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Turning the land to hospitality

Sometimes, ideas turn to plans that spin to grand proportions. And sometimes they work. by: POST PHOTO: NEIL ZAWICKI - Maggie Emmert laughs at the thought that she and her husband, Jerry, had plans to build a simple cabin, but they eneded up building a 6,000 square foot lodge.

Such is the case with Sandy Salmon Bed and Breakfast, east of Sandy, just before Brightwood. When Jerry and Maggie Emmert bought five and a half acres of overgrown forest with a little house at the confluence of the Sandy and Salmon rivers in 2000, all they really wanted to do was have a place to enjoy their retirement, and so they began building a modest cabin on their land.

There was no thought of opening a bed and breakfast. Actually, they had no background in the hospitality game; Jerry is a mechanical engineer and retired auto parts dealer and Maggie is a florist. At least that’s what they did in their professional lives. But maybe something about the commanding view of the rivers crashing together at the bottom of the cliff, or the Emmert’s entrepreneurial spirit, got the gears turning.

“We were just sitting out here on the patio, looking at the rivers, and we started musing about making this place a bed and breakfast,” said Maggie. “We knew taxes and permits would be high, but Jerry penciled it out and decided we could make a go of it.”

That “penciling out” led to a little bit more than the modest cabin they’d planned. When they opened in 2007, the end product turned out to be a 6,000-squarefoot lodge, designed and built by Jerry. There’s a koi pond in the entryway, just inside the door, and mounted game adorn the walls. A stone fireplace reaches up the peak of the cathedral ceiling in the main sitting room, and the patio connects to a path leading down to the rivers, which are also on the Emmert’s property. This is clearly not the retirement cabin they originally intended.

Of course, a bed and breakfast will stake its reputation on that second word, regardless of how majestic the accommodations are, and just because one has a state-of-the-art kitchen does not mean one should be playing chef there. Breakfast can certainly be done wrong, especially at $195 to $245 a night.

Maggie does the cooking, and she does it right.

“You won’t be disappointed,” she said.

Maggie said she grew up in a large family, where all the kids took turns in the kitchen. She was always the one who took her culinary task to new levels.

“My dad would always say, ‘well, we know who’s been cooking today,” she said. “I always wanted to garnish everything.”

For her guests, Maggie’s signature dish is her waffles. She also makes creme brulee, and of course eggs benedict, with properly poached eggs and fresh hollandaise.

Crafting a hollandaise takes skill, as does designing and building a lodge. Beyond the architecture, Jerry has managed to lend his hand in this regard as well. He built the pool table in the recreation room, its markers made of old Indian Head nickels.

These small touches add to the experience at the Emmert’s place. Summer is their biggest season, but Maggie said they still get some guests in the winter. In terms of numbers, she has that “pencilled out” as well.

“I don’t know, we just take whoever comes,” she said casually. “Of course, when you come, you never know what kind of décor you’re going to find. Did you ever meet a florist who didn’t change stuff?”