‘A country setting at the beach’

Woodsong Inn aims to be relaxing retreat and venue

Date Published: 
July 8, 2016

Coastal Point • Tyler Valliant: Innkeeper Debbie Keefe (left) and co-owner Jane Errett Vincenti smile in the lobby of Woodsong Inn and Retreat near Assawoman Wildlife Refuge.Coastal Point • Tyler Valliant: Innkeeper Debbie Keefe (left) and co-owner Jane Errett Vincenti smile in the lobby of Woodsong Inn and Retreat near Assawoman Wildlife Refuge.A tree-lined driveway leads to Woodsong Inn & Retreat. It rests on a quiet back road. No one drives there unless they’re looking for the peaceful bed-and-breakfast near Roxana and Ocean View.

But that countryside seclusion makes the inn and event venue special, said co-owner Jane Errett Vincenti. Although she’s originally from Chester County, Pa., Vincenti’s family still owns the Bethany Beach cottage her ancestor, William Russell Errett, built around 1902 when helping to develop the new town.

Now, less than seven miles from Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island, Woodsong’s two buildings are hosting everything from quiet weekend getaways to full weddings and parties.

“It is so relaxing back here,” said Debbie Keefe, innkeeper at the grassy, waterside property at 37269 Dirickson Creek Road, Frankford.

Woodsong offers multiple indoor and outdoor venue options, between the hall, the inn and the lawn. That is perfect, owners said, for weddings, reunions, anniversary parties, birthday parties, business retreats and more.

“I love the setting,” said Caryn McIntyre, who manages bookings and special events for the venue.

Her company, Mac’s Catering, provides all food for the special events. To make it a “one-stop shop” for weddings and other events, Woodsong offers special pricing packages with other local venders.

“You have a built-in safety net in case of bad weather,” McIntyre stated. That’s because a few feet from the inn the Woodsong hall holds a bandstand and dance floor, ready to welcome guests for any major event.

Interestingly, it is the bar that is the visual focal point of a venue that holds more than 100 people. It’s made from eye-catching slabs of black walnut, organically shaped, but smoothed for service by Charlie Muller of Virginia’s eastern shore. The 135-year-old walnut tree once stood next to a Virginia church, said Martin “Marty” Kappel, Vincenti’s partner in life and business.

After any event, overnight guests can get a room at the inn or drive back to their hotels.

Outdoor weddings can be officiated under a handmade arbor, created by local contractor Charles Dirickson. The arch overlooks a small branch of water, where a kayak could be dropped in and paddled to Dirickson Creek and the Little Assawoman Bay.

“People love to be next to the water,” even this soft creek, Vincenti said.

Dragonflies dart among the reeds, and small animals rustle, sing or plop into the water.

“We just had a family of plover born. … We’ve seen deer and groundhogs. It’s so beautiful to just sit here and see all that,” Keefe said. “If you want to get away from the city, this is the place to go.”

“It’s a country setting at the beach,” McIntyre said.

Although the team is still upgrading the grounds and venue, “If someone were to call tomorrow to host an event there, we are ready to go!” McIntyre said.

Room at the inn

At the inn, guests have full access to a parlor, or lounge, not just a lobby.

The seven bedrooms each have their own sitting area or porch, overlooking large trees and honeysuckle. Each room has a private bathroom, plus a separate exit.

There are king-, queen- or twin-bed suites. Various rooms have special features, such as an electric fireplace or handicapped-accessibility.

With a bird and nature theme, guests will stay in rooms such as the Osprey Room, Blue Heron Room and Bluebird Room. They can relax in the downstairs lounge, cozy upstairs living area or outdoor deck.

“They liked the fact that it was off the beaten path, but it’s not too far” from the beach, Vincenti said. Or they can visit the Assawoman Wildlife Refuge around the corner.

That includes out-of-towners looking for a weekend escape or local folks needing a room while remodeling their house.

And they can all feel at home.

“When our guests came down here, they came down in their own pajamas,” said Keefe, who has helped pajama-ed guests plan their days over morning coffee and breakfast. “Just make ’em feel like they’re in their own home, make ’em feel comfortable.”

Breakfast seals the deal. The cook makes allowances for dietary preferences when planning menus: baked Western omelet, pineapple upside-down pancakes, spinach quiche, homemade bread for toasting, fruit, coffee and cereal.

“It has a family feel to it,” Vincenti said.

Eastern Shore artists fill the house. Guests first see a large bronze seabird by Turner Sculpture, then discover paintings by Vincenti’s daughter-in-law, Leora Sheridan Vincenti.

Guests are encouraged to stay two nights, and room rates vary by size and season, from below $100 to $199. Rates include breakfast, and discounts are available for AAA and AARP members and returning guests.

Woodsong also helps people plan their day, partnering with local businesses for further discounts on kayaking, horseback riding, in-house massage and more.

In future, they want to open the house to more events, such as fundraisers or wine tastings.

Why an inn? Vincenti and Kappel had been building and renovating homes, as well as managing vacation rental units for years, as Errett Enterprisises. They first bought the property as a home base for their carpenters and other subcontractors to work and house equipment.

The idea of a B&B grew in their minds until the early 2000s, when they converted the house to an inn and extracted themselves from property management.

After a recent hiatus, they double-downed and had an official ribbon-cutting in April for the inn and event space. That’s when McIntyre first saw the space and got involved.

“The whole team here is a very special group of people. Everybody has clicked; everyone has the same vision,” she stated. “It’s an incredible group to work with.”

For details on the inn, contact Woodsong Inn & Retreat at (302) 537-1000, woodsonginn@gmail.com or online at www.woodsonginnretreat.com.

For details on hosting an event, contact Mac’s Catering at (443) 880-2567 or caterbymacs@aol.com.