I first interviewed innkeeper Jan Smith in September 2016, seven months after she and her husband Mark opened Maple Cove B&B, in Leonard. Recently I checked back with her to see how it’s going.
Any innkeeping surprises since you opened in 2016?
What I find so interesting is how you find your rhythm as innkeepers. It’s quite different from anything we’ve done before. From feedback, I think we have achieved the right blend of privacy for guests versus attentiveness from us. Mark and I fit so easily into our roles. Decorating, designing, even pulling weeds. We both enjoy cooking.. Mark is really fantastic at egg dishes cooked to order.
I notice on your Facebook page that you’ve more than once dubbed Mark “Employee of the Month.”
How could I not? Thanks to Mark’s hands-on contributions and oversight, we now have a lovely little hen house and can serve our guests the freshest eggs possible. And he’s made lots of improvements to the grounds.
All-suites hotels are common, but Maple Cove B&B offers an intimate, all-suites bed and breakfast experience. That’s unusual.
My husband Mark and I wanted to provide the kind of accommodations we love to find when we get away. Spacious bedroom with king bed, adjacent sitting room with comfy furniture for reading or conversation, deluxe bathroom, lots of natural light, plenty of privacy. Our B&B was in the planning stages for a long time, so we had the advantage of being able to observe the changing tastes of today’s travelers.
Maple Cove B&B offers three suites answering that description, all with nice views.
One on the first floor, and two on the second floor, each one served by its own staircase, each one with a separate sitting room.
It’s a quiet, wooded setting.
These 14 acres are home to deer, coyote, a family of turkeys, an eagle that flies over from Lakeville Lake, a million squirrels, and whistle pigs.
Also known as groundhogs. There’s one now, chewing up the lawn. Don’t tell Mark.
Despite the feeling of being away from it all, Maple Cove B&B is close to much of Metro Detroit.
Ten minutes to Lake Orion or Oxford. Twenty minutes north of Rochester. Forty minutes to Royal Oak. Around the corner from public access to Lakeville Lake. We envisioned this as a place for couples to get away, reconnect, rejuvenate, celebrate.
I can’t place what kind of architecture this house is.
This is a Greek Revival-style farmhouse. The Doric columns are a major clue. In some Greek Revival buildings, the columns create an imposing look, but not here. Instead, and this is where Greek Revival meets farmhouse, they define an inviting porch. The wide porch and the strong, horizontal trim details combine to give the house a low-key look from the street. But it is a two-story house.
Maple Cove B&B: Years in the Making
So, is it a new house?
No, except for the 1,600 square feet that is now our private residence; it was too dilapidated to save and needed to be reconstructed. For many years, the Fruehauf family used this as a summer home.
I associate that name with the trucking industry.
Yes. In 1914, August Fruehauf, invented the semi-trailer. He went from being a blacksmith and carriage builder to heading a multi-million-dollar company by the time of his death in 1939. When we purchased the property in 1994, the house had been uninhabited for a number of years, except by wildlife. Mark had grown up about a mile away, on a farm with 6,000 chickens, so the area felt like home. But it took three years of work to make this a place for our family to live. Now, our four children are grown and married.
When did you have the idea of opening Maple Cove B&B?
This was our idea from the day we bought the property.
What did you learn from staying at other B&Bs along the way?
There is a misconception that a B&B is a house with extra rooms that the owners just decide to rent out. Instead, it’s a business that provides a distinct experience to guests. The rooms, the house, the area, the food, the privacy, and the innkeepers are all part of the experience. Most B&B innkeepers are so personable.
We continue to grow the business as new guests tell others about Maple Cove B&B. As innkeepers, we’re committed to always moving forward, trying new things, and making changes and tweaks to improve this place and our services.