About Us

Alan Minker and Susan Walters Minker stepped into owning and stewarding Bend of Ivy Lodge in July 2014. We’re grateful for the many people on our team who thoughtfully help take care of the land and buildings. We all offer love for the land, energy and work that happens here.


Susan coaxing goats into new paddock area.

Susan’s love of the land, creatures big and small (loves goats and turtles!) and nature flow deeply through her roots and education. Educated in Landscape Studies, she’s a former landscape designer, passionate and curious about the land, plants and environmental land management practices. Following another passion of coaching, Susan is a developmental coach trained in the Presence-Based coaching methodology of former owner Doug Silsbee’s Presence-Based Leadership Development program.


Alan clearing debris from Ivy River.

Alan’s work and life journey includes over 30 years of business and finance leadership roles, building collaborative teams and cultures. He’s passionate about learning and supporting holistic personal, professional, social and corporate growth. Extensive turnaround consulting experience also adds valuable insights in his role of stewarding healthy companies – and places.

Night hike adventure to Hound Dog Hill – Alan, Susan and pup Jackson.

Alan and Susan are passionate about supporting growth, personal development, wellness and life-long learning. Nurturing and growing the mind, body and spirit, and their connection, calls to them.  Threading through all of this is the deep love, respect and awareness of nature, her impact and the need to protect her

To “us” the owners, the real “us” includes the many people who have lived and worked here, past and present, to make their unique contributions to this place. “Us” includes the four-legged pets and farm animals (read: dogs and goats!) that you may meet. It also includes all the wild creatures that, with good fortune, may cross your path. It includes the koi fish, dragonflies, and fireflies. And, if you stretched even a bit beyond that, you may touch on the Sacredness of place. And if you touch on that, well… then you will have touched on Bend of Ivy.

As the new stewards of Bend of Ivy in 2014,  Alan  and Susan stepped forward into a new adventure, with respect and honor for the many beings of Bend of Ivy’s past and present.

Former owners Doug and Walker Silsbee carefully selected the next stewards of Bend of Ivy, Susan and Alan, in final steps of their stewardship. Doug and Walker were committed to finding people who would partner with the land to hold a safe space for retreatants, here to do the inner work that was theirs to do. “… from the beginning we were drawn to Alan Minker and Susan Walters. …  Seeing this (their passion for the land and warm hearts) and their strong backgrounds, skills and desires to live in service we have moved forward together.”

Walker, the main visionary and designer of Bend of Ivy, wove her love and artistic talent beautifully throughout the land. Doug’s work as an author, workshop leader, and leadership coach was part of the energy surrounding Bend of Ivy too. As founder of Presence-Based Leadership Development, his work continues with wonderful synergy at Bend of Ivy.

Bend of Ivy Community

We and Bend of Ivy, clients and guests are supported by the care and gifts of many wonderful people and creatures. Meet some of our support team below, some you may meet as you wander the land. (No creatures in the lodge buildings by the way)

Dava photoa

Dava Melton

Clients are more than welcome to do their own cooking, however, most groups choose to contract with one of our experienced catering teams. Amazingly good and nutritious food is key to a retreat or workshop experience.

Long time BOI chef Dava Melton is one of our approved culinary teams. She owns one our approved catering teams. She is intimately familiar with the Lodge, provides great meals at a reasonable price, and brings a loving presence to everything that she does.

Our teams work with clients directly to develop menus appropriate for tastes and group dietary needs, including vegetarian and vegan options.




Jerry and Mike building hay shed.

Jerry and Mike building hay shed.

A knowledgeable groundskeeping team includes different individuals including grounds manager Shane, and new grounds keeper Greg.  Occasional construction support happens with Mike, a visiting resource.


The herd waiting for food or friends.



The  Goat  Herd, our land management team, graze non-stop when not  playing: Napolean, Chloe, Tia and the ‘kids’ Luna, Chaundra, Lily and Shakti.

Video of goats at play on new toy…..Goats on seesaw




Erin - our wonderful, organized housekeeper.

Erin, our wonderful, organized housekeeper.

An organizing and cleaning expert, our housekeeper Erin offers a calm and friendly presence to clients. Erin’s a joy, amazing in her patience and love of her work.


Assisting with emails, calls and inquiries is Alexandra Ross, our client and event coordinator. She offers a friendly and thorough support to clients and administrative support at BOI.





Loving the land is Jackson, our energetic border collie. Occasionally may be seen jumping in the pond or darting on the land, when guests not on site. Or he’s playing.


Dobbie, happy and free.

An occasional visiting goat herder and greeter is beloved Dobbie.


Environmental Commitment

Bend of Ivy Lodge is special in part because the buildings are so clearly integrated into, and supported by, the landscape and the natural world. This is essential to our aesthetic. And, we honor a spiritual imperative to conduct business in a way that participates in, and supports, global awareness and responsibility.

We strive to have a minimal carbon footprint.DCIM100MEDIA

For us, environmental responsibility is a moral commitment, as well as a great learning and teaching opportunity.We are deeply committed to keeping our environmental footprint to a minimum, offsetting carbon dioxide emissions generated by our activities, and educating our guests about global warming and actions they can take. Concrete actions taken to lower our carbon contribution include:

  • Replacing old windows in the Lodge offices and house with new, Energy Star windows.
  • Installing four solar hot water collectors on the Lodge roof, replacing propane for most of the Lodge hot water.
  • Installing a 7.92 kilowatt solar electric system on the roof, providing about 2/3 of the Lodge electric needs.
  • Replacing the water heater for all the Lodge laundry with a demand heater.
  • Weather stripping all doors in the Lodge and our home.
  • Replacing older refrigerators in the Lodge and our home with new, Energy Star units.
  • Replacing all light bulbs (except dimmable spotlights) with compact fluorescent bulbs.
  • Installing a timer on the waterfall pump so that it cuts off at night.
  • Replacing the oil furnace with a highly efficient heat pump and EPA certified wood stove.

Bend of Ivy Lodge also uses biological means to enhance and preserve healthy species diversity and control invasives. These include biological means of managing the pond ecosystem, releasing predator beetles to hopefully save our beautiful hemlock ecosystem from the HWA blight, and experimenting with goats to manage aggressive plants.

We offer a 10% discount to all environmental groups that stay at the Lodge and who offset all their carbon for their event. This includes activist groups, foundations, and environmentally-focused non-profits.


This land has been inhabited by wild things for millennia, and the river valley is still a corridor and a haven for wildlife. At the confluence of the creek and the Ivy River, Native American pottery shards, arrowheads and other artifacts were found, indicating a probable Cherokee settlement.
This special acreage, now called Bend of Ivy, was a working farm for many years owned by George and Lucy Green and their six children.They lived here in an old log cabin that was moved and rebuilt here in the 1940’s. A stone chimney with dual fireplaces provided heat and cooking for the family; the stone mantles can still be seen in the rockwork by the waterfall pool.
The barn was built in 1950; the concrete block farmhouse in 1954. Tobacco was the financial mainstay, as with most farms in the mountains. There were cows, pigs, chickens, a potato field, a garden where the Pavilion stands now, and tobacco in the bottomland.
There was a corn crib (now the Boathouse) and several other sheds, now gone. Days were long, and everyone pitched in to do what needed to be done.

Doug and Walker Silsbee bought the farm in 1996 from George and Lucy’s heirs. Walking the land on the day they closed, they stepped into the old barn and were inspired by visions of what it would become.Over 35 people contributed to a nine-month renovation. The Lodge itself is a symbol for transformation and renewal, and a reminder that in all of us is the possibility of evolving.

After learning of the lodge offering in January 2014, Alan and Susan visited Bend of Ivy mid-February meeting the property and Doug and Walker. A conversation started on the specialness of the place, retreat/ event work and guests. After many deep and active conversations and explorations, a new stewardship and friendships were created. The lodge sale was finalized and the stewardship torch was passed in July 2014.