When two kindred souls come together, they have double the power to forge something wonderful. Such was the case with Christina and Abbott Fleur, the proprietors of Honey Maple Grove Lodge, a tranquil and natural retreat hidden in the hills of Bedford. The Lodge is located not far off Route 22 in town, but it’s the approach and the last few turns down bucolic country roads that take you to another place, so carefully calculated by Christina during development of the land.
It was Christina who conceptualized and designed the original home for her extended family — husband Abbott and four grown children — thoughtfully considering its effect on the 20-acre property, once owned by the singer and actor Robert Goulet. Taking care to employ sustainable forestry practices and utilize native stone found on the site for a massive central fireplace, she was involved in every aspect of the structure’s log-home construction, with its airy ceilings and oversize casement windows that flood its interiors with beautiful light at every turn.
With two distinct wings on either side of the core living space, the innkeepers live on one side of the home with three accommodations for guests on the other. One is a large suite on the lower level with access to a shaded stone terrace on which to dine, read and observe nature. The other two are nicely sized bedrooms sharing a luxurious bathroom. There is radiant heating throughout the home, providing a clean, energy-efficient and allergy-free climate in winter and central air and ceiling fans for the hot summer days.
Nature and comfort blending in harmony are what make this bed and breakfast a welcome destination, for guests traveling the mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions of the United States stopping over for a respite, or those seeking to get away from the city for a breath of country air. Christina tells me that is was the smell of that air, noticeable as soon as they exited from Interstate 684, that drew her and Abbott to the property. They took occupancy after their spacious Manhattan apartment had already become an empty nest, so it was only on select occasions that they needed all the space for family.
This phenomenon is what led to their idea to offer the accommodations to travelers, first on Airbnb four years ago, and now only through their own website and other travel sites, such as bedandbreakfast.com, for the past year and a half. Pricing is kept at a consistent, competitive rate throughout the year and occupancy is robust. Christina proudly displays the calendar for me, showing only two days without reservations and a few well-filled guest books complete with photos of their guests, a practice they have kept since inception.
Indeed, she says, they have enjoyed playing hosts to travelers from every continent, including Antarctica. Interaction with the couple can be as much or little as guests desire, with ample private space inside the inn or out, via the draw of the plentiful nearby attractions such as Caramoor Center for the Arts, Ward Pound Ridge Reservation and several historical and art museums. Active and proud members of the Bedford Village Business Association, the B&B offers a space for gatherings. There is a conference table and library for meetings or relaxation and a small gym downstairs as well as numerous local horse stables, yoga studios and hiking trails for those seeking recreation.
Normally breakfast is served and eaten en famille at the farmhouse table that’s the centerpiece of the kitchen, a welcoming, large wood and stone affair that’s the main hub of the first floor. The morning meal includes an array of treats, all quality ingredients either crafted on the property or by hand, as is the case with the scrumptious, crusty rye bread that Abbott bakes in a heavy Le Creuset stock pot. With a bit of the wildflower honey produced on the property, it’s a slice of heaven and I’m grateful for my sample. There are fresh pastries, too, from neighboring producers and homemade pancakes with the lodge’s own delectable maple syrup, tapped on-site each winter.
So, that’s where the Honey Maple Grove comes in. There are five apiaries on the property producing naturally organic, wildflower honey for guests to enjoy. The flavor and color will change with the seasons, Christina tells me, but the smooth and noncloying taste will remain in place. The one I sampled was from the fall season and it had a rich dark color and delightful texture. They also offer a “Beekeeping Getaway” package that includes a lecture and introduction to this marvel by Abbott, the resident tender.
During the traditional sapping season for the Northeast from January to March, 100 maple trees on the property provide sap that’s boiled down to make the couple’s own maple syrup, also attractively jarred and labeled like the honey. There are plans to tap an additional 50 trees on the property this winter. The two products evolved mostly for their own consumption and that of their lodgers but are also offered for sale to guests and at local gourmet shops in town.
I ask about the tribulations of being homeowners and innkeepers and wonder if there are trying visitors from time to time. Christina tells me that only with rare exceptions have there been petulant guests. There was one night that, despite signage leading to the inn, a couple took an errant turn and walked right through the unlocked door of a neighboring home at about 11 p.m. That did not go well. By and large the experience has all been good, save for the hard work. But then, the innkeepers are the peaceful sort of co-working couple. Gentle reminders were traded back and forth between the operational duo during our informal interview at that lovely kitchen table, while their two rescue Plott Hounds lazed in the living room.
“In nature and in harmony” should be their mantra. The setting, the hospitality and the “positive aura,” as Christina describes it, provide the inn with good energy. Clearly their labor is one of love. In parting, both express how much they enjoy coming to know the many fine folk who have enjoyed the Fleurs’ home as their own. Says Abbott, “We treat them like family, well, the ones we talk to.”
For more, visit honeymaplegrove.com.