Charming Inn Serendipity in bucolic Wisconsin is a showcase for renewable energy and conservation and other eco-friendly amenities.©John Ivanko/www.innserendipity.com
Over the past decade, there’s been a rise in eco-friendly bed-and-breakfasts. Here you can find wonderful rooms cleaned with all-natural products and pure cotton sheets and towels. Breakfasts are mostly organic, often vegetarian, and feature local, seasonal produce—often harvested from the B&B’s farm or garden. Special diets are usually cheerfully accommodated.
Like a typical B&B, these places feature entertaining and knowledgeable hosts. The difference: the hosts share your green values and are knowledgeable not only about the area, but also about organic food and eco-friendly building.
Located on an organic farm in Browntown, Wisconsin, Inn Serendipity ($100 to $115 per night) is more than a place to rest your head and indulge in a gourmet breakfast. Rather, hosts John Ivanko and Lisa Kivirist are on the cutting edge of ecotourism. Even the greenest travelers can learn something at Inn Serendipity, which generates 90 to 95 percent of its power from onsite solar panels and wind turbines. But with so many ecologically minded travelers passing through, Ivanko says, "The exchange of ideas is reciprocal."
Over the past eight years, Ivanko and Kivirist have been continually renovating and upgrading the inn. Their goal is to use as many local and recycled products as possible, and to avoid toxic chemicals.Their inn is also the place to check out energy-efficient lighting and appliances. And extra farm hands are always welcome. One guest helped plaster the straw-bale greenhouse.
Delta Organic Farm Bed and Breakfast
In the early 1990s, Jim and Peggy Pitts left Boston to start a 20-acre organic farm in Amherst, Massachusetts. After a few years, they realized that sustainable agriculture meant not just sustaining the land, but also the farmers. So they joined the growing trend of agritourism—combining farming with a B&B to connect city dwellers and suburbanites with traditional family farms.
A stay at Delta Organic Farm Bed and Breakfast ($85 to $115 per night) provides a unique mix of the urban and rural experience. On this quiet, bucolic farm—complete with easy access to bike and hiking trails—it’s hard to believe that you’re a mere three miles from bustling downtown Amherst. In fact, Delta is one of the few organic farm B&Bs that can be easily accessed without a car—simply bring your bike on the bus or train.
The chemically sensitive traveler couldn’t dream of better hosts than the Pittses. From the properly ventilated, hot water-based heating system to the carpet-free floors, the Pittses have gone out of their way to accommodate. They’ve even avoided all-natural citrus oil cleaners—popular with most greens, but too strong-smelling for some people. Jim Pitts explains, "Our mission is catering to our guests" well-being."
West of Eden
Located in Seal Cove, Maine, at the southwest corner of Acadia National Park, West of Eden ($80 to $100 per night) is another paradise for the chemically sensitive. Host Regina Ploucquet has been known to toss her linens into a machine for a second, detergent-free wash for anyone who finds even the all-natural cleaners to be too harsh.
But West of Eden’s magic shouldn’t be reserved for only the chemically sensitive. The B&B provides a rare opportunity to experience Acadia from a quiet, old-time Maine fishing community, rather than from the more bustling tourist areas. "There are only three guest rooms in Seal Cove," Ploucquet explains. "All are at West of Eden."
Depending on the season, breakfast may include Maine blueberry pancakes, pear-pecan waffles, sweet fresh corn, or omelets and tofu scrambles with vegetables from the garden. So popular are Ploucquet’s breakfasts that many guests want her to compile her sumptuous recipes into a cookbook.
A wide range of recreational activities (including beaches, freshwater ponds, and hiking and biking trails) are within walking distance. To continue exploring the national park, catch the free island bus service. It doesn’t get more eco-friendly than that!
LISA FARINO is editor of The Frugal Environmentalist magazine.