Monmouth receives accolades from national press

Published 4:16 pm Sunday, April 1, 2018


NATCHEZ — Monmouth Historic Inn & Gardens has had an exciting start to 2018 — the year of the scenic mansion’s 200th birthday.

In just the first three months of the year, Monmouth has garnered awards such as the 2018 No. 1 Best Hotel in Mississippi by U.S. News & World Report for a third year in a row, and receiving the 2018 Four Diamond from the American Automobile Association for the 38th consecutive year.

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What are the keys to these achievements? If you ask Monmouth owner Nancy Reuther, the answer is: Constant maintenance and a great staff.

“We wear many hats here, and our staff … is so very important,” Reuther said.

That staff includes members who have been there long before Reuther and her husband, Warren Reuther, purchased Monmouth six years ago — back when they feared the future of the historic building looked uncertain.

Take, for example, chef Mary Taylor, affectionately known around the grounds as “Miss Mary.” For more than three decades, Miss Mary has cooked for the guests who roam the 26-acre property.

Another longtime employee, Roosevelt Owens has become famous for his mint juleps. In fact, over the course of Owens’ 28 years behind the bar at Monmouth, he has earned such notoriety that he received recognition from the bourbon capital itself — a framed certificate hangs in the Quitman Lounge that named him an honorary Kentuckian, signed by former Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher.

One visitor from Ireland gave her review of Owens’ mint julep when manager and tour guide Samantha Brown asked whether the guest enjoyed the drink.

The woman said it was great, “And the second one was even better.”

Those are just two examples of employees who have engrained themselves in Monmouth, becoming part of the lore.

“I’m very proud of all of our employees,” Reuther said. “Monmouth is a home.”

The other part of the equation is the constant maintenance of the now two-century-old mansion. Reuther said upkeep of the home and its grounds bears an expensive burden, but also that the benefit from keeping the home open well exceeds the costs.

In addition to the aforementioned accolades, the inn also received one award that Reuther said was both shocking and exhilarating.

Last year, Condé Nast Travel’s 30th annual Readers’ Choice Awards — in which thousands of readers took part — named Monmouth the third best hotel in the entire South, beating out hotels from areas including Nashville, Tenn.; Louisville, Ky.; and Savannah, Ga.

“This one just surprised us,” Reuther said. “You don’t know. They just call and tell you, and you can’t wait to get the magazine.”

Reuther said some of the best feedback she receives from guests are concerning the grounds, which are now reaching their most lush and vibrant point of the season as spring begins.

From the front yard to the courtyard, the grounds are laden with foliage, and the property has lawn chairs all around so guests can plop down and soak in the scenery whenever they would like.

Reuther said she hopes the tourism industry in Natchez grows so that Monmouth can continue to thrive and accommodate their guests from all over the world.

“I think there’s a lot that can be done,” she said. “We’ll just keep plugging away.”