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Picture yourself enjoying breakfast in a large room, with ceiling to floor windows that look out over a vast countryside. A small pond to the right is home to happily floating ducks and two swans. As you continue to indulge in your wonderful meal you look up to find yourself eye to eye with a beautiful blue-eyed horse and many of his closest friends as they graze along the gently sloping countryside. Could your morning possibly be off to any greater start.
Eric and Julia Guggisberg established Guggisberg Swiss Inn, located in the heart of Amish Country between Millersburg and Berlin, roughly nineteen years ago. As they stood atop a hill overlooking Doughty Valley, the couple decided that all of the nature around them was something they wanted to share. Having always dreamed of owning an inn, the Guggisberg Swiss Inn was born.
"It's too gorgeous not to share," Julia said. "We have a niche that is so different, because we have the horses and this amazing view."
Julia grew up in Millersburg and Eric always had horses and often went riding down in South Carolina. After one particular trip Eric and Julia said "we can do better than that" and so in 1998 they added the riding stables to the business.
"We love the country," Julia said. "We really have a passion for what we do."
The Inn is family owned and operated. According to Eric and Julia, guests often find one of their daughters at the front desk ready to check people in. The couple has five children; one boy, Adam, and four girls, Brittania, Meg, Ericka and Ariel, two of which live out of state while the other three help with the business.
"Our son helped us build," Julia said. "He lives in Houston now and our one daughter is in San Diego.
"I'm proud of the fact that my children have always been balanced," Julia said. "They've been able to work side by side with the business."
One aspect, which makes Guggisberg Swiss Inn unique apart from the location and landscape, is the roaming horses. Resting on 15 acres dedicated to the inn and an additional five reserved for the hills, the establishment is home to 19 horses (one is retired) and two donkeys. Also on the premises is a duck pond, with two swans and dozens of ducks. The Guggisberg's welcome most animals that like to wander onto the property.
Aside from horseback riding and lots of land for guests to walk and view, the Inn offers a wide array of amenities and extras to make its guests' stay as comfortable as possible. Among them Guggisberg Swiss Inn offers a complimentary breakfast with hot breakfast casserole, cereals, breads, fruit, fresh cinnamon rolls, muffins and beverages.
While the riding stables are only open to the public during the warmer seasons, horse-drawn sleigh rides are available during the winter months.
Julia's favorite part of owning the business is the opportunity she has to meet so many different people.
"I have met so many wonderful people and after 19 years they keep coming back," Julia said. "We get a lot of world travelers."
As the Inn relies mainly on word of mouth, the Guggisberg's strive to make each visit enjoyable.
"When somebody comes here and they are stressed from just life in general, they often just need a few days to recover," Julia said. "It's very serene...just a nice getaway. When you come here, you have the chance to refresh yourself. You can refresh your whole attitude."
"Nice getaway" may be a bit of an understatement when it comes to describing the Guggisberg Swiss Inn. With the vast scenery and the comfort of the grounds and the Inn itself, guests can truly relax and take in the beauty of what's around them.
"We love what we do so much...it's just our life," Julia said.
Guggisberg Swiss Inn is the perfect place for a bus group, family reunion, workplace retreat, church retreat, couples' retreat, bridal shower or any type of group get-together. The Inn is also ideal for small weddings, whether in the lobby or the gazebo. For the horse lover, Julia suggests guests can either saddle up a couple of horses after they exchange vows or hitch up the carriage to take them away after the ceremony. The staff at Guggisberg Swiss Inn can cater the food for the reception, take care of the flowers, the cake and much more (the Inn is for small, intimate weddings of 75 people or less).
As part of their goals for the future, Eric and Julia are in the process of expanding the features they offer.
"Our biggest goal is to build on with a winery," Julia said. "Eric has always had a hobby of making homemade wine and we want to incorporate that with what we already offer."
A winery for Guggisberg Swiss Inn would definitely be a successful addition. The new winery will sit just outside the dining area with a small outdoor patio that connects it to the rest of the Inn. Guests can enjoy their glass of wine, outside, on the small bistro style patio or in the dining area which both overlook the grounds of the Inn.
"Wouldn't you be more excited relaxing here with a glass of wine?" Asked Julia. Eventually, Eric and Julia hope to, one day, incorporate a Switzerland feel to their winery.
"How we imagine it is to incorporate the feel of Switzerland," Julia said. "Hors d'oeuvres, meals, wines and the atmosphere would reflect the heritage within each region. This would also be beneficial with the weddings and special events that we help host."
The Doughty Glen Winery will open tentatively in the spring.
Guggisberg Swiss Inn is located at 5025 SR 557 between Millersburg and Berlin, just north of Charm. For more information or to make reservations call 330-893-3600 or visit www.guggisbergswissinn.com.