Staying healthy and fit on vacation is easy at one-stop resorts with pools and spas, tennis courts and golf courses.
But those seeking more intimate accommodations for mind and body may find just what they’re looking for at certain bed-and-breakfast inns where health and wellness are derived from nature itself in some of the most tranquil settings.
One such place is Neahtawanta Inn on Old Mission Peninsula.
Nestled in a maple-beech forest along 300 feet of private Bowers Harbor waterfront, the inn has been welcoming guests for over 100 years with its philosophy of conservation, respect for Earth and sustainable living.
“We started with the idea that this will be a relaxing place for people to come and get personal rejuvenation,” said Sally Van Vleck, who bought the inn in 1979 with her first husband but ran it for many years with her second. Now her grandson, Anders Olson, and his partner, Jacqueline Ewing, are co-innkeepers.
The five-room inn nearly shouts “retreat” with its “grandmother’s” porch, big lawn and weathered dock with colorful chairs, its yoga room with weights (guests can work out on their own or join Van Vleck’s community yoga classes two days a week), its extensive library and indoor fieldstone fire pit, and its emphasis on quiet recreation like paddling, swimming, walking and bicycling.
“People like to go down to the water and sit on the beach or come and sit on the porch,” Van Vleck said. “Many of my returning guests will say, ‘Oh, I’m home.’
“It’s very unmanicured,” she added. “We’ve tried to keep it in the historic (vein) of an old inn. The beds are comfortable and it’s quiet. I’m adamant about quiet.”
Then there are the locally-sourced, vegetarian breakfasts with mostly organic ingredients, from scrambled omelettes and frittatas with light cheese and vegetables, to yeast pancakes, breakfast burritos and vegetarian hash. Favorite baked goods include homemade scones and Van Vleck’s own wheat bread.
“We strive to have the healthiest food possible,” said Van Vleck, who can accommodate almost any diet including gluten-free and vegan, and often hosts special dinners.
Janet Greenhut and long-time boyfriend Michael Adelman have made an annual trek to the inn for the last 17 or 18 years and always request the same room with a private bath and waterfront view.
“It’s a wonderful place to relax and just feel like you’re away from everything but if you want to get out, Traverse City is right there,” said Greenhut, a semi-retired preventative medicine physician from Ann Arbor. “So it’s a nice combination of feeling remote but the bustle is still there if you want to dive into it.”
The couple load up on books and make a local stop for cheese, cold cuts and prepared foods for the guest refrigerator before settling in for a five- or six-day stretch at the inn. Usually they leave only for occasional dinners with friends or walks at the Old Mission State Park.
“We just kind of hang out most of the time,” Greenhut said. “The porch is really wonderful: a long, wide porch and you can see the water from there. And there’s a big lawn with Adirondack chairs. Sally teases us ’cause we keep moving around. There’s a road that makes a loop west of the inn we like to walk on if we feel we’re getting too sedentary.”
Just 10 minutes away lies Chateau Chantal Winery and Inn, a scenic 65-acre estate atop a ridge overlooking Grand Traverse Bay.
The 11-room inn aims to offer guests an “old-world” experience with classically-styled rooms named after French artists, locally-sourced breakfasts, complimentary wine tasting, and plenty of land for strolling and soaking in the views. There’s even a Founder’s Trail, two loops under a mile each, that leads through vineyards boasting pictorial history signage.
The inn hosts yoga retreat weekends twice a year taught by Cristin Hosmer, wife of winemaker Brian Hosmer. Or guests can practice on their own in the onsite “gym” outfitted with yoga mats and DVDs, free weights, a treadmill, a stationary bike and an elliptical machine — “everything a small hotel might have,” said estate president and CEO Marie-Chantal Dalese.
Afterwards those with certain rooms can unwind in large, jetted tubs.
“Most people want to get out and do a wine tour or sightsee but certainly some come for a breakaway and it’s their little retreat,” Dalese said.
House-made breakfasts include a fresh egg dish like strata — a layered egg, cheese and veggie casserole — locally-sourced smoked bacon baked with brown sugar; fresh fruit; and a baked item with local honey butter and the estate’s own jams.
“A local company, Food for Thought, takes our wines and makes jams from them like Strawberry Riesling, Blueberry Malbec and Cherry Merlot,” said Dalese, a certified sommelier.
The inn also offers special mid-June through October wine dinners.
Guests at the 10-room Inn at Black Star Farms on Leelanau Peninsula enjoy an agricultural setting and pastoral views. The Kentucky-inspired inn sits on a 160-acre winery estate complete with hillside vineyards, a centennial barn, tasting room, farm-to-table cafe, horse stables and paddocks, and multiple outdoor patios — many with rocking chairs — from which to view it all.
“Guests never have to leave,” said innkeeper Mitchell Myler, adding that stays include a complimentary bottle of house wine on arrival, a chef-prepared breakfast, a nightly hospitality hour with wine and small bites, and a complimentary flight or glass of wine at the tasting room.
Health and fitness offerings include three miles of trails through woods and vineyards and a spa with a sauna. Myler said the inn also works with two local yoga instructors to offer one-hour private yoga classes indoors or out, and partners with a nearby bike, kayak and paddleboard business to offer bicycle rentals and outdoor adventure packages.
“Suttons Bay Bikes will come and drop off the bikes in the morning and people will bike to (the business),” Myler said. “They’ll have lunch there, then get kayaks or paddleboards to play on the bay. After, Suttons Bay Bikes will shuttle them back to the inn.”
A wine trail version of the package includes bikes, itinerary and tasting at five or six wineries within cycling distance, plus lunch and transportation back to the inn.
Gourmet breakfasts feature a farm flair with many ingredients from the garden right outside, said inn manager David Avis.
“We might do eggs benedict six times a month but it’s always distinctly different,” he said, adding that focaccia bread is a popular base for the dish. “We use a lot of asparagus, green pepper, red pepper. We do a sweet potato hash with mixed veggies.”
The inn also offers special wine dinners.