A fall getaway that ‘found’ Kevin Willner and his partner 18 years ago

As the autumn leaves begin their tawny transformations, it may be the perfect time for a fall weekend getaway to recharge before the frenzied buzz of the holidays. Lost River, West Virginia, the fabulous jewel nestled in West Virginia’s Hardy County, has steadily grown to become the unofficial rural LGBT area in recent years. Baltimore OUTloud exclusively sat down with Kevin Willner, co- owner of Lost River Grill, Motel, and Bed & Breakfast to find out what draws many LGBT vacationers to the area.

“We discovered Lost River about 18 years ago,” Willner told me, “when a friend of ours moved there and we started to visit on weekends. My partner of 36 years, Tim Ramsey, and I purchased a small cabin and later renovated to a larger home. We had heard that there were small pockets of LGBT community members who had weekend cabins. At the time, Tim and I were just weekenders.” Ramsey, who also owns Lost River Real Estate (Lostriverrealestate.com), and Willner are both licensed West Virginia real estate agents.

Far away from the traffic jams, strip malls, and bright lights, the area was a prime getaway for DC and Baltimore residents. Willner continued, “In 2002 we both left our full-time jobs and purchased the grill, motel, and what would become the B&B.”

The Lost River Bed & Breakfast is a renovated 1920s farmhouse with four lovely bedrooms.  Boasting a queen-size bed and private en suite bath, vacationers can enjoy the two screened porches, the cozy living room, and a bountiful continental breakfast. Due to allergen concerns, no pets are permitted in the B&B.  However, along with the Bed & Breakfast, is the Lost River Motel. With its knotty pine-paneled rooms consisting of either two double beds or one queen size bed, free wi-fi, and private bathroom, the nine-room motel is dog friendly. Willner and Ramsey also rehabbed the restaurant, the Lost River Grill, which seats 120 people in three rooms and added a bar called TK’s Lounge that can seat 60 people. “TK’s Lounge is a low-key, laid-back kind of place to have a cocktail with your friends.  In cool weather, guests enjoy the large fireplace while they catch up on the latest Lost River events.”

Willner added, “I think it’s the diversity that makes Lost River so special. People are just stunned how many LGBT vacationers and residents are up here. We get a lot of people that visit from out of state. People can’t believe how welcoming our locals are and how the area is bursting with diversity.”

Along with the hectic day-to-day hustle and bustle of life, the anxiety-free area is the perfect location to unwind. “Lost River is the perfect weekend getaway because it’s so stress-free up here, but there’s also a lot of stuff always happening. We had quite a few festivals in October. The leaves are just now getting at their peak, and with Thanksgiving and the holidays we have a lot of guests. LGBT weekenders from DC and Virginia keep coming back.”

For more information on the Lost River Grill, Motel, and Bed & Breakfast visit Lostrivergrill.com.