In 2022, Pickering House Inn in Wolfeboro, NH, owned by Patty Sullivan Cooke ’79 and her husband, Peter Cooke, was named by world-renowned Travel + Leisure Magazine as the #1 resort hotel in New England and in the United States, as well as the #4 resort hotel in the world.
Cooke is an architect by trade and founded her own design company, Wentworth Style, LLC, in 2010. Her husband has many years of commercial real estate project management experience.
“When we moved up to New Hampshire in 2010, I was simplifying my life, and the plan was that I was just going to take private clients, renovation and new construction design,” she remarks.
After hearing that the historic property in Wolfeboro needed saving from becoming a commercial development, the couple decided to put their combined skills together by purchasing the property.
After buying the Pickering House property in 2016, the Cookes made plans to convert and refurbish the house into a 10-room inn. While allowing the town to keep a piece of history, it also increased job opportunities and boosted tourism to the New England destination typically referred to as “The Oldest Summer Resort in America.”
Pickering House, originally built in 1813 as a tavern, became the homestead of Daniel Pickering, one of the town’s most prominent businessmen in the mid-1800s. The inn sits not too far from Lake Winnipesaukee and hiking trails, while it boasts its charm with individually curated rooms and a stunning barn that now functions as an event space.
Upon redesigning the property, Cooke wanted to keep the character and history alive throughout the renovation, while adding her personal touch. She kept the original doors of the house and converted them into an installation on the wall near the front entrance.
“We based a lot of the design on what we wished we found when we traveled,” she says.
Since opening in 2018, the inn has been quite successful and has garnered a following worldwide. Customers relay positive feedback on their stay and praise the attention to detail in aspects like the layouts of the rooms, the landscaping, and the cuisine from the kitchen.
The Cookes visit the property often to check in with guests on their experience. They have received amazing compliments and proudly express, “Our guests are unbelievable. They give us hugs goodbye, they love our attention to detail, and we have exceptional staff.”
When COVID-19 hit, the Cookes didn’t hesitate, and instead navigated the circumstances with a bold approach. In December of 2020, they opened a new restaurant named Pavilion to create a new take on the food and beverage experience for New Hampshire’s Lakes Region.
It’s those bold moves, the details that went into each space on the property and the Tuesday night “Restaurant Road Show” dinners that feature chefs from all over New England, that makes for such a memorable stay at Pickering House Inn.
In a recent interview with Travel + Leisure on the awards, Cooke says, "We are so honored that our guests took the time to share their experiences and that we are ranked among the most exceptional properties in the world."
She also reflects on her time at Emmanuel as a studio art major being one of learning the balance of independence and thoughtfulness.
“I think it's one of the best times of your life to live in a city. The environment Emmanuel gives you versus any of those schools is night and day. Because as a student, I felt like I could breathe there,” she adds.
As she and her husband look beyond for the next chapter of their lives, they are excited to figure out the next project as they go along and hope to pass the “innkeeper” torch someday.