Best of Pennsylvania 2016 Editor's Picks

Best New Venue You Don’t Know About—Yet!

WYEBROOK FARM

It all began with a Wall Street executive … wait, what? It’s not the expected script for a fairytale farm. While Wyebrook Farm wasn’t created by this bond trader—the land has been farmed for over 200 years—it was Dean Carlson’s vision that has made this place a little slice of paradise. Located in Chester County’s Honey Brook, Wyebrook may be just 20 miles from West Chester, but it feels as though it could be a million miles away. The lush landscape and spectacular setting make it a natural choice for special occasions or meetings that require a true out-of-the-box setting for effective brainstorming.

Carlson purchased the farm to save it from development and decided to jump right in with sustainable farming. He had a small butcher shop and even served food picnic table-style to a growing group of eager visitors. After the crowds grew, Wyebrook opened a full-service restaurant i Wyebrook Farm n June 2014. Set within the original stone barn from the late 1800s, the restaurant boasts huge windows looking out to the pasture. The restaurant, which incorporates the butcher and retail store into the sprawling room, is available for buyouts. The food, created by Andrew Wood, exemplifies gourmet comfort food. (Editor’s Note: They might just have the best burger you’ll ever eat.) Fantastic dining aside, the farmhouse has been recently opened for meetings and events. Nothing beats having an entire farmhouse at your disposal, where you will have access to a billiard room (great for a bar set-up), plus a private dining room and a larger room spilling out to the veranda. With views overlooking the farm’s pond and hillside studded with cattle, it is the perfect spot for cocktails or conversation. The farmhouse is just right for about 50 guests seated or 100 cocktail-style and a variety of catering options. Events are booked Wednesdays through Sundays. 

Best for Corporate Retreats

HOTEL DU VILLAGE

If you want to be near the city but still want to live and breathe in a wide-open space, it really doesn’t get much better than Bucks County. This region is the very definition of a country escape, where stone walls, historic farmhouses and charming towns with authentic main streets are the norm. New Hope takes country charm and infuses a creative flair. Set along the Delaware River, this artsy town delivers the yin and yang of cosmopolitan and country. It’s a big stop for city dwellers who escape here for weekends spent biking along the river and dining and drinking in the many cafés and bars, but it’s not just for the leisure visitor.

New Hope is a convenient getaway for corporations seeking somewhere to gather employees for a brainstorming session or important meeting. When the need for a true escape arises, Hotel du Village is just the place. It’s like having a country estate all to yourself. Recently purchased and renovated by Landmark Hospitality, Hotel du Village was originally built as a private residence in 1895 and later operated as a boarding school. It features 22 guest rooms that share a chic sensibility with guests. “This French country estate-style property has become a sought after venue because of its unique design features and transporting aesthetic. Corporate clients enjoy the property because of the many unique meeting rooms and the luxury boutique hotel lodging within the same campus,” says Kristopher Hassett, vice president of marketing and sales at Landmark Hospitality.

The event spaces include two ballrooms: the Colt, with its 10-foot ceilings, accommodates up to 200; while the intimate Historic Ballroom, ideal for up to 140 for weddings and social events, wows with its glass window wall looking out over the grounds. Meeting rooms offer stateof- the-art audio-visual and multiple breakout spaces. Indoor or outdoor team-building activities are also available for groups.

Hotel du Village is close enough to New Hope to hop on a bike and pedal down, but this world unto itself might convince you otherwise. 

Best Entertainer

MARILYN SUKONICK-ZEFF, CORPORATE TAROT PRESENTATIONS

If you’ve ever been to an event in the Philadelphia region and wondered why there was a big crowd gathering in a corner, it’s likely that Marilyn Sukonick-Zeff was at the helm. This one-woman corporate entertainer is a total crowd-pleaser and no matter how many times I’ve been at an event with her, I always manage to sneak in and get my numbers read. Sukonick-Zeff created a numerology system as it relates to the tarot where you can discover how the world sees you, how you view the world and your communication skills—all defined by adding up the sums of important numbers like your birthdate and phone number. Sukonick-Zeff’s popularity for events has come by word of mouth. “My success has come by referral without ever advertising anything, it’s all word of mouth,” she says.

Her live interactive presentations for corporate groups can be for as many as 400 people. One such activity that can be done in these large groups is name synchronization, where 10 names and 10 professions are written on paper and each person is given 5 minutes to feel—not logically think—which profession belongs to which individual. For team-building activities, galas and charities, small group readings are offered for the sake of efficiency. As many as 20 guests can be seated around a banquet table and requested to pull three cards, representing their past, present and future. “It quickly brings a group together, it’s a party among the party itself,” says Sukonick-Zeff, who makes every one of her readings fun. Her particular brand of self-effacing humor immediately wins the crowd’s hearts, but as soon as she starts her presentation, expect plenty of oohs and aahs.

Tarot cards are just one option for booking Sukonick-Zeff; she also does lip print personality profiles and handwriting analysis, where guests are asked to apply lipstick (which is provided), kiss an index card and sign their name (I did it and can attest that it’s smile inducing). She provides pendulum readings and photograph and dream interpretations are also available for any event. It’s a great way to get colleagues to open up and learn something about each other—all in good fun. “No other job connects with people on such an intimate level in such a minimal amount of time,” she explains.

One thing Sukonick-Zeff suspects you may be thinking? She’s not a psychic and likes to make that clear. She believes people have all the answers to life within themselves and uses cards as the catalyst to access that information so individuals can make healthier decisions about their lives. “A deck of cards is reflective, not predictive, in nature,” says Sukonick-Zeff, who describes herself as logically based. “I’m a creative business woman who has embraced an unusual line of work and loving every moment of it,” she says with her trademark smile. “I’m diplomatic, nonjudgemental, professional and highly accurate; those are the traits one can expect when hiring me.” 267.685.0983

Best for Foodies

READING TERMINAL MARKET

If you like to eat, and really, who doesn’t, then Reading Terminal Market hits the spot for your next event. This public market has been open since 1892 and is the nation’s oldest continuously operating farmers market in the country. Today, it’s a bit of a mashup between a farmers market and the best food court you’ve ever seen. Where else can you get a freshly made doughnut from a Pennsylvania Dutch bakery and the best sandwich in America? DiNic’s roast pork sandwich was indeed named the best sandwich in 2012, thanks to food critic Adam Richman. Slowcooked for hours and served with broccoli rabe and sharp provolone, the sandwich takes on Philly’s reputation as a cheesesteak-focused city (well, those are pretty darn good, too). You can eat your heart out at this market and get food to take home later (there are fish markets and butchers, plus fruit and vegetable stands galore), but the market, a former rail terminal, makes for a particularly unique venue. Feeding a crowd is a snap when renting the Rick Nichols Room, which handles 48 for a sit-down and up to 72 for a lecture. Reading Terminal Market can also hold events for 100 to 2,000 people. Arrange for catering or, better yet, hand your attendees a market gift card and let them peruse the stalls and offerings by themselves. 215.515.3415

The winners of the Pennsylvania M+E Best of 2018 readers’ choice awards are revealed.

 

PLACES

Best Inn with Meeting/Event Space

AND THE WINNER IS: The Inn at Leola Village

Runners-up:
» Glasbern Inn
» The Sayre Mansion

Best Historic or Cultural Venue

AND THE WINNER IS: ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks