B&B Memories: Tudor Hall B&B on Keuka Lake, NY

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A journey is made up of various “stops” along the way. I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing hospitality and offering hospitality in a variety of ways that influence our vision of living in and running a Bed & Breakfast.

A number of years ago I was invited to speak to a graduating class of Education majors at Keuka College in New York. They graciously hosted me at the Tudor Hall B&B on Keuka Lake – one of the Finger Lakes in upstate NY.

It was the tail end of winter in March and although there was no snow on the ground, the still frigid air bit through my wool coat with a vengeance as I found my way to the water’s edge that first day. I hadn’t dressed warm enough for this brief excursion! Back in my suite – The Royal Suite – I was quickly enveloped by hissing warmth of a radiator and a small decanter of port on the coffee table in the quaint sitting area.

I climbed into the quilt covered king sized bed listening to the constant serenade of the wind coming off of the lake. Sleep comes easily for me in a B&B, and this night was no exception.

In the morning I was welcomed in the dining room by the owner Priscilla – she served me bacon and egg cups (which I still make to this day), fresh melon, and muffins with a variety of jams and jellies. As I was the only guest at the time, Priscilla visited with me during breakfast. I was grateful for the company. Bacon-Egg-Breakfast-Bites-5-A-Pretty-Life

I only spent one night at Tudor Hall, but the memory is still fresh and so very pleasant. I plan to serve bacon and egg cups in our bed & breakfast too!

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Our Story Begins

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We are on the hunt for a place we can call home here in the Hudson Valley of New York, but we are also looking for a place that others can call their home away from home. I was asked recently why we want to live in and run a Bed & Breakfast. When my reasons tumbled out of me that day, my friend and realtor said, “That’s your story. Every B&B has a story. That’s yours.” So here goes – our story.

In 1988 I was pregnant with our first child. I was thrilled beyond words; this life inside me was the reason for my existence. What happens when your reason for existence is lost? Our daughter died in utero at 20 weeks. I went through labor and delivery, my milk came in, and life as I knew it seemed to end. Emily died on my mother’s birthday, December 31. To this day I can’t face that day without at least one tear. The memorial of that day is strong especially now that my mother has passed as well.

My husband, Chip, decided we needed a little time away from the painfully normal life that swirled around us. He booked us into the Lakeside Inn in Mount Dora, Florida two months after losing Emily. I admit to my reluctance of going away. It took too much energy to leave the house as it was. The thought of just a 2 hour drive to an inn threatened to undo me. But away we went.

We spent the whole first day in our room – lovingly furnished, a cocoon of sorts, unfamiliar yet as comfortable as an embrace. I think I slept most of the day.

Day two we ventured out into the quaint antique shop-filled town of Mount Dora – walking distance from the inn. We lingered in each shop our senses filling with lives lived long ago. I love old books, especially old school books and classic literature. I bought three titles that day which are displayed proudly next to my grandmother’s set of dictionaries and encyclopedias from the 1930’s. I fell into a dreamless sleep that night and woke the next morning feeling lighter in my soul.

Day three we went on a boat ride on Lake Dora. This is when I discovered the healing power of water for me. Sitting on the lake’s shore later I felt a shift in my very being. I smiled. I’m healing, and it was a welcome feeling instead of the betrayal I thought it would feel like.

Afraid to break the spell, I didn’t want to leave. Going back to “real life” was not at all enticing. Could we stay? I remember standing on the porch and saying “Let’s live here!” (Just like at the end of the Bill Murray film “Groundhog Day”)

Chip and I went into town on our last day to see if there was a way we could stay. Could we find jobs? Me as a teacher; him working for the city. We went to the local Lake County school board and the Mount Dora city hall. It was possible – we could live here.

Just knowing we could live there if we wanted was enough – it offered enough hope for me to go back home and pick up the life and work I already had.

We were cared for and cherished as guests at the Lakeside Inn, but at the same time given our space. We knew then that we would love to offer that same combination of care to others. So 27 years later we are ready to do just that.

Through this blog I will share our journey to finding and running a B&B in the Hudson Valley of New York. We’re learning so much and hope to share it with you.

The ornaments of your home are the people who smile upon entering time and time again.

Maralee McKee