December 24, 2014

Holly Hedge Wedding and Event Business Also Offers Bed & Breakfast Accommodations

FAMILY FOCUS: “Many bed and breakfasts in the area don’t have a lot of property. We have 21-plus acres of land, and people enjoy taking walks and exploring the beauty of the natural setting.” Tim Luccaro (left) is proud of Holly Hedge, his family’s bed and breakfast inn and event venue near New Hope, Pa. He is shown with his brother, Ben and mother and father, Amy and Joe.

FAMILY FOCUS: “Many bed and breakfasts in the area don’t have a lot of property. We have 21-plus acres of land, and people enjoy taking walks and exploring the beauty of the natural setting.” Tim Luccaro (left) is proud of Holly Hedge, his family’s bed and breakfast inn and event venue near New Hope, Pa. He is shown with his brother, Ben and mother and father, Amy and Joe.

History is in evidence at Holly Hedge, the bed and breakfast inn and event venue just outside of New Hope.

“The main building dates to the late 1700s, when it was a working farm,” explains Holly Hedge business manager Tim Luccaro. “This is one of the few original farmhouses in the area. We grow herbs, tomatoes, fruit (including lots of berries) on our property, and we include these in our breakfasts.”

Over the years the homestead experienced several transformations: farm, private residence, school for dyslexic students, summer camp for music and the arts, and bed and breakfast establishment.

Joe and Amy Luccaro purchased Holly Hedge in 1993, with plans to continue it as a bed and breakfast operation. They had first visited New Hope on their honeymoon in 1971, and a year later moved to Buck County.

Destination Place

“They knew from the moment they came that they wanted to spend the rest of their lives here,” says their son Tim Luccaro. “When they purchased Holly Hedge, initially the idea was to maintain it as a bed and breakfast, and then develop the catering business. Over the years, we have become a destination place for weddings, and this is now the major part of our business.”

The wedding season is March through November, he adds, and Holly Hedge is currently booked through 2015 for weekend weddings.

The schedule for midweek weddings is more flexible, and two to three months notice is recommended. Elopements are even more flexible, and Mr. Lucarro suggests one week’s notice, if possible. “We have had couples married here who have eloped, and we can accommodate anyone’s choice!”

And if the choice is full-scale and over the top, that is certainly no problem for Holly Hedge, which has a complete catering operation, including two full-time catering chefs, a wedding planner, and an event coordinator.

All sizes of weddings, from 30 guests to 200, take place at the estate, and whether the bride and groom opt for an outdoor cocktail party in the garden or a formal sit down dinner inside, the Holly Hedge setting will be memorable for the wedding party and guests. “We have people who got married here and come back for their anniversaries, and they bring their children back too,” reports Mr. Luccaro.

Anniversaries, holiday parties, and corporate events are also an important part of the business. “We have a lot of corporate events with companies from Princeton and northern New Jersey, including a lot of pharmaceutical companies. These events are held during the week, not on the weekend,” he points out.

Corporate Retreats

The Holly Hedge certified event planner will work with the company to customize strategic planning, team building, staff celebrations, or corporate retreats. In addition, the Holly Hedge staff will organize other activities in the area, such as spa treatments, hiking, kayaking, biking, historical society tours, wine tastings, etc.

The estate has on-site wi-fi throughout the property, private rooms, and multiple conference space options.

Holly Hedge is also very busy as a popular bed and breakfast in the area. It offers 15 guest rooms in three restored buildings. Both standard rooms and grand suites are available. The latter can accommodate up to six guests, and offers full en suite kitchen. All the rooms have private bathrooms, cable television, and complimentary wi-fi.

Holly Hedge provides a full service breakfast on weekends, and Continental breakfast during the week. The in-house bakery prepares many of the breads and confections that are available every morning, and guests enjoy the home-grown and homemade fruit preserves and syrup tapped from the estate’s own sugar maples.

“We include seasonal fruits grown on our property, and we also get local produce in the area, as much as possible,” explains Mr. Luccaro. “Our breakfast chef cooks weekend breakfasts to order, with eggs, pancakes, French toast, and other specialties included.”

Bed and breakfast guests arrive from overseas, all over the U.S., as well as Bucks County, he reports, and they include many repeats. “We have established a very good reputation. We have lots of word-of-mouth, and people also find us on our website.”

Tuning Out

Enjoying the natural beauty of the Holly Hedge estate is a pleasure for many of the guests, and many like to take walks on the property, adds Mr. Luccaro. “We are developing an arboretum, and a lot of guests enjoy turning off their electronic devices and just relaxing in the natural setting. On the other hand, if they want the phone on, we have wi-fi and all the technological necessities.”

An important part of the Holly Hedge focus is its increasing adoption of environmentally-friendly practices.

“We take our stewardship of the estate, its land, and its history seriously,” says Mr. Luccaro. “The maintenance and restoration of our historic stone buildings, walls, and barn, using traditional mason techniques, has helped us retain the rustic charm of the property. There has been a big change since my brother Ben has been involved. As property manager and being in charge of architectural restoration, he oversees this important work. He is a mason and does the stonework, which requires continual maintenance.”

“We are working on a number of ways to make the estate more environmentally friendly,” explains Ben Luccaro. “We have solar panels outside in the fields, and we are able to produce 20 percent of the electricity we use this way. We are also looking into thermal heating.

“Recycling is very important here,” he continues. “We recycle glass, plastic, and paper, and also cooking oil, which is then turned into bio-diesel fuel for cars. We also save a lot of food scraps for farmers to give to their pigs, and we do a lot of composting. In addition, we save water by collecting rain water in barrels. Then, we use that to water our vegetables.”

“We try to be as energy-efficient as we can,” adds Tim Luccaro. “We use energy-efficient appliances, and we repurpose old things on our property. For example, we lost a lot of trees during the storm Sandy, and we used the wood for arbors and railings.

Responsible Stewards

“We also try to educate our guests about our environmentally friendly practices. They become participants in our effort toward sustainability. We have between 10,000 and 20,000 guests each year. Sustainability isn’t a buzz word. It has always been a core principle of our business, and it helps us to ensure that we are living up to our obligations as responsible stewards of our beautiful estate.”

Mr. Luccaro, who recently returned from a three year stay in Afghanistan, working with the U.S. government’s Institute of Peace, especially enjoys being back at Holly Hedge. “Since I was away for a long time, now I enjoy spending time with my family and being in this unique part of the world, where we were fortunate to grow up.

“We look forward to continuing our family tradition, and we see this as a new chapter, as our parents move toward retirement. It is an opportunity for Ben and me to build on their legacy and stewardship and to create a new path for the next generation to enjoy. Our clientele is so open and receptive to our unique aesthetic and our environmental consciousness and awareness, to the historical nature of our property, and also to the artwork we offer from local sculptors and painters. We really try to celebrate the area, and we let guests know about all the opportunities and activities in New Hope and the area.”

Ben Luccaro is equally enthusiastic about Holly Hedge and the chance to be part of this special family business. “I love working with my family here, and also with the staff, which is really like family too. I feel I get a chance to contribute something important. We have to put on an event all the time and constantly maintain the property. There is tremendous attention to detail. And I look forward to continuing the environmental projects we are doing. I love this place!”

Holly Hedge can be reached at (215) 862-3136. Website: