ABOUT YOUR INNKEEPERS
Founded by Sandra CH Smith, retired journalist, lobbyist for the Arts/current author and actor, arrived in Eureka Springs in 1992 after spending seven years sailing alone from San Francisco to 1837 miles off the Galapagos and near Easter Island in her Ericson 35 sailboat. She added to her life-long collection of treasures she previously had brought back from studying and travelling in Europe and Britain. Included were not only art treasures and artifacts from Mexico and Central America which adorn the inn, but also, from all those years at sea, a sense of serene timelessness which sets the mood for guests at Cliff Cottage Inn.
No newcomer to Bed & Breakfasts, Sandra stayed in many during years of travel abroad starting as an eleven-year old studying in Scotland and later, as a university student for several years in France. She opened Philadelphia’s very first B&B in 1978 when she was a starving poet reciting her verses to jazz on a weekly radio show, appearing with the Philadelphia Opera, Pennsylvania Opera and other theater companies, and existing on a steady diet of raisins and peanuts! An accomplished chef, Sandra learned to cook on an 18th-Century wood-burning stove in the south of France after receiving degrees from the University of Grenoble and University of Provence in Aix-en-Provence. Her cuisine also reflects the tastes of Scotland where she went to school as a kid and learned to eat kippers and haggis as a child, and manages to include a hint of the tropical flavors she learned to love while living in Jamaica and traveling for years around remote islands in the Caribbean. She has been a featured guest chef on a CBS-TV cooking show and her cookbook-memoir, “A Cook’s Tour of Epicuria – One Woman’s Adventures” has become a very popular souvenir for guests to take home as a memento of their visit. (Her book is now sold out but some used copies are available on Amazon.) Sandra began her love affair with the Ozarks and specifically, Eureka Springs, from the moment she arrived….she had sold her boat in Puerto Vallarta and become a landlubber after a near fatal accident at sea off Guatemala. While trying to save her boat from sinking after a temporary crew member fell asleep at the helm and broke the boom off, she got the “message” to “Go to Arkansas!” While the young crewman lay huddled on the floor, crying and paralyzed by fear, it took Sandra over 4 hours to right the boat and she has since learned from a guest who himself, was an ocean sailor, that this was something of a miracle. The designer of her Ericson 35, Bruce King, lost his boat and entire crew drowned in a similar accident on the way back from a California-Mexico race.
While sitting in a cafe in Puerto Vallarta trying to figure out what to do with the next phase of her life, Sandra met some fellows from Springfield, MO and told them she was going to Arkansas in a few days and was that anywhere near Missouri (she had no clue where Arkansas was located!) They said it was one state away and suggested she go to Eureka Springs….”there are people like you up there!” (She didn’t know if this was an insult or a compliment, but decided to make her way to Eureka Springs and she has been here ever since!) Sandra’s favorite pastime (besides cooking) is sharing her enthusiasm for the surroundings with her guests. On cool summer evenings or brisk winter nights, she may be inspired to share her sea stories with guests. (While sailing alone, she created the “As the Anchor Drags Radio Show”, reading poetry and stories on the air to hundreds of Pacific boaters and landlubbers with VHF radios and managed to read on her radio program the entire book, Treasure Island, while hanging out in a hurricane hole in the Sea of Cortez.) Sandra met Carl Rohne (from St. Louis) online in 2009 while she was director of the Springfield Regional Arts Council and commuting back and forth to her inn. The two were married in 2010 at the Missouri Botanical Gardens and promptly took off on a 38,000-mile honeymoon in their RV they named “Regina Victoria”, traveling across Canada then up to the Arctic Ocean and down to the tip of the Baja. Carl loves his new role as the inn’s elf and he’s lately taken up baking for the inn. His widely varied background from medievalist with a Ph.D. in European Medieval HIstory, to marketing to real estate makes him well-suited for his new career as inn-greeter and chief elf.
Keeping an inn certainly isn’t what it once was. Sandra’s article “The Good Old Days of Bed and Breakfasting” in Guidebook America provides an anecdotal account of the early days of inn-keeping and is well worth a read! Innkeeper Sandra’s 265-page cookbook-memoir, A COOK’S TOUR OF EPICURIA…ONE WOMAN’S ADVENTURES, with 16 full-page photographs from her various adventures, is filled with her original recipes and many anecdotal stories of her life-time of travel. The perfect gift for that diva/divo in your life(not available to the Inn’s competitors). Sandra is currently looking for a publisher for her first volume about all the sailing adventures, entitled (unless she changes it again!), “Out Of The Fog.” Carl is also seeking a publisher for his book about the two-year honeymoon adventures they had in the RV, entitled, “I Can Do This”. So watch the NY Times “Best Seller” lists!