He’s played both an officer and a gentleman, a ruthless businessman who falls for a beautiful prostitute with a heart of gold and a conniving 1920s tap-dancing attorney. Today, actor, humanitarian and practising Buddhist Richard Gere has acted on yet another passion with his quaint yet elegant inn, the Bedford Post.
In historical Westchester County, New York, just outside the quiet hamlet of Bedford, Gere’s elegant eight-room Bedford Post inn welcomes astute travellers looking for a quiet rustic retreat. As a member of the exclusive and prestigious Relais & Châteaux group of luxury hotels, the tasteful Bedford Post is a Dutch Colonial style residence that was originally built in the early 1760s, and is one of the only three original structures remaining from the 18th century in Bedford. “It was a hotel/boarding house in the early 20th century. When I moved up to the area, it was no longer a hotel but a restaurant called Nino’s, which was like a clubhouse for the community and the only restaurant around,” divulges Gere, who is also a talented musician. “After it closed, [my wife] and I watched with a great sense of sadness as it deteriorated. It was a beautiful survivor on its last legs. When it went up for sale we felt an obligation to bring it back to life.”
The sheer natural beauty of Westchester is what pulled the 61-year-old actor and his wife, model and actress Carey Lowell, to the area, and eventually to purchase a residence of their own in the pristine pastoral setting. “My wife Carey and I are area residents and have always had an affinity for the beauty and relaxation of the area. We were drawn to the beauty of the property and were committed to bringing it back to life. It is a magical place.”
Designed by Lowell and Tiffany Vassilakis, Bedford Post features five different contemporary room layouts – most with built-in fireplaces – and marble bathrooms with handmade, imported and antique claw-foot tubs. As well, the inn provides two sensational dining experiences: The Farmhouse, with its modern American entrees; and The Barn, with its more casual and traditional breakfasts and lunches. “When the property became available for purchase, my wife, our partner, Russell Hernandez, and I felt that the Bedford Post could one day become the centre of our community,” says Gere.
With the restoration complete, the revitalized and rejuvenated Bedford Post matches its lush surroundings, which, according to Gere, look quite breathtaking during the fall. “Travellers who have not yet visited the region will find understated elegance and beauty. A picturesque setting that is beautiful year-round, especially during the autumn months,” explains Gere.
Solidifying his position as a Hollywood star in the 1980 film American Gigolo, Gere has also starred in a range of classics, which include An Officer and a Gentleman, the box office smash hit Runaway Bride and the iconic blockbuster romance Pretty Woman. In 1991, Gere was named People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive.” It wasn’t until his performance in the 2002 musical Chicago that he finally obtained a coveted Golden Globe award. Much like the beautiful romance films he stars in, Gere wanted to make his inn something to love. “We also hoped [Bedford Post] would be a place of extraordinary natural and architectural beauty – a place of contemplation, meditation, yoga, tai chi and music … We set out to feed the heart and soul, as well as the stomach.”
Gere’s desire to enrich the “heart and soul” is reflected in his passion for Buddhist practises, including meditation and self-actualization. His attraction to Buddhism first began during a journey to Nepal with Brazilian painter Sylvia Martins in 1978. Gere has been a practising Buddhist ever since and a disciple of his holiness the Dali Lama. To facilitate his love for spiritual enlightenment and freedom, Gere uses his Zen-like style to incorporate the essentials of a spiritual lifestyle, including a yoga studio and Zen garden. “The Yoga Loft is a light-filled and tranquil space with elevated ceilings and windows overlooking the property’s Zen Garden, which is planted with ferns and Japanese maples.”
There is no question Gere is a romance icon, and no doubt an integral part of many passionate female fantasies, but with Bedford Post, he has developed one more piece of art for the public to ogle over.