Lissy Merenda spent those snowy winter days thinking about how to promote not only her business, but how to benefit other Botetourt partner’s as well. She and her husband Dan own Santillane an historic old mansion on Houseman Street. It is a bed and breakfast as well as an event location for weddings and parties located just west across Roanoke Road from the Town of Fincastle.
Her idea evolved from her time as a school administrator in Roanoke City where she created and nurtured community and school partnerships. “With a tough economy this is a win-win for us and those who partnered with us.”
“WIIFM,” she said, “is the question most ask– the acronym stands for ‘what’s in it for me?” Twelve area businesses partnered with Santillane to give discounts for guests who stay or have an event at the gorgeous site.
Santillane is an antebellum home on the site where the home for the Hancock’s of Botetourt once stood in the 18th and early 19th century. Surrounded by massive ancient oaks and old growth hedges and shrubbery, the view is green and inviting. Inside and out, ambiance of the genteel surrounds visitors. The gardens welcome guests into a slower age of the historic upper south. Historically the site connects with Judith “Julia” Hancock who married William Clark of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Clark returned after the great exploration to continue to pursue the young woman. They later married in Fincastle. Clark named the Judith River in Montana after her on the mapping trip commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson through the rugged areas of the Louisiana Purchase.
The venue is booked with weddings through out the spring and summer in particular, so the packages that Merenda has designed include the offerings at the partners. “I also offer local events for instance we will host the Historic Fincastle, Inc Christmas party here this December.”
There are packages for men, grooms and grooms men to do things like shoot skeet or golf, fish or canoe/kayak the James River and spa and massage, dining packages for brides and bridesmaids. Each package features a card to use with local partner’s to receive discounts on visits. “I feel it gives an extra special touch that make the guest feel welcome here.” The discount cards are good for one visit at a partner location for 10 per cent off.
The partners all of whom Merenda already had familiarity with include: Blue Mountain Therapy, Botetourt Athletic Club, Botetourt Country Club, DL Nail Salon, Healing, Inc, Hollywood’s Restaurant and Bakery, Ikenberry’s Farm Market, Pomegranate, Three L’il Pigs, Town of Fincastle, Twin Rivers Outfitters and White Oak Tea Tavern.
Merenda contacted Botetourt Tourism Director Kevin Costello as well as Dan Naff at the Botetourt Chamber of Commerce. She looks at the “Go Local Botetourt” theme as comparable to one her sister introduced her to in Austin Texas. She feels the tourism website has helped book stays at the B&B from those interested in history and genealogy from as far away as Minnesota and Michigan.
“This idea has a great potential for growth. The more we network and get our brochures out there, I think the farther this idea will spread and help the businesses involved. We can make Fincastle and Botetourt a destination.” Said Merenda.