Happy New Year and Welcome to 2014!
What a year we have had in 2013!
As we sit here and reflect on the past year, we truly know that we have been very blessed in our journey. This time last year, we were still at home in Chesapeake, working on getting our Special Exemption Permit passed through the County Government of King George. The final Public Hearing was finally held at the end of March. From there, we were off and running . . . Or in our case, moving at a snails pace!
As new business owners, we knew that we would have challenges along the way. And we had our fair share of them. We were delayed from opening in May to doing a “Soft Opening” on August 1st. But once we got the doors opened, there was no looking back!
We have also had some really wonderful successes this year too! The most important one was getting Belle Grove Plantation opened! It took us from July, 2011 to August, 2013 to get it done. But what a wonderful feeling it was to say the doors are open! Some of our other successes were being selected by the Virginia Center of Architecture as on the the top 250 architecturally significant structures in Virginia. What a great honor!
We were also featured in the Governor’s “Year of the Historic Home” promotion. This honor opened our plantation to people from all over Virginia to come and experience this historic,elegant Southern Plantation. We even made the Governor’s Promotional Video!
We were also were profiled in a news piece for ABC News Washington Channel 7 just as we opened!
And just a couple of days ago, we found out we were one of the Best of 2013 through the Virginia Wedding and Events Network for Best Accommodations, Best Wedding Venue and Best New Business! Not to bad for only five months in business!
Another success was having our first four weddings! Each of them were very special to us. Each of them were a first for us in different ways. We know that there have been many weddings at Belle Grove Plantation through the history, but these not only happened here, but were documented as part of the new history we are making here.
Another success has been the people we have met and come to know. People have traveled from places as far away as New Zealand and Russia as well as many from the state of Virginia, Maryland, Washington State, Oregon, California, Illinois, Ohio, New Jersey, New York and Washington D.C. just to name a few. Each of them have brought their love of history, but also have become some of our biggest supporters.
Another success was getting this 8,000 square foot mansion filled with furnishings reflecting its history and its elegance. I have to say after looking at 13 rooms worth of swatches for curtains, I didn’t want to see another swatch for a long time! There were countless emails from our design team, Gates Antiques in Richmond, Virginia asking us if we liked this piece or that piece. The one thing we wanted more than anything as we worked to fill this mansion was to find pieces that would have meaning to us and the history of Belle Grove. We truly believe we have come pretty close to this goal! We are still working on finding those personal decor pieces yet, but love taking our time finding just the right ones.
Today we count our blessings from the past year!
We have been blessed to have so many people step up as volunteers to help around the plantation. We have had volunteers that have worked on the grounds from unloading a flat bed semi truck of plants to digging holes during July’s heat wave. We have people volunteer to work special events like our July 4th Open House to our Governor’s Year of the Historic Homes Open House to our Christmas Candlelight Tours. And what has to be more amazing are the number of teenagers who have stepped up to help! From grounds work to serving as waitstaff to just being on hand to help us with open houses. We love and appreciate all our volunteers!
Now that we are in the new year, we look forward to what is yet to come.
Yes, it’s time for the New Year Resolution!
If you have followed us for awhile, I love looking at the history of holidays as much as I love researching history of Belle Grove Plantation. So true to form, here are some tidbits about New Year Resolutions.
“A New Year’s Resolution is a secular tradition in which a person makes a promise to do an act of self-improvement or something nice beginning from New Year’s Day.”
” The ancient Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts. The Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named. In the Medieval era, the knights took the “peacock vow” at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry. At watchnight services, many Christians prepare for the year ahead by praying and making these resolutions.
There are other religious parallels to this tradition. During Judaism’s New Year, Rosh Hashanah, through the High Holidays and culminating in Yom Kipper (the Day of Atonement), on is to reflect upon one’s wrongdoings over the year and both seek and offer forgiveness. People may act similarly, during the Catholic fasting period of Lent, though the motive behind this holiday is more of sacrifice than of responsibility, in fact the practice of New Year’s resolutions partially came from the Lenten sacrifices. The concept, regardless of creed, is to reflect upon self-improvement annually.
At the end of the Great Depression, about a quarter of American adults formed New Year’s resolutions. At the start of the 21st century, about 40% did.
A 2007 study by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol involving 3,000 people showed that 88% of those who set New Year Resolutions fail, despite the fact that 52% of the study’s participants were confident of success at the beginning. Men achieved their goal 22% more often when they engaged in goal setting while women succeeded 10% more when they made their goals public and got support from their friends.
Quoting Frank Ra (Author of the New Year’s Resolution book “A Course in Happiness”) “Resolutions are more sustainable when shared, both in terms of with whom you share the benefits of your resolution, and with whom you share the path of maintaining your resolution. Peer-support makes a difference in success rate with New Year’s Resolutions”.
So as we start looking to setting our goals for the New Year for Belle Grove Plantation, I recall a fortune I received recently inside a fortune cookie. It really seemed to sum up our outlook on 2014.
“Yesterday was a dare to struggle . . . Today is a dare to win”
In 2013, we struggled to get the doors opened at Belle Grove Plantation. We have put blood, sweat and tears (remember my broken finger in August?) into Belle Grove Plantation. The challenges have come just as any new business should expect. But we look at these challenges as storms. I like to say if you are on a road trip (in our case a journey) and the rain starts coming down, do you stop, turn around and go home? No, you turn on the window shield wipers to get a better view and you keep going. That is just what we have done throughout 2013.
In 2014, we hope to be just a strong. We want to make Belle Grove Plantation one of the best places for a relaxing weekend, romantic get away, wedding, social event, corporate event and public events. We are working on our upcoming events calendar which we hope to get out by this weekend. We will also be sending out announcements through our social media connections like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as well as our email distribution list. (Have you signed up for our Facebook Page and Email List Yet?)
So watch for us this coming year!
We are daring to Win!