You can almost imagine Lake Geneva hoteliers, Bethany Souza and Andrew Fritz, lounging in the drawing room of the Maxwell Mansion and dreaming up their next venture. With two visually lush hotels to their name, Souza & Fritz have recently expanded “The Maxwell Mansion” hotel experience by adding The Carriage House & Stables.
Dr. Philip Maxwell, namesake of The Maxwell Mansion, is an important historical figure in our area, known to some as “The Father of Lake Geneva”. Though his story is well documented, Souza and Fritz discovered a lesser known chapter in his story to draw inspiration from as they came up with their concept for the expansion of his historical home. The Carriage House & Stables are the product of thorough historical research and meticulous design and reflect Dr. Maxwell’s equestrian interests. As you walk through the grounds and rooms of the new facility, you find yourself becoming more and more acquainted with the history of this important site.
As with all of their projects, Bethany and Andrew approached the expansion of The Maxwell Mansion with the intent to bring the past to life in a fresh and modern way. But before the exciting phase of design and restoration, Souza and Fritz completed an extensive amount of research on the property and its original owner. In this process, they discovered the layout of the original grounds, and discovered that the mansion was originally connected to the back end of the property, where Dr. Maxwell built a horse stable and carriage house. Souza and Fritz discovered in their research that Dr. Maxwell was known to have been a horse enthusiast in his day. And though the stables and carriage house played a role in the history of the mansion, the two buildings were not kept together throughout the process of building the town.
At some point, the property was split, and the grounds that originally held the stables became the site of The Plaza Motel. When Souza & Fritz connected the dots to The Maxwell House, they knew they would need to annex the neighboring property to bring their vision to life. Go-getters they are, the two approached the owners of The Plaza Motel and made an offer to purchase. 18 months after their original proposal, the owners of The Plaza agreed to sell their property to Bethany and Andrew.
Arrangements for the addition sprang to action, and a project that would normally take anywhere from 1 to 2 years to fully complete was set to be ready in just nine months. “There’s regular building time,” smiled Andrew playfully, “and then there’s Bethany time. She is the type to go and push until it is completely finished.” The owners and their crew devoted six days a week to reaching their expected opening date at the beginning of May.
“The Carriage House and Stables were a great inspiration for this reconstruction.” says Ms. Souza, “In our research we discovered that Dr. Maxwell was a huge horse enthusiast, which you will see was a large part of the theme of the backend of the Mansion.” The Carriage House and Stables hold 20 luxury hotel rooms filled with custom and imaginative design pieces that reference the original stables, along with some modern amenities. This summer, they plan to open the swimming pool to guests of all their properties. They also plan to create a membership for locals to use as a lounge area to grab a quick bite to eat and hang out poolside at this chic new establishment.
Being supporters of local trades and businesses, Bethany and Andrew decorated the rooms with furniture, items and materials from businesses around the Lake Geneva area. They even focused on including authentic reclaimed barn wood hand crafted by Keith Robers. Says Ms. Souza, “We want a unique experience, but if you are here to truly experience what Lake Geneva has to offer, we wanted our guests to be surrounded with things they could actually find in Lake Geneva.”
While the 7 rooms within the Maxwell Mansion have a more traditional feel, the vibe of this new addition brings a type of styling that you will not see anywhere else in town. Bethany and Andriew use the term “Burban Chic”, a mash-up of barn and urban. The rooms feature leather tufted buttoned chaise lounge chairs from Brick and Mortar, plush bedside furs, repurposed beer barrels built as the base of the washroom sinks, and leather accessories gathered from local farmers, horse experts and antique malls around the county. All the rooms have the look and feel of a high-end boutique, but what truly sets these rooms apart are the intrigues found within: Jacuzzi tubs with changing neon lights, a window between the bedroom and shower hidden by a sliding door, and countless other details. Any room you enter contains something unexpected, providing every guest with a unique experience.
“It has been quite the journey,” says Mr. Fritz, “But when Bethany and I look back from where we started, we can’t help but be excited about all that has been accomplished and all the places our imagination will take us next.” Bethany chimes with in a fragment of the well-known Einstein quote, “Imagination will take you anywhere.”
The addition of the Carriage House and Stables onto the Maxwell Mansion brings the couple closer to realizing their larger vision. First taking control of the Baker House, followed by The Maxwell Mansion, and finally The Carriage House & Stables, it is no secret that Bethany and Andrew plan to continue to add to their collection of historical buildings and to reawaken Lake Geneva history one building at a time.
Towards the end of the tour, it cannot be denied that you have just had an intimate encounter with the past. An encounter with a man who knew Lake Geneva at its beginning, who walked the same paths we walk today, who loved the openness and luxury of the country, and who, most importantly, made a point to create an unforgettable experience for himself and his guests. With the Carriage House & Stables, Bethany & Andrew bring a story to life that will delight guests for years to come.