Room at the Inn
Text | Pamela Jones
The notion of a bed and breakfast recalls an earlier time in our nation’s history, when travelers found lodging at a boarding house or private home, experiencing the locale in a uniquely authentic setting. As the interstate highway system stretched across the country, the chain hotels expanded, offering a consistency of service. Some folks perceived a loss of the personal touch, and the bed and breakfast industry began to emerge as travelers looked for an experience beyond the standardization of chain accommodations.
The unique beauty of the Upper Delaware region has nurtured a number of bed and breakfast establishments, each with its own personality and charm. They seek to recreate that individual experience of a time before the cookie-cutter sameness of modernity began to shape our lives, while maintaining a beat on the needs of today’s traveler.
The Magical Land of Oz is a bed and breakfast located on a mountain top in Livingston Manor, NY. Dean Calloway, proprietor of this 100-year-old, three-story farm house, emphasizes the personal touch, even avoiding use of an answering machine. He said that his guests appreciate always “reaching a person” when they call him. Originally from the South, Calloway extends that old, Southern hospitality, resulting in an atmosphere that is cordial, warm and welcoming. In reply to the Ozian adage, the motto of this bed and breakfast is, “There is someplace like home.”
Calloway asserted that keeping things “homey and comfortable” is the most important ingredient to the relaxing atmosphere. Guests are free to do as they please in the Magical Land of Oz.
Although Calloway agrees that there are plenty of activities in the area, most of his guests come to rest, relax and do nothing. “It’s a quiet, clean, comfortable place to get away.”
Reflections Bed and Breakfast in Forestburgh, NY has the distinction of being a retreat center for the arts and art therapy. As I was speaking with Madelaine Ventre of Reflections, she noted that she was just watching the newly-hatched goslings on the lake. She characterized the atmosphere as a “very serene, quiet place, where people can reflect and be who they need to be.”
Sensitive to the arts community, Reflections displays original artwork, conducts art workshops, has musical instruments and art supplies available for guests and has two professional libraries, one fiction and one non-fiction. Outdoors, tennis, fishing and canoeing are available, and an herbalist on the staff conducts guided tours through the gardens, which grow certified organic produce and herbs.
Ventre said their guests include a mix of people who just want to stay on the grounds to get away from life’s pressures and those that like to travel around to local venues. Located a mile from the Forestburgh Playhouse, their guests tend to enjoy the theatre, attend local art galleries and concerts or shop for antiques.
Lucie Maggio, proprietor of The Inn at Willow Pond, said she likes to think of her bed and breakfast as an “inn for all seasons.” In part, it benefits from its location in historic Honesdale, PA, where there are year-round activities, including museums and the Stourbridge Line Railroad. However, Maggio noted that many guests come to the area for other objectives, such as weddings, holiday celebrations or real estate ventures, and find the accommodations at Willow Pond to be a perfect home base. Not only does the bed and breakfast provide a full country breakfast, but it offers suites that include a bedroom, a living room and a full kitchen. Maggio said her mission is to make her guests as comfortable as possible and to have them feel at home. People live busy lives, and she likes to provide an atmosphere where her guests need to do as little as possible, while getting pampered during, their stay.
One of the longer-established bed and breakfast inns in the area is The Roebling Inn in Lackawaxen, PA. Established in 1988, before bed and breakfasts were so popular here, it still is run by the original owners, JoAnn and Donald Jahn. I spoke with JoAnn, who attributes their continued success to their exceptional location. “It’s the river,” she said, that makes their bed and breakfast a special place. They are located in a restored 1870 landmark building, listed on the National Historic Register, right on the Delaware River. “It’s a gracious, old building,” she added. They are close to historic and interesting sites, such as the Zane Grey Museum, the Eagle Institute and the Roebling Bridge.
JoAnn said they are a mainstream bed and breakfast with broad appeal, attracting people from all walks of life. Guests can maintain their privacy here in a restful, unpretentious setting. For outdoor enthusiasts, fishing, hiking and river sports are readily available. Their location, at the influx of the Lackawaxen River, is a prime spot for year-round eagle viewing.
Another long-established area bed and breakfast is the Inn at Starlight Lake, which has a 100-year-old history. While current owners Jim and Sari Schwartz acquired the property in 2005, they brought continuity with them, as they knew the Inn as guests for many years. The Inn offers something for everyone. Kayaks, canoes, rowboats and fishing poles are available to the guests, as well as bicycles and a tennis court. In the winter months, cross country ski trails are maintained for both guests and local residents.
The eclectic setting of the Inn attracts both couples seeking a romantic setting and families looking for an entertaining vacation spot that is both kid- and pet-friendly. HB Schwartz, the daughter of Jim and Sari, has come home to the Inn with culinary accolades to plan and prepare the sumptuous meals, where everything is made from scratch.
“Coming home” is the theme at Starlight Lake. “Everyone who walks through the door becomes family,” said Sari.
ECCE (pronounced et chay) means “behold” in Latin. It’s also the name of one of the newer bed and breakfasts in the area. The name relates to the breathtaking, hypnotic view from the inn, situated on a bluff 300 feet above the Delaware River in Barryville, NY. Alan Rosenblatt, co-proprietor of ECCE, said that pictures don’t do justice to this compelling view of the river and adjacent mountains. His guests agree: “It has to be experienced.” The original owner of the property dedicated the view with a monument inscribed with “ECCE – Behold the beauty.”
After extensive, award-winning renovations, ECCE opened in July 2004 and has been gathering momentum ever since. Voted best bed and breakfast in The River Reporter’s 2006 Reader’s Choice Awards, they are active in the community, partnering with the Barryville Area Arts Association. They recently held an open house to celebrate the Association’s first art exhibit at ECCE.
Hosting executive retreats and, recently, a small wedding, Rosenblatt envisions ECCE as more than just a bed and breakfast, expanding its use as a small retreat center.
Every guest room has a view of the river, internet access, entertainment units, a refrigerator and a complimentary beverage and snack station with coffee and tea. Each Saturday, the inn holds a guest reception with complimentary beverages and hors d’oeuvres, providing an opportunity for guests to mingle.
Rosenblatt said that they host all of their guests as if they were friends and relatives. Any of the 20 menu selections can be customized. Guests arriving for special occasions, like a birthday or anniversary, have been surprised with a gift. Rosenblatt said that they sit down individually with lodgers who wish to explore the area to offer suggestions and travel directions.
Rivers, lakes, mountains and valleys laced with history make up our diverse landscape. From this sampling, it seems as if this scenic wealth has imprinted each innkeeper with his or her own inspiration to create a special atmosphere to share. These unique places, shaped by a vision of nature and a sense of home, provide the Upper Delaware River Valley with an abundance of specialty lodging as rich as its views.