September 26, 2007

Local Inns Impart a Sense of Home to Guests

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Wrapped in the comforts, or perhaps pains, of life in your own dorm, apartment, or home, it is quite likely you never realized the multitude and diversity of bed and breakfasts around Ithaca. But, in fact, there are over 50 of these homes-away-from-home right in Ithaca’s gorgeous backyard, according to the Ithaca / Tompkins County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. Not all are located within Ithaca’s city bounds, but most are not more than a 15-minute drive away.
“A bed and breakfast is usually a very lovely home … It offers you a little more ambience and a little more personal interaction with the host than a hotel … and we do a pretty good breakfast here,” said Doris Nitsio, who runs the Candlelight Inn in Dryden.
Bed and breakfasts usually have nine rooms or less, according to Nitsio, and the owners live in the home or very close by. The service is very personal and most of the time, it is the owners who iron the sheets and scrub the toilets and clean the floors. As the name suggests, breakfast is served and, generally, is also prepared by the host.
“The best part of it is breakfast … Sometimes I don’t want to get up but I wake up and drag myself down for breakfast and I remember why I love this and I love this time, because where else do you get to met a new friend every morning?” said Denice Karamardian DeSouza, owner of the Coddington Guest House in Ithaca.
Breakfast is an opportune time for guests to get to know their hosts, as well as learn about the area.
“You get hosted by someone who is a local. I was born here, and I know everything there is to know about this town and a lot about the colleges … You are experiencing the town from the eyes of a native … There’s just so much information that you can’t get from looking at a brochure,” DeSouza said.
Not surprisingly, many of the people who pass by are parents of students and prospective students from Cornell University and Ithaca College. There is a large influx of people during spring break, parent’s weekends and graduations, as well as many alumni visiting for reunions and homecomings.
“We have one set of three couples that graduated in the 40s who come back every year for Homecoming and the football game. I think they have been coming for 17 years or so … We get a lot of people who come back for reunions,” said Edie Schnieder, who owns Thomas Farm in Ithaca. “People come for their fifth reunion and some for their tenth reunion … You get repeats.”
In addition to the college crowd, many vacationers stay in the bed and breakfasts, particularly during the summer season. According to Nitsio, the Fingerlakes region was “kind of like a hidden gem,” which is “very publicized nowadays.” The beauty of the lakes and the plethora of wine tasting attracts many tourists.
A few bed and breakfasts have a particular focus, which appeals to specific types of guests. For instance, Frog’s Way, located in Ithaca, is surrounded by 174 acres of land and is part of a world-renowned cooperative ecological community called EcoVillage at Ithaca. According to Elan Shapiro, who owns Frog’s Way, EcoVillage is an experimental community that strives to demonstrate that people can change their lifestyles to be more environmentally friendly — and, at the same time have an even higher quality of life.
“The bed and breakfast itself has a lot of green features in terms of where the materials we use come from … and the breakfast foods are organic,” Shapiro said.
Many of the guests are drawn to the bed and breakfast to experience and find out what EcoVillage is like, Shapiro continued.
Frog Haven Women’s Bed and Breakfast, located in Ithaca, is another specialized bed and breakfast that typically houses only women. According to the owner, most guests are tourists, “usually gay women who like to stay by themselves.”
That being said, each and every bed and breakfast is completely unique, with a life and story of its own. The Candlelight Inn was built in 1828 and is listed in the National Register of Historic Houses.
The Coddington Guest House was originally built in 1850 as a train station but now sits next to Ithaca College, boasting a majestic panoramic view of the entire town. Some have only one room, some are open only seasonally, some have jacuzzis, kitchens, fireplaces and some even rent the whole house at one time.
A group of bed and breakfasts in the Ithaca area have even started their own association, Bed and Breakfast of Greater Ithaca, which helps customers find available rooms and sets a standard for all its members.
“A lot of people are converts to bed and breakfasts. Once you’ve experienced it, you’re hooked. Every bed and breakfast is different — I mean think about it, it is someone’s private home,” DeSouza said.