Ten Minutes With Bethany Souza

By Shayna Mace

You have a lot of varied, interesting experience in hospitality and real estate.

I have two hotel restaurant degrees and a background in hospitality. I worked in country clubs, then got into commercial real estate representing hotel developers and owners.

I came back to the Midwest when my son was born 16 years ago. I have family in Woodstock, and opened my first hotel myself in Woodstock called The Town Square Inn and I successfully ran that for 10 years.

While I was doing that, I was recruited for HGTV [and] I was cast as their real estate expert for eight seasons on “Designed to Sell,” which at the time was their first staging show.

And then you opened your own staging business, which is how the Baker House came into your life.

While I was in Chicago, I had the hotel and the staging business, and then we saw the Baker House [was] for sale. So that’s what brought me to Lake Geneva unexpectedly in 2010. For the Baker House, I wanted to create a historic experience that transported guests back in time to a world of Gilded Age glamour, complete with costumed staff and authentic interiors.

The Golden Oaks B&B was for sale shortly after Baker House was opened and I had a vision to combine it with the contiguous Plaza Motel. By reconcepting the motel to look like a carriage house and horse stables, we were able to build a multi-unit compound that recreated the original Maxwell Estate. The Speakeasy [bar] however was complete creative liberty!

In the projects you do, you like to incorporate a lot of vintage and flea market finds.

Hitting estate sales, auctions and flea markets—those are my main areas. The things I get have a patina of history or love on them. I like the heirloom factor that you don’t get with brand new. I love the Elkhorn Flea Market. And I’m a huge fan of auctions—one of my favorites is Leslie Hindman Auctioneers.

What’s next for you?

I’m extremely excited about my new project that incorporates the concept of “flow.” It’s an adaptive reuse of a large vintage building just off of Geneva Lake that is really going to wow the community!

This article was featured in the Lake Geneva: Winter 2017 issue.

Author: atthelake

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