Home away from home
For nine years, Mantorville Farms was an online business which helped put chocolates made in Mantorville in the hands of people across the country.
After a tough go of things with more and more competition online, the online business came to an end in February of 2018.
“Our sales were flat the last few years, so we decided to try something else,” said Terry Eckstein, owner of Mantorville Farms.
While Mantorville Farms no longer handles online sales, its customers are still able to get the Mantorville made chocolates they love to this day.
Since all of the chocolate was made at the Chocolate Shop in Mantorville, Eckstein approached its owner, Lynette Nash, about taking over the online business.
She agreed making it a smooth transition for the chocolate lovers.
It also didn’t take long for Eckstein to find a new calling for his Mantorville Farms businesses.
After being approached by one of his long time employees, Kim Hauer, about the idea of taking advantage of Eckstein’s home, which served as the headquarters for Mantorville Farms for many years.
That idea was to turn Mantorville Farms into a Bed and Breakfast.
After considering the idea for a bit, Eckstein decided to pursue the new venture with one condition that Hauer would join him.
Eckstein explained that he needed Hauer’s help to repurpose some of the rooms in the house, and he also needed her to be the official co-host, taking care of guests when Eckstein is traveling, a press release stated.
In August of 2017, Mantorville Farms had its first guests, which were couples that were in southeastern Minnesota, visiting people at Mayo.
After the instant success of the first couple of stays, Hauer and Eckstein figured that they would be booked out for months ahead.
That changed, however, when Eckstein’s 14-year-old German Shepard named Maddie, began to suffer from serious health issues.
Since they felt uncomfortable leaving Maddie at the house with strangers when they weren’t there, they didn’t take reservations and instead blocked off the calendar when Eckstein would be out of town for work.
Unfortunately, Maddie’s health began to decline and she had to be put to sleep. Because they are both dog lovers, they decided to make the bread and breakfast, dog friendly, meaning that guests are allowed to bring their dogs, which is a huge plus for many that travel with their dogs.
Although it is called a bed and breakfast, Mantorville Farms does not provide any meals. Guests are free to use the large kitchen and outdoor grill, but most of the guests take advantage of the different restaurants and cafes in the area.
The room rate at Mantorville Farms is $89 per night. This is an above average rate per night for a room rental, but Kim says that “our guests don’t mind the price, where else can they listen to owls in the evening and watch bald eagles glide over the river in the morning.” Guests that stay for a week or a month receive a substantial discount.
The bed and breakfast is listed with three different agencies: Airbnb,
Home Away and VRBO. Guests make their reservations and pay for the stay with one of the agencies. The agency also charges the guest a fee and collects the sales tax before paying Mantorville Farms for the room.
One of the favorite things, for Hauer, about the new business venture is seeing how excited guests are when they see the location.
“It’s great to see peoples faces and how amazed they are,” Hauer said.
Aside from the bed and breakfast, Mantorville Farms has published two short stories, which all guests receive for free.
In the future, they are working on writing more books that promote Christian values, as well as Mantorville.
The venue for each story is Mantorville and some of the characters are real people from Mantorville. Eckstein said they recently received an incentive to write the books more frequently.
After talking to a friend who has a side business of writing screen plays, Eckstein was told that if he published 13 short stories that he would write the screenplays and market the group of short stories as a television series.
Eckstein is excited about that though and said that if that happens, everyone will know about Mantorville.
For now, Hauer and Eckstein are excited to have guests from all over visit Mantorville and to enjoy the utiful location of Mantorville Farms.