Escape to The Inn at Westwynd Farm in Hummelstown, Pennsylvania, and you will find a quiet countryside retreat with 25 beautiful horses roaming the hills. The B&B is situated on a working horse farm in a rustic setting, but it's conveniently only a few miles from Hershey. Innkeepers Frank & Carolyn Troxell turned their family home and 32-acre land into a charming inn with 11 guest rooms. Carolyn kindly took the time to let us interview her and learn more about her unique inn, the best things to do in the Hershey area, and why she loves her job.
1. How long have you been an innkeeper?
We have been innkeepers for 10 1/2 years.
2. What were some of the first steps you took once you decided to become an innkeeper?
My career in bank marketing and administration served me well. We felt we had an excellent location, but we still did our research on tourism statistics and developed a detailed business plan and five-year pro forma. We also gave a lot of thought to what it would mean to our lifestyle and whether we were ready for all the challenges. It's definitely a team effort. We both love what we are doing--our joke is if Frank (an engineer) couldn't fix stuff we couldn't do this. The cooking is the easy part. We also have wonderful staff and great marketing partners in Whitestone Marketing. It's important to be very clear on knowing what you don't know and then finding folks who do it well.
3. What do you enjoy most about being an innkeeper?
Most importantly, seeing our guests really enjoy the inn and farm. Their smiles are sunshine to us. We love every aspect of innkeeping--meeting new people, entertaining , cooking, problem solving even cleaning
4. When you opened The Inn at Westwynd Farm, what was your vision for it?
We wanted it to be a lovely respite that reflected some our own best travel experiences.
5. Why did you choose to have an inn in Hummelstown/Hershey?
We actually have owned our horse farm since 1980. When I retired from a career in banking, we added on and remodeled to create the bed & breakfast. We knew we were fortunate to have an ideal location just three miles from Hershey but also close to Lancaster County and the Amish and Gettysburg as well as Harrisburg, our state capitol. The farm also has a beautiful setting.
6. What are some of the local attractions or activities that make your town worth visiting?
The entire list could take pages. We are very close to Hershey Park, Chocolate World, The Hershey Story Museum, The Hershey Zoo and all the concert and theater venues in Hershey. In addition, there is a wonderful Antique Car Museum and Indian Echo Caverns and some great wineries all within a few miles. Lancaster County and Gettysburg are also nearby. The area is great for biking, and the Swatara Creek offers canoeing and great bird watching
7. What is your B&B's history?
Our children were showing horses, which led to purchase of the farm. We thought it would be more economical to keep their horses at home, and we would board a few to keep them company...The few horses now number 25 in addition to two alpaca, a goat, two dogs, and some very friendly barn cats. We stayed in a bed & breakfast on our 10th Anniversary and liked it. The more we traveled, the more we felt we would like to offer this special type of hospitality to others. When the children went off to start their own lives, that is exactly what we did.
8. What sets your B&B apart from others?
Our farm setting, yet still having the proximity to so many attractions. We often say we are "so convenient but a world apart."
9. Do you have any food specialties that guests love?
We try to use seasonal and local foods as much as possible. We have a small garden, and it's great fun when asparagus comes in or wonderful summer tomatoes. When we have a bumper crop of concord grapes as we did this year, we make juice and jam and really good pie. As for breakfast, our egg blossoms (eggs baked in ham cups) are always a big hit.
10. Why do you think travelers should choose B&Bs over hotels?
It's all the little unexpected extras, but most of all, the caring attention of the hosts that sets B&Bs apart.
By Emily Starbuck Crone