Giving a Michigan bed and breakfast gift certificate? How to make it more surprising, clever, and fun

November 28th, 2016 by Sandy White

More people these days want experiences, not things, which is why several people on my list are getting a Michigan bed and breakfast gift certificate this year.

Disguised in a tie box, a bed and breakfast gift certificate

Disguised in a tie box decorated with a questionable tie, he’ll find instead a Michigan bed and breakfast gift certificate and a sweet note about a romantic getaway I’ve planned. Tons more fun than a tie.

It’s so easy to do — just fill out a form or make a call (888-575-1610)— but I do want to put some creative thought into presenting my gifts. Even a touch of my own quirky humor. When you give a gift certificate, don’t you want it to be memorable?

Handing over an envelope can seem so impersonal. I want my recipients to know that I picked out a #MichBnB gift certificate for them because I want them to have more adventure in their lives, or more romance, or more relaxation. That’s why opening my gift will be their first step on the way to having fun.

How to package a bed and breakfast gift certificate

Construction-themed eating utensils for baby.

More fun to open: Clever eating utensils for baby, manufactured in Ann Arbor, will be packaged with the B&B gift certificate for the expectant couple.

A couple of Millennials we know are expecting their first child in mid-June. We’re throwing in with several friends to get the expectant parents a bed and breakfast gift certificate so they can have a getaway before the baby comes. Babymoons, usually taken in the third trimester, have become so popular that many Michigan B&Bs cater to the needs and whims of expectant moms and dads, like these found in a search for “babymoons.”

When I give a bed and breakfast gift certificate, or any other kind of gift card, I usually add a lagniappe, a French word (pronounced “lan YAP”) that means “a little something extra.” It’s a way of personalizing the gift and amping up the thoughtfulness.

When they open the package, they’ll see a gift for the baby — something to ooh and ahh over — and then taped behind it, they’ll find the real surprise: their ticket to a romantic getaway.

They aren’t required to use it before the baby comes either because — did you know this? — by state law, a gift certificate purchased in Michigan cannot expire for five years. And they’ll have so many options for using their bed and breakfast gift certificate almost anywhere they want to go in Michigan. Go ahead, pick a city.

If you dare, have a little fun at the recipient’s expense

Do you see that package up above festooned with the hideous tie? I’m going to stick that on the Christmas tree a few days before we open presents.

He’ll be praying that the tie inside is decent. He’ll be practicing his “grateful” face.

A packaged apron with an image of a dog with goggles and skis

When you look at this apron from the right perspective, it practically screams, “Let’s take a winter B&B getaway.”

But there’s no tie inside, just the gift certificate, and I know he’ll enjoy telling friends about the tie he didn’t get for Christmas.

How about you? Does the woman in your life have a sense of humor? The woman who’s getting the Michigan B&B Association gift certificate that will solve your gift-giving dilemma?

If so, I have a spare idea for you: In a gorgeously wrapped package, hide the gift certificate under, say, an apron like the one in this photo, or some humble kitchen gadget. A box grater will do nicely. I don’t recommend choosing a chef’s knife for this diversionary duty because as soon as she opens the package, her eyes WILL narrow to slits. You WILL get “the look.” And if she’s holding a knife, the photo could be misinterpreted on social media.

But she’ll shriek with laughter when she opens the gift certificate envelope. And you’ll be the darling one who teased and pleased her and, one day soon, will whisk her away for a romantic B&B adventure.

Order your gift certificate now. No time like the present.

 

 

Got the B&B dream? 11 essential tips for aspiring innkeepers — plus a time-sensitive invitation

November 7th, 2016 by Sandy White

What can you expect if your B&B dream comes true and — on some exciting future day — you finally become an innkeeper? We asked some of the most experienced #MichBnB innkeepers to share some things they’ve learned about operating a bed and breakfast.

Let’s start with Janet Meteer, of Bridgewalk B&B in Central Lake. She offered a succinct overview of the innkeeping life: “Plan to work hard. Innkeeping is so much fun, all the great people, conversations at breakfast

Breakfast served at Bear Lake B&B is the stuff of B&B dreams.

Long after serving delicious breakfasts like this, the owners of Bear Lake B&B retain memories of interesting guests, thanks to a system they devised.

and friendships that are made with your guests and the guests with each other sometimes. The flip side is cleaning, cooking, making beds, ironing sheets. And, my worst job, paperwork. However, after almost 23 years, I would do it all again.”

You heard her: She “would do it all again.” All of the following innkeepers would say the same. Each B&B name is a link. Click to read more about these great places to stay, where you can observe how first-rate innkeepers make hospitality look effortless.

Want to immerse yourself in building a solid foundation for your B&B dream? Register for a one-day workshop for aspiring innkeepers, Nov. 13 in Grand Rapids. It’s organized by the Michigan Bed and Breakfast Association (MBBA). Click here for details.

Prepare now for launching your B&B dream

Did you realize that B&B innkeeping entails almost every activity common to any business? Marketing, sales, accounting, procurement, and more. Here are 10 more tips from Michigan innkeepers.

Promote, sell, repeat: “Make sure you budget enough money for promotion. Many new innkeepers miss this. ‘If you build it, they will come’ only works in the movies.” Jeff & Linda Gamble, long-time owners of Big Bay Point Lighthouse B&B, in Big Bay, in the Upper Peninsula.

Jan Leksich, innkeeper, Victoria Resort

Jan Leksich, Victoria Resort B&B: “Expect adventure.”

Marketing methods evolve: “Be open-minded about the latest ways to market. Learn the meaning and practice of ‘search engine optimization.’ Social media will be your best friend. Soak in as many webinars as you can on the subject.” Marci Palajac, of House on the Hill B&B in Ellsworth, joined MBBA’s Social Media Committee, where innkeepers learn from and inspire each other.

Set up systems: “Research and compare credit card processing and reservation systems, so you get exactly what you need. If you do not need a terminal for credit cards, as I do not, then don’t be talked into one.” Marcia Neigebauer, Delano Mansion Inn B&B, Allegan.

Make it memorable: “We have a notebook labeled ‘Interesting People.’ We enter names and bits of info we find interesting about each guest. It is fun to go back during a slower time and remember all the people we’ve met. Take time to enjoy your guests, and do small little things for them before they ask.” Cindi McPherson, Bear Lake B&B, Bear Lake.

Set boundaries: “Develop policies and stick with them. Obviously, there are times you will want to be flexible, caring and forgiving. But for the most

Sandy & Matt Werner realized their B&B dream

Sandy Werner and Matt Werner, Hexagon House. Be businesslike in setting and following policies, Sandy advises.

part, set your policies for cancellation, check-in times, number of guests per room, etc., and enforce them. Otherwise, the guests are running your business and your life instead of you.” Sandy Werner, owner/innkeeper, Hexagon House B&B, Pentwater.

Get backup: “Have a good four to six people that you train ahead of time in the running of your B&B — people who are willing and able to fill in. You WILL need breaks, vacations, and times to visit family. You need a back-up team. Develop a manual that explains every detail as to how you want your B&B to operate.” Sally Van Vleck, Neahtawanta Inn, on Old Mission Peninsula near Traverse City.

B&B dream = lifestyle + business + adventure

On money, lifestyle, and attitude: Three bits of wisdom from longtime innkeeper Mike Venturini, Munro House B&B and Spa, in Jonesville: “1) I do not want my inn to be full every day for months on end. It interferes with my lifestyle. 2) A reliable housekeeper is my second-highest monthly bill after my mortgage and is the one bill I am always happy to pay. 3) A good mood is just as contagious as a bad mood.”

On the life: “Expect a new adventure everyday, and experience meeting lots of new people and making new friends.” Jan Leksich, Victoria Resort B&B, South Haven.

Future innkeepers, even if you cannot attend the upcoming one-day workshop, consider joining MBBA as an aspiring member so you can keep up with the latest news and opportunities. How to join? Just click.

Bad B&B dream, or shocking Halloween story, complete with cat? Travel industry pro tells all

October 29th, 2016 by Sandy White

Was it just a nightmare she had during a dark and sleepless night, or is this Halloween story about a REAL bed and breakfast? You decide. I’ll tell it just as this travel industry pro relayed it to me, around a campfire, while clutching a glass of wine.

Okay, it was a photo of a campfire. On Instagram. But the wine was real, a pinot noir.

Drawing of black cat with back arched

Her husband’s reaction to seeing “the coffin” in their bathroom at the B&B.

Panic set in, she told me — after hours on the interstate and winding mountain roads —when her husband walked into their ensuite bathroom and spied “the coffin.”

Just then, she veered, as good storytellers are wont to do, to assure me that the horrors she was about to describe could never happen at a #MichBnB member inn. “From what I’ve experienced, it is more than meeting quality assurance standards and passing inspections that make MBBA B&Bs the best,” she said. (Why choose a quality-assured B&B? Click here.)

Eager though I was for her to get on with the story, I hung on to every word, suddenly remembering my deadline for this page.

She continued: “I have memories of poached pears, warm scones, vegetables from the garden and all the fabulous breakfast dishes your members serve. Your innkeepers care about being among the best and want to outdo each other in the friendliest kind of way.”

I was lapping that up, of course, and she, evidently, her wine. I refilled her glass.

They contemplated a detour to the ER

Okay, it wasn’t really a coffin, she said, but resembled one. Shoehorned into a one-time closet was a deep, imposing whirlpool tub. Her husband arched his brow.

She recalled the scene. “It was the only means of bathing. The walls went straight up on three sides. No grab bars, no non-slip mat. No tile either, just drywall. One was expected to maneuver over the lip of the tub on the narrow side. My husband, with his hip replacement, and I stood there contemplating a vacation-ending detour to the ER.”

She added, “Never in my life have I gone three days without showering.”

Trepidation mounted not long after the sun went down, as the innkeeper turned off all the lights in the common areas, turning what had seemed like

black cat with unblinking yellow eyes

Gray cat, black cat — let’s not let the facts get in the way of a good Halloween story.

a well-cared-for Victorian home into a creepy one. (As befits a Halloween story, I was thinking.)

Though unsettled by the pitch-blackness, our weary travelers wanted only a long night of sleep. But their delight with the feel of lovely bed linens evaporated when they climbed onto the mattress. “World’s worst bed,” proclaimed this travel industry pro. “It made loud and raucous noise getting in, getting out and turning over, When one of us turned over, the other woke up. That’s how much the bed rocked and shook and slammed into the headboard.”

An innkeeper who swore like a sailor

Did you complain, I asked. Have a little tete-a-tete with the innkeeper?

“I would not have known what to mention first,” she said.

For example: All drapes drawn, day and night, obscuring spectacular Smoky Mountains views.

Also: An innkeeper who swore like a sailor and plunked herself down at the breakfast table to regale guests with her life story. “We were a captive audience. She never asked a single question of any guest. However, we learned everything about her life, from diapers on.”

But was breakfast otherwise a delight?

“First morning: Eggs like you find in a cafeteria, just lumps, scrambled with no other ingredient. Plus exactly two pieces of bacon per person and a clump of grapes.”

“Second morning, my husband watched her make the casserole. A can of sliced mushrooms, drained. Ditto, a can of green chiles. Then a bag of pre-

In contrast to this Halloween story, a beautiful breakfast as served at Castle in the Country B&B

Fresh, colorful, compelling: What a B&B breakfast should be like, as served at Castle in the Country B&B in Allegan.

shredded hash browns, a bag of pre-shredded cheese, and a shrink-wrapped bag of cubed ham. She did crack the eggs.”

My storyteller digressed again. “I have had simple breakfasts at Michigan Bed and Breakfast Association inns, and I have had elaborate, artistic breakfasts at member bed and breakfasts. But every one of them has been many times better than at this B&B, where, inexplicably, at least 10 culinary awards and certificates adorned the walls.”

And where butter, jams and other condiments all were served in their original store containers, a marked contrast to the cloth napkins and fine bone china at each place. (Want some great B&B recipes? Click here.)

But what about the cat?

The wine was almost gone when I suddenly remembered: “What about the cat? You mentioned a cat. Black cat?” How perfect for a Halloween story, I thought.

“It was gray, a purr-er and a kisser, and would have been cute as heck had it not always been nosing through our luggage, strolling all over the kitchen counters, and drinking from the sink.”

“Okay, but ‘black cat with unblinking yellow eyes’ makes a better Halloween story,” I said. “Have some more wine. And never tell me how much of this tale was true.”

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Before you open a bed and breakfast, 8 must-read tips from innkeepers

October 23rd, 2016 by Sandy White

If you know people whose dream is to open a bed and breakfast, help them make their big decision and avoid failure. Show them the following tips from savvy Michigan B&B innkeepers.

Composite graphic illustrates what's at stake before you open a bed and breakfast

To avoid crashing as a B&B innkeeper, start by attending an informative one-day workshop Nov. 13 in Grand Rapids. Click photo for info.

An operations tip from innkeeper Steve Gibson, who acquired the 10-room Kalamazoo House B&B two years ago: “There are so many moving parts to running an inn that good organization and well-defined tasks and checklists are essential. It may not be an airliner coming in for a landing with lives at stake, but it’s your reputation at stake with every room flip.”

What follows is a small sample of what aspiring innkeepers will learn at an informative one-day workshop in Grand Rapids. Click for details. Mark your calendar for Sunday, Nov. 13.

While you’re clicking, read more about each inn whose innkeeper is quoted. You’re sure to find a great #MichBnB for your next getaway.

Before you open a bed and breakfast…

... here are seven more considerations offered by Michigan B&B Association innkeepers.

Temperament: Innkeepers “must have a friendly personality and be able to communicate with all types of people.” Lourdes Offenbacher, Waterloo Gardens B&B, Chelsea.

Marci Palajac, innkeeper, House on the Hill B&B, Ellsworth

Marci Palajac, innkeeper, House on the Hill B&B, Ellsworth

Motive: “Be sure you are getting into the bed and breakfast business for just that reason: a business. It is a mistake to open a B&B for the sake of people paying your mortgage. You really have to have a passion to want to open a bed and breakfast, or else you will burn out from the idea real quick.” Marci Palajac, House on the Hill B&B, Ellsworth

Starting up: “Look at other B&B websites for ideas on packages, ideas for the website. Use a good photographer for your photos.” Marcia Neigebauer, Delano Mansion Inn B&B, Allegan.

Search is king: “Don’t fall in love with a name for your B&B before securing the internet domain name and searching for the name on Google to see what other search results come up.” Nicholas DeGrazia, Adventure Inn B&B, near Port Huron.

Renovating: “A second-floor laundry will help you to love your work longer. Also, reliable zoned air conditioning is more important than you might think.” Mike Venturini, Munro House B&B and Spa, Jonesville

Income: “Sometimes innkeepers will need supplemental income to help make ends meet.” Bob Alderink, Ludington House B&B, Ludington.

The life: “Expect a new adventure everyday and to experience meeting lots of new people and making new friends. Jan Leksich, Victoria Resort B&B, South Haven.

Experience the B&B difference during your next Michigan getaway. To find a great Michigan B&B, click here.

Meanwhile, keep up with the latest news — and special offers. Click Blog and News to get more…

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Are you a B&B person, or should you choose a hotel? Answer these three questions

October 18th, 2016 by Sandy White

Take this short quiz to know if you should choose a hotel or a bed and breakfast for your next romantic getaway.

Man's and woman's feet sticking out from covers

Michigan Bed and Breakfast Association innkeepers respect your privacy.

1) On a romantic getaway, do the two of you value your privacy at times, or do you require anonymity throughout your stay?

For all-day, all-night anonymity, choose a hotel. Nobody knows you. Nobody will remember you. Nobody cares.

For privacy in a romantic setting, choose a bed and breakfast. True, one of the common definitions of a B&B is “lodging in the home of the innkeeper.” So, yes, you’ll be staying in someone’s home.

But when 94 percent of our #MichBnB member innkeepers list their B&Bs as “suitable for romantic getaways,” do you think those innkeepers care if the two of you seldom leave your room? On the contrary. They want you to enjoy yourselves. B&B innkeepers design their rooms, down to the smallest details, for your comfort, convenience, and delight. You’ll have a more memorable romantic getaway yet plenty of privacy in a bed and breakfast.

You have so many Michigan B&Bs to choose from. Pick a favorite city.

Choose a hotel or B&B? Two more questions

2) When you’re out in public, are you open to, and interested in, meeting and talking to new people? OR, even if you might be somewhat of an introvert, do you often realize that you’ve been energized by a conversation with total strangers?

Bed and breakfast fans don’t choose B&Bs so they can meet new people, but they tend to be open to starting or joining a conversation. Regular B&B goers assume, based on past experience, that those folks out on the patio or across the dining room will have interesting stories and experiences to share. The discovery is part of what’s special about B&Bs.

Choose a hotel if all you want is Cheerios

Is that really your idea of breakfast?

If you’re not open to meeting new people and to being surprised by what you find in common — or, to be fair, perhaps you’re just not in the mood for that— choose a hotel. You can stare at other peoples’ shoes while riding in the elevator.

3) For breakfast, how about some self-serve Cheerios and toaster waffles?

The answer is clear by now: Choose a hotel. Or stay home.

A self-respecting B&B innkeeper, whether serving a full or continental breakfast, finds ways to surprise and tantalize your palate. You might even get flowers, soft music, cloth napkins, and candlelight.

Find your next romantic Michigan B&B getaway, or your first. Click here.

3 tips on B&B location for aspiring innkeepers and 3 tales of “What were they thinking?”

October 11th, 2016 by Sandy White

For people who dream of owning a bed and breakfast, choosing a B&B location is the critical first choice. Innkeepers can change a lot of things after they select and buy a property, from room configuration to decor to breakfast menu. But they can’t change B&B location.

B&B road sign

Are there signs that some B&B locations won’t be successful? At least one veteran innkeeper says yes.

One #MichBnB innkeeper advised succinctly: “‘Build it and they will come’ only works in the movies.” Even if that’s not the exact quote from “Field of Dreams,” the takeaway for an aspiring innkeeper is: Keep the emotion out of choosing a location. Don’t think how much you want to live way out in the country. Don’t focus on how inexpensive the property might be. Don’t romanticize reviving an old house. Instead, ask:  Will sufficient numbers of guests want to pay to stay in that house in that setting and with the attractions nearby (or not)?

No-nonsense advice on choosing a B&B location will be available from Michigan’s two primary inn real estate agents as just one part of a one-day, informative workshop for aspiring innkeepers in Grand Rapids Sunday, Nov. 13. Click here for more info.

While you’re in click mode, check out the four thriving B&Bs mentioned by name below.

B&B location strategies to consider

Gerry Shields, innkeeper at Saravilla Bed and Breakfast in Alma says: “College towns, particularly those with private colleges, are really good for the inn business. Except for perhaps a few slow summer weeks, colleges and universities are always bringing visitors to campus who need a place to stay, and many come back again and again.”

Shields notes one downside to the college-town B&B location strategy:

Failed log home B&B

This failed B&B location in Northwest Michigan is described as Mistake #1 below.

“Don’t plan on a long Florida vacation in January and February because you’ll be busy.”

Remember, too, that although you are serving breakfast, guests also need other meals. You may want to live in the woods, but, as Mike Venturini of Munro House B&B and Spa in Jonesville says, the availability of “good restaurants nearby is one of the greatest amenities guests enjoy.”

B&B location also could affect an innkeeper’s personal job satisfaction. Sandy Werner, owner of Hexagon House B&B in Pentwater asks: “Do family and friends live near you? With elderly parents, siblings, and grown children, it’s tough to maintain relationships and attend personal functions if your extended family is not in the area of your bed and breakfast. It’s been one of our toughest challenges.”

Three B&Bs doomed from the start, and why

As an owner of the Glen Arbor Bed & Breakfast for the past 16 years, Patricia Widmayer often drives between Chicago and Glen Arbor via US 31. Over the years, Widmayer observed the birth and slow deaths of three B&Bs that popped up along that highway in the 60 miles between Ludington and Benzonia.

What primary flaw did all three have in common? Bad location. “I felt so

Nice home that failed as a B&B

Failed B&B location in Northwest Michigan described below as Mistake #2.

sad for these folks who invested hopes and dreams and money,” Widmayer says.

Widmayer took photos of all three in case she ever had the opportunity to advise an aspiring innkeeper.

Mistake #1: A log home built to be a B&B.
Major flaw: Five or six miles west, Ludington offers wonderful Victorian B&Bs with nearby experiences, and places to dine, so why would someone stay in a field along the highway two miles north of the turnoff from US 10, and near to nothing?
Wrong thinking: With all the lovely lakes in Northwest Michigan, did the owners really think the pond behind the house would be a draw?
Kiss of death: The portable, lighted-arrow sign at the road.

Mistake #2: An expensive new structure with stone pillars
Major flaw: A roadside location one mile north of Manistee’s Little River Casino and several miles north of town.
Wrong thinking: Why would travelers prefer this isolated, though lovely,

Failed B&B location.

This ranch house B&B location is described below as Mistake #3.

home over casino resort excitement or the charms of waterfront condos, B&Bs, and other accommodations in Manistee?
Kiss of death: Traffic whizzing by at 60 mph.

Mistake #3: A ranch house on a rise
Major flaws: Bleak views of U.S. 31, treeless fields, and a long-abandoned gas station where semis park. Also, to find a restaurant, guests would have to drive a number of miles to Bear Lake or back to Manistee.
Wrong thinking: Who wants to stay at a place reminiscent of a motel, absent any other attraction?

In conclusion, aspiring B&B innkeepers will learn vital, money-saving strategies and tips at the one-day workshop Nov. 13 in Grand Rapids. Click for details. Even more useful, timely information will be available for those who stay an additional day and a half for the annual Michigan Bed & Breakfast Association educational conference. Click on that, too.

If you know someone who dreams of owning a B&B, please share this post and also make sure they also know about this page of Michigan B&Bs for sale.

In addition to the useful, sometimes entertaining news we publish about staying at Michigan B&Bs, we also plan more articles with valuable information for aspiring innkeepers. You don’t want to miss it. Click this icon to get all the updates.

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Why people who love romantic bed and breakfast getaways are discovering Maple Cove B&B

October 3rd, 2016 by Sandy White

A Q&A with Jan Smith, innkeeper of Maple Cove B&B in Leonard MI.

A Q&A with Jan Smith, innkeeper of Maple Cove B&B in Leonard MI.

We often find all-suites hotels, but Maple Cove B&B offers an intimate, all-suites bed and breakfast experience. That’s unusual.

Our B&B was in the planning stages for a long time, so we had the advantage of being able to observe the changing tastes of today’s travelers. My husband Mark and I also wanted to provide the kind of accommodations we love to find when we get away. Spacious bedroom with king bed, adjacent sitting room with comfy furniture for reading or conversation, deluxe bathroom, lots of natural light, plenty of privacy.

Maple Cove B&B offers three suites answering that description, all with nice views.

One on the first floor, and two on the second floor, each one served by its own staircase.

It’s a quiet, wooded setting.

These 14 acres are home to deer, coyote, a family of turkeys, an eagle that flies over from Lakeville Lake, a million squirrels, and whistle pigs.

Whistle pigs?

Also known as groundhogs. There’s one now, chewing up the lawn. Don’t tell Mark.

Despite the feeling of being away from it all, Maple Cove B&B is close to much of Metro Detroit.

Ten minutes to Lake Orion or Oxford. Twenty minutes north of Rochester. Forty minutes to Royal Oak. Around the corner from public access to Lakeville Lake. We envisioned this as a place for couples to get away, reconnect, rejuvenate, celebrate.

I can’t place what kind of architecture this house is. I see light switches like my grandmother’s house had, with inlaid mother-of-pearl push buttons, hardwood floors, and prominent window and door moldings of a type few people can afford these days. And yet the exterior is not ornate or tall and boxy.

This is a Greek Revival-style farmhouse. The Doric columns are a major

Exterior of Maple Cove B&B

B&B once was a summer home for a Detroit manufacturing mogul.

clue. In some Greek Revival buildings, the columns create an imposing look, but not here. Instead, and this is where Greek Revival meets farmhouse, they define an inviting porch. The wide porch and the strong, horizontal trim details combine to give the house a low-key look from the street. But it is a two-story house.

Maple Cove B&B: Years in the Making

So, is it a new house?

No, except for the 1,600 square feet that is now our private residence; it was too dilapidated to save and needed to be reconstructed. For many years, the Fruehauf family used this as a summer home.

I associate that name with the trucking industry.

Yes. In 1914, August Fruehauf, invented the semi-trailer. He went from being a blacksmith and carriage builder to heading a multi-million-dollar company by the time of his death in 1939. When we purchased the property in 1994, the house had been uninhabited for a number of years, except by wildlife. Mark had grown up about a mile away, on a farm with 6,000 chickens, so the area felt like home. But it took three years of work to make this a place for our family to live. Now, our four children are grown and married.

When did you have the idea of opening Maple Cove B&B?

This was our idea from the day we bought the property.

What did you learn from staying at other B&Bs along the way?

Place setting at Maple Cove B&B

A place setting at Maple Cove B&B

There is a misconception that a B&B is a house with extra rooms that the owners just decide to rent out. Instead, it’s a business that provides a distinct experience to guests. The rooms, the house, the area, the food, the privacy, and the innkeepers are all part of the experience. Most B&B innkeepers are so personable.

Like you are.

Thank you. We also found things that were not us. For example, we like antiques, but we knew that for our B&B we wanted to keep the historic features of the house, but blend that with modern technology and comforts.

Any surprises since you opened in February?

I didn’t anticipate being as busy as we are this early on. We have guests coming all the time. One couple has come back three times! I knew I would enjoy it, but I am in my element. Decorating, designing, even pulling weeds. We both enjoy the cooking aspect of it. Mark is really fantastic at cook-to-order egg dishes. The dream has been a long time coming.

Maple Cove Bed and Breakfast in Leonard is one of the newest members of the Michigan Bed and Breakfast Association. Innkeeper Jan Smith was interviewed on behalf of the association by Sandy White, a long-time innkeeper.

5-star reviews: What B&B innkeepers will do to wow you

September 12th, 2016 by Sandy White

How do Michigan bed and breakfasts with 5-star reviews earn all those 5-star reviews?

Dave from Midland, MI, says the innkeepers are the key ingredient. In a TripAdvisor review about the Chelsea House Victorian Inn in Chelsea, Dave wrote: “We have stayed an a number of B&Bs over the past years. It has been our experience that the quality of the hosts makes all the difference in how much we enjoy being at a particular B&B.”

For innkeepers who have the hospitality gene, the ways they cater to guests are, to them, so effortless that they don’t realize they’re doing anything unusual. But guests notice, even the small things. A couple examples:

Mike Venturini of Munro House B&B, which gets a lot of 5-star reviews

Mike Venturini at the front door of Munro House B&B, Jonesville. No matter what the hour, he’s wearing a smile and a University of Michigan shirt.

  • At Munro House B&B in Jonesville, no matter how late you need to arrive, owner Mike Venturini opens the front door with a smile. And then, by 6 or 7 a.m., he’ll be in the kitchen making a full breakfast. Mike’s cheerful attitude: “Guests come first, no matter how much it may inconvenience the proprietors.”
  • When a prospective guest called Frankenmuth B&B asking how to get from Flint’s Bishop International Airport to Frankenmuth, long-time innkeeper Bev Bender didn’t hesitate. “Don’t worry,” she said. “Tell me when your flight gets in, and I’ll pick you up.” Thirty miles one way. To Bev, it is just part of the service.

How to find a Michigan B&B with 5-star reviews

Search this site first because all Michigan Bed and Breakfast Association (MBBA) member inn are periodically inspected and approved by independent, trained reviewers. And what is MBBA’s promise to guests? That “you can rest assured of quality lodging, warm hospitality, enjoyable breakfasts and an exceptional experience.”

But we know you read online reviews, too. So, if you agree with Dave from Midland that the innkeepers make all the difference, peruse TripAdvisor and other review sites for nuggets like the following, all excerpted from recent published reviews. Click each inn’s name for more info.

The Heather House, Marine City: “One morning the men in our group planned an early round of golf and informed Helen. She insisted on preparing them a delicious, hearty meal and had them out the door on time! This is the kind of attention the innkeepers give their guests.”

Dove Nest B&B, St. Joseph: “We had a flat tire while we were there and John jumped right in to help my husband change the tire.”

More from Dave of Midland about Chelsea House Victorian Inn, Chelsea: When we called to book a room for our 59th wedding anniversary getaway, “Andy asked it we planned to attend the play at the Purple Rose Theater. We said we did. He asked it we had tickets. We did not. Andy then said he would place an order for tickets for us, which he did. Next, he asked if we

sunset over Arcadia Bluffs golf course

The guests had arrived on bicycles, so Bear Lake B&B’s innkeepers drove them to Arcadia Bluffs golf course, so they wouldn’t miss the sunset, complete with bagpiper.

would like to eat at the Common Grill before the play. We said we would like that, so Andy said he would put us on the wait list for 5:30 p.m. on the evening (of) the play. Needless to say, that was quite a favorable introduction to the Chelsea House Victorian Inn!”

‘The wedding fairy’ wowed them

Candlelite Inn B&B, Ludington: “At one point I asked if they had Sprite or 7Up. They didn’t, but within ten minutes, Gary knocked on my door with two 7Ups and stocked the fridge.”

Bear Lake B&B, Bear Lake: “Cindi and Greg … walk the extra mile for their guests. Just like that, they took us to Arcadia Bluffs Golf Club to enjoy a gorgeous sunset. We had traveled on bikes, so this was really an exceptional offer for us, which we did not expect at all.”

Hankerd Inn, Pleasant Lake: The reviewer had rented nine rooms for a wedding, including a cottage where the bride and bridesmaids dressed for the wedding. “You cannot imagine our surprise and delight to return from the reception to find that the wedding fairy had come in while we were gone and straightened up a cottage left in a whirlwind!”

Next time you want to experience a Michigan B&B with 5-star reviews, start your search here. Pick a city. Any city. It would be hard to go wrong.

B&B Beds are Best: Try One on for Size

August 29th, 2016 by linda

As the first “B” in Bed and Breakfast implies, Michigan’s B&B beds are best. They are uniquely luxurious, surrounded at some inns by opulence and at others by simplicity. They are also guaranteed fresh, clean and comfortable if the inns are members of the Michigan Lake to Lake B&B Association. That’s right: they are guaranteed by the association’s promise that each of its members is “Quality Assured.”

Don’t take our word for it: let pictures tell the story.

B&B Beds are Best for Simple Comforts

B&B Beds are best

A Dove Nest B&B

Visiting A Dove Nest B&B in Michigan’s Thumb is like retreating to a wilderness sanctuary without having to sleep in a tent. Instead, guests enjoy sweeping views of deer and wild turkey in their natural habitat of lake and marsh from the private deck outside Robin’s Roost. Here, the essence of simple comfort is luxury in its own right, proving B&B beds are best.

B&B beds are best

The Painted Turtle Inn

This guestroom at The Painted Turtle Inn in St. Joseph is a perfect example of simplicity made elegant. There’s nothing ornate to distract from a good night’s sleep. Clean lines and soft dove grays lull you like the lap of waves from Lake Michigan, viewable from every one of the inn’s five guestrooms.

B&B Beds are Best for Luxury and Opulence

Take The Kalamazoo House as a prime example. Wow! If a guestroom makes you feel transformed into a prince or princess and onto the page of a fairy tale, you know you’ve discovered the very definition of luxury and exactly why B&B beds are best.

B&B Beds are best

The Kalamazoo House

B&B beds are best

Castle in the Country Bed and Breakfast Inn

Webster’s definition of “luxury” is a condition or situation of great comfort, ease, and wealth; or something that is helpful or welcome and that is not usually or always available.  Surely this bed at Castle in the Country looks comfortable. The view inside and out is rich and welcoming. It’s probably not just like your bedroom at home… it’s definitely a place of ease that’s not always available in our day-to-day lives.

B&B Beds are Best for the Fanciful and the Artistic

Even for the elegant Historic Webster House in Bay City, this “modern medieval” guestroom is unique. You’ll likely not find another like it anywhere. It’s more proof that B&B beds are best.

B&B Beds are Best

Historic Webster House

B&B Beds are Best

Sherwood Forest B&B

Sherwood Forest B&B is just a block from Lake Michigan beaches. Wouldn’t you expect a beach theme — sails and anchors, paddles and fish nets? Each guestroom at this Saugatuck/Douglas B&B is distinctive: each is completely different from the others. “Tree Tops” is featured in the photo above. Another room is starkly “black and white,” another has a safari theme, another is Victorian…. take your pick from six!

The MBBA will feature photos of its member inn’s beds and guestrooms all this week on our Facebook page. We’d love you to visit us… and “like” us at the same time.

If you liked this blog post, you can subscribe here to receive it regularly.  We’d love that too.

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Take a fall sailing adventure on a floating B&B

August 17th, 2016 by Sandy White

You’ll literally cruise into fall when you book a sailing adventure on Schooner Manitou, one of Michigan’s most unique B&Bs. A few cabins are still available for four-and six-day Northern Michigan windjammer cruises aboard the 114-foot ship starting September 7.

Take a fall sailing adventure

Your sailing adventure begins when Schooner Manitou casts off and sets sail.

Picture yourself on deck in Grand Traverse Bay as Captain Brett Derr gives the order to cut the dock lines and points the bow north. The buildings of Traverse City recede as warm September breezes fill the huge sails (all 3,000 square feet). You’ll get to know your shipmates quickly because Schooner Manitou accommodates a maximum of only 24 passengers.

The remaining berths on these windjammer cruises are filling up fast:

  • Take a fall sailing adventure

    Host those sails, Matey! Pitch in to help if you want or just watch the fun.

    Six-Day Explorer Cruise (Sept. 7-13, $939 per person)

  • Michigan Craft Beer Cruise (Sept. 15-19, four days, $769). Your guide will be Amy Sherman of Grand Rapids, a chef and craft beer aficionado. Yes, there will be special hors d’oeuvres and craft beer pairings for you to taste.
  • Star Gazer Cruise (Sept. 22-26, four days, $769). Your guide to the night sky will be Mary Stewart Adams of Harbor Springs, director of the Headlands International Dark Sky Park and host of a weekly astronomy program broadcast on Interlochen Public Radio.

What to expect on your sailing adventure

The exact route of your sailing adventure will be a function of wind and weather conditions. Manitou displaces 100 tons, meaning it’s a heavy ship  that will be comfortable in most sea conditions.

Take a fall sailing adventure

Where will you be when the sun rises? The only certainly is your surroundings will be lovely.

You can expect to see islands and scenic coastlines you could never see from a car, to anchor for the night in secluded bays where the moon and stars provide the only illumination, and to walk on beaches where yours may be the only footprints.

Take a fall sailing adventure

Your three squares each day are served hot from this 1926 Glenwood wood stove.

Throughout most of the sailing season, Schooner Manitou offers a variety of short-duration cruises near Traverse City and an overnight bed and breakfast experience culminating in a hearty breakfast prepared on “Cleo,” the ship’s wood-burning stove. On these September windjammer cruises, Cleo is kept busy all day, turning out healthy, home-cooked meals and snacks. All that fresh air will give you an appetite. And you’ll sleep like a baby in your below-decks bunk, equipped with fresh bedding, windows, lights, and ventilation. Plenty of headroom, too.

Take a fall sailing adventure

You’ll enjoy fresh, homemade breakfasts and dinners family style in the main cabin, and lunch buffets served topside.

Click here to plan your cruise. And next month, while trying your skills at the helm of Schooner Manitou, be sure to tell Captain Brett you heard about it here — from the Michigan Bed & Breakfast Association blog.

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