Lights. Camera. And hoping for some action.
Livermore’s Purple Orchid Inn will be featured on The Travel Channel’s new series, “Hotel Impossible,” which debuts in April. The New York film crew and host and noted “hotel fixer” Anthony Melchiorri worked with new owners Derek and Rhiannon Eddy last week for a show airing this spring.
As most Livermore folks know, this is a beautiful property that has yet to live up to its potential. The elegant 9,000 square ft. log cabin lodge boasts lovely grounds and a spectacular view of the rolling hills and surrounding vineyards, and olive orchard.
If you haven’t been there, it’s worth a look. There’s a spa with spa treatment rooms and a bed and breakfast that puts the q in quaint.
Not long after original owner Karen Hughes opened the inn in December 1997, it became the place to stay in Livermore. Although, to be fair, the options were somewhat limited.
I spoke to Clint Eastwood around that time, and he said that when he and his wife Dina came to visit her mom — a Livermore resident — he was told about the inn and was going to check it out as a place to stay.
Not sure if he ever did, but plenty of stars performing at Wente’s concert series stayed at the inn. It seemed like a promising start, and the first step in making Livermore a wine destination instead of “The Other Wine Country” as it was once promoted.
For years, our family regularly went to the inn for massages and gave gift certificates to our friends. But slowly the reputation began to get shredded. Hughes sold the inn to Kaushik Banerjee on March 15, 2006 and things went abruptly downhill.
Complaints poured in, and the inn’s reputation seemed to be terminally tarnished.
About six months ago, the Eddys gamely stepped in to buy the ailing facility at a bargain price and the rave reviews are rolling in.
The Eddys are a young couple in their early 30s who started their photography business in Las Vegas before deciding they wanted to make Livermore their home. Derek’s originally from Oregon and Rhiannon is from Antioch. Her sister, Melissa Emery, is co-owner of the quilt shop downtown, In Between Stitches.
The couple decided Livermore would be a much better place to raise their baby, due this spring.
“Rhiannon wanted to live near her sister and, as much as we love Las Vegas, we really didn’t want to raise a family there,” says Derek.
They kept their business, Digs Studio, in Vegas while building their new wedding venture here in Livermore. The couple lives on site and oversees the operation in a very hands-on way.
“We were looking for a wedding venue and this came up,” Derek says. “We weren’t really looking for an inn, but this works for us.”
This isn’t a rich kid play toy. The Eddys have put their hard-earned cash into this establishment and now must make it work.
So when the “Hotel Impossible” team contacted them, they felt it was a good opportunity to learn from the best — and give The Purple Orchid Inn some national exposure.
Anthony did some cosmetic work on the place, but primarily he came in to show the Eddys how to repair the Inn’s bad reputation and to turn it into a profitable venture.
But the affable couple seems to be accomplishing much of that all on their own. The bad reviews on Yelp and other sites have largely gone away, replaced by glowing accounts of good service.
And on my recent stop at the Inn, there was already a confidence around the place that hasn’t been visible for quite a number of years. I’d forgotten how peaceful it was at the Inn — and how inviting.
But then, that might have been from the warmth of the Eddys, a very nice couple who make a welcome addition to our community.