Homes away from home

Year ’round, people look for a magical place along a long stretch of road to unwind and have a good time.

For some a luxury hotel with all the bells and whistles is that place. Others, however, look for something a little more special; something that has all the comforts of home.

The concept of the bed and breakfast is an old one; dating back centuries. In the old days it was proper to offer your home to a weary traveler. Bed and Breakfasts, or B&Bs as they are now called, have had a big part in America’s history as far back as the first settlers.

An innkeeper will tell you it is not easy keeping up with a B&B; it is a lot of work and requires tender loving care. However, these establishments are still held dear by many people who are looking for that home away from home.

B&Bs have a unique way of making time stand still; a person can enter into a simpler world where everything is safe and often beautiful.

Pinewoods Cottage

Pinewoods Cottage Bed and Breakfast is located in Silver Creek. It has been in existence since the late 1990s. The owner, Estelle Crino, started with a desire to make people feel welcome.

Crino is a retired teacher who spent more than 40 years in the business of educating young minds. It is her love for people that birthed the idea of the B&B.

If you ask her what the secret is to keeping up with a B&B she will tell you … don’t do it to make money; do it as a labor of love to keep in touch with other human beings.

Any good innkeeper will tell you the same thing. There is not much profit in the B&B business, but it is magical when you get to be part of someone’s good memories and adventures.

“I designed the B&B myself and had it built in 1995,” Crino said. “I do everything myself to make it more comfy.”

Crino makes homemade breads and a variety of breakfasts for her guests.

“Most B&Bs have a husband and wife team,” she said. “I cook all the breakfasts and do everything myself.”

Crino wants her guests to feel like they are home.

“I paint and write,” she said. “I am a certified artist who used to promote 17 local artists.”

Pinewoods Cottage is open to the public May through November, but during the rest of the year it is open for special lunches and workshops.

“I like to have something available for guests just in case I have to feed them lunch or dinner too,” Crino said. “Sometimes people don’t have transportation or plans for lunch and dinner.”

“I sometimes get up as early as 3 a.m. to feed people before they go to the airport,” Crino continued. “I want them to feel appreciated.”

One thing that makes a B&B so special is the fact it is more than likely in someone’s personal dwelling and often contains family treasures.

“All the furniture comes from my cousin Estelle, whom I am named after,” Crino said. “I tell them (guests) this is a private home and they can come and relax.”

Brookside Manor

Brookside Manor Bed and Breakfast is located in Fredonia. Owners Andrea Andrews and Dale Mirth have been in the B&B business for 19 years.

Andrews feels what makes any B&B unique is the people who run them.

“People in Western New York are very family oriented,” she said. “They enjoy the atmosphere of the B&B and the warm and welcoming feeling we give to our customers.”

Andrews is originally from New England, but came to this area when she married her co-owner Mirth.

The house was built in 1875 and has a nice outside space with a garden for guests to enjoy in the nicer weather.

“We have very diverse people who come from all over to stay here,” Andrews said. “We are a small business and try to patronize other small businesses in the county; we buy and sell local.”

Andrews gave a heads up to anyone looking for a bed and breakfast in July.

“The first two weeks of July are the toughest two weeks to find any room,” she said. “The main reason why is that people are doing family stuff during that time; some rent cottages and there isn’t enough room for all the guests, so they look for a bed and breakfast to stay in.”

Andrews receives a lot of inquiries when prospective students come to look at SUNY Fredonia or when parents visit.

The Gallets House

The Gallets House Bed and Breakfast is located in Allegany. Owners Joan Boser and her daughter Cheri Stady run the elegant historical family home. The Gallets House was built by Gary Boser’s (Joan’s husband) great-great-uncle Joseph Gallets in 1896.

The Gallets House sat empty for three years before being bought by the Boser family in 1998. Joan added the Gallets House was once considered the grandest house in the area.

“There is a lot of history here,” Joan said. “We restored the home back to how it was in 1896.”

Stady invented the Murder Mystery games and Little Girls’ Tea Parties, which are a huge hit for the bed and breakfast.

Gallets has a museum on the third floor with many family heirlooms displayed. There are also special occasion packages offered. The Romantic Package includes an intimate dinner and flowers. They have weddings, reunions, and other events held at their B&B.

“The Murder Mystery is great for six to ten people,” Joan said. “We assign a character to each person; they put on a costume; solve the mystery, and then we have a nice dinner.”

The Boser family has its own motto when running the bed and breakfast business.

“Our slogan is …. relax, unwind and get away,” Joan said. “Our B&B is a short or long term home away from home.”

“People take day trips around the area,” she continued. “You can see the whole valley and it is really beautiful.”

Stady has horses she offers to the guests to ride on the nature trails.

“It is great to be able to restore this grand house to share with everyone,” Joan said. “Walking through those doors you step back into an easier time, forgetting your problems.”

“To be an innkeeper you have to love people and the area you live in,” she continued. “I love it … I love that I saved this old house from being torn down.”

Cherry Creek Inn

Cherry Creek Inn Bed and Breakfast is located in remote Cherry Creek. Owner Sharon Howe- Sweeting runs the 1860 Italianate Villa style home. The home was bought in 2005 and turned into a bed and breakfast. Howe-Sweeting said it was her husband’s dream to have a bed and breakfast. He passed away in 2008.

Cherry Creek has always been her home, and when her husband retired they came back to her roots to run a bed and breakfast together.

The Inn is centered around the Amish Trails, which is a huge tourist attraction. People from all over the world are curious about the Amish way of life and come to this Inn to see them.

In 1990 the Inn was purchased by a Clarence couple who wanted to turn it into a bed and breakfast, but soon lost all interest. The historical house was saved by the Sweetings.

The Inn is in an area surrounded by nature trails, snowmobile trails, and the Amish. Horse stables are available for those in need of a place to keep their horses while they relax and enjoy the area.

“I had one guest who described the place perfectly,” Howe-Sweeting said. “He said ‘This is like staying in a Victorian Sea Captains house full of treasure collected on distant voyages’.”

“The remoteness makes us unique,” she continued. “We appeal to a lot of people.”

Howe-Sweeting believes the clientele of a bed and breakfast is endangered.

“We are repeatedly told that our clientele is aging,” she said. “We don’t appeal to young people, because I can’t afford to put big screen TVs in the rooms.”

However, Howe-Sweeting shared her belief that young people are starting to get more interested in personal quiet places to stay.

“Some young people like to escape and have someplace to relax,” she said. “We have an old- fashioned place here; a throwback to other times.”

Howe-Sweeting addressed the fact that in order to stay afloat a bed and breakfast needs to be open all year.

“We need the clients,” she said. “I can’t afford to not be open.”

The Amish really bring a sense of wonder to the sleepy historical bed and breakfast nestled in the remote village.

“I have a great admiration for them (Amish),” she said. “I admire their morals and philosophy on life; they are not tied up in technology.”

A little history on the house; it was built by an abolitionist who had an underground railroad station on site.

“I don’t know the future of the bed and breakfast,” she said. “It is a lot of work.”

The Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau believes the bed and breakfasts are doing well seasonally.

“They are popular during the weekends and busy in the summer time,” CCVB Director Andrew Nixon said.

Nixon added Westfield and Fredonia have a lot of popular bed and breakfasts.

“They (people) like them and stay in them because they are not a typical hotel room,” he said. “B&Bs are located in or near Victorian Era Villages.”

The future of the bed and breakfast is uncertain because of the challenges they face and competition from luxury hotels.

“Bed and Breakfasts represent a unique charm,” Nixon said. “They force people to meet other people; giving them opportunities to sit at the table with others like a European style atmosphere.”

Comments on this story may be sent to jwillis@observertoday.com