Friday, August 22, 2008

Featured Inn: Heron Cay Bed & Breakfast

How am I ever going to keep my trim girlish figure while getting to know all the local Innkeepers and tasting their breakfast specialties! I LOVE it! I guess I'll just have to jog more.

This past weekend we were invited to Sunday Brunch at the Heron Cay Bed & Breakfast, a Victorian gem with Island-style that sits on a hillside overlooking Lake Dora. Immediately upon arriving, you can sense the playful spirit of the Innkeepers with their electric toy train that winds around their vast wrap-around porch, the antique juke box in the parlor and the gopher from Caddy Shack peeping at you from the buffet table.

Originally from Palm Beach County, Innkeepers Randy and Margie brought a little of South Florida with them when they moved up here to Mount Dora and transformed the former Darst Victorian Manor into a relaxing, laid-back island getaway. The large dining room is decorated with a light coral colored decor with sea shells, ship wheels, and a collection of Florida Highwaymen Paintings showing swaying palm trees and Florida's famous colorful sunsets.

We joined Randy and Margie in the kitchen to watch their morning festivities in preparation for breakfast. With a warm cup of coffee in hand, the scent of banana bread baking and light steel drum music strumming in the background, it was a perfect Sunday morning.

We learned that Randy and Margie became Innkeepers years ago, quite by default. They had purchased a large waterfront property in Jupiter that was a bit of a fixer upper. Margie was a real estate agent and Randy an engineer. After renovating the home to better fit it's waterfront location, their children had grown up and moved away to attend college and they found themselves empty nesters with a lot of square footage and a down real estate market, similar to today's. Margie suggested that they rent the rooms and make it into a bed & breakfast. And so with collected breakfast recipes from family and friends, the original Heron Cay was created. They named the property Heron Cay (pronounced "key") after a small island deeded along with their waterfront Jupiter home.

Randy and I are a lot alike in that we both like to talk with our hands ... which makes it challenging to talk and cook at the same time! We would get lost in another story and Margie would instinctively know to pop her head in from another room and get him back on task to making breakfast.

And what a delicious buffet! Whether you prefer sweet or savory, there is a little something for everyone on their breakfast table. A colorful fruit salad, paired with a poached egg recipe I can't wait to try at home. Margie does all the baking, making banana and pumpkin breads and cinnamon rolls.

After breakfast, Randy gave us a tour of their home. He is quite the antique maven and will happily guide you through his collections, explaining the details and history of his Highwaymen Paintings and Red Wing Stoneware collection.

Later we ventured outside to take a look at their garden. As if the home is not impressive enough, much of the fruit served at breakfast is grown right on property! Randy's green thumb cultivates pineapples, Honeybell oranges, Persian limes and key limes. And some of his non-edible, but more fragrant plants include eucalyptus and plumeria.

We also had the opportunity to play with Randy & Margie's beloved Borzois; Kalif, Pixie, Anastasia and Darla ... the REAL keepers of the Inn! These dogs are their pride and joy, and after seeing them frolic and play I can understand why!

If you are a pet lover yourself, the Heron Cay Bed & Breakfast does have a pet friendly room for small friendly pets!

Coming up this weekend is the Inaugural Florida Highwaymen Festival. Randy and Margie have been instrumental in getting this new event up and going with their knowledge of the Highwaymen history and their art collector contacts. I know all the local Innkeepers are grateful to them for helping us create a new Summer festival. Come check it out and meet all your local Innkeepers this weekend as well as 6 of the original Florida Highwaymen. For more information, take a look at the Florida Highwaymen Festival.


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