Dutch Colonial Inn is a pretty bed and breakfast in a pristine Holland neighborhood that shows its Dutch heritage with fresh-swept streets, manicured lawns and a sense of safety and serenity. At Christmas, it turns magical.
Innkeepers Bob and Pat Elenbaas make decorating their B&B a family affair. Their five grandchildren earn ten bucks apiece to bring boxes out of storage and into designated positions on each of the four floors of the roomy 1928 home. That’s just the beginning of a three-week-long process. It takes time to decorate nine indoor Christmas trees — each with its own theme and one especially “for the birds.” It takes a village to install 16,000 colorful holiday lights of all shapes and sizes. It takes the patience of saints to lovingly unbox, place and light up 260 Original Department 56 Snow Village pieces and the many dozens of companion cars, trucks, sleighs, pine trees, Christmas trees, shopkeepers, ministers, school teachers, pets, pooches, Santas and children — all the accessories that bring them to life.
Decorative paintings and wall hangings are carted into storage and changed out for snowy holiday images throughout the house and guest rooms. Every surface is covered in Christmas-themed notions and curiosities of every elegant and collectible ilk. But whimsical Snow Village miniatures rule. They cover nearly every surface in every guest room and common area and even in Pat and Bob’s private living quarters. Unless you see it with your own eyes, it’s difficult to fathom how many pieces there are in the number 2-6-0.
Bob and Pat aren’t long-time collectors. They were given their first Snow Village miniature as a gift just 10 years ago. It was love at first light. Since then, they’ve made collecting a science with records of pieces acquired carefully maintained to avoid duplication on vacations and shopping trips. Once, a friend called Bob and told him about a classified ad spotted in The Grand Rapids Press offering a large number of pieces for $1600. A divorce occasioned the sale and the ex-wife wanted them gone. In the end, getting no buyers, she settled for $600. Bob drove off with his pick-up truck stacked high with immaculately-maintained, boxed miniatures that turned out to include some of the earliest pieces first marketed in 1976. Some of them are valued at much more than the entire truck-load price.
Guests who book stays at Dutch Colonial Inn over the holidays are treated to a unique Christmas fantasy world that’s a little like a friendly museum where you can look as long as you want at whatever you want, practically wherever you want.
Give yourself a holiday treat: book lodging at this wonderfully warm, friendly and magical B&B this holiday season — or next. Never fear: if you don’t finde time before Christmas, plan a getaway after the holiday. With three weeks of hard work invested in putting them up, Bob and Pat aren’t keen to take the decorations down before the spirit moves them — maybe sometime in February. There’s plenty of time — time well spent and well worth the going room rate.