David Walter Garrett, artist, entrepreneur and hotelier
David Walter Garrett, 78, of Charlotte, VT, died suddenly on August 17 from heart failure caused by a groundbreaking COVID infection. Although tragic, it was as he wanted it to be: finished in an instant, at the end of a perfect Vermont summer day, at his four-decade-old home, the historic Cedar Farm, on Thompson’s Point in Charlotte.
Lumberjack, artist, investment manager, entrepreneur and hotelier, he had extraordinary creativity and vision. In all of his efforts, things that seemed impossible regularly became real – from a cabin deep in the Adirondacks he built by hand to a boutique hotel company that set new standards in accommodation. ultra-luxurious and historic preservation.
David was one of the world’s most experienced high-end small hotel developers – a qualification he gained after years as a successful investment banker. His hospitality career began in the 1980s, with the purchase and rejuvenation of a former Rockefeller Great Camp on Upper Saranac Lake, NY, known as Point. The hotel became one of the country’s most beloved luxury properties and led to the purchase of other historic hotels that offered high room rates and unparalleled services to guests.
David and his wife Christie ran the properties under the Garrett Hotel Group banner, which at one point included Point and The Lake Placid Lodge in the Adirondacks, The Wilcox in Aiken, South Carolina, and The Inn of the Five Graces in Sante Fe, New Mexico. David was also instrumental in the creation of Twin farms in Barnard, VT, and advised on other properties. Over the years, David has been the North American President of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux hotel association and a member of its international board of directors.
He helped energize the boutique hotel movement in the United States and inspired a renaissance of all that is Adirondack. A master carpenter himself, he drew on the Adirondack style of “rustic elegance” – a phrase he often used – and hired local artisans to build rooms for the hotels. He also made many pieces himself – from huge twig credenza to wine cellars adorned with branches. David’s works remain on display in its latest hotel project, Ivy, in Baltimore, Maryland; in the barn it turned into an office in Charlotte, VT; and on its website, Corkiture.com – named for his early fascination with the use of cork stoppers in the manufacture of his furniture.
David Garrett was born in New York City on December 12, 1942 and raised with his older brother, Daniel, in Scarborough, NY. His parents, Daniel N. Garrett and Louise Benson Garrett, were transplanted Southerners, and David nurtured a fascination with the South and family genealogy, tracing Garretts and Benson for centuries and often making unannounced visits to distant relatives during his many trips.
As a child, David was drawn to the woods and fascinated by the television show, Daniel boone, impressed by the depiction of a warm family life in a log cabin, with a wild adventure all around.
He attended Williston Northampton School and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A devoted Tar Heels fan, almost nothing could stand between him and a Carolina basketball game. In Chapel Hill, his independence and his passion for the woods were fully visible: he skipped the dorms and lived in a log cabin.
After college, while living in New York and working in his father’s printing house, he met his wife, Christie Coursen, then a flight attendant for TWA. The two would soon have their first of three daughters while spending a year in Paris.
During this time, David made two key movements that would shape the course of his life. The first was to buy 165 acres in the Adirondacks in 1967 and start realizing his dream of a cabin in the woods. He built the cabin on high ground above a quiet pond, surrounded by former forested state lands. He spent the next 54 years expanding and improving the cabin, making it his sanctuary and family retreat. All the important decisions in life, he said, were made at the cottage.
The other key path David took was to start working as an investment banker. The work suited his risk tolerance, clear-headed decision-making, and keen sense of the right bet. He was a broker at Moseley, Hallgarten Estabrook & Weeden, and later at First Albany, managing offices in Cambridge, MA and Burlington, VT. In the early 1980s, David also helped the Vermont Teddy Bear Company go from a small cart to a booming Bear-Gram business that continues today.
In 2008, David and Christie launched Garrett Hotel Consulting, where they worked with clients on the development and management of properties across the country.
David is survived by his wife of 53 years, Christie of Charlotte; her daughter Erin Garrrett-Metz and her husband Andrew Metz and their three children Lydia, Daniel and Miriam of Manchester by the Sea, MA; daughter Moriah Garrett and her husband Rob Arthur and three children, Samuel, Elouise and Olive of Baltimore, MD; and her daughter Caitrin Garrett of Burlington, VT.
David is survived by his wife of 53 years, Christie of Charlotte; her daughter Erin Garrrett-Metz and her husband Andrew Metz and their three children Lydia, Daniel and Miriam of Manchester by the Sea, MA; her daughter Moriah Garrett and her husband Rob Arthur and their three children, Samuel, Elouise and Olive of Baltimore, MD; and her daughter Caitrin Garrett of Burlington, VT.
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