|Ten years ago, Kevin and Lorri Walsh were living high powered (and high stress) lives in Silicon Valley. As an executive for a high tech company, Kevin was responsible for strategic planning for one of his companies’ divisions and traveled constantly. Lorri was racking up the miles as a salesperson for a local chemical company. “We lived the silicon valley lifestyle”, says Kevin. “Long hours at the office with barely time to drop off and pick up our kids at daycare.” We really wanted something more balanced, where we could have our own business and have time to actually raise our family”. They made the leap to Napa in the summer of 2004 and purchased Hennessey House. “At the time, we knew nothing about running a hospitality business, but we fell in love with the place and the idea of being innkeepers in Napa. Lorri smiles “we haven’t looked back.”
One of the questions Kevin and Lorri are often asked is, How did you end up owning a Bed and Breakfast? “It’s a great question”, says Kevin, since it gives us an opportunity to share a little about ourselves”. Kevin and Lorri both grew up in the Bay Area, Kevin in San Francisco and Lorri in Palo Alto. They met at UC Davis, where Kevin was studying Physics and Lorri Physiology. “No, neither of these disciplines is a prerequisite for running an inn”, laughs Kevin, “but life is a journey and it is amazing where you can end up.” Lorri introduced Kevin to wine, a bottle of Gemelo 1982 Cabernet on a brisk, sunny day at the ocean. It left a lasting impression. “I was stunned that wine could be this good”, recalls Kevin. “It became a passion I never cease sharing with our guests.” After college, Kevin slowly gravitated from engineering to marketing, and Lorri from scientific research to sales. Along the way, Lorri discovered a passion for the garden. “I redesigned our entire yard at home,” says Lorri, “literally from the dirt up. Now I’ve got a beautiful ½ acre to play with at Hennessey House.” Cooking became a hobby as well. “For years, we used to get together every Thursday with my parents and make gourmet dinners and desserts together,” recalls Lorri. “We learned a lot about the kitchen from this experience.”
“I always had this idea in the back of my head about owning a Bed and Breakfast someday”, says Kevin, “so as we were considering how to rebalance our current lifestyle, we talked it over and decided to look further. We came upon Hennessey House while researching B&B’s in Napa and the rest is history.” Kevin and Lorri live with their family offsite just a short distance away from the inn. A resident innkeeper occupies an apartment on the premises. “Our kids are very energetic,” says Kevin, “and they need their own space to run around”.
Given where they came from, Kevin and Lorri have a first hand understanding of their guest’s busy and stressful lifestyles, and have crafted a Bed and Breakfast experience designed to let guests get away and truly relax. Hennessey House is decorated in an elegant old world style, with discretely placed modern amenities such as high-speed wifi access throughout the property. Several rooms have fireplaces, clawfoot tubs, or jaccuzzi tubs. Guests enjoy an afternoon tea service with home baked treats, an evening wine and cheese service, as well a full sitdown breakfast. “Almost everything is made here”, says Lorri, “Breakfast is prepared from scratch everyday. We make our own granola, and bake fresh muffins daily”.
It has been a real challenge to balance the needs of their family and run a business at the same time, but Kevin and Lorri say it’s worth it. “ I’m one of the few dads who picks his kids up from school, and has the flexibility to spend quality time with them in the afternoon” says Kevin.” “Kevin and I trade off between the Hennessey House and at home with the kids, and often work seven days a week”, says Lorri, “but then we get to spend a lot of time with our kids everyday, not just on weekends. Our lives are more balanced now, and we are very grateful for that. We love what we are doing and our guests tell us it shows.”