Monday, January 28, 2019

Very Special Guests

Patty & Larry Pridemore
In early December we received an email from Patty Pridemore, who grew up in Fayetteville and whose husband, Larry, had once lived in the building that now houses Lafayette Flats. "My husband’s parents lived in the entire top floor in the 1950s, their living room overlooking Court Street, and ran the restaurant, The Court Street Diner, that was on the ground floor," wrote Patty. She told us that she was planning a trip home for a visit soon and was hoping to stay at Lafayette Flats. "We prefer Quinnimont, as it would be closest to where Larry’s bedroom was," she wrote. Arrangements were made,  and for Christmas Patty surprised her husband with a stay at Lafayette Flats and a trip home to visit family.

Now as a general rule we don't meet our guests when they arrive, relying on our coded entry system to welcome them to the Flats, but we love to talk to folks who know the history of our building, so we made it a point to be there when the Pridemores arrived. It was a treat to walk them through the building and show them the parts we had changed and those we had restored. We asked Larry way too many questions and he was gracious to indulge our curiosity. As we moved through the different rooms, he shared memories of what it was like to live in the building, and both he and Patty told us stories of living in Fayetteville in the 1950s.

Larry Pridemore in his former bedroom
When we arrived in Quinnimont, the first stop was what is now the luxurious bathroom but what Larry remembered as his bedroom. He correctly noted that the area that now contains the shower was a little smaller than he remembered it as his closet (we had to shrink it slightly to make room for the plumbing system). Otherwise, he said the space felt just as he remembered it.

Moving through the Flat, Larry told us story after story as his memories of living in the building came flooding back. We enjoyed it so much that we had to force ourselves to leave them to get settled in after their long car trip from Georgia.

We are grateful to Patty and Larry for allowing us the opportunity to host them, and for the gracious way in which they enriched our understanding of the history of our building!

Friday, January 18, 2019

HomeAway Finds a Place to Stay in Fayetteville, WV

Over 2 million unique places to stay in 190 countries around the world are showcased on Four of those listings are the vacation rentals of Lafayette Flats in Fayetteville, West Virginia.

In March 2017, HomeAway launched Moment Makers, a video series that captures the stories of vacation rental partners that go above and beyond for their guests. We were thrilled to find out that Lafayette Flats was chosen as a feature property!

The Fayetteville, WV episode was only the fifth in the series, with precious videos shot in Rome, Italy; Sydney, Australia; Austin, Texas; and Nashville, Tennessee.

We had the best time showing off wild, wonderful West Virginia to the outstanding HomeAway film crew! Watching visitors to our state appreciate the beauty of our places and our people is an incredible experience, and why we got into the vacation rental business.

Thanks to HomeAway for taking the time to experience the REAL West Virginia. And thanks to all the ever-wonderful Fayetteville folks for being great hosts and generally fascinating people.

There is no doubt that everyone's dedication to this project will help advance our alternative narrative for West Virginia.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Trying Something New: Announcing our Visual Artist-in-Residence

We purchased the building that now houses Lafayette Flats in June of 2014 and worked on its renovation for the rest of the summer, fall and through the winter. By the time we opened to guests in April of 2015, we had learned a lot about the rhythms of the seasons in Fayetteville.

Mostly we recognized that winters are very quiet as our outdoor adventure town took some time off from the frenetic pace of the warm-weather months.

As we pondered what winter would hold for occupancy at Lafayette Flats, we knew that there would be long periods when we would have few guests and the building would be mostly empty. Since our business plan includes supporting the arts as one of its core principles, we decided to host an artist for a winter residency.

Given our interest in visual art, our first thought was to provide space for a painter to live and work through the winter months, but since there is no real studio space within the Flats, we opted instead on a writer’s residency.

For four winters we hosted The New River Gorge Writer-in-Residence at Lafayette Flats and were fortunate to have a tremendously talented writer each year. They were Eric Shonkwiler (2015), Mary Ann Henry (2016), Kathleen Jacobs (2017) and Wendy Welch (2018).

For 2019 we thought we’d try something new: Going back to our original idea of hosting a visual artist, we thought if we could find the right person working in the right medium that we might be able to make it work. We are thrilled with our selection.

Announcing the 2019 New River Gorge Artist in Residence at Lafayette Flats

New River Gorge Artist in Residence at Lafayette FlatsRosalie Haizlett

Rosalie is an illustrator specializing in vibrant watercolor nature illustration. She is inspired by the wild landscape of the West Virginia family farm where she grew up. This past summer, Rosalie was the Artist in Residence at The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and she just returned from a 6 week trip to Jordan.

We first became aware of Rosalie’s work when she had a show of mushroom paintings at Taylor Books in Charleston. One of the original paintings we saw at that show now resides in Quinnimont.

We look forward to welcoming Rosalie to Fayetteville this winter!

Monday, September 17, 2018

Personal Retreat Packages at Lafayette Flats

Personal Retreat Packages at Lafayette Flats
Whether beginning a new chapter in life, seeking quiet space to work on a special project, or simply taking time to refresh the mind, body, and spirit, a personal retreat can work wonders. 

Thanks to the collaboration of several West Virginia small businesses, personal retreat packages are being offered at Lafayette Flats - a boutique vacation rental property in Fayetteville, WV - during January and April 2019. Individuals can design their retreat experience with the help of Lafayette Flats co-owner and retreat curator, Amy McLaughlin.

“What makes our retreats special is the ability to customize unique personal itineraries. We'll supply the gorgeous accommodations, inspiring location and beneficial accouterments. You create the experience that feels right for you,” says McLaughlin. “Meditation is great and green juice is healthy, but your retreat should serve your unique needs.”

All personal retreat packages include the following:

  • A three-day, two-night stay at Lafayette Flats in charming Fayetteville, West Virginia
  • Your own private, luxurious, original art-filled flat: bedroom, kitchen, living space and bathroom with soaker tub
  • Private access to a studio suitable for yoga and/or meditation
  • A collection of all-natural bath and skin care products from Silver Market Co. 
  • Guided or solitary forest bathing excursions on the stunning trails of the New River Gorge
  • Spring and sparkling water, fruit-infused spa water and custom herbal tea handcrafted by Gum's Hollow Apothecary
  • Additional accessories for the flat curated to stimulate all five senses including luxurious linens, aromatherapy, fresh flowers and fruit, art supplies, soft blankets, wireless internet access and a Bluetooth speaker

Acupuncture at Lafayette Flats RetreatsOptional activities available IN-FLAT for an additional fee include the following:

Understanding why you are seeking a retreat is the first step in planning the perfect getaway. Honor your desires and plan activities that are right for you.

More information and a free retreat planner are available at

Massage at Personal Retreat

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Top Five Reasons to Visit the New River Gorge in Autumn

The New River Gorge Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP) Race 
On Sunday, Sept. 18 at noon at Fayette Station on the New River two races take place during the this incredible event: Attainment Race & Down River Race. In addition, the event organizers offer free instruction and equipment demos to spectators with no experience or registration is needed. The Downriver Race is truly something to see! The participants go through a class 3 rapid ON STANDUP PADDLEBOARDS!

Gauley Season 
For seven spectacular weekends every fall the Gauley River transforms into a whitewater superhighway that attracts adventure seekers from all over the world. You can feel the excitement in the air. Even if you aren’t quite ready to tackle the beast of the east, just visiting Summersville Lake to see the damn release that creates the world-class white water is fun. Tentative 2017 River Release Dates: September 7, 8, 9, 10; 14, 15, 16, 17; 21, 22, 23, 24; 28, 29, 30; October 1; 5, 6, 7; 13, 14; 20 & 21.

The Weather
Autumn weather is perfect for hiking. A cool breeze on the Endless Wall Trail is topped only by the gorgous display of fall foliage. The forest canopy becomes less dense allowing beautiful rays of sunshine to break through the towering trees. You can hear the crunch of leaves under your boots, smell the scent of fall wildflowers and feel the crispness in the air. There are over 100 miles of trails in the New River Gorge. More than enough to keep you busy all fall.

Fall Food
We can’t wait to see what our friends at The Station come up with for their fall farm-to-table menu. We look forward to washing down their deliciousness with a Oktoberfest, the fall brew from Bridge Brew Works. And speaking of beer, we are also looking forward to relaxing at Arrowhead Bike Farm. Can you image a better way to spend an autumn evening than around a campfire with a brat and a beer?

Bridge Day
West Virginia’s biggest one day festival is jaw dropping; your jaw will drop open when you see the Bridge Jam Music Festival, the Fayetteville Chili Cookoff and Taste of Bridge Day are all fun events worth visiting.
skydivers jump off the 800’ tall New River Gorge Bridge. West Virginia’s largest one day festival is now the centerpiece of other great events that take place in the Gorge during the third weekend of October.

Monday, August 6, 2018

2018 Art Fund Purchase

Each year we dedicate a portion of our vacation rental income to a fund from which we purchase new West Virginia art. Promoting art and artists from our home state is actually in our business plan for Lafayette Flats. You can read more about it here.

For our 2018 Art Fund Purchase we traveled to another beautiful part of our state - Tucker County - to explore the art scene in the revitalized small town of Thomas. While browsing The White Room Art Gallery, we came across a unique piece of art that we immediately knew would be perfect at Lafayette Flats. It traveled home with us, and now hangs in the bedroom of flat no. 1, Nuttall.

"Ride On” by Eddie “Spaghetti” Maier, is an artful and clever depiction of mountain biking, an extremely popular activity in Fayetteville and the surrounding New River Gorge National River. But even those who have never set their bum on a bike will appreciate the beauty of this crankie.

To create the crankie, Eddie carved a beautiful scene of a mountain bike trail into a slab of reclaimed wood. He created a print on paper that is then scrolled inside a wooden form - of his own making - that contains two spools on the inside and a glass viewing screen on the front. Finally, he painted a continuous line drawing of a biker on the glass screen.

The magic of the ride through the woods happens when the scroll is hand-cranked, as the tiny music box plays “Country Roads.”

We love the way Eddie captures the natural beauty of West Virginia in his woodcut prints. From hibernating bears and baby bunnies to bluebells and milkweed, a look through Eddie’s online gallery will reveal his love of Appalachia.

We were able to chat on the phone with Eddie shortly after purchasing “Ride On.” We could hear his children playing in the background at this Maidsville, WV home. He talked about his love of peddling art throughout the Mountain State, and the welcoming feeling he gets from interacting with folks on the streets of Morgantown specifically and West Virginia generally.

Eddie also turned us on to a website all about crankies and the rich storytelling history of the artform. We will share the link with one caveat; only click if you have hours to devote to crankie exploration. The Crankie Factory is fascinating and a complete time suck.
Eddie shows work at different galleries through West Virginia, but he prefers street vending at fairs and festivals. He compared it to fishing. “I throw out a line and see if anything bites,” he said laughing. He finds this technique particularly helpful when selling crankies, because who doesn’t love a good story?

Read about our previous Art Fund purchases:
2017 Meredith Gregg “Lotus Rising"
2016 Paula Clendenin “Ambition"
2015 Stephanie Danz “Rhodies"

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Deepening our Connection

Thoreau said it best: “A taste for the beautiful is most cultivated out of doors.”

While we have strived to make the interior spaces of Lafayette Flats as beautiful and comfortable as
possible, we are at our core, outdoor people. Most every weekend for us includes at least one walk in the woods, whether hunting mushrooms or searching for a new vista.
Sometimes we walk just to walk. There is just something about being in the forest that satisfies a yearning for something; something un-nameable, undefinable.

This yearning prompted us to join the West Virginia Master Naturalists program, which gave us even more reason to be outdoors –and the skills and knowledge to deepen our connection to nature. Now as we are finishing the course of study, we find ourselves being drawn even deeper by that same yearning. Still as unnamable and undefinable, but louder and more persistent.

But even if we can’t define it or name it, we do know where it leads us.

Glade Creek, Butcher’s Branch, Town Loop, Rend, Southside. These trails – and many others – soothe our souls and restore our minds.

We know we’re not alone. We’ve never met anyone that disagrees with the notion that being in nature is therapeutic. People feel better when they are outside.

Nowhere is this idea more accepted – and more practiced – than in Japan. The concept of “Shinrin-Yoku” means “taking in, in all of our senses, the forest atmosphere” (“Forest Bathing” for short). Led by a guide, forest bathers are invited to connect with nature through each of their senses; to experience the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the forest. This is not a hike, but an intentionally slow and contemplative walk in the woods.

Shinrin-Yoku has been part of Japan’s national public health strategy for the past decade. Japanese scientists have studied and documented specific health benefits of Shinrin-Yoku, including:

  • Boosted immune system functioning, with an increase in the count of the body's Natural Killer (NK) cells. 
  • Reduced blood pressure 
  • Reduced stress 
  • Improved mood 
  • Increased ability to focus 
  • Accelerated recovery from surgery or illness 
  • Increased energy level 
  • Improved sleep 
Regular forest bathers also report:
  • Deeper and clearer intuition 
  • Deepening of friendships 
  • Overall increase in sense of happiness 
  • Boosted problem solving ability and creativity 
The reason most often given to explain why Forest Bathing is so prevalent and accepted in Japan is because the country is so heavily forested (64% of the archipelago is covered with trees), and the Japanese people have always had a strong connection to the land.

Sound familiar? West Virginia is 77% forested. And who has a stronger connection to the land than West Virginians?

Forest Bathing is already spreading across America. A recent article in the Washington Post asserts that Forest Bathing is today where Yoga was 30 years ago; beginning to be recognized as an alternative to expensive health care and backed up by science and history. And West Virginia is uniquely situated for Forest Bathing.
The New River Gorge has may beautiful forests where people can practice Shinrin-Yoku, and the activity is the perfect complement to all the other outdoor activities for which the area is known. Forest Bathing is slow-paced and contemplative. It is great for visitors seeking an alternative to the high adventure activities, and a respite for the adrenaline junkies themselves.

Does the idea of Forest Bathing intrigue you? We (Amy and Shawn) will be guiding a free Forest Bathing Experience on Saturday, August 11, as part of Fayetteville’s “Wild Weekend” Nature Festival. We will also be offering guided Forest Bathing as an elective activity for our upcoming personal retreats this winter.

We invite you to join us in the forest and deepen your connection with nature.