Written by guest blogger Natalie Moore
The story of how former Capital Region residents Buck and Clea Stagnitti came to own a bed and breakfast a stone’s throw from Whiteface Mountain begins, as many great stories do, on a chairlift. “In the beginning of Covid we were up here skiing and trying to get away from other people,” Buck told me when I stopped by the cozy Whiteface Farm Adirondack Bed & Breakfast this past January. Before he could continue, his wife, who was listening in from one of several wooden tables in the dining room area, piped up. “That doesn’t sound good!” she exclaimed. “We’re not unfriendly!” (The idea that I could’ve thought the pair of smiling empty nesters who had welcomed me into their home—they live in an apartment attached to the B&B—unfriendly was laughable.) After I assured them that I understood Buck had meant getting away from other people exclusively for social distancing purposes, he continued. “It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and I was in line for the summit quad at Whiteface. This guy says, ‘Hey, do you mind if I ride with you?’ That’s a common thing if you’re in a singles line, but during Covid, nobody did that at all. I said ‘sure,’ and the guy jumped on the lift with me.”
That one word—“sure”—ended up changing the Stagnitti’s lives. On the lift, the man told Buck that he ran a bed and breakfast right up the road in Wilmington, but that he and his wife were thinking about putting the property on the market and retiring after more than 30 years. On a whim, Buck asked how much he was planning to list it for; he and Clea had dreamed about running a B&B when they first got married, before careers and kids came into play. When he heard the price, what was once a young couple’s dream began crystalizing into a reality for the empty nester.
That was in mid-March, and the couple went back up to Wilmington two weeks later to stay at the B&B, which, at the time, was called Willkommen Hof Bed & Breakfast. “It was Easter weekend and we were the only guests, so we got to check the whole place out,” Buck said. “On the way home, Clea called a friend of ours who was a realtor, and we had her at our house in Rexford on Monday morning.” From that point on, everything happened very quickly. The Stagnittis put their home on the market on Memorial Day, and sold it two days later. They did some traveling that summer before closing on the B&B on August 30, had a Department of Health inspection on August 31, and welcomed their first guests on September 1. “We had no clue what we were doing,” Buck said. “But we never looked back.”
The first step was figuring out what furniture to keep—the property, which dates back to the late 1800s, came fully furnished, but the Stagnittis also had all the furniture from their house in Rexford. “I describe it as shuffling two decks of cards together,” Buck says. “You can do it, but some cards just go flying.” In other words, the couple had to part ways with some pieces, but the finished interior of the home eventually came together with antique cupboards the couple has collected over the years, plates and glassware from the previous owners, a table and chairs from Buck’s grandmother, a Koffeloven purchased from a traveling salesman from Germany that “radiates heat all day,” and décor that celebrates the Stagnittis’ love of live music. In the thoughtfully decorated, Adirondack-inspired common area, guests can cozy up next to a wood stove for a cup of local coffee or one of the many board games the Stagnittis have on hand. Upstairs, the rooms (which are named after local mountains) are simple yet functional, and may even have some sort of inexplicable North Country magic to them. “People always tell us that they sleep really well here,” Buck says. “We hear it all the time: ‘I never sleep, and I slept like a rock up there.’”
A year and a half later, the Stagnittis have fully adapted to their new life in the mountains. Clea still works full-time as a support manager for a meditation app, a job she can do from home; on the day I stopped by, she had worked for an hour in the morning, went skiing at Whiteface for a few hours, then drove four minutes home to keep working. Buck, on the other hand, has happily traded his 35-year career in sales and marketing for one in the hospitality business, and loves the fact that he can cook breakfast for his guests—two simple options that utilize only the freshest ingredients from local farms per day—and be on the Whiteface gondola in 15 minutes. “We’re probably going to go snowshoe in the woods tonight since we have snow again,” he said of the trail out the back of the property that connects to the trail up Whiteface. “We love to hike the Flume Trail.”
For more information on Whiteface Farm and its offerings, plus tips for making the most of your Adirondack getaway, visit whitefacefarmny.com.