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Deer Path Inn Appoints James Barnett as General Manager

The 57-room hotel in Lake Forest welcomed the Australia native in early March

By Amanda Christensen

Deer Path Inn, located in Lake Forest just north of Chicago, named James Barnett as its new general manager and innkeeper in early March. He joins the hotel as it celebrates its 95th anniversary this year, and he will be charged with overseeing hotel operations as well as working to evolve the property’s food and beverage program.

James Barnett headshot. March 27, 2024
James Barnett || Courtesy of Deer Path Inn

“It’s an honor to take the reins of such a storied, beloved property during its 95th anniversary year,” says Barnett. “As someone who has lived and managed properties internationally, it’s remarkable to come to Chicago’s North Shore and see how this enchanting inn is embraced by its local community. It’s an award-winning hotel that charms visitors from around the world, but it’s also such a profound point of pride for our neighbors,” he continues. “It’s a lovely thing to experience in my first year at the inn, and I look forward to finding new ways to embrace locals and visitors alike as we near our centennial.”

Exterior of Deer Path Inn. March 27, 2024
Exterior of Deer Path Inn || Courtesy of Deer Path Inn

Originally from Australia, Barnett’s hospitality career began at Thredbo, a picturesque ski resort in New South Wales. His next steppingstone brough him to the United Kingdom where he served as general manager of Electric House in London, England, a Soho House property. He followed this with an overseas move to the Windy City where he worked in a few different roles over the course of several years at Soho House Chicago. And most recently, he was the vice president of hospitality at Bonhomme Hospitality—which has offices in Chicago and Spain—where he oversaw a diverse portfolio of seven locations and 11 distinct restaurant and nightlife concepts.

Deer Path Inn features 57 guest rooms and has been serving visitors since 1929, providing an experience reminiscent of a getaway to the English countryside with its Tudor-inspired design and mannerly innkeeping traditions. For event planners, the property also offers more than 7,000 square feet of function space alongside customizable catering menus, audiovisual equipment, group room blocks, and high-speed Wi-Fi.

Booth seating at the White Hart Pub at Deer Path Inn. March 27, 2024
Booth seating at the White Hart Pub || Courtesy of Deer Path Inn

“Deer Path Inn has been the storybook backdrop for so many celebrations and gatherings over the years,” adds Barnett. “From stately and intimate boardrooms to our elegant Windsor Hall grand event space, we can accommodate high-focus meetings for executives, celebrations for up to 200 guests, and everything in between.” The Windsor Hall venue features 4,500 square feet of flexible space that can be broken down into three smaller rooms. The Cambridge Boardroom and the Oxford Boardroom work well for small meetings of up to 16 and 18 people, respectively. Additional spaces include the Garden Room and the adjacent outdoor Garden Courtyard.

Garden Courtyard at Deer Path Inn. March 27, 2024
Garden Courtyard || Courtesy of Deer Path Inn

On-site food and beverage destinations include The English Room, a fine-dining establishment suited for both private events and everyday dining that also offers an afternoon tea experience; The Bar, an upscale pub experience that offers an array of beers, spirits, and wines alongside small plates like sushi and soups; and the White Hart Pub, which serves proper English pub fare like shepherd’s pie and cider fish-and-chips.

Afternoon tea in The English Room at Deer Path Inn. March 27, 2024
Afternoon tea in The English Room || Courtesy of Deer Path Inn