SHIPPENVILLE, Pa. (EYT) – Whether you are planning a weekend or a longer stay, the Inn and the Manor at Deer Creek provide the perfect destination for a relaxing getaway.
(Photos and videos by Dave Cyphert of ProPoint Media Photography)
Rhonda Brooks, owner of Deer Creek Winery and associated bed-and-breakfast establishments, told exploreClarion.com that the idea for a bed-and-breakfast at the winery came around 2014 when they were asked by a customer why there were not any accommodations available in the area.
“I can remember one day, in particular, we were working on the gas line, a customer came in, and they weren’t from the area. They were like, ‘Do you know there’s not a bed-and-breakfast in the area that has rooms available? We had to stay in a hotel.’ So, we thought, ‘Huh, we need to build anyways. Maybe a bed-and-breakfast is the way we should go,’” Rhonda said.
At first, Rhonda and her husband, Denny, thought about building cabins on the Deer Creek property, but they decided to incorporate a bed-and-breakfast into the existing winery structure. This blossomed into The Inn at Deer Creek Winery.
“My husband and my daughter and I designed all of this. We decorated all of this,” Rhonda explained. “My husband started building this. We had a couple of contractors, but mostly it was him and the staff at the time.”
The first floor of The Inn, and its accompanying three rooms, was opened in October of 2016. The second floor of The Inn was opened on by Mothers Day of 2017.
Immediately, The Inn was met with an extremely positive reception.
“It’s been great,” Rhonda added. “We have people come once a month because of the service that they get – they love the wine, the food, and the stay.”
The Inn at Deer Creek Winery has eight rooms, each one with a different theme and layout.
According to Rhonda, many considerations came into play when designing each room.
“First, it was the size of the building. My husband is good with numbers. He figured out what would be the most economical size for the building. We then said we want this much for our gathering place here. That left us the remaining space, plus we knew we had to have laundry and storage and were going to have some offices.
“Also, researching bed-and-breakfasts, you have to have eight rooms. Eight is the minimum amount to be profitable.”
Rhonda’s daughter Joanna designed the layout of the rooms using design software.
“We just kind of said, ‘We need eight rooms. They all need to have bathrooms. What can you do?’ She just started chopping it up, and (then) she would send us a floor plan,” Rhonda explained. “After she had it designed, then we started talking to the family about what we’re going to name the rooms. That was a whole family decision, these eight. Once we had our theme, we started looking at décor and paint on walls. I had Google sheets with so many different colors of paint.”
The themes of four of The Inn’s rooms reflect winemaking destinations across the world, such as “Spring in Spain” or “Winter in Paris.” The other four rooms have more general themes such as “Celebration” or “Deer Creek.”
The Inn’s success encouraged Rhonda and Denny to change the way they looked at their business. Previously, the Brooks focused on expanding their business through retail locations at strip malls and shopping plazas. Currently, Deer Creek has locations at South Hills Village Mall, Hermitage-Kohl’s Plaza, McCandless Crossing, Beaver Valley Mall, and The Mall at Robinson. They previously had locations at the Clarion Mall, the Cranberry Mall, and the Clearview Mall.
For Rhonda, the future of Deer Creek Winery lies in opening more wineries with more attached bed-and-breakfast locations. Working toward that goal, they opened The Manor at Deer Creek Winery, located just a few feet away from the existing winery and inn building.
“We were looking to buy a bed-and-breakfast in Titusville, but long story short, that fell through,” Rhonda said. “We were then, ‘Well, let’s see what else is available.’ and, at the time, it was fall of ‘20, and I get this text from my husband saying, ‘Did you check your email lately?’ I go over, and it’s a floor plan, and I looked at it and said, ‘Is this my house?’”
(Pictured below: Rooms at The Manor at Deer Creek Winery.)
Created from remodeling the Brooks’ house on the Deer Creek property, The Manor combined the best features of The Inn into five rooms. Rhonda said it made sense to convert the house into a bed-and-breakfast because she and her husband were looking to retire. Having their house in the middle of their business was not conducive to that goal.
“Whenever I did The Manor, I wanted to simplify it. We learned a lot of things from having The Inn that we did the same or different at The Manor.”
The plans for The Manor were drawn up in November of 2020. By March of 2021, remodeling had begun. The Manor fully opened by August of 2021.
The rooms at The Manor were designed thematically to represent the interests of Rhonda and Denny and their four children, James, Sarah, Seth, and Joanna. The decision to make the rooms’ decorations reflect the Brooks family was due to a change of mentality Rhonda felt as she moved closer toward retirement.
“We have made the transition from owners to being founders, and that’s made a huge difference in my mind. People don’t expect us to be here on a daily basis. It’s a heritage house even though it’s not a 100-year-old house. It’s still where the founders lived,” she said. “Nothing else resonated with us with five rooms.”
Manor 213 is styled in airplanes and travel after their son Seth and daughter-in-law Caitlin. Seth is an aerospace engineer, and Caitlin loves to travel, said Brooks. Manor 212 is themed after Joanna, who spent several years in Guatemala on a mission trip and has decorative items she brought back from her trip.
The room which belonged to Rhonda and Denny is the deluxe suite at The Manor and has a larger area, including a small kitchen, a larger seating area and bed, and a private porch. It is themed after sailing which they will be doing in their retirement!
According to Rhonda, just as many young couples stay in their bed-and-breakfast accommodations as do older couples.
“It really has amazed me some of the young couples. I thought it was older who had more resources, but we really have a mix of every age,” she said.
Occupancy is usually steady through the year, peaking on holidays such as Valentine’s Day or over the summer.
“We’re fuller than most bed-and-breakfasts because we have the winery here, and we have entertainment. We’re half-and-hour from Cook Forest,” Rhonda added.
Looking toward the future, she sees more bed-and-breakfast-winery combinations at other locations.
“We have found some down in the Pittsburgh area and central Pa. that we are pursuing so stay tuned. We don’t want to go too far away, but we don’t want to have it right next door, either.”
(Pictured below: Rooms at The Manor at Deer Creek Winery.)