BAR HARBOR — Restaurateurs Jena and Jeff Young purchased the Yellow House Inn in late December and have since created spaces to host wellness retreats there.
The relaxation experiences, called Well + Wander Retreats, will take place at the Yellow House Inn and are a separate business that Jena Young has established with innkeeper and business partner Sara Bumgardner. When the season at the inn slows down in October, the owners plan to host the first one.
“It was this huge leap, especially after the coronavirus year that we had, but the whole thing just kind of fell into place in such an easy way that I feel like we would have been crazy not to do it because all the signs were pointing to yes,” said Jena.
During the pandemic, Jena and Bumgardner realized that they shared a dream of creating a wellness space for tourism. “We live in this beautiful area. It’s so healing and we realized that we had a lot to offer others in that realm, as well as making space for ourselves to feel good,” said Jena. With that realization, they came up with an idea to host retreats for people from near or far to have that same experience. They began looking for a place to have retreats and nothing felt quite right until they found the Yellow House.
The Youngs began speaking with the previous owners last fall and closed the sale on New Year’s Eve. To the Youngs, the investment was such a great way to end the year. “When we bought it, it was very turnkey and the people before us were running a great business, so we just wanted to give it a refresh,” said Jena. The owners decided to continue running the Yellow House Inn as it is but carve the space out a few days a week to host the retreats. This summer, the Yellow House Inn was open and full the whole time. So far this season, Jena said that the guests are very happy.
The new owners renovated the interior and did lots of landscaping. “It feels very different in there, but it was such a great, historic building that had all the right pieces in place so we were able to put our own spin on it,” said Jena.
The property has a large lawn where a new fire pit has been placed. “It’s such a great space to gather and connect with other people outside,” Jena said. The wraparound porch has pockets that they will assign for conversation and doing wellness classes. Seasonal, fresh food from local catering companies and restaurants will also be available. Each room of the inn is unique and many of them have clawfoot tubs so people can have an individual, personal experience.
The bulk of the work that the owners did was also on the common spaces and the overall brand. “Fresh paint, plants and a graphic look helped us to put our stamp on what was already a great location, building and business,” Jena added.
The building’s entryway features an art installment created by Bumgardner. Use of dried citrus peels are gilded with gold leaf and installed in the entryway, which is a conversation piece that catches guests’ attention immediately. “They love to hear that Sara had created and installed them herself,” said Jena.
“So it will be simple, but really meaningful, like a deeper vacation to carve out time for yourself to take things a little bit deeper rather than you would if you were just sitting by a pool at a resort, but really doing some inner work in the midst of being in a beautiful place,” said Jena.
“As a mom and a businesswoman, or just as a human, we don’t really get that time to unwind because life is just going, so the idea of, ‘don’t worry just show up,’ we will feed you, we will entertain you, you can relax when you want to relax, you can walk into town, you can walk to the ocean. So creating that experience is a really unique experience for people,” said Jena.