Bed & breakfast in the River District

Bed & breakfast in the River District

By Lisa Palmeno, Staff Writer

Loren Vantries opened his home as a bed and breakfast because he “wants to make Rockford a destination.” Church Street Bed & Breakfast (1003 N. Church St.) is now open for visitors, offering the usual European accoutrements, plus a lot more.

The Victorian home, built in the 1890s and recently remodeled, offers four bedrooms (one with a fireplace), TVs and VCRs in every room, books, tapes and cassettes, personal toiletries and complimentary chocolates on each pillow. Summertime visitors will have access to the above ground pool. Guests are encouraged to use the upstairs terrace, and the innkeeper strives to meet the needs of each person individually.

Vantries’ goal is to use the home as an alternative to chain hotels and motels while making the River District and other features in Rockford attractive to travelers. So far, the web site has attracted people from across the world, including a family from Kenya who planned to head in to Chicago for entertainment and enrichment activities. Apparently, they liked the accommodations well enough that they never made it in to the big city, instead opting for a personal tour of Rockford from their host.

According to the owner, bed & breakfasts are part of a subculture that is growing. He cited that such lodgings were used by less than 1 percent of all travel lodging in the U.S. in the 1970s but now comprise 13 percent of all travel lodging in the U.S.

In order to make Church Street’s offerings more interesting, Vantries has joined with Burpee Museum, Discovery Center, Repka Framing and Metro Centre to liven things up a bit. In November, the lodging package includes two tickets per room to the Minnesota Gopher/Wisconsin Badger Big Ten Football Game in Madison, Wis. Mallards Fan Christmas Party is slated for Dec. 13-15. Each package includes something special at a Rockford attraction, such as attending El Dia de Los Muertos exhibit for Day of the Dead at the Burpee Museum and tickets to Annie at NAT and Festival of Lights tour.

More family-style entertainment and activities are on the roster, says Vantries, who wants to “show what’s interesting about Rockford” and “present it in a way they like to see it.”

For more info., call (815) 965-6080 or visit www.Churchstreetbedandbreakfast.

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