Round Top Inn in Round Top
Welcome to the Roundtopolis: In 2014, Houstonian Susanne Maida came to Round Top looking for a getaway for her family of five. Instead, she found a for sale sign on the Round Top Inn. Curiosity got the best of her, so she toured the property.
There Maida found an 1885 two-story house with three guest suites and four cottages, some of which were original to the property and others that had been moved in over time. Three of the buildings had been constructed by German immigrant Charles Schiege in the 1860s, including one that served as the Schiege Cigar Factory for nearly 50 years.
Casual interest turned into ‘must have’ determination for the entrepreneur. Her husband, James, fully supported her plan to become an innkeeper and the lodging destination’s fifth owner, with one caveat: “Get some help.”
Highly qualified help wasn’t long in coming. Deb Dergins agreed to drive the Inn’s welcome wagon as property manager, bringing with her 30+ years experience including extended stints as the private chef on the Rockefeller family’s Wyoming guest ranch and at The Prairie, another local landmark lodging destination owned by Rachel Ashwell.
Together, the two women along with their team undertook the “caretaking” of both guests and the historic property, which included an ongoing multi-phase infrastructure update. Their ultimate goal? An inn that is “historic modern.” In pursuit of that goal, they’ve become conversant in topics ranging from plumbing and rustic plum tarts to the role of plumbago in the landscape.
When, in December 2015, the Hotel St. Vinzent and Prost Wine Bar & Patio became available, Maida seized the opportunity to reunite Round Top’s historic Block 29. The building that houses the renamed Prost! on Block 29 is the workshop where early Texas pioneer and organ maker Johann Wandke built the cedar pipe organ still in use at the nearby Bethlehem Lutheran Church.
The team’s expanded offerings just give people another reason to step away from their high-pressure, concrete-and-glass habitat and come explore the area.
“It’s just like the slogan says, ‘Close but a world away,” Dergins said. “Until people step away from their city lives, I don’t think people realize how compressed they are. Round Top is a natural decompression chamber.”
Speaking of hospitality: “To me, hospitality is treating guests like friends who you cater to.”
“Inn” a word: “Perfect.”
Not-so secret weapon: “An experienced, friendly staff who are dedicated to making guests happy.”
Best guests know: “We work very hard to make hospitality look easy.”
Most interesting guest: “A world-renowned reporter who had great stories to share.”
Round Top Inn
407 S. White St.
Round Top, Texas 78954
Owner: Susanne Maida
Manager: Deb Dergins
Founded: 1991, owned by Maida since 2014
Structures: 8 buildings with 13 rooms
Guest Capacity: 32
Setting: 1 acre featuring historic structures, giant oaks and native landscaping, just steps from Round Top’s square.
Special treatment: A full, hot savory breakfast served in the dining hall that, although the menu changes daily, always includes an egg dish, a potato dish, a “sweet,” a meat selection and fresh fruit as well as coffee, yogurt and juice.
Most colorful guest: “A ‘character’ from NYC who wore a skirt over his pants every day. In that case, hospitality was acting like his fashion choices were common among the men in Round Top.”
Insider knowledge: “Wrapping up one antiques show crowd and booking the next one overlaps. In the six weeks after a show, I average 40 email inquiries a day, many that require multiple responses. That doesn’t count the phone messages or the guests who want to come the rest of the year.”
Best part of the biz: “Obviously, I enjoy people. If I didn’t I wouldn’t have been in the hospitality industry for more than 30 years. As a day-to-day career, though, I enjoy the fact that no day is ever the same. The guests are different. The challenges are different. Nothing is ever rote.”
Stay takeaway: “I want people to remember that the Round Top Inn was a friendly place filled with friendly people and all the comforts of home. Oh yeah, I also want them to dream about our food.”
Deb’s top three homegrown hospitality tips: “Be friendly. Be accommodating. Celebrate with your guests by acknowledging their special days like weddings and anniversaries with in-room gifts such as champagne or fresh flowers.”