Click a show title or use the red Streampad player at the bottom of our frame to listen now.

Monday, June 6, 2011


Tim & Donna Egan at  
Vintage Inn's opening in 1985
In this two-part special Slow Living Radio, we visit with Tim and Donna Egan (truly two of the most inspirational people we know!) at their home in Napa Valley. Their story is one of deep cultural heritage, of unbreakable family bonds, of marriage and partnership, of personal integrity, and one of a passionate commitment to excellence in hospitality and service in Yountville spanning more than 35 years and three award-winning properties - Villagio Inn & Spa, Vintage Inn and V Marketplace. As the developers of the acclaimed Vintage Estate in Yountville-Napa Valley, they succeeded in creating one of the valley's first luxury lifestyle destinations in a once little known wine country hamlet. But beyond the public awards and accolades they have received as premier hoteliers, stewards of the community and stalwart vanguards for charitable causes, their almost 50 years of marriage have been filled with both great challenges and successes. We spoke candidly about their dreams and passions, their commitment to family, staff and community, their personal battles and triumphs over cancer, and their philosophies on the rich gift that life offers us in each day. In the words of Tim Egan, "Create something that you can finish. Be yourself, true to who your are... and be the very best you can be."  A perfect introduction to one of the many great stories we share in this two-hour program.

Kerry Egan, Tim & Donna Egan with Slow Living's Sally James

It was their great love of wine country and a vision of the future for the little hamlet of Yountville that brought brothers Timothy and Michael Egan to the Napa Valley in 1976.  In that year, they joined with long-time friends and associates Michael Sandbach, Dino and Mario Ghilotti, and other now former partners to become the Vintage 1870 Associates partnership and purchase the landmark Vintage 1870 (now V Marketplace) specialty shop complex in the heart of Yountville. 

Under their guidance, this historic property was carefully and methodically improved, maintaining the 19th century charm of its buildings while blending a mix of upscale retail shops, galleries and restaurants that would hold a universal appeal for local residents and out-of-town visitors alike.
The Vintage Estate's Historic V Marketplace Retail Complex

In historical terms, it is the V Marketplace project that has been credited with the first renaissance phase of this local community. The highest compliment was paid during
V Marketplace’s 25th Anniversary celebration as town officials lauded the Vintage 1870 Associates for developing what they termed, “the project that defined the Town of Yountville."  

Over the nine-year period that followed the 1976 purchase, V Marketplace became the success that the partnership had envisioned, establishing the complex and this locus of Washington Street as Yountville's commercial center. Like their projects to follow, the successful revitalization of the V Marketplace was linked to the unique nature of the partners' relationship with local government. The forging of a cooperative bond between commercial development and a small community allied to reach a goal of mutual and lasting benefit.  What the travel media has called "Napa Valley's specialty shopping mecca" had contributed not only to a new strength in the town's tax revenue base, but also stimulated consumer travel to Yountville, and ultimately, further commercial investment and revitalization of the town.

Driven by the romantic lure of the wine industry, visitor travel to the Napa Valley in the early 1980's grew rapidly. It became clear that the addition of an upscale country inn was the linchpin to connect the overnight visitor with the Yountville experience. The Egan and Sandbach families were joined by friends Mario and Dino Ghilotti and other investor-partners for this new venture. Along with town officials, the group shared this vision of  Yountville as a visitor "destination."

(Left to Right)
Tim Egan, Mark Power & young Kerry Egan review
construction plans for Vintage Inn in Yountville, circa 1984 
By 1983, the design and development plans for the multimillion-dollar hotel were underway. In June of 1985, the 80-room Vintage Inn opened to rave reviews. On the basis of quality standards and daily room revenues, the property was ranked by the Lodging & Hospitality Association in the top 100 most profitable hotels in the United States and Travel+Leisure Magazine’s Top 500 Hotels in the World. Even its landscape architecture reflects a totally unique aesthetic style. The inn's landscape designer, Thomas McCormick, was honored by the National Association of Landscape Contractors of America for his design work at the Vintage Inn.

Says partner Timothy Egan, "The development of Vintage Inn furthered the partnership's commitment to the local community through the advancement of the ‘overnight destination' concept. Our goal was to create a project that would produce the lowest impact on local services yet deliver the highest return in transient occupancy tax revenues to the Town of Yountville." It was a promise fulfilled. The Vintage Inn and  V Marketplace venues, collectively known as The Vintage Estate, would comprise not only the largest joint visitor destination in Yountville, but also the most profitable. The combined local taxes generated by the sister properties contributed more than a third of the Town of Yountville's general operating fund.

Vintage Inn
"Yountville is a small town, and in a place like this, 'success' is a measurement of the long-term commitment that you make and you uphold," notes Egan. "We own businesses here and we own homes here. Our commitment is one that we've made to our families, our partnership and the community," he adds.

The opportunity to demonstrate this commitment has presented itself more than once. In 1986, when the hundred-unit Vintage Subdivision project started by another developer in 1981 fell into bankruptcy, the partnership took action. Sensing the immediate community need, the partnership, which included the Egan and Sandbach families, negotiated with the bank to purchase and complete the final twenty-nine units of the project. The original plan for the final phase of development called for construction of duet-style attached dwellings; a design that the partnership felt would create an imbalance in the residential profile of the community. So the decision was made. The partnership would redesign the plan and seek town approval to build detached single-family homes.

Tim Egan recalls, "As developers, we took the more costly route by opting not to build the final twenty-nine units as duet-style townhomes in favor of the single-family detached houses. However, the original design plan didn't offer Yountville what it needed in residential improvements. Experience just told us that the design change would give the community greater residential diversity, and in the end, a better balance." 
On October 16, 1998, the partnership opened the doors of the third Vintage Estate sister property, the 112-room Villagio Inn & Spa. Addressing guests at Villagio’s opening event, then California Senator Mike Thompson called the project "an exciting new asset to the Yountville community and the Napa Valley." Thompson lauded the Vintage Partners, and Timothy Egan personally, for demonstrating a continuing commitment to the improvement and enrichment of the community with the quality of their projects.

Villagio Inn & Spa

Even before earning its AAA Four Diamond Award rating in February 2000, Villagio Inn & Spa was acclaimed by such publications as Town & Country, San Francisco Examiner Magazine, Los Angeles Magazine and Travel+Leisure Magazine, with awards that have since included Travel+Leisure’s Top 500 Hotels in the World and Top 50 Resorts in the United States & Canada.

Spa Villagio's Outdoor Fireside Lounge
The Vintage Associates take great pride in the fruits of their 35-year partnership with the community. It was a collective vision that became a reality. A vision to establish Yountville, the gateway to the Napa Valley wine country, as a premier overnight destination to attract the mid-to-upper-end traveler with exceptional accommodations and amenities. One that would foster the "walking town" concept by offering visitors the finest restaurants, specialty shops and galleries along the main thoroughfare of Washington Street.   

“Together, we’ve crafted a shared vision… a community where visitors delight in staying, and one that residents are proud to call home,” says Egan.  

Slow Living's Steve Andrews & Tim Egan at
Yountville's 2011 Kentucky Derby Event
Tim & Donna Egan at the 2011 Sense Yountville

PostScript: Tim & Donna Egan are deeply committed to medical research in the battle and treatment of Cancer. We encourage you to visit these organizations and find out what you can do to become involved:

International Myeloma Foundation

Jimmy V Foundation

Selected Photos by Andy Berry -


No comments:

Post a Comment