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Bedford Springs Resort weaves nature and history into new design

CONCEPT: The plan was to authentically restore and expand the circa 1796 resort in Bedford, PA, which was known for its mineral springs but had been closed for 21 years. David Rau, principal of 3north, and his design team created a master plan for the resort after studying its history, culture, geography and architecture along with its goals for development.
The master plan included three conceptual themes, Rau noted. “First, Transformation of the Spirit: Springs Eternal, as reflected in the continued emphasis on taking the waters. Secondly, Transformation of a Nation: America’s Home, a concept that celebrates Bedford Springs having seen some of the most important historical figures and moments in the nation’s history. The final theme is the Transformation of the Frontier: A Palace in the Wilderness,” he said.

EXECUTION: The project restored public spaces, reclaimed the exterior, and enlarged and updated guestrooms. There is also a new 30,000-square-foot Springs Eternal Spa. The revitalized resort offers 134 queen guestrooms and 81 double/double rooms plus two hospitality suites. Many of the guestrooms feature the original porches with rocking chairs and views of the resort’s beautiful grounds.
“In harmony with the natural surroundings are the wood furnishings, the abundant skylights and windows, and the spa wing’s décor, which depicts botanicals and healing herbs as well as wallpaper in tranquil tones of blue and white,” Rau said.
“Color schemes and patterns were based on each of the three themes, which influenced the entire design process,” he continued. “These colors and materials were used to highlight the different aspects of the property that went with the themes.”
The buildings at Bedford Springs were constructed during different time periods and each has its own “unique context,” Rau said. “The colors, furniture and fixtures follow along and are meant to inspire different emotions and time periods as you move through the spaces.”
There are six different lodging components at the resort, he noted, and each has a different guestroom style. “In the oldest wing, there are slate floors in the bathrooms, bronze hardware and colonial style furniture while some of the later rooms have white or light blue painted furniture and a white, crisp feel for the bathroom— overall, they are very cottagey,” he said.
Most of the guest bathrooms have a “spa flavor,” according to Rau. “They have Waterworks fixtures, rainforest showerheads, and white carrera marble floors and vanities,” he said.
Each guestroom also has a unique amenity, a pair of walking sticks that are handmade from sumac root. “They send a message that it’s all about the location, the mountains, the environment,” Rau said.
Additionally, rooms have cotton throws on the beds with the Bedford Springs name woven into the pattern. Rau and his 3north team had the coverlets, which have historical significance, made in different colors for the rooms and collaborated with the nearby American Coverlet Museum in the process.

RESULT: The historic resort, which has hosted presidents, heads of state, political dignitaries and members of high society, has been authentically restored. It has a number of unique features, Rau noted, including a spa and indoor pool, both fed by natural spring water; a tavern area with 14 different historic wood-block printed wallpapers; and a 15-foot wide original American flag dated between 1865 and 1890 that serves as a backdrop for the front desk.
When the resort reopened in July, it received high marks from guests who were impressed on many levels, from the comfort of the guestrooms to the careful restoration of the property, according to Rikki Boparai, general manager of the resort, which is a Benchmark Hospitality International property. “The feedback we have received to date has been overwhelmingly positive. Our older guests who visited the resort are delighted with the manner in which the property has been restored,” he said.
“Most guests have commented that the property is much more grand and elegant than they ever imagined. The guests appreciate the history that is on display throughout the resort and how it all ties so well together,” Boparai added.

Project Owner: Bedford Resort Partners Ltd.

Designer: 3north

Architect: Corgan Associates

Project Cost: $120 million

Theme/influence: The resort’s colorful history

Signature Features: Spa and indoor pool fed with natural spring water; tavern with historic wood-block printed wallpapers; 15-foot historic American flag behind front desk

Purchasing Agent: Porter Street Purchasing LLC

Major Vendors: Carter & Company; Kravet; Waterworks; Les Meubles Saint-Damase, Inc.; The Millwork Specialist: Crenshaw: Adelphi Paper Hangings; Visual Comfort