The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 4, 1997 · Page 77
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 77

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Salina, Kansas
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Sunday, May 4, 1997
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Page 77
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.. . THE SALINA JOURNAL BED & 'BREAKFASTS SUNDAY. MAV 4. 1997 S A Castle of Their Own Women find success and contentment in rustic setting of Castle Rock Ranch By CAROL LICHTI The Salina Journal - ore than 100 years ago, sentries from a nearby military fort once sat atop the limestones of . Castle Rock, guarding against hostile raids on trains that passed below on the Union Pacific Railroad. Today, guests of Castle Rock Ranch consider it a challenge to hike to the top of the rock to see a panoramic view of the Smoky Hills. They might wait for a train or watch the birds circle over nearby Buzzard Hill. Or they can hike the other trails on the 160-acre ranch. Judy Akers and Terri Stephenson have been greeting guests at Castle Rock, west of Brookville and north of Kanopolis Reservoir off K-141, for more than a year. In October 1995, they bought the ranch including a 1917 farmhouse that has been expanded into a bed and breakfast with a meeting room for banquets and special occasions. "It's just a most recent dream," Akers said of the business venture, Akers, a former women's basketball coach at Kansas State University, was living in Arizona working in real estate. "My family lives here, and I knew I was coming back some time," she said. She and Stevenson, who has lived in Salina all her life, started talking, trying to come up with ideas. "We were brainstorming about where we'd like to work or what we'd like to do,"Akers said. "What would be the ideal job." About seven months after they started looking for the right opportunity, they found the ranch and decided to make it a bed and breakfast. Adding to its rustic charm is an old wooden manure spreader in front of the house and a chicken coup that still stands out back. Native Dakota sandstone decorates the house and is used for a retaining wall for the circle drive. If the decor and landscape weren't enough, guests are treated to an old-fashioned hayrack ride. Attracting traveler* Bed and breakfasts are a growing industry in Kansas. The Kansas Bed and Breakfast Association has more than 100 members, a jump from last year's membership of 86, said Bob Schafer, president of the organization and operator of a bed and breakfast in Fort Scott. "Seven years ago when the association was just getting started, we had 30 people at our first meeting," Schafer said. "It's grown from there." Bed and breakfasts have helped tourism in the state, he said. "I think it constitutes a great deal of our tourism," Schafer said. "Bed and breakfasts are becoming more of a destination than just a night's lodging. And it's bringing people into the area." B&Bs are popping up more and more. Salina has three, Abilene six and Lindsborg three. But Schafer, who operates the Chenault Mansion in Fort Scott, said he doesn't think the market is saturated. "I don't think 103 bed and breakfasts spread across our state is too many," he said. DAVIS TURNER / The Salina Journal Castle Rock Ranch offers two suites and three main-floor bedrooms Ina rural setting Just off Old 40 Highway between Salina and Ellsworth. we're calling it for now," Akers said. All have private baths. All the beds at the Castle Rock are either twin, king or queen size. The upstairs suite has a private sitting room with a day bed and a private bedroom and bath. The suite is known as the Castle Rock View suite because the rock Fort Scott now has five. "There doesn't seem to be competition," Schafer said. "I think it helps draw more people into the area." Suites are sweet With their first guest book full and the calendar filling up with bookings for May, Akers and Stevenson expect a busy summer season. Even the fall, winter and spring months have been busy with people coming for reunions, birthdays, anniversaries and special events. "We've had several honeymooners," Stevenson said. Family and friends help run the ranch, situated just off Old 40 Highway between Salina and Ellsworth. Akers' mom, Waunita Akers, makes soap for the guests to use. She and other relatives work during special events or busy times. A housekeeper helps with the cleaning about every two weeks. But Akers and Stevenson do almost everything else themselves — mowing, cooking, cleaning bathrooms, laundry, grocery shopping and antique hunting. They've furnished the bed and breakfast with their own collection of antiques plus other items they've picked up since buying the ranch. Antique mirrors, armoires, dressers, washstands and folding screens decorate the rooms along with silk flowers and other items to match the room's color scheme or theme. "It's definitely eclectic," Akers said. "But they are Midwest antiques from the early 1900s." The ranch house has two suites and three main-floor rooms. The main-floor suite has two bedrooms connected by a shared bath. The suite's Florentine room has two twin beds, accented in teal with antique European-style artwork. The larger room of the suite, the Rhapsody in Blue room, has a private deck. Two of the main-floor rooms are named after flowers — rose and wisteria (a blue- violet, purple flower) and the third is for now known as the green room. "For lack of a better name, that's what can be seen from the west window. "It's a favorite of many people," Akers said. Guests can lounge in a main sitting Many inns available in north-central and northwest Kansas / Page 6 room with a big-screen TV and fireplace. An adjacent room doubles as a dining, library and game room. The inn also has a breakfast nook. Or if weather permits, guests can dine on one of the outdoor decks, watching for birds or wild turkey. For the patient and unsuspecting, wildlife do come by, the innkeepers said. "We saw four deer last night," Stevenson said. After a busy first season, they went ahead with plans to expand, remodeling to create the main-floor suite and an "all- purpose" room. "We have had a lot of requests for groups or banquets, and we did not have enough facilities," Akers said. The room is used for large gatherings. "We think we'll have a wedding soon," Akers said. "It hasn't been scheduled, but I feel it's coming." Breakfast usually includes an egg dish, fruit plate, homemade biscuits and cinnamon rolls with fresh squeezed juice. They encourage guests to visit the historic Brookville Hotel for dinner and restaurants in nearby Ellsworth or Kanopolis. But if guests are staying for several days, Akers and Stevenson might be persuaded to cook dinner at the ranch. "We have had repeat customers during our first year," Akers said. "We don't know of any who left not having found what they expected." C/ i In Kansas BED * BREAKFAST ft FINE DINING Wells, K». A Taste of the Wild west * Excellent Food • Quality Service In a Unique Atmosphere Retreats • Business Meetings • Reunions • Historical Lectures • Programs Keuervatioim Required • 913-488-3930 Kansas oest Kept Secret

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