role in the lives of so many people, like our food and beverage director, who landed his first job in the restaurant when he was 16,” exclaims Jeffers. “The bones were great and the view impeccable but the structures needed love.”
Jeffers and his team presented plans to the historical preservation board to transform the property, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, with his signature style while honoring the home’s heritage. All aspects of the hotel, from the design to the restaurant menus, are inspired by the period in which the structure was built as well as the original owners—the Paxton family—loved to travel the world, collecting items and inspiration from their travels. “You can’t build structures like this out of solid redwood anymore,” Jeffers notes. “You couldn’t recreate it if you tried. The Madrona has such a presence, so we chose to see more opportunities rather than obstacles.”
Spread across six buildings, the guest rooms and private bungalows now feel more like a luxury residence than a traditional hotel dwelling, as no two rooms are alike. This modern-day interpretation of the original 19th-century aestheticism is reflected in the bold fabric selections, robust art curated by Dolby Chadwick Gallery and the impressive collection of over 200 antiques and relics from around the world, including over 30 pieces from the original owners, which are showcased alongside contemporary pieces for an eclectic mix of old and new.
Warm European oak flooring from Hakwood installed throughout the main spaces is enveloping, bringing elements of the surrounding Wine Country environment in. Quality design details, such as the Watermark faucets and tubs by Americh and Therma-Glass sourced from Pace Supply in Santa Rosa, enhance the comfortable yet exceptional feeling in each guest suite. Custom details throughout, including an expansive brass light fixture with pink bulbs designed and realized by Javier Robles of Lumifer, are what set The Madrona apart from the rest.
“I am especially in love with the digital mural we designed with Phillip Jeffries,” notes Jeffers of the custom grasscloth walls that depict the story behind the historic property, a new product offering from the distinguished wallcovering company. “It allows us tell a story about the property in such a unique way using one of my favorite products.” Inspiration on each wall continues through the art program curated by Dolby Chadwick gallery. “What Lisa Chadwick did is incredible,” he remarks. “QR codes are scattered throughout the main spaces so guests can learn more and/or purchase the art.”
The sensorial experience continues throughout the day with the help of Michelin-starred Chef Jesse Mallgren, who presents an entirely new and approachable concept influenced by his love of international flavors and seasonal ingredients sourced directly from The Madrona’s on-site garden. Guests can anticipate a spin on classic cuisine including chicken paillard infused with Southeast Asian flavors from his travels throughout Thailand; steak tartare with goma dare, quail egg and fresh wasabi; and local anchovies cured with Madrona lemons, featuring fennel pollen from the on- site garden and DaVero olive oil from The Madrona’s neighboring farm. Jeffers and operating partner Cory Schisler enlisted West Bev to curate a dynamic cocktail program and wine consultant Debbie Zachareas to develop a distinct wine list not found anywhere else in Sonoma. “The Madrona goes beyond a traditional luxury Wine Country hotel, delivering memorable moments of bold design, highly intuitive service, a dynamic culinary experience and an overall sense of magic around every corner,” Jeffers boasts.
Set on eight acres, the property also offers thoughtful amenities for those passionate about health and fitness. The gardens are crafted by Aris Curtis—a passionate voice for the regenerative farming movement—with the intention of being used not just for the fare but to enhance relaxation. A heated pool sits between the gardens and citrus groves, allowing for year-round enjoyment, while the fitness studio comes equipped with Peloton bikes, a Tonal smart gym and much more. “I am thrilled to welcome guests to the Madrona, where high design, exceptional food and drink, thoughtful amenities and scenic views await,” says Jeffers. “This project was a labor of love, and we hope people leave feeling relaxed and inspired.”
SHOP THE LOOK – Love what you see? Take a piece of The Madrona home with you!
Throughout the mansion, the bungalows and the Paddock House, Jeffers worked with local distributor PACE SUPPLY to install the H-Line 115 faucet, which was designed by WATERMARK in collaboration with renowned interior designer Mark Zeff for a project on the historic High-Line in New York City. watermark-designs.com or pacesupply.com
Throughout, Jeffers worked with bespoke wood flooring company HAKWOOD, which specializes in European oak solutions that are both impressive and durable, on the installation of planks in the Sincere and Heritage Brushed finishes. hakwood.com
Guests who stay in the Ranch House can relax and unwind in a freestanding bathtub from Therma-glass’s Alameda collection, sourced from PACE SUPPLY. pacesupply.com
Jeffers worked closely with the team at PHILLIP JEFFRIES to create a mural of the hotel and grounds using their new Pure Imagination custom digital wallcovering solution. This innovative new feature allows designers to modify an existing Phillip Jeffries design or upload a personalized design to print on over 30 available ground options. The team also installed Origin Weaves and Preppy Plaid from Jeffries in several of the guest suites. Phillipjeffries.com