Niagara Gazette

October 11, 2007

TOURISM: Fall is a good time to visit an area Bed and Breakfast

By April Amadon/amadona@gnnewspaper.com

When you stay at a bed and breakfast, you arrive as a guest and leave as a friend.

It’s as simple as that.

“A bed and breakfast is personal,” said Nancy DeFlippo, owner of DeFlippo’s Bed and Breakfast on West Avenue. “When you walk in, you’re part of the family. It’s like you’re keeping a family member overnight. You’re not a stranger.”

The four-room B&B; is one of several in the area providing travelers with a more personal place to stay.

This summer was “the best summer yet,” DeFlippo said, with many tourists coming to view the canal and the Niagara region.

Many of them stayed for the dinner and overnight package, which has its advantages, DeFlippo said.

“(After dinner), all you have to do is roll upstairs, and then we feed you breakfast,” she said.

Ingrid and Roger LaMont, owners of Lamont’s Orchard View Bed & Breakfast in Albion, say the four-bedroom house has been in the family since it was built in 1913 by Roger’s grandparents, apple farmers George and Chloe Belle. (All for the grand price of $6,375 — what Roger calls “three good years of profit.”)

Today, the home is a year-round B&B; in the heart of apple country, boasting guests from around the world.

“When we started this, it was a stab in the dark,” said Ingrid, a retired first-grade teacher from Albion Elementary. “It’s been a wonderful experience. You meet and greet them, and you become friends.”

At DeFlippo’s, “We’ve met some really great people,” DeFlippo said.

Lamont’s Orchard View, in operation since July 2003, was restored to its former glory by the LaMonts after a small fire broke out in April 2001. Frequent B&B; hoppers themselves, with three grown children living out of town, Ingrid eventually talked Roger into sharing their piece of heaven with regular guests.

The three second-floor bedrooms for rent have been named after Roger’s Aunt Dorothy, Uncle Darwin and father, Eldredge, who occupied the rooms while they were growing up. Each room is decorated with warm, cozy colors and black-and-white pictures of both Ingrid and Roger’s families.

In the Eldredge room, there is a blue-and-white striped chair made of cloth that Ingrid’s mother wove as a child in Sweden and the home’s original pedestal sink. In the other two rooms, closets have been converted into bathrooms, with all of the amenities for privacy, Ingrid said.

Roger grew up in the “modern” home next door and can remember “milking” his grandmother for her famous lemon meringue pie, prepared with love in the old-fashioned butler’s pantry off the kitchen.

“Houses like these in the ’60s and ’70s were like white elephants. They were hard to heat,” said Roger, who has continued the apple business in his ancestors’ footsteps. He pulls open a cabinet in the pantry, revealing deep shelves, where flour and sugar were once stored, now filled with craft supplies.

Each room seems to have a story, from the antique furniture to the stained-glass window overlooking the driveway. Original oak floors and chestnut molding run throughout the home, and a number of family heirlooms once belonging to George and Chloe Belle remain in their rightful places.

A hearty meal is dished up by Ingrid every morning, followed by an afternoon snack of fruit fresh from the orchard and homemade cookies — and, of course, spirited conversation.

Some of the couple’s best memories have been with their guests. Many stop while pedaling along the Erie Canal; others can’t wait to see a “real” farm up close, Ingrid said. There have been long-lost family members, many generations removed, a bride or two, and travelers from British Columbia with the same last name. Last week, there was a guest from Brazil.

“B&Bs; represent quite a different experience than just staying in a hotel room. It’s for those people who really want to get a flavor of the area they’re visiting,” said Kate Scaglione, director of marketing and communications with the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation. “You can come and enjoy being away without the long drive and a lot of aggravation.”

Susan Pearson, owner of the Country Cottage B&B; on Rochester Road in Gasport, said travelers often appreciate staying with people they can chat with who know the area.

“People like to have their own local little travel agent,” Pearson said. “In a bed and breakfast, you have communication with the owner. You can ask questions about local attractions, local restaurants, what’s the best way to get here or there.”

The main draw for tourists is Niagara Falls, but the canal is becoming more popular, Pearson said.

The Country Cottage has two rooms, and each sleeps two people. This year has been a good one, and Pearson said she expects word of mouth helps bring people in.

“Bed and breakfasts aren’t for everybody. Some people prefer the hotel atmosphere, where you check in (and) there’s really no other contact,” Pearson said. “The whole ambiance of a bed and breakfast, being in a private home, doesn’t compare to what you get in the hotel.”

Contact reporter April Amadon at 439-9222, ext. 6251.

GNN reporter Nicole Coleman also contributed to this report.