Thursday, November 26, 2015

Richard Gere and Carey Lowell Share Their Love of Yoga at the Bedford Post Inn

You don’t have to be an avid practitioner of yoga to visit the Bedford Post Inn. But it seems a shame, somehow, to stop at this bucolic setting and not take advantage of the Yoga Loft, a light-filled former barn that overlooks a zen garden. And for those who spend a night in one of the inn’s eight rooms, a free yoga class is part of the deal.

Opened in 2007 by husband-and-wife actors Richard Gere and Carey Lowell and partner Russell Hernandez, the inn is known as much for its restaurants and related comforts as it is for its unique yoga program. Only a few years after opening, the Bedford Post Inn was named a member of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux organization of boutique hotels.

“We’re on the smallest end of the spectrum,” says general manager Peter Ruvolo. “We’re very proud and lucky to be a part of it.”

Nestled on 14 acres in Bedford, Westchester County, just under an hour’s drive from New York City, the property has original structures that date back to before the Revolutionary War. A restaurant called Nino’s was located there from 1953 to 1994. But when Gere, Lowell and Hernandez decided to buy the property, it was in disrepair.

“This was their brainchild. They live in the area, and they kept going by this property, which was lying fallow,” says Ruvolo. “They wanted a place for the community, a beautiful setting, where people could do their yoga and relax. They also wanted it to be an oasis for travelers.”

Visitors to the inn come from all over the world, but a substantial number of patrons are local. They take yoga classes, which are offered daily, and dine at The Farmhouse, the less formal Barn, or get takeout coffee and pastries from The Bakery Within the Barn. The emphasis at all three is on fresh, healthful ingredients.

“We try to source local farmers as much as possible, and we work with several in the area,” says Ruvolo. “We do organic when we can. We have a foraging program. The owners have about 100 acres behind us, where there are berries, wood sorrel, mustard greens, and other wild edibles. One of the things we’re thinking about for the future is having guests at the inn go out and forage with the chef if they like.”

Executive Chef Jeremy McMillan first worked at the inn as part of its opening team. He was chef de cuisine under Chef Brian Lewis, overseeing daily kitchen operations until a year later, when he moved to New York City to become sous chef at the Michelin-starred A Voce Madison. He helped launch A Voce Columbus as Chef de Cuisine, which opened to wide acclaim and was named one of the three best new restaurants in the U.S. in 2009 by The Wall Street Journal and received a Michelin star a year later.

But the Bedford Post still called to him, and in 2010 McMillan returned as Executive Chef. The Farmhouse is open for dinner and blends Italian traditions with seasonal and local ingredients. The less formal Barn offers classic country cuisine. There are several private dining options, including a Chef’s Table and Wine Cellar.

Situated atop The Barn restaurant is the Yoga Loft, where there are daily classes in different forms of yoga as well as the Feldenkrais form of therapeutic technique. Workshops on such topics as Fundamentals of Tibetan Medicine and aromatherapy are given by experts. “Because Mr. Gere practices yoga, he felt it was something he wanted to bring to the local community,” Ruvolo says. “He really wanted people in Bedford to have access to this.”

As for the guest rooms, “think Restoration Hardware,” says Ruvolo, referring to the chain of home decor stores. “Some of them have fireplaces. Some have terraces. The whole property was designed by Carey Lowell and her architect, so it has a cohesive style. It’s simple and elegant, with a lot of whitewashed wood.”

Stones that were excavated when the builders were creating a geothermal heating system were repurposed when possible. Some of the timbers in the rooms and the Yoga Loft come from lumber on the property. A long table in The Barn restaurant is made from the floors of reclaimed box cars.

The inn is open year-round. An increasing number of guests come from New York City for a weekend getaway. “It’s a quick jaunt, and a great way to get someplace in an hour that feels like much further away,” Ruvolo says. “It feels like you’re in Vermont.”


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