Go-to pet groomers, landscapers, architects, lawyers, inns, and more.
Real estate company
Runner-up: Story House Real Estate
Honorable mention: Roy Wheeler Realty Co.
Nest is a powerhouse in Charlottesville because, clients say, its agents go the extra mile. (Its annual “county fair,” a bonanza of free local food, drinks, and music, probably doesn’t hurt, either.) Now in 12 markets, Nest’s local office is heavily staffed, and all of its brokers undergo a rigorous review and training process. • A boutique brokerage with just a half dozen agents, Story House Real Estate launched in the spring of 2018. Its early success—and this year’s runner-up nod—can be attributed mostly to owner and principal Sasha Farmer, whose real estate chops landed her No. 1 or No. 2 spots in the Best of C-VILLE from 2010 through 2015.
Real estate agent
Runner-up: Candice van der Linde
Honorable mention: Paula Johnson
Ashley Jurney of Town Realty is an atypical real estate agent. She holds degrees in biology and chemistry and worked previously as a clinical analyst and programmer for UVA Health System. And although she’s only been in the home-selling game for three years, she’s caught on fast, attributing her success, in part, to her computer skills—which help her stay on the cutting edge of real-estate technology. • Re/Max agent Candice van der Linde is known among her clients for her attention to detail as well as her love and deep knowledge of the community.
Runner-up: Wolf Ackerman
Honorable mention: Bushman Dreyfus Architects
VMDO specializes in designing educational facilities, from elementary schools to university dorms, libraries, concert halls, and even stadiums. The sheer number of projects in the firm’s portfolio is astonishing, and so is its range of building styles. They include funky modern structures, like the glass-walled classroom fused with a working greenhouse to comprise the Western Albemarle High School Environmental Studies Academy, in Crozet, and updated takes on traditional brick-and-stone architecture, like Bluestone Elementary School, in Harrisonburg. • Meanwhile, runner-up Wolf Ackerman takes a modern approach to designing spaces both public and private, and its community-minded work—including the beautiful renovation of the complex that is now The Haven—shows thoughtfulness and attention to detail.
Southern Development Homes
Runner-up: Craig Builders
Honorable mention: Alexander Nicholson
Founded by UVA grad Frank Ballif, Southern Development is focused not only on building quality houses but also on how those houses will affect the community they’re becoming a part of. The team works to build responsibly and support the local industry, efforts that are reflected in their choice of both energy-efficient designs and area trade partners. • With six decades of experience in Charlottesville, Craig Builders is known for customizing to meet its clients’ needs and vision.
Snow’s Garden Center
Dos Amigos Landscaping
Town & Country Services
An Albemarle family business since 1912, Snow’s covers every aspect of landscaping, selling plants at its nursery, providing design and installation services, and maintaining lawns and garden beds for residential and commercial clients. There’s more—but not enough room here to describe it. Go to Snow’s and see for yourself! • Readers love the Dos Amigos Landscaping team for its professionalism, dependability, and reasonable pricing.
Nina Crawford (MSS Designs)
Runner-up: Faulconer Design
Honorable mention: Casey Eves Design
After working in the design industry for many years, Nina Crawford took over MSS Designs in 1998. A New York transplant, her big city roots manifest in her eclectic town-and-country crossover style. • Faulconer Design specializes in residential and commercial interiors, decorating, and staging.
Lawyer or law firm
Tucker Griffin Barnes
Runner-up: Samantha Freed
Honorable mention: Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen
Founded by William Tucker, Tucker Griffin Barnes is not your average law firm. Women make up the majority of the legal team, and the practice places a priority not only on serving clients well but giving back to the community. • Samantha Freed launched Lepold & Freed in 2012 with business partner Bonnie Lepold. The firm specializes in criminal defense and is known for tough litigating.
UVA Community Credit Union
Runner-up: Virginia National Bank
Honorable mention: Bank of America
With branches in eight counties and the City of Charlottesville, UVACCU offers the usual financial products and services, but it stands out—and frequently tops this subcategory—because of its consistent, friendly service, and its financial education initiative. Those services are free to members and include seminars, programs for local employers, and hands-on education for young people through student-run credit unions in local schools. • Virginia National Bank has been in the business for more than 20 years and supports 30-plus community organizations.
UVA Community Credit Union
Runner-up: Atlantic Coast Mortgage
Honorable mention: First Heritage Mortgage
UVACCU takes the lead in the mortgage lending category, too. Readers appreciate the fast and free prequalification process, competitive rates, and flexible down payments, not to mention the varied loan options. • At Atlantic Coast Mortgage, the team is known for making an often confusing process streamlined and stress-free.
Hunter Wyant (State Farm)
Runner-up: Gary Albert (State Farm)
Honorable mention: Beth Towe Heck (Towe Insurance Service)
Different year, same top three. Consistency is a virtue in the insurance business. Winner Hunter Wyant is about as Charlottesville as you can get, a former Western Albemarle High School and UVA baseball star who went on to play for the Florida Marlins. These days, he’s hitting home runs as a State Farm agent • State Farm’s Gary Albert, in the business here since 2005, is known for his personal commitment to his clients.
Runner-up: Margreta Swanson
Honorable mention: Scott Gibson
Susan Wilkinson has more than two decades’ experience in the investment industry. Today, she leads a team known for its sound advice on wealth management, budgeting, retirement, and business-transition planning. • Runner-up Margreta Swanson’s firm specializes in working with women dealing with life transitions, like divorce, retirement, or the death of a spouse.
Runner-up: The Reserve at Belvedere
Honorable mention: Lakeside Apartments and Woodlands of Charlottesville (tie)
Within walking distance of those delicious Beer Run nachos and the shops and restaurants on the Downtown Mall, City Walk has a prime location. Fitness-minded residents of the 300-unit complex enjoy the salt water pool and fitness center, as well as close proximity to the Rivanna Trail for walking, running, and biking. • The Reserve at Belvedere offers luxury apartments and the appointments of upscale living, including a pool, fitness center, and even an on-site movie theater.
Charlottesville Albemarle SPCA
Runner-up: Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Virginia
Honorable mention: Albemarle Housing Improvement Program
Also the winner in 2018, the Charlottesville Albemarle SPCA is one of the community’s great assets, providing compassionate animal care, housing, adoption, fostering, micro-chipping, obedience training, and veterinary services including spaying and neutering. • The Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Virginia serves more 2,000 kids each year with locations in Charlottesville, Albemarle, Madison, and Orange.
Car repair shop
Airport Road Auto Center
Runner-up: Peacock Auto Service
Honorable mention: Settle Tire Pros
Among life’s unpleasant necessities, getting your car serviced is right up there with a root canal procedure. A good mechanics’ shop knows this and responds by making its customers feel comfortable with the process, charging fair prices, and guaranteeing its work. All of that happens at the family-owned Airport Road Auto Center, also the 2018 winner in this subcategory. • Birds of a feather flock to Peacock Auto Service on Meade Avenue for straight talk and affordability.
Pet Paradise (formerly Pampered Pets)
Runner-up: The Dogg House
Honorable mention: PetSmart
Drop off your pup at Pet Paradise for a shampoo and a trim, and walk to nearby Bodo’s for a bagel or MarieBette for a croissant while you wait. Sounds like a fair trade-off, right? In all seriousness, the carbo-loading would just be a bonus to collecting your fresh and tidy furbaby from the caring, upbeat staff. • Up on Route 29, The Dogg House team has more than 85 years of combined grooming experience.
Georgetown Veterinary Hospital
Runner-up: Monticello Animal Hospital
Honorable mention: Old Dominion Animal Hospital
Choosing where to entrust the care of a pet can be nerve-wracking, but readers have placed their trust in the dedicated team at Georgetown Veterinary Hospital, which also offers boarding and medical grooming, since 1959. A measure of how good the vets are at Georgetown: One recent client testimonial describes driving from Boise, Idaho, for an appointment. • Monticello Animal Hospital on Fifth Street goes the extra mile for pets and their owners with services like a traveling veterinarian for house calls.
St. Anne’s-Belfield School
Runner-up: Tandem Friends School
Honorable mention: The Covenant School
History and tradition are two things that make for a good private school, and St. Anne’s-Bel-
field has been doing its thing since 1856. The preschool-through-12 school now draws its student body from more than 50 zip codes and 15 countries, and the student-teacher ratios range from just 5:1 to 11:1. Each spring, upper-school freshmen embark on Doug’s Trip, named in memory of 2008 alum Douglas Robert Wardle, to provide community service. • Tandem Friends provides kids in grades five through 12 with a college preparatory curriculum and a student body that honors Quaker values, such as peace, reconciliation, and a commitment to the community.
Albemarle High School
Runner-up: Western Albemarle High School
Honorable mention: Monticello High School
Home of the Patriots, Albemarle High School is setting students up for success. Programs including MESA (Math, Engineering & Science Academy), TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More), and Arts and Letters are just a few of the ways that the school customizes the student experience. AHS also offers AVID (Advancement Via Academic Determination), which prepares underachieving but motivated students to attend and graduate from college. • At runner-up Western Albemarle, community partners play an important role in connecting students with scholarships, career fairs, mentoring, and interview workshops.
Charlottesville Waldorf School
Runner-up: Bright Beginnings Preschool
Honorable mention: St. Mark Lutheran Preschool
This September, Waldorf schools around the world will celebrate 100 years of teaching based on the educational philosophy of Rudolf Steiner. Opened in 1982, the Charlottesville Waldorf School takes a family approach to learning, offering parent-child classes as well as early childhood sections including toddler, nursery, and mixed-age kindergarten. • Bright Beginnings has locations in Crozet, Forest Lakes, and Mill Creek, and has served over 10,000 children since opening in 1984.
Moxie Hair & Body Lounge
Runner-up: The Honeycomb
Honorable mention: Bristles Hair Design & Day Spa
Oh, to have moxie. It’s a somewhat elusive trait, and maybe, just maybe, readers flock to the cool Preston Avenue salon in search of it. A large team of stylists there can cut, color, and balayage with the best of them. They live up to the name of the place, and will be happy to share it with you. • The Honeycomb is a go-to for people with locks that might need some extra love, like waves and curls.
Halo Salt Spa
Runner-up: Oasis Day Spa & Body Shop
Honorable mention: The Brow House
You won’t hear anything about too much salt intake at Halo Salt Spa. Treatments take place in a room lined with Himalayan salt crystals, which are known for promoting good sleep, reducing stress, and even curing a hangover. The cozy spa’s long menu of services includes acupuncture. • Oasis Day Spa offers a body bliss spa package that includes exfoliation, a body wrap, and a 60- minute aromatherapy massage, enough to make you feel like new in a snap.
Halo Salt Spa
Runner-up: The Spa at Boar’s Head
Honorable mention: Common Grounds Healing Arts
Fun fact: Halotherapy, the source of our winner’s name, is a thing. It means “salt therapy,” and Halo’s space is meant to replicate a cave made of Himalayan salt. Just showing up is therapeutic, because the aerosolized crystals are known to reduce inflammation, aid breathing, and eliminate allergens. Clients choose from a menu of about 25 massages, from common (Swedish, deep-tissue) to purpose-driven (rehabilitating athletic) to hippified (crystal chakra balancing). • The Spa at Boar’s Head offers a more traditional ambiance in keeping with the renovated resort’s upscale vibe, and we always enjoy the bonus opportunity to jump in the resort’s pool post-treatment.
AquaFloat Flotation & Wellness Center
Runner-up: Nua The Medical Spa at Charlottesville Dermatology
Honorable mention: Signature Medical Spa
AquaFloat offers several services including massage and an infrared sauna, though the most notable is its namesake flotational treatment. Is this really a type of medical treatment? In a word, yes. In a private room, you enter a pod that hold 12 inches of water and hundreds of pounds of Epsom salts, which suspend your body effortlessly. Studies show that floating can lead to deep relaxation, lower blood pressure, and a significantly improved mood, and who doesn’t like the idea of giving up on gravity for a little while? • Runner-up Nua The Medical Spa at Charlottesville Dermatology offers chemical peels, microneedling, and more in a serene new space on Peter Jefferson Parkway.
The Boar’s Head Resort
Runner-up: Omni Charlottesville Hotel
Honorable mention: The Graduate Charlottesville
Let’s call it a comeback, baby. Absent from last year’s list, The Boar’s Head Resort (formerly Inn) is No. 1 this year, pushed to the top by the unveiling of a $15.5 million renovation. The Mill Room restaurant is back on the map, and the resort’s Birdwood Golf Course is moving quickly toward completion of a world-class golf facility designed by PGA Tour great Davis Love III (“We’re Lovin’ it,” page 67). • At the west end of the Downtown Mall, the polished Omni has that location, location, location thing down pat, with a closeness to area restaurants and attractions that’s hard to beat.
Inn or B&B
Runner-up: Oakhurst Inn
Honorable mention: Inn at Willow Grove
Last year, when The Clifton was runner-up in this subcategory, we noted that the peaceful 20-room retreat was undergoing a substantial makeover and ended our write-up with a question: “Perhaps it’s making a play for next year’s No. 1 spot?” Next year is now, and looky here, The Clifton has claimed the top honors. History meets luxury at the inn, which was originally constructed in 1799 for Thomas Jefferson’s daughter and her husband, Martha and Thomas Mann Randolph. The renovation includes modern amenities like an infinity pool, a croquet lawn, and a chef’s garden that supplies the restaurant, aptly named 1799, and under the direction of Michelin-starred chef Matthew Bosquet. • Located on Jefferson Park Avenue, a stone’s throw from the UVA Grounds and downtown Charlottesville, Oakhurst Inn delights with its charming design, delicious fare, and a brand-new pool and cocktail lounge with live music on Monday evenings.
All Things Pawssible
Runner-up: Pet Paradise (formerly Pampered Pets)
Honorable mention: The Dogg House
The live-in staff at All Things Pawssible means your pup is never without human companionship, which gives customers what they want the most: peace of mind. Your canine guest gets the royal treatment, with a raw beef marrow bone at bedtime and calming music in the air. • Pet Paradise offers boarding, grooming, and day camp along with other dog-friendly amenities, like a pool and spacious outdoor patio. Upon pick-up from either of these spots, you might wonder who had the better vacation—you or your dog.