Plus her advice on giving and using Michigan B&B gift certificates
Winning the drawing for a $250 Michigan bed and breakfast gift certificate “was probably one of the most exciting moments of my life,” said Briana Herzog, of Lakeview, Michigan, a model and fashion blogger.
Winning the bed and breakfast gift certificate came at an important time in her 20-year marriage as husband Kevin had been out of work and was wrestling with what turned out to be bipolar disorder.
Briana was the very first winner of the Michigan Bed and Breakfast Association’s (MBBA) occasional gift certificate giveaway for people who subscribe to our monthly newsletter or who are fans of our Facebook page. Applying the gift certificate at an MBBA-member Victorian B&B in Southwest Michigan, the getaway became the couple’s first vacation in more than two years.
B&Bs with historic charm are their favorites
It was not the couple’s first B&B stay. The first was at Saravilla Bed and Breakfast in Alma on their honeymoon. “Such an amazing house,” Briana recalled.
A year later, on their first wedding anniversary, their travels to Michigan inns hit a low point when they booked a Mackinac Island B&B that was not an MBBA member.
“Bed and breakfast rooms are usually one of a kind. You get to reserve a room that appeals to you and meets your needs,” Briana said. “But we got there and they had switched our room. The room we got was not nice. There was nothing we could do, and the innkeeper felt she had done nothing wrong. We enjoyed the island, but the B&B experience put a damper on things.”
Briana found laketolake.com and decided that in the future they would choose from among MBBA member inns, which are periodically inspected and approved by independent reviewers using a nine-page checklist.
The Herzogs have stayed at Kingsley House Bed and Breakfast Inn in Fennville three times. Briana loves B&Bs with historic charm such as Kingsley House and Saravilla — which they revisited on their fifth anniversary — that retain the character of the original home.
In connection with a getaway at Munro House Bed and Breakfast and Spa in Jonesville, Briana, a genealogy buff, discovered ancestors had lived in Jonesville in the 1840s. She and Kevin also enjoyed being able to walk from the B&B to two great restaurants.
Promotional offers by MBBA member inns “give us a chance to stay,” Briana said frankly. “With my husband on disability and our limited income, special offers make the difference between our having a little vacation and quite a bit of a vacation.”
Vintage style “matches my personality”
Anytime Briana leaves their Montcalm County home, she’s dressed in a vintage style she embraced following a Women’s Whimsical Weekend in 2014. While she and her friends enjoyed a photo shoot in three feet of snow, they talked about how fun it would be to do a 1950s pinup shoot.
Fashions of the 1950s turned out to be a niche market and inspired her Sassy Scarlet Pinup blog, Briana said, because “they are universally flattering and look so nice on every frame.” The tagline of her fun-to-read blog: “The life and vintage style of a curvy Michigan girl.”
“I finally felt like I had found a style that matches my personality,” she said, adding, “I had had issues with, well, body issues and self-esteem. A lot of women struggle with this. We want what we don’t have, and we put our lives on hold until we reach a state of perfection that we’re never going to get to.”
Sassy Scarlet no longer buys into that spiral of thinking. “For the most part, I’ve come to accept my body as it is. I’m 40 and I’m not skinny, and I’m going to wear what I want.”
With Kevin as the photographer, the blog gives the couple something to work on together. Briana also applies her communications skills to advocate for environmental issues in Michigan.
They recommend giving bed and breakfast gift certificates
In addition to winning a Michigan B&B gift certificate, the Herzogs also have purchased one as a gift and highly recommend it. (Buying one is so easy.)
“A Michigan B&B gift certificate is ideal for almost anyone,” Briana said. “For couples because it gives them a getaway. They can stay someplace home-like without having to worry about home-related things to do. It’s also great for single people because everyone needs to get recharged.”
She reminisced about her stay with Kevin at Munro House B&B — “with cookies and pop and other goodies right there… so stress-free.” Then she added, “Really, anybody can use a B&B gift certificate when they’re running on empty.”