Tifton Gazette

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August 12, 2012

Horse Stamp Inn: Elegant new B&B between St. Marys and Brunswick

TIFTON — Since I don’t have a horse to ride — or to board in the barn — at the luxurious new bed and breakfast inn near Georgia’s coast, I pleased myself swinging.   

Three swings for grownups. Not routine A-frame two-seaters. Real swings with wooden seats to pump, legs stretched long.

Vigorous, swinging high next to the artesian pond full of catfish, bream and trout.

Horse Stamp Inn invites the outdoors indoors with big views of 16 acres in Waverly, Georgia through spacious windows and glass doors.

Inside, fabrics are luxurious, table settings inviting, seating areas comfy with views into adjacent sunlighted rooms and the saltwater swimming pool.

Lovely, freshly painted and sparkly clean, this six-year old home just becoming an Inn. But that’s not its sole purpose, say owners Tom and Kris Hutcheson.

“We’re making a place for people to do what they need to do,” Kris says. “Resting perhaps. Relaxing. Marrying. Thinking something through.”

This five-bedroom home is four miles west of Interstate 95. Even its exit is brand new; don’t look for it on printed maps.

 Exit 22, midway between Jacksonville and Savannah, just south of exits for the Golden Isles and Brunswick. Easy find. Horse Stamp Church Road.

The Innkeepers are newcomers too. “First time ever to live on the Georgia coast,” says Tom, “and that’s exactly what we wanted to do after a lifetime in Colorado, Texas, business also in Phoenix and family reunions in Utah.”

For Kris that also means, wistfully, the grown children and a grandbaby on “the other side of the world,” still in the West.

One daughter, Anna, joined them in Waverly; she’s studying graphic design at the Savannah College of Art and Design…and caring for the horses.

Find their horse grazing, sometimes trotting, in the meadow along the entrance drive framed with 18 crepe myrtle trees.

Overnight your own horse if one travels with you in one of four stalls, hay included.

Chickens call the barn home too, so eggs with shells of many hues find their way to the breakfast table. Ask if you’d like to help gather eggs.

Farm-to-table in multiple ways here, fresh blueberries among them, and eight raised beds for herbs and vegetables.

“This used to be a working orchard,” Tom says, “and today we still have 22 pecan trees.”

Green Acres kind of farming, long-time entrepreneur and business owner Tom calls this, since “We’re learning too.”

 Hop in his ATV for a tour of the property and the plans, plus the next-door Quarterman Cemetery with headstones dating to 1820, and a working catfish pond.

If I return, I’d see about catching a fish in the Inn’s pond, artesian and flanked by woods — a serene setting.

Eight Adirondack chairs in their natural wood, not Crayola colors, circle on a patio at the pond, fire pit in the middle.

Cook my fresh fish, and swing again after dinner would be my choice. Might help me meet whatever it is that I need to do, as Kris says is a point of Horse Stamp Inn.

 Don’t you love someone affirming that relaxing might be just what you need to do?

I think the swings with their long chains hanging from tall wooden beams might be part of the energy of this place. Here’s why.

The Innkeepers have been married 11 years, blending families and life goals. Talk things over, talk a lot, Kris says.

They were swinging and talking in Colorado, musing about what it is they might do best, together.

That’s when they settled on innkeeping: merging his successful years in business, “service industry” Tom calls it, her teaching, their love of parenting and community and music.

Sharing a home, creating space for others, preparing fresh foods, hearing other people’s stories — that’s how we best blend, they determined.  

“We’ve become a team doing this,” Kris told me.

Nice marriage notion, figuring things out on a swing.

In case swinging doesn’t charm you as it does me, a long screened porch runs the length of the house. Take a book, listen to Tom play his drums or Kris the piano.

Two steps down from the porch is the saltwater swimming pool, 16 x 32 feet. Floating’s good for relaxing.

Lingering over breakfast, or early coffee in the kitchen calmed my soul too. This kitchen with numerous glass-front cabinets is so big it easily supports a sofa-size cushioned bench.

Big but not pretentious. Well-appointed, chic for sure, but in a comfy way. That’s how I felt about the whole house.

Kris says it’s because of all the local and regional artisans — upholsterers, wood workers and more.

“Incredible people” she calls them. “They seem to just arrive and help us.”

Pretty sure she and Tom named the five bedrooms themselves. For horses.

Not just famous race winners but a blend that fits the personalities I kept seeing in these Innkeepers.

What room might you choose? Consider same price $175-$185 no matter which horse name, and equally luxurious.

Dawn Run: 1986 Gold Cup winner at Cheltenham, a thoroughbred race horse

Sugarfoot: Cartoon horse supporting Woody Woodpecker from the 1954 “Horse’s Tale”

Cimarron: synonymous with Mustang

April Love: Song from the 1957 movie with Pat Boone and Shirley Jones about a Lexington, KY horse farm setting.

I stayed in April Love, stupendous view of the sun setting over the pond.

 Seabiscuit is the name of the fifth room, in honor of the 1938 Horse of the Year and subject of the book and movie.

Biggest of the rooms, enormous bath with garden tub plus double-headed shower, arched doorway and short hall between bed and bath. $305 for this elegant space.

Each room opens to the wide second-story hallway, overlooking the great room and its floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace.

The stairway down is grand and wide, easy to descend hand-in-hand, perhaps three people across!

Exploring is possible too. I took a look at the nearby intra-coastal waterways in Tom’s 21-foot boat, a 2012 Nautic Star. Yet another something that’s brand new.

 Tim Cheeks is the captain, out of Hickory Bluff Marina. Think Little Satilla River.

Meandering to see osprey and egrets, maybe heron and fish breaking the water with ripples suited me just fine.

    Brunswick skyline in the distance; ecosystems under the grasses within my reach. Cheeks has been handling boats here his whole life; generations preceded him in these waters, all the way back to a 1700s King’s Grant he said, rounding a curve, keeping his eye out for birds.

    He’ll take you to St. Simons Island for lunch and shopping, or perhaps even Cumberland and Sapelo, important barrier islands off the Georgia coast.

Excursions can be arranged with Horse Stamp Inn.

I didn’t take any driving day trips from Horse Stamp Inn but considered some. Waverly is the town and Woodbine’s not far. Population 1,283.

Weekends from 7:00 – 10:00 p.m. I’d give acoustic bluegrass and gospel music a try at the Woodbine Opry Fridays, or amplified country music Saturdays.

    Happens for free in the former school doomed for demolition but preserved and repurposed by determined citizens. I hear there’s room to dance.

You might win a cake, pie or banana pudding if you stay for the 9:00 p.m. raffle, but the lure of going home to the Inn is strong.

I rather like the concept of luxurious accommodations as my base for joining local rural people with a love of music with regional roots. Can’t often find that combo.

Antiquing suits me too and Hutchesons recommended a stop at the Woodbine Jonque Shop with the sign out front declaring, “We sell dead folk’s things.”

Sanctuary Cove is the Waverly golf course.

St. Mary’s is a waterfront Georgia community at Exit 3, therefore just 19 miles south of Horse Stamp Inn’s Exit 22.

Simple day trip for multiple museums, great bookstore, community theater, waterfront park and marinas, big views, National Park Service ferry to Cumberland Island and seafood restaurants.

I’m planning to figure all that out in person.

St. Marys is a seafood-eating city too so dinner makes sense. Horse Stamp Inn serves breakfast, and you can arrange for personal chef Paul Spivey to prepare your dinner there.

Other eating options include Captain Stan’s Smokehouse on Highway 17 in Woodbine or Zachry’s Seafood & Steak in Brunswick, Exit 29, seven miles from the Inn.

Known for years on Jekyll Island.

 

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