Meet Holly, innkeeper and #chickenmom

Her inn might be a Red Hot Best northern Michigan B&B, but…

…that’s no surprise to guests of Bellaire Bed and Breakfast who have been falling in love with owner Holly Wilson (above) since she bought the place two years ago. Why?

  • Her warmth and open, generous spirit
  • Her liberal use of fun slogans (“Take a nap! We give you permission. Just don’t miss breakfast….”) and hashtags (#wherefoodiesstay, #cussworthyfood, and #chickenmom, among others)
  • The inn’s chic-casual room makeovers
  • Innovative breakfast dishes incorporating tastes acquired in her travels as a military spouse and techniques refined in culinary school, AND…
  • Her love of animals, including the pets who live in the innkeeper’s quarters, the chickens, whose residence could win Red Hot Best Coop, and the three recently added and equally pampered miniature silky fainting goats (Finnegan, Maisy, and River Watson).

Bellaire B&B logo When votes were counted to determine MyNorth Media’s Red Hot Best Winners for 2021, the fans of Bellaire B+B in Bellaire had elevated it to the top spot for lodging in the Charlevoix and The Chain of Lakes region.

Lamplighter B&B logoAnother quality-assured Michigan Bed and Breakfast Association member inn, the Lamplighter B&B of Ludington, ranked #1 in the same category in the Cadillac, Manistee & Ludington region. Its story is coming soon.

The 2021 Red Hot Best contest, promoted by MyNorth.com and Traverse magazine, named winners in seven Up-North regions and dozens of categories. Many are primarily of local interest, such as Dentist, Plumber, and Place to Buy Windows. But numerous other categories would be of interest to travelers, including; Outdoor Dining; Place to Get Global Food; Brewery; Beach; Hiking Trail or Area, and more. Check it out.

More about Bellaire B+B and what motivates its owner

Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine, gave permission to reprint a portion of its interview with innkeeper Holly Wilson, published in June 2021.

Banana strawberry oatmeal at Bellaire B+B, a Red Hot Best northern Michigan B&B
Holly Wilson shows her love to guests of Bellaire B+B by accommodating their dietary preferences to the extent possible as she makes breakfast for up to 18 people a day. This eye-appealing serving of baked banana strawberry oatmeal was plant-based, gluten-free, and dairy-free — and wonderful.

Asked to tell a little about herself, Holly said:

“I was born and raised in West Virginia. Moved to Florida in high school. Was a military spouse for 18 years. That gave me the opportunity to live all across the country and the world.

“I’ve known for at least 10 years that I wanted to run a B&B. I have a hospitality and culinary background, and I was always taking care of my own home maintenance. So I thought, ‘I should make money doing this.’ I started looking for B&Bs all around the country. I didn’t have a specific location in mind. I hadn’t even been to Bellaire until 2016. I saw Torch Lake, the cherry orchards, the vineyards — I’m a winosaur — and I thought ‘who has been hiding Northern Michigan?’ It’s so gorgeous and has so much to offer. I started the conversation with the prior owners in December 2016 about purchasing the inn. It took three years. But we finally figured it out!”

Dining tables at Bellaire B&B.
Long, lace-covered dining tables are out, and an eclectic mix of smaller breakfast tables are in at Bellaire B+B.

After Holly mentioned having been influenced by “Gilmore Girls,” a cable network series (2000-2007) featuring an inn in a fictional New England town, interviewer Carly Simpson asked: “For all the ‘Gilmore Girls’ fans out there (me included), is running a B&B/inn as romantic and quirky as it seems?”

Holly replied: “Ummm, no. Quirky, yes. It definitely can be. My team and I have a pretty good time. Kitchen dance parties are a thing. And guests can bring their own level of ornery. They like to play practical jokes on me. Some of them rearrange random things. (You know who you are.) Groups are usually really fun. One group kept accidentally breaking things, so the next morning I served their breakfast on paper plates and plasticware. Fortunately, they found it as funny as I did. It’s important to have a sense of humor. I have found, though, that people are completely intrigued by B&B owners. I think a lot of people dream of doing this. And I get to do it! Crazy!

Screenshot of Facebook post from Bellaire B&B, a red hot best northern Michigan B&B.
Holly Wilson speaks fluent hashtag, a means by which many people search online for topics of interest.

“I’m trying to bring a younger generation of guests to the B&B world. I get a kick out of it when they say they didn’t think B&Bs were really a thing, just something they saw on a Hallmark Christmas movie. By the way, I wouldn’t be opposed to Hallmark filming here, so if anyone from Hallmark is reading this, slide in my DMs. Hee hee.”

Read the rest of Holly’s interview with Carly Simpson of My North Media.

Bellaire Bed + Breakfast offers five guest rooms in the main house; two have claw-foot tubs, and two have porches. All four guest rooms in the Carriage House have king-size beds; three have fireplaces, and two have jetted tubs.

Until you can make your getaway to this Red Hot Best northern Michigan B&B, get a flavor of the place by following Bellaire Bed + Breakfast and Holly’s engaging posts on Facebook or Instagram. #Lotsoffun and #Hallmarkworthy, too.

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