Why people who love romantic bed and breakfast getaways are discovering Maple Cove B&B

A Q&A with Jan Smith, innkeeper of Maple Cove B&B in Leonard MI.
A Q&A with Jan Smith, innkeeper of Maple Cove B&B in Leonard MI.

We often find all-suites hotels, but Maple Cove B&B offers an intimate, all-suites bed and breakfast experience. That’s unusual.

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. My husband Mark and I also 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.

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.

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.

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. I see light switches like my grandmother’s house had, with inlaid mother-of-pearl push buttons, hardwood floors, and prominent window and door moldings of a type few people can afford these days. And yet the exterior is not ornate or tall and boxy.

This is a Greek Revival-style farmhouse. The Doric columns are a major

Exterior of Maple Cove B&B
B&B once was a summer home for a Detroit manufacturing mogul.

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?

Place setting at Maple Cove B&B
A place setting at Maple Cove B&B

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.

Like you are.

Thank you. We also found things that were not us. For example, we like antiques, but we knew that for our B&B we wanted to keep the historic features of the house, but blend that with modern technology and comforts.

Any surprises since you opened in February?

I didn’t anticipate being as busy as we are this early on. We have guests coming all the time. One couple has come back three times! I knew I would enjoy it, but I am in my element. Decorating, designing, even pulling weeds. We both enjoy the cooking aspect of it. Mark is really fantastic at cook-to-order egg dishes. The dream has been a long time coming.

Maple Cove Bed and Breakfast in Leonard is one of the newest members of the Michigan Bed and Breakfast Association. Innkeeper Jan Smith was interviewed on behalf of the association by Sandy White, a long-time innkeeper.