Omar Aizaz is still in awe of the Inn at Kelly’s Ford.
The new owner and general manager of the historic property in Remington hosted a ribbon cutting with the Culpeper Chamber of Commerce March 15 to showcase all that the inn has to offer to the region.
Aizaz and his father Javed purchased the Inn at Kelly’s Ford, located at 16589 Edwards Shop Road, for $2.53 million at auction in November 2017. The previous owners, Bill and Linda Willoughby, originally purchased the property in 1999 and opened the business in 2000. Following Bill’s death, the property went to auction and Aizaz and his father saw a perfect opportunity to start a new venture.
The pair have a background in commercial real estate in the Baltimore area, but owning an inn is entirely foreign to them.
“It’s completely different, I look at it as an adventure,” Aizaz said. “I think it’s an amazing opportunity here and we want to share it with everyone. We’re trying to create a more family-friendly atmosphere. “(My father) took a visit and fell in love with the place. It’s a beautiful property with a lot of history and a rich culture. It was immediately intriguing to us.”
The 138-acre property is teeming with possibility. The younger Aizaz said they are working on implementing more program, promoting themselves more on social meeting, partnering with the Culpeper Chamber of Commerce and Culpeper Economic Development and just trying to make the already iconic inn even better.
“I’ve been pretty much networking locally the past there months,” Aizaz said. “Everyone has been super kind. The response from everyone has been off the charts. I don’t want to take anything away from this place, we just want to add. We know this was a famous battleground, there’s so much significance here from the history aspect.”
The property, on the site of the 1863 Battle at Kelly’s Ford, is famous as the battlefield where Major John Pelham was struck in the head by a fragment of Federal artillery shell during the Civil War. He died the following morning in Culpeper.
Aizaz said they hope to capitalize on that history, by offering tours and possible reenactments in the future.
The property is also an equine enthusiasts dream, with many horses on the property – 11 owned by the inn, another 13 leased and 42 boarded.
Kimberley Strayer, general manager at the inn and also a carriage driver, said that they are discussing many different activities from hunter/jumper shows, to more Western styled shows and possibly involvement with local 4-H groups. They have also discussed dog shows at the property.
“We’re just trying to boost everything, we want to offer more different types of horse shows,” Strayer said.
With the Rappahannock River meandering through the property, there are opportunities for water activities as well. Aizaz said he hopes to implement more water sports for children and is planning a summer camp that will include that along with horseback riding, yoga and martial arts.
“When we saw it (the river), it was just so picturesque,” Aizaz said. “The sheer magnitude and magnificence of the property was actually overwhelming. The first time I saw it was on the auction day.”
The property includes several businesses, Aizaz said, including the restaurant – two highly-acclaimed chefs, a pub, stables, boarding facilities, a wedding venue and 10 unique accommodations.
Visitors at the ribbon cutting had an opportunity to tour the Silo, a renovated grain silo that now serves as a custom suite. The bedroom offers an impressive view of the property, accessed via a magnificent wrought iron staircase.
“We’re trying to do it not just like a local place, but also resort status,” Aizaz said. “We’re implementing a spa, we’re implementing new ideas and policies.”
His chefs – Brendan Slick and Fiero Beanum – specialize in American traditional cuisine with a touch of French cuisine as well.
The pub offerings are expanding, as Aizaz is working with local breweries, such as Old Bust Head Brewing Company and Old Trade Brewery.
“I’ve been working closely with the breweries and said ‘hey, I want to promote you guys,’” Aizaz said.
The wedding venue is already booked for many weekends through next year and they are utilizing the new website, www.innatkellysford.com, for reservations for weddings and rooms.
Weddings already booked for next year, a couple of months already booked.
“In D.C., there’s so many different venues but we’re the little guys,” Aizaz said. “We can offer something spectacular.”
They employ about 30 and all of the staff has been overwhelmed by the response so far.
“The response has been fantastic, I’ve never met such loving people before,” Aizaz said. “People come up and are like ‘we’re so happy you’re involved and we love what you’re doing with the place.’”