Irish hospitality in New Paltz

Alana Colucci (photos by Lauren Thomas)

Visitors to Ireland are often impressed by the legendary Irish hospitality. Not everyone is so inspired by it they come home and create their own bed-and-breakfast, but for Alana Colucci, proprietor of the newly opened Watergrasshill Bed & Breakfast on Phillies Bridge Road in New Paltz, that’s exactly what happened. On a family trip to Ireland, she visited a small village in County Cork called Watergrasshill, where her ancestors owned a pub. “Everywhere we went, we were treated so well,” Colucci says. “The trip was unforgettable, and the best part was staying at all the B&Bs.”

The way each innkeeper welcomed them into their home and treated them like family made the trip “truly unique,” Colucci adds. “They shared stories with us, gave us advice on their favorite local restaurants, and treated us to delicious homemade Irish breakfasts. After our trip, I decided I wanted to bring this kind of accommodation to New Paltz.”

Colucci, who at age 24 is likely one of this country’s youngest B&B proprietors – if not the youngest – was born and raised in Gardiner, just down the street from the farmhouse B&B that now bears the name of that small village in Ireland. (The property on 15 acres is in the Town of Gardiner, but in that quirky local way, has a New Paltz address.) With lifelong roots in the area, the new innkeeper is well-equipped to share her knowledge of the region with her guests. And with a sunny personality and energy to spare, it’s easy to picture Colucci extending the same kind of welcome her family experienced in Ireland.

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The late-19th century farmhouse was once her grandparents’ home. Colucci’s father, Bob Colucci, a construction professional with his own business, Ultimate Homes, purchased the home two years ago and remodeled it, retaining the charm of the original features – including the original, wide-plank hardwood floors – while enlarging and renovating the space to open it up and include up-to-date bathrooms (one has a skylight). There is also an enormous and very sophisticated chef’s kitchen where the included breakfast with accommodations will be prepared and where culinary DIY classes will be held.

Alana Colucci resides at the B&B herself with her boyfriend, Austin Pikulski, a technical director with a digital media company in New York City. A graduate of the graphic design program at Marist College, Colucci was most recently employed as a book cover designer for Penguin Press/Random House in New York City. And that artist’s sensibility is visible in the décor of the four guest rooms at Watergrasshill Bed & Breakfast; each is beautifully done up with comfortable and stylish contemporary furnishings and accents in soothing yet interesting color combinations. Knowing that Alana also grew up working at family florist businesses in Gardiner and New Paltz – her mother, Theresa Colucci, owns the Meadowscent flower shops – one sees an influence there, as well, in the inclusion of nature-based design elements and the understanding of subtle touches of beauty.

Watergrasshill Bed and Breakfast

Each of the guest rooms has a queen-size bed for two, with the Clover Room containing a twin sleeper sofa, as well, to accommodate a third person. The Clover Room shares a bath with the Thistle Room down the hall; the smallest of the rooms but large enough to contain a cozy armchair to sit by the window and enjoy the view. The Heather Room, also on the second floor, has its own ensuite bath and mountain views. The spacious Fern Room on the main floor also has its own private bath, along with an inviting settee window seat. Rates range from $175 to $250 per night, and include breakfast prepared with locally sourced seasonal foods, including organically grown fruits and vegetables from the adjacent farm and fresh honey from the farm’s bee hives.

The shared space for B&B visitors includes a wide porch with cushioned rocking chairs, a spacious sitting room and a large dining room.

Visitors are welcome to participate – or not – in the planned DIY activities to be held at Watergrasshill, as well. Colucci says that the idea came from her family’s own habit of participating in activities while traveling, to enhance the experience of the trip. And family members will be involved in the workshops, with her sister, Celia, teaching the “paint & sip” classes, uncle Dan Shand, a culinary school grad, teaching various culinary workshops and mom Theresa Colucci teaching garden and floral classes.

Local residents are also welcome to come for the day and enjoy a workshop, to be held in the barn or the kitchen, depending on the activity. The next DIY class will be a hands-on cooking class with Dan Shand on Wednesday, July 11 at 6:30 p.m. to learn how to make four cocktail party appetizers. A Paint & Sip with Celia Colucci on Thursday, July 12 from 7-9 p.m. will take participants through the painting of a magnolia tree, accompanied by the sipping of BYOB wine or beer with all art materials provided. A kids’ cooking class will be held on Monday, July 16 from 3:30-5:30 p.m., open to ages 10-15, taught by Chris Cannizzara of the New Paltz-based business, “The Food Adventurer.” Students will learn about kitchen and food safety along with basic nutrition, cooking methods and techniques. And on Tuesday, July 17 and Wednesday, July 18, Theresa Colucci will teach a “wine and succulent garden workshop,” a BYOB wine or beer event in which participants will create a unique succulent garden with guidance and instruction from the owner of Meadowscent Florist.

Additional DIY events are posted on the website along with information about booking a stay at Watergrasshill Bed & Breakfast, located at 105 Phillies Bridge Road. For more information, visit https://www.watergrasshillny.com/

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