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Reflections On A Beatiful Year (2010)


Welcome to  Cliff Cottage Inn’s blog, offering stories and tales of the life of innkeepers Sandra CH Smith and her wonderful husband Carl Rohne, in the Victorian artist colony of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, high in the Ozark Mountains.  Cliff Cottage, built in the 1880s, is Sears’ very first kit home and was built for the first mayor of Eureka Springs. It has received an Arkansas Preservation Heritage designation and is on the National Historic Register. Sandra  purchased Cliff Cottage and then designed a purpose-built Victorian replica next to Cliff Cottage in 1992  named The Place Next Door. She then bought three more historic cottages along the street — guests tease her and say she is making up a Monopoly board in the Historic Downtown of this quaint little village of 2,000 residents (mostly artists!). The inn has two individual private arts & craftsman cottages with outdoor hottubs and  six suites with jacuzzis for two. Guests are always tickled to find a complimentary Champagne or white wine in their fridge when they arrive — Sandra turned the cave behind the inn into a winecellar when she discovered it maintained 52 degrees year round. The suites and cottages are filled with beautiful antiques which Sandra searched the three surrounding States for. Cliff Cottage Inn is the only inn in the town with an elf who delivers a full-gourmet breakfast right to your suite!  (Sandra learned to cook in France on an 18th-century woodburning stove, she has been guest chef on a CBS-TV cooking show and has a 288-page cookbook out with all her scrumptious recipes, available at the inn.) The inn is a State and National Historic Registry landmark and has received many awards including being named “One of the Top Six Most Romantic Inns of the South” by Romantic Destinations Magazine (published by Southern Bride).

As the year comes to an end, we reflect on all the wonderful guests who have stayed with us throughout the year and thank them for sharing their peaceful  moments with us away from their busy worlds – birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, just the  chance to run away from home together for a little while. We are honored that our many guests have chosen to spend these special times with us. We hope that they will have taken home as many magical memories of Eureka Springs as we have tucked away of their stays with us.

At the request of our many guests who love to hear stories about Cliff Cottage Inn and Eureka Springs, we are reactivating our blog to keep everyone up-to-date.

This Christmas season our little village outshone itself, with cheerful  decorations and twinkling lights everywhere. The Christmas parade this year, everyone said, was the best ever, due in large part to the many artists who have moved here from all corners of the world and added their special creative touch to our little community. The horses drawing the beautiful carriages made their gentle way through this winter wonderland as the aromas of special holiday fare wafted tantalizingly from the many charming restaurants along the winding streets. One of our guests even said that he felt as though he had stepped back into the time of Dickens and expected any moment to catch a glimse of Tiny Tim peeking around the corner. Several guests were sure that they experienced a sighting of the Ghost of Christmas Past up at the old hotel.

Besides enjoying all the holiday events Eureka Springs had to offer this year, our guests were encouraged to spend a  little time up at the Passion Play to remember what we were all really celebrating.  The view from the Christ of the Ozarks statue is incredible as you gaze out on the tiny hamlet below all shining with holiday dazzle.

Let us digress a moment…Sandra, your friendly little innkeeper, had come to Eureka Springs 20 years ago from the middle of the Pacific ocean where she sailed alone for 7 years in her hot pink boat. She had heard about Eureka way down in the jungles of Guatamala and came here to start her bed and breakfast inn on the gentle hillside overlooking the Historic Downtown.  After many years alone something very special happened this year for her. Sandra met the man of her dreams, Carl Rohne, a widowed busnessman who had been a professor of Medieval History with a PhD in the obscure field of medieval Catalan consulates, an advertising executive, and a real estate investor…Sandra says “a real Rennaissance man” .

When we first met, we discovered that we had been unknowingly following each other around the world for years (Sandra  has a degree from Grenoble, France,and spent many times visiting Barcelona where I had lived for a year working on my doctoral thesis). Sandra attended classes at Stanford in a special program for gifted high school students at about the same time that I was doing graduate work there. We also discovered that we shared a passion for the arts, and that each of us had been spending all our spare time at the symphony, the opera, or the theater. How much more fun it would be to go together to all of these events! Even though we were 200 miles apart when we first met, Sandra said,”Are you going to let a few miles spoil your chances of sharing an aria together?” Of course, the answer was “NO!”, and thank goodness one of my cars was a Prius!

Sandra always encourages her guests to take a romantic canoe trip down the beautiful White River and that was our first date. We ended tipping the canoe over, almost losing her Chihuahua, watching the paddle float away downstream, all in ice cold water because the dam was open and releasing water from the depths of Beaver Lake. That didn’t put a damper on the romance, and a year later we were married in the beautiful Chinese Garden in St. Louis’ famous Botanical Gardens, surrounded by all our family.

Watch for the next chapter in this  heavenly love story. I, Carl, not only fell in love with the innkeeper, I fell in love with Eureka Springs and I am looking forward to joining Sandra in welcoming the next year of delightful guests.

Joyful blessings to all for a Happy New Year from Sandra and Carl!