Welcome to the Roundtopolis and Wellspring Retreat Bed and Breakfast in Round Top: For 37 years and counting, Linda and Bob Brunson spent Thanksgiving with their friends, the Goads, who own and operate the Round Top Retreat Center. When Linda, a Houston native who is an event decorator and commercial interior designer, felt the need to redesign her hectic life, Round Top was a natural destination. Discovering the secluded but centrally located site of what would eventually become the Wellspring Retreat Bed and Breakfast in Round Top, the couple’s plan was to build a family compound with a home for Linda’s mother and an art studio/loft for themselves. When Linda’s mother passed away unexpectedly, Linda and Bob claimed the main house and outfitted its extra bedrooms and the loft for guests. Three years later, a design client of Linda’s asked her to remove an 1854 depot from his property. She relocated it, refurbished it and increased the guest capacity at Wellspring.
“Wellspring Retreat came from a spiritual basis,” Linda said. “I want to be a good steward of what I am given and share the feeling of peace that is all too rare in today’s world. Peace and genuine interest in their lives makes people want to come back.”
Speaking of hospitality: “I think hospitality is a gift. While you can learn methods to be successful in the lodging business, people are innately hospitable or not. I’ve always enjoyed making people feel welcome. I grew up very poor—we barely had furniture—so when I had a home of my own, it was easy for me to share it with others. Also I think breakfast is highly undervalued as a social occasion; it offers a fantastic opportunity for gracious hosting.”
Insider knowledge: “It’s estimated that there are at least 92 B&Bs between La Grange, Brenham and Giddings. Most of them have a capacity for 2 – 4 guests. With that business model, the owners have to do all of the work themselves to make it profitable. I knew I needed to operate on a larger scale to afford having help, which would also give me some additional flexibility with my personal schedule. Because I have excellent help, I have the freedom to design for clients and even take a weekend away.”
Not-so secret weapon: “Sherri Blanchard, my long-time, right-hand, go-to associate. Although she prefers to work behind the scenes, she takes care of this place and the guests as if they were her own.”
Best part of the biz: “The people. I love getting to know people and being part of the serendipitous meetings that can have life-changing, life-affirming effects. I think providing a place where people can connect with others and get back in touch with their priorities is my calling.”
Long-term relationships: “When it comes to the antiques shows, 80 percent of my reservations are standing, but new people get in every year. Over the years, I’ve gotten to know people really well and my guests apparently enjoy the continuity. I’ve had one girl pay for seven guests for the past several shows even though her friends weren’t able to join her. Why? She wanted to hang on to the Depot for her group. Another guest told me, ‘The minute I got my suitcase on the porch, I felt like I was home.’”
Best compliment ever: “An eight-year-old girl whose family has stayed with me several times asked Santa to give her a weekend at Wellspring. It doesn’t get any better than being on a child’s Christmas list.”
Linda’s top three homegrown hospitality tips: (Linda informally polled her guests to find out what made them feel welcome. The following are the top three responses.) “You know our names. Your full country breakfast—and remembering what we like. You share what you know and make sure we know that you’ll do your best to accommodate special requests and needs.”
Wellspring Retreat Bed & Breakfast
580 N. Washington
Round Top, Texas 78954
Owners: Linda and Bob Brunson
Founded: 2000 Structures: 3 (Main House, Loft and Depot)
Guest Capacity: 16 beds that accommodate 18.
Setting: 3 ½ landscaped acres in the heart of Round Top.
Special treatment: Linda will help plan and host on-site weddings and group reunions at Wellspring.