It began with all the right ingredients: a location on a scenic bluff overlooking the Potomac River, the unique concept of bringing the ambiance of old Europe to the region, and founders with the vision and ability to deliver that vision.
We still remember our first visit there. It felt like we drove through a time machine directly from Washington, D.C., into Bavaria. We saw a small German village of timber-framed chalets, the old stone lodge, a backdrop of the Potomac River valley, and a restaurant offering interesting items such as venison, boar, pheasant, and rabbit. The wine cellar had just become a Wine Spectator award winner, able to provide a perfect complement to the meals.
The experience was enhanced with an attention to detail. Everything was in perfect shape, with upscale touches such as a fireplace in the bedroom. We’ve traveled quite a bit, and it’s not too often we remember a quick getaway with such vivid recall. Yes, it was that special.
A decade plus has rolled by since the Asams’ sons, Christian and David, assumed responsibility for the Bavarian Inn in Shepherdstown, W.Va. Would there be a new thumbprint on the property? Would they continue as is? These are natural questions, and the answers are all positive. Prior to taking over from their parents, each received a college education followed by working in management at other high-end properties to bring in a more global perspective.
The new infinity pool serves as a great example of change. The old pool needed some repairs, as old pools often do. A decision was made to invest capital and upgrade. It was time to pitch the decades-old model of a typical boring hotel pool and respond to the newest consumer demands.
The new Infinity 101 Pool and Bar takes advantage of an unobstructed and breathtaking view of the Potomac River from and, as its name indicates, sits 101 feet above the river. It’s a peaceful oasis where you can enjoy the pool, as well as cocktails and food. The gentle sloped entry even complies with requirements for those with disabilities.
In addition to the infinity pool, onsite recreation includes a new putting green, tennis court, and basketball court.
With environmental concerns on many people’s minds, going green is both economically wise and the right thing to do. Working with a committee of many of their passionate, empowered employees, the Asams have turned the concept into tangible realities. The Bavarian Inn is now West Virginia’s second solar-powered hotel. Fortunately, the panels face away from the best views. Less visible green efforts include LED lighting and other modernizations.
In the past, The Bavarian Inn was essentially a night or two and a special dining destination often to celebrate an anniversary or special occasion. Today, its flavor is more of a resort destination worthy of much longer stays. Partnering with other attractions, the inn now offers golf at two nearby courses, biking along the scenic C&O Canal and the Appalachian Trail, whitewater rafting, bike rentals, canoe/kayak rentals, and zip-line adventures. There are also four wineries within a 30-minute drive.
Nearby historic sites include Harper’s Ferry, Antietam Battlefield, and historic Shepherdstown, which is a trendy culinary destination with quaint boutiques and shops. For gamers, Hollywood Casino at Charles Town is also nearby.
Somehow, the next generation of the Asam family found a way to retain the Old World charm and culinary delights while taking it to the next level. Today’s travelers seek authenticity. Bavarian Inn keeps its German heritage alive and well, yet integrates it into the region’s other authentic offerings, creating a true destination.
The Bavarian Inn remains a great spot for short stays for special occasions or the “splurge” spot where C&O Canal travelers take a break from roughing it and pamper themselves. But, the inn is worth a hard look for longer vacations as a well.
Insider tip: Word has it that even more changes are coming on the dining side, with an expansion of the informal pub, Rathskellar, and small plates.
For more information:
Bavarian Inn: bavarianinnwv.com