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Jocelyn Berkhahn, Wisconsin Department of Tourism
Lisa Marshall, Wisconsin Department of Tourism
Press Room: http://media.travelwisconsin.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
STAYING AT AN ECO-ELEGANT B&B IN WISCONSIN IS A FEEL GOOD EXPERIENCE
MADISON, Wis. (Nov. 8, 2010) – It would be difficult to argue that the B&B industry in Wisconsin has
done more for historic restoration than any other lodging segment. Or, that the state’s B&B association
with its library of cookbooks has done more to inspire home chefs than any cadre of culinary institute-
trained pros. Now it seems the B&B industry is poised to lay claim to a new style of travel – eco-elegant –
by pioneering green practices that complement the vacation experience. A stay at one of these “eco-
elegant” B&Bs is not only a wonderful relaxing getaway but travelers can also feel good knowing their
innkeeper makes stewardship of the environment a priority in every aspect of their business.
The Wisconsin Department of Tourism has come up with its list of the Top 10 inns that wow with their
eco-conscious vibe and luxury amenities, with five honorable mentions and “one to watch for” rounding
out the list. All these properties are certified by the Department’s Travel Green Wisconsin voluntary
certification program which awards points for water conservation, recycling, wildlife conservation and
energy efficiency, but also includes in the tally points for employee and guest education.
“Wisconsin has a long legacy of land stewardship programs like Travel Green Wisconsin,” said Tourism
Secretary Kelli A. Trumble. “The state’s B&Bs were among the first to sign up for certification, which
immediately helped jumpstart the program.” Trumble went on to say that these inns, by their very nature,
allow for a charge-ahead approach to green travel. “For the most part these are small, independently
owned B&Bs where the owners live on-property and make it their mission to act on their convictions.”
What stands out among these inns isn’t so much their Travel Green Wisconsin point totals, although they
are impressive, but it’s the inventiveness of the innkeepers in defining “green” in their own way, whether
it’s offering silent sports so guests can tread more lightly on their corner of the world, in-season breakfast
menus that make full use of the innkeeper’s own organic farming methods, or retrofitting conventional
cars for vehicles run on oil. There’s also a sensibility among the innkeepers that they are doing well by
their guests when they work to preserve the history and culture of the community, whether that’s
recommending a local organic restaurant or directing guests to the best hiking trails on the outskirts of
town. It all adds up to feel good travel.
Wisconsin’s Eco-Elegant B&Bs Page 2
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Top 10 Eco-Elegant B&Bs
#1 – Pinehurst Inn, Bayfield, www.pinehurstinn.com
Their Green Story: A most eco-elegant accommodation for travelers to the northern tip of Wisconsin, this
inn earned the highest score of any Travel Green Wisconsin certified business. The innkeepers here,
Steve and Nancy Sandstrom, take a comprehensive approach to sustainable operations at their historic
property and they do their part to protect the Lake Superior basin too. They even drive their own bio-
diesel vehicle, converting oil they source from local restaurants to fuel all on their own. According to
Nancy Sandstrom, “Every purchase we make is thoroughly researched to make sure it uses less energy,
provides better comfort and has a long life cycle.”
Of Special Note: Their 2003 addition – a freestanding “garden house” with guest suites – was built using
all eco-friendly and sustainable materials. A full-service spa on the lower level makes use of organic
products as well.
Innkeepers’ Recommendations for Other Green Businesses Around Town: The inn packages
adventures with Dreamcatcher Sailing and Wolfsong Dogsledding. For lunch, Big Water Café & Coffee
Roasters is a sure thing.
#2 – Journey Inn, Maiden Rock, www.journeyinn.net
Their Green Story: This eco-retreat near the Great River Road offers guests a soul-pleasing escape in a
natural setting. Built in 2006 on 66 acres of prairie and hilly woodland, there’s ample opportunity for
biking, hiking and birding. Bikes and snowshoes provided courtesy of the inn. There’s even a labyrinth
on the back acreage surrounded by hills, giving it a very contained feeling. More than 20 solar collectors
help heat the inn, the beds are organic, each room has its own private patio or deck, and the food is
indicative of the owners’ support of the Slow Food Movement and their local CSA.
Of Special Note: Husband and wife innkeepers John Huffaker and Charlene Torchia bring their special
skills to the table, with Huffaker a psychologist who offers life coaching and Torchia a massage therapist
who provides in-room treatments. The couple also hosts workshops and retreats at the B&B.
Innkeepers’ Recommendations for Other Green Businesses Around Town: The owners arrange for
food tours to local organic farms and an organic cheese factory, gathering food along the way that is then
used in a cooking class taught by a local chef. In nearby Stockholm, the Stockholm General sells local
cheeses and wines and A to Z Farm, the inn’s CSA farm, has a Pizza Night every Tuesday night when
they sell their famous all-organic pizza.
#3 – Blacksmith Inn on the Shore, Door County, www.theblacksmithinn.com
Their Green Story: A longtime member of both the Door County Land Trust and Green Fund, this B&B is
a Select Registry property, meaning it’s very luxurious while still being green. Joan Holliday owns the inn
with her husband Bryan Nelson, and she says many of their guests “come from urban areas and enjoy
parking their car and leaving it there, availing themselves to the bikes we provide, or just walking
everywhere since we’re right in the village.”
Of Special Note: Complimentary kayaks are offered to take advantage of this setting, often described as
the Cape Cod of the Midwest.
Innkeepers’ Recommendations for Other Green Businesses Around Town: Restaurant Saveur with
its South American influences. Wild Tomato, a café at the entrance to Peninsula State Park where they
make a special pizza featuring all local ingredients.
Wisconsin’s Eco-Elegant B&Bs Page 3
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#4 – Arbor House, An Environmental Inn, Madison, www.arbor-house.com
Their Green Story: Recognized nationally for their leading role in the green travel movement, owners
John and Cathie Imes live and work by the philosophy that it is possible to be sophisticated, homey,
luxurious and green. The inn is across from the University of Wisconsin Arboretum, a 1,300-acre treasure
of woodlands, prairies and trails. The Imes show off their cooking and baking skills at breakfast using
homegrown herbs in take-offs on comfort foods that are still delicious but healthier.
Of Special Note: They pay for public transportation for their guests, provide complimentary passes for
canoeing and kayaking on nearby Lake Wingra, and have mountain bikes for their visitors to hop on the
Southwest Bike Corridor that backs up to the inn and hooks up to Madison’s bustling downtown.
Innkeepers’ Recommendations for Other Green Businesses Around Town: Serrv is a fair trade
retailer and according to Cathie Imes, “everything sold in the store has a story of promoting social and
economic progress of people in developing countries.” Restaurants that shine when it comes to
scrumptious seasonal organic include Marigold Kitchen and high-end L’Etoile.
#5 – Brambleberry Bed and Breakfast, Taylor, www.brambleberrybandb.com
Their Green Story: Guests are definitely not roughing it at this English/Scottish manor house with its
beautiful furnishings and tasteful interior decorating. It’s also a self-sufficient country farm homestead.
The inn takes its name from the many blackberry plants growing around it, called brambleberries in
Scotland. Seems owners Chris and Sherry Hardie are obsessed with all things Scottish. They even raise
their own purebred Scottish Blackface sheep.
Of Special Note: This B&B may serve more organic, homegrown slow food than any other inn in the
state, including homemade maple syrup, jams, eggs from their own henhouse, fruits, vegetables and
natural homegrown meat. On Saturdays, they also serve a four-course Harvest Dinner.
Innkeepers’ Recommendations for Other Green Businesses Around Town: Canoeing the Black
River. Scuba diving in Wazee Lake.
#6 – Speckled Hen Inn, Madison, www.speckledheninn.com
Their Green Story: Here’s a B&B that pampers guests with easy-going elegance while supporting
principles of sustainable living. This 50-acre property of Patricia and Robert Fischbeck features pastures
with sheep and llamas, orchards, gardens and walking trails. According to Pat Fischbeck, “We’re
committed to green but also sustaining the culture and sense of place travelers enjoy in Wisconsin.”
Of Special Note: Pat was the grand prize winner of the 2008 Wisconsin B&B Association recipe cook-off
for her recipe for Wisconsin Breakfast Panini featuring cranberries and lots of other Wisconsin goodies.
Innkeepers’ Recommendations for Other Green Businesses Around Town: Guests come to the inn
specifically to visit the Farmer’s Market on the Capitol square, the largest true farmers’ market in the
nation. As an aside, Pat used to have a booth there selling homegrown herbs. For a taste of Wisconsin
art, the Absolutely Art gallery features all Madison artists and the Bindley Collection gallery features all
Wisconsin artists. Harvest restaurant is a top choice, thanks to their all local, in-season menu.
#7 – Stewart Inn, Wausau, www.stewartinn.com
Their Green Story: This was the first business in Wausau to be certified Travel Green Wisconsin. It’s a
Select Registry property, offering upscale accommodations in a 1906 National Registry arts and crafts
masterpiece of a mansion designed by a contemporary of Frank Lloyd Wright. According to Paul Welter,
who owns the inn with his wife Jane, the inn represents a huge savings in energy by preserving the
original building rather than tearing it down, sending the debris to the landfill and building new. Paul
adds, “The original design was very economical with airtight stucco and masonry design and good
placement of windows to bring light in during the winter months and keep it out in the summer.”
Of Special Note: In Paul Welter’s words, “We’re like a home museum that you can stay in.”
Innkeepers’ Recommendations for Other Green Businesses Around Town: Red Eye Brewing
Company that’s all organic – there’s a huge solar water heater on the roof to heat the water in the
brewing process. DowntownGrocery.com works with Moon Shadow Farms and is a great gathering spot.
Woodson Art Museum with its widely acclaimed wildlife art exhibits. Upscale dining at The Wright Place
on 6th, situated in a historic building with a menu that incorporates produce from local organic farmers.
Wisconsin’s Eco-Elegant B&Bs Page 4
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#8 – Justin Trails, Sparta, www.justintrails.com
Their Green Story: This B&B is perfect for the outdoor enthusiast who likes to tread lightly on the earth.
It’s a favorite destination for hikers and birders, with 200 acres to roam, 10 miles of hiking trails and
enclosed wildlife viewing stands. The Elroy-Sparta Bike Trail and the 400 State Trail are close by too.
Owners Don and Donna Justin are working to transition the farm fields from traditional agriculture to
Of Special Note: Try your skills at the two “human powered” disc golf courses on the property. In the
winter, there’s skijoring (dogs pull you while you glide along on cross country skis), dog sledding and
Innkeeepers’ Recommendations for Other Green Businesses Around Town: Restaurant/food co-op
Hackberry’s Bistro in La Crosse serves all organic food. In nearby Viroqua, travelers will find a multitude
of eco-friendly businesses, including the historic Public Market that is open year-round. In Sparta, there’s
Southern Fried Glass, a glass-blowing studio in a rehabbed building with a gallery for people to watch the
glass blower at work.
#9 – Port Washington Inn, Port Washington, www.portwashingtoninn.com
Their Green Story: This historic B&B makes good use of the natural air conditioning supplied by Lake
Michigan, with guests enjoying views of the sunrise over the lake. The owners here, Rita and Dave
Nelson, are very committed to the “Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin” philosophy, with local farmers’ markets
their favorite haunts. The inn has new energy efficient windows and the building has been newly
Of Special Note: Dave Nelson, along with son Aaron, makes good use of his woodworking shop to
create many of the beautiful antique reproduction furniture pieces in the inn. The wood is walnut,
salvaged after being cut down along fence lines of farmlands in their native Iowa. “It moved around with
us for several moves before Dave was able to use it,” said Rita Nelson. In the kitchen, aromas of made-
from-scratch breakfasts will entice guests. They even grind the grain for their wheat bread and culture
their own yogurt.
Innkeepers’ Recommendations for Other Green Businesses Around Town: The Interurban Bike Trail
provides a trail system through the entire county. On foot, the Riveredge Nature Center in Newburg is
dedicated to preserving the natural environment along the Milwaukee River. In nearby Grafton, there’s
eco-committed Paramount Grille and Bakehouse, and Slow Pokes Local Foods, which offers local
produce from its storefront.
#10 – Rittenhouse Inn, Bayfield, www.rittenhouseinn.com
Their Green Story: The inn – actually three historic houses – is regal, elegantly appointed and a must for
foodies. The Phillips family runs the inn and they’re considered early adopters of the slow food
movement with their own on-premise restaurant and a menu that is mouthwatering just to read. Guests
also enjoy spectacular views of Lake Superior from one of the world’s best front porches.
Of Special Note: The last weekend of October is always dedicated to a Microbrewery Weekend. Guests
are treated to a tour and tasting at nearby South Shore Brewery, followed by a Saturday evening six-
course feast with beers used in the preparation or paired with each course. Think mushroom ravioli with
seared scallops and a balsamic porter reduction.
Innkeepers’ Recommendations for Other Green Businesses Around Town: The area is known for its
orchards, with Blue Vista Farm an all-organic orchard offering blueberries, raspberries and apples.
Five Other Inns Not to Be Overlooked
Artha Sustainable Living Center, Amherst, www.arthaonline.com
This eco-conscious renovated farmhouse sits on 90 acres of woods and fields. It’s sustainably operated
with solar power and heat, earning it high points in the Travel Green Wisconsin certification program.
Guests come for the hands-on workshops and retreats on solar water heating, gardening and yoga. The
menu is vegetarian and features fresh produce from innkeepers Marguerite and Bob Ramlow’s organic
gardens. Enjoy a good night’s sleep in your choice of the Energy Room, Solar Room or Garden Room
after a day of bicycling the rails to trails system in the area or the country roads which are less travelled
than most making them good for biking too.
Wisconsin’s Eco-Elegant B&Bs Page 5
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Jack’s Lake B&B, New Auburn, www.jackslakebandb.com
This was the first off-grid alternative energy B&B in Wisconsin, and today produces 95 percent of its own
power. Newly constructed in 1992 and recently remodeled to add private baths, all the rooms have views
to the private lake and gardens. The full breakfast features local and organic products whenever
possible. While overnighting here, make time to hike the Ice Age Trail, fish, swim, kayak or canoe. For
eco-die-hards, book an energy tour of the home with the owners Kathy and Steve Duffy. The Duffys say
they want guests to leave feeling relaxed with their batteries recharged. “Our loyal guests first came for
the ‘green’ and now they keep coming back for the experience, proving you can have your cake and eat it
too,” said Steve Duffy.
Inn at Lonesome Hollow, Soldiers Grove, www.lonesomehollow.com
Vacationing here in the Kickapoo Valley is a little slower and much less hectic than other places. It’s
located in the state’s driftless area with trout streams too numerous to count. The 160-acre property
includes a developing vineyard planted with the hardy Marquette grape. Many of the inn’s furnishings
are made by local Amish craftsmen and friends of the innkeepers host Amish tours for guests of the B&B.
Another fun activity - the regular cheese making workshops hosted right at the inn. Wake up to a
breakfast of yummy organic and local foods prepared by owners Nora and Pete Knapik.
Oscar H. Hanson House, Cambridge, www.ohhanson.com
At this romantically appointed 1883 Victorian mansion, guests can enjoy breakfast in their room, al fresco
on the front porch or in the dining room, with treats prepared using herbs from the innkeepers’ garden.
The recently installed stained glass windows provide an insulation effect and are pretty to look at too.
Bike rentals are delivered right to the B&B so guests can peddle to their heart’s content on the Glacial-
Drumlin Trail. Right in town is the Cam-Rock Trail, a county park that hosts bike-portage-bike events.
Duke and Mary Jane Mihajlovic own this B&B. Mary Jane is an ordained minister, so it’s a popular spot
for eco-friendly weddings.
Inn Serendipity, Browntown (near Monroe), www.innserendipity.com
Another top-scorer in Travel Green Wisconsin, this turn-of-the-century farmhouse is completely powered
by renewable energy – in fact, it’s even a carbon-negative business. Their “100-foot breakfast” –
harvested from their own organic garden right outside the back door – features incredible vegetarian
cuisine. The husband and wife innkeeping duo of Lisa Kivirist and John Ivanko wrote their own cookbook
called “Edible Earth” and a book on entrepreneurial thinking called “ECOpreneuring” that shares with
readers the path to blending a passion for the planet with small business pragmatics. Bring your sketch
pad, cross-country skis, or whatever you like to do to pass the time. Contribute to the ongoing novel
written by guests in the writing room that goes back to 1997 when the inn first opened. While not super-
luxe, this B&B is just right for visitors who are making a lifestyle change and appreciate all the green
practices that have been put in place here. While in the area, check out the many award-winning cheese
factories – the most of any county in the country.
One to Watch For
Green Leaf Inn, Delavan, www.thegreenleafinn.com
Fritz Kreiss and wife Catherine McQueen are providing the vision behind this yet-to-be constructed inn.
Groundbreaking is expected this fall, with an opening in summer 2011.
However, they have already completed erection of their own wind turbine. Along with eco-elegant suites,
this completely sustainable inn will have a small conference center for lectures and community get-
togethers on green practices and an on-site spa.
For more on Travel Green Wisconsin, log on to www.TravelGreenWisconsin.com.
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