ABINGDON, Va. — It’s tea time at the mighty Martha Washington Inn & Spa.
Which, I must say, is something I have yet to experience since first stepping onto this postcard-perfect property in 1993 at the center of Abingdon, Virginia.
I’ve had everything from poached eggs and a gourmet hamburger to trout, coffee and a cold beer on the campus of the Martha Washington Inn.
This month, all have a chance to enjoy afternoon tea during the delightful month of June on Saturdays, 2 to 5 p.m.
And it’s not just for overnight guests of the luxury hotel.
“No, no, no, no,” said the hotel owner, Ian Lloyd-Jones, 72. “The public, anybody, who wants to. And if somebody wants to do it on a Wednesday afternoon to celebrate a special occasion ... come on down. We’re happy to have you.”
During the mid-1990s, Lloyd-Jones had tried to hold tea parties soon after he acquired “The Martha.”
“We just could not get the following for it,” he said. “We couldn’t build the traffic. We don’t have enough depth in the market. It’s too iffy.”
Afternoon tea is not exactly an inexpensive endeavor for a hotel, Lloyd-Jones said. “You’ve got labor, payroll — kitchen as well as wait staff. And it’s not the high-ticket item. We haven’t done afternoon tea as a regular feature, primarily, because there’s no market for it.”
Still, Lloyd-Jones is hoping June’s tea parties have a chance to succeed, since they are being held in conjunction with the “Miniatures at The Martha” dollhouse exhibit.
These tea parties could be great for girlfriend getaways or mother-daughter outings, he suggests.
Tea is being served with finger sandwiches and a variety of biscuits, cheeses and desserts. “And you’ll have your choice of several types of teas,” Lloyd-Jones said.
Cost is $18, which includes tax and gratuity.