General Manager, Fearrington Village
By hannah Lee | PHOTOgraphy BY Beth Mann
Three great restaurants, a world class hotel, two venues bustling with weddings and events and close to a dozen luxury shops – and Theresa Chiettini is responsible for every single bit of it.
“It” is Fearrington Village, the retail, commercial and hospitality center at the heart of Fearrington. Beginning in 1974, founders R.B. and Jenny Fitch converted a historical farm halfway between Pittsboro and Chapel Hill into a cosy country village and residential community offering an inn, dining, retail stores and more. The Fitch family still owns all of Fearrington and hired Theresa to run the village in 2000. She took over as the property’s general manager in 2005.
Among Theresa’s responsibilities is overseeing The Fearrington House Inn, a 32-room hotel that is one of the oldest properties of Relais & Châteaux, a global association of luxury destinations. She also oversees The Fearrington House Restaurant, one of only 67 restaurants in the country, and two in North Carolina, to hold AAA Five Diamond status, the highest level.
“No two days are alike,” Theresa says. “I’m never in my of office because I’m more of a hands-on manager – I like to be able to slot myself in where needed, so sometimes you will see me helping at The Belted Goat [coffee and wine shop] clearing tables, or ringing up customers at Dovecote or Nest [retail stores], or working the reception desk at the spa if someone is sick.”
On an recent morning, her gentle voice and relaxed demeanor belied the hectic week ahead of her: planning for an annual folk art show, overseeing more than 120 employees and, later that week, flying to New York to scout fashions for Dovecote (Theresa says the store has trends that often take years to reach other stores in North Carolina). This day doesn’t even include the almost 140 meetings, retreats, dinners and celebrations that she has to coordinate and organize every year.
“My life is pretty much Fearrington Village,” Theresa laughs. “I joke that my car doesn’t leave the property unless I have to get gas.”
It hasn’t always been that way for Theresa, who was born in Barbados to Austrian parents and later lived in Austria. She was working as assistant front desk manager at Hotel Rafael in Munich, Germany in 2000 when a recruiter encouraged her to apply for a position at Fearrington.
“I came here sight unseen thinking I would only do it for one year and then move on to another opportunity,” she says, “and I’ve been here 19 years.”
With the constant cycling from one role to another, life is seldom monotonous, and oddities can arise that provide her with unique challenges. Like when the Belted Galloway cows escape from the pasture (it’s unclear how they make occasional escapes), Theresa helps corral them.
Her hard work has paid off with the Village being mentioned in some of the nation’s highly regarded lifestyle magazines, like Vogue, Instyle and Food & Wine.
“This place, I’m very passionate about it,” Theresa says. “It’s grown to be such a part of me.”
Read the original article from the April/May 2019 Issue:
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