Bed and breakfast harkens back to another era, old-world charm, service
By Mike McGann, Editor, UnionvilleTimes.com
EAST MARLBOROUGH — It might be the best-kept secret in the Unionville area, but likely it won’t be for long.
The Inn at Whitewing Farm is a gorgeous bed and breakfast tucked into a quiet, picturesque valley a stone’s throw from Longwood Gardens.
For new owners Lance and Sandy Shortt, who purchased Whitewing from the DeSeta family in 2011, hospitality is more than goal: they’ve owned and operated Rino’s in Exton, a well-known Italian eatery that has something of a national reputation, especially for its seafood lasagna, which for years was a staple on mega TV retailer QVC.
Equally evident, is how much they love the property.
“It was love at first sight,” Lance said. “From the first moment we saw it, we knew this was it — and it’s a real labor of love, now.”
With the Shortts taking over — all of the rooms have been renovated and sparkle like jewels in the countryside, with beautiful custom decor. All of the rooms have their own private bathrooms and virtually all of amenities one would find in a high-end hotel, from private entrances to Wi-Fi Internet and flat screen TVs, but the peace, grace, elegance and personal touch of a bed and breakfast.
In the great room, the Hay Barn — built in 1796 and beautifully renovated — chef-prepared breakfasts are served, as well as afternoon tea, for a touch of old-world living, with a roaring fire, comfy chairs and stimulating conversation. And Whitewing is truly a family operation, the Shortts kids (both in their 20s), Samantha and Julian are fully involved and dedicated to making guests feel right at home.
From the tennis courts, to the pond and surrounding verandahs, the setting is purely idyllic.
With its proximity to Longwood Gardens and all of the attractions of the Southern Chester County area, Whitewing is a natural destination for travelers. But, as Lance points out, there’s a lot for locals to enjoy — getting a romantic night away from the kids, for example — or even a girls’ night out.
In fact, in part to lure some neighbors into trying Whitewing out, the Shortts are offering a special romantic package: featuring a bottle of wine or champagne, a box of chocolates, fresh flowers, two tickets to Longwood Gardens and as is customary, a gourmet breakfast.
But maybe a visit is worthwhile just take in the vistas and appreciate the history of the property — which dates back more than a century in its current form, and owes more than a little bit of its look and feel to the very same folks who helped make Longwood Gardens so special.
Russell and Bertha Pippen purchased some 44 acres of property next to Longwood and that became the original Whitewing Farm. Mr. Pippen, at that time, the treasurer for DuPont, was able to make use of some the horticulturists from Longwood Gardens to do much of the landscape design for the Whitewing grounds. The Pippens owned and preserved this special property for more than a century.
In 1992, Ed DeSeta, a local contractor and developer, was able to purchase the property from the Pippen family. Despite some initial fears in the community that DeSeta planned to subdivide the property and convert it into a housing development, instead he and his wife Wanda kept and preserved the property, falling for the lush, rolling hills and historic cottages that dotted the property.
Shortly thereafter, the DeSetta’s became innkeepers — almost by accident — in 1995. A local Bed & Breakfast found itself overbooked and asked the DeSeta’s to take in the extra guests — in the small cottage next to the pond. As they had fallen for the property, the DeSeta’s immediately discovered how much they enjoyed having guests, and The Inn at Whitewing Farm was born.
In 2007, the DeSeta’s began to look for another family to take over the operation so they could retire. They carefully vetted numerous options — a time-consuming process, as it stretched over a number of years — to make sure the right folks would take up their labor of love, finally settling on the Shortt family last year.
It appears that they picked well — spending any time at Whitewing and with the Shortts will convince you, too.