Langley’s Saratoga Inn: a brief history
The 16-room Inn opened for business in May 1994 as “The Harrison House” named after a couple who were minority partners. As on-site innkeepers, the Harrison’s found the upstart more challenging than anticipated, and shortly moved on for other opportunities. At that time, the Inn was renamed to its present-day “Saratoga Inn,” after the Saratoga Passage, which it overlooks.
For approximately the next 12 years, the Four Sister Inns out of Monterey, California managed the Inn. In 2008, Jim Pensiero, one of the original founding partners, bought out all remaining partners, released the Four Sister management company, and Saratoga Inn, then, became family-owned and operated along with his partner and wife, Jenny. In preparation for this, Jim and Jenny completed their Masters Certificate in Essentials of Hospitality Management from Cornell University.
KPG, a Seattle multi-disciplined design firm consisting of architects, landscape architects and engineers, designed the Inn as a small boutique hotel with 24 rooms fronted on both, Cascade Avenue and 2nd Street. However, the public review process reduced the scale of the project to 16 rooms while removing its 2nd Street frontage. At that time, the site for the Inn included the lot where the existing post office now resides. During this time, Jim was a senior partner at KPG until his retirement in 2005. The Inn was developed by the Cobber Company, with Jim and his business partner, Joe Giacobazzi along with several other minority partners.
A notable quality of the Inn is its room-to-room privacy and sound isolation. Each room incorporates double wall construction that includes 2-1/2″ gypsum wallboard and sound attenuating resilient channels. Unlike residential construction typical of B&Bs, this feature reflects qualities most often associated with higher-end hotels. Another significant feature is the Inns’ whole-house ventilation system, which provides a complete air change for the entire Inn regularly, throughout the day and night. In 2013, the Inn is incorporating a new “Green Energy” heating and air-conditioning system that anticipates reducing its energy consumption approximately 33%. Whidbey Island typically does not require cooling spaces, but since the Inn has excellent sun exposure, there are several weeks during each year when guests will appreciate this ability. Air-cooling with the new system is very efficient as the system will automatically redistribute cool air to warm areas and warm air to cooler areas, as needed.
The Pensiero family, including two daughters and a son-in-law, along with several long-term, loyal staff, is committed to making each stay a pleasant and “memorable experience” for guests. The team takes pride in knowing they may have contributed to a special memory within another person’s journey through life. The Inn has become a labor of love for the Pensiero family and staff — Greeting guests, maintaining the Inn, and sharing small-town Whidbey Island living in a relaxed environment with a lot of comfortable “porch talk.” It is operated as a bed and breakfast with two chefs, mid-week and weekend, who prepare special breakfasts that differ each day (vegan upon request). A regular conversation during breakfast is commenting on the quality and creativity of the food.
In 2016, the Inn celebrated its 23rd anniversary. The next 20 years will be dedicated to continually improving the “new” guest experience and welcoming back “repeat” guests. Saratoga Inn has hosted guests from a variety of countries including Canada, Australia, Africa, Asia, England, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, and Switzerland; also neighboring states, Seattle Metro, and many locals – approximately 5,000 to 7,000 guests per year.