The West Lane Inn Stays Local
The longtime owner of Ridgefield’s West Lane Inn, Debbie Prieger has handed over the reins of her historic boutique hotel to two Ridgefield residents who share a love for our town and are committed to preserving the Inn's history and old-world charm.
Enter Christine Carnicelli and Danille Petrie.
“Our goal for The West Lane Inn is to become a destination of choice for those visiting Ridgefield. We plan to be more than a great Inn. We plan to take advantage of all that Ridgefield has to offer and promote its events, arts, restaurants, and historic downtown,” Carnicelli and Petrie explain.
Upon entering The West Lane Inn on Monday, the energy was contagious. Carnicelli and Petrie were answering phones, greeting guests, chatting with the staff of thirteen years. The two friendpreneurs thank Debbie Prieger for the seamless transition in ownership. “Debbie is assisting us over the next few months as we begin to understand the business. She has done this successfully for many years, so we are thrilled that she has agreed to help us out and show us the ropes,” says Carnicelli.
While motherhood brought Carnicelli and Petrie together (their boys are best buds) it was their shared passions, professional backgrounds, and a deep love for Ridgefield that paved the way to The West Lane Inn.
Petrie says she was in her early 20’s and working at a hotel when she fell in love with hospitality and yearned to someday open a B&B. “I started to do all of this research and I stayed a bunch of B&Bs,” she explains. The timing wasn’t right and Petrie took a job as a corporate event planner, a position that would span 19 years and ultimately prepare her for this, her dream job.
With a background as the head of human resources for two major corporations, Carnicelli’s management and people skills are essential to operating a small business. She left the corporate world in 2015 and, soon after, began searching for real estate conducive to operating a B&B.
Both eager to leave an indelible mark on Ridgefield and ready to reenter the workforce, Carnicelli and Petrie began to discuss starting a business together. “We had many common interests including interior design, real estate, and general love for this community. We started talking about going into business together and had just started exploring potential properties that could be converted to a B&B/small boutique hotel when the Inn came on the market,” explains Carnicelli.
Timing is everything and for Carnicelli and Petrie, the stars were aligned.
Carnicelli recalls, “When news hit that the Inn was for sale, it felt like we had to have it. We never doubted that we would do it together. We looked at one another and said Let's do this!”
Carnicelli and Petrie spent the summer tirelessly working through the process of purchasing the business with realtor Karla Murtaugh. Carnicelli says (truly bursting with joy) “We’ve kept this a secret all summer!”
While interior renovations are planned for the new year, Carnicelli and Petrie will begin enhancing the Inn’s digital presence and hope to unveil online reservation capability soon. In addition, they want to build brand awareness and local community partnerships. “We have a vision of what it will be and we want to take you on a journey with us,” says Petrie.
The main Inn has fourteen well-appointed rooms, some with working fireplaces, yet they haven’t been updated in quite some time. “They [the rooms] are generally very well sized, but need to be updated to reflect today's traveler,” says Carnicelli. Renovations will likely be cosmetic in nature and include new wallpaper, carpeting, and perhaps bathroom design and updates. “We don’t foresee major construction,” says Carnicelli.
The two new owners also envision building a staircase leading up to the front porch, a feature that was part of the original design of the historic building, circa 1849. “We want it to be more inviting,” they say.
Carnicelli and Petrie welcome community members to stop in and say hello. In addition, they are excited for their first Halloween and invite trick or treaters to the grand front porch for a celebratory candy bar!
“We bought a gem,” says Carnicelli. “We want to maintain the history of the house and the beautiful charm,” she adds.