Howard Foer and Lauren Levine, the husband-wife team behind the success of Festive Foods Catering in Washington, D.C., had an ambitious dream: to create a boutique inn and spa distinguished by individual attention and superb food. They wanted a location that was easily accessible from the nation’s capital yet far from the chaotic pace of urban living.
They found that property in northern Virginia, on a farm where a well-known lawyer and his urbane bride in the 1920s had re-created a piece of Europe. Influenced by the 16th and 17th century homes they had seen overseas, the couple hired local workers to build a grand home using fieldstone found on the property. Local history has it that the stone came from chimneys at a Union camp during the Civil War.
Howard and Lauren knew the building was right for the restaurant they envisioned. Indeed, The Manor House Restaurant today is the most distinctive structure at the boutique resort. The inn and the attached spa were added in 2002, the year that Poplar Springs debuted, with Howard indulging in his passion—the culinary arts—and Lauren using her business savvy.
Not only are Howard and Lauren a great business team, but they share a philosophy focused on harmony. That means putting guests in connection with their surroundings, be it relaxing in the hot tub under the stars or doing yoga beside the spring-fed pond. Even the inn was constructed to fit harmoniously beside the manor house.
That philosophy of harmony also extends to the environment. At Poplar Springs great attention is given to reducing the carbon footprint and saving energy. Much of the food served in The Manor House Restaurant is locally grown. The property also benefits from an ambitious "green" philosophy, from a geo-thermal heating and cooling system to the "Tap Into Our Spring" initiative. With "Tap Into Our Spring," each guest receives a reuseable water bottle that can be refilled at stations on Poplar Springs grounds.
As part of their connection to the local community, Howard and Lauren are also engaged in a dynamic program to train area youth in the hospitality industry—from culinary arts to spa services.