Innkeepers have brought European bicycle culture to Long Island.
Marty and Elyse Buchman, who have been bicycling the world together for a decade, opened the Stony Brookside Bed & Bike Inn on June 1, located at 48 Main St., Stony Brook.
The couple set out to create a bed and breakfast that would cater to cyclists; providing not only sleeping space and a morning meal, but bike tour itineraries and even bikes, if needed, as well. Two months in, business has been much better than they expected.
“We’ve had people just looking for a place to stay — and that’s fine,” the husband said, indicating that not only cyclists have made up their clientele. A wedding party used Brookside for lodging recently.
The Buchmans have enjoyed bicycling in Europe because traveling by bicycle is considered normal there. It’s not just recreation; it’s a legitimate form of transportation, even for vacationers.
Their inspiration for a new kind of American bed and breakfast came during a 2010 bike tour of Italy. They booked a room in a “bike hotel” in Riccione on the Adriatic Sea. “Each day a guide came and took you for a different ride,” Marty said. “The idea was that you came back to the same place; and didn’t have to worry about navigating [your way] around.”
The following week they had a similar experience at Lake Garda in the mountains of northern Italy, this time staying at a “sports hotel.”
By vacation’s end, they had all the inspiration needed to start their own business.
When they first saw the colonial revival building at 48 Main Street, next to the Stony Brook Grist Mill and across the street from the duck pond, they decided it was perfect.
Built in 1941 by renowned architect Richard Haviland Smythe in a beautiful natural setting, it had the added advantage of being within walking distance of restaurants and shops, a museum and historical landmarks, a pond and nature preserve. It took perseverance, patience and negotiation skills, but they were able to purchase the house in 2014.
“This is an up and coming area for people to visit,” Marty said. “We’re always struck by how beautiful it is when we go on bike rides. People think they have to go out to the Hamptons or Sag Harbor. This is an undiscovered area. Just in the past year, [the opening of] the Jazz Loft and the Reboli Center, it seems like a lot of stuff is happening.”
The couple has done various kinds of marketing. The most effective, they said, was the simplest. A friend who runs a bike tour company put their business cards in every bike store in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
“It’s called a Bed and Bike Inn because it is a Bed & Breakfast, but oriented towards cyclists,” Marty said. “We have mechanical stuff. We have pumps. We have everything you might need for your bike. We have bikes, we have helmets; but most importantly, if you come to me and you say, ‘I want to do 20 miles and I want to see historic things,’ I’ve created a route book to provide just that. People can look through our ride book and decide what fits them.”
Elyse pointed out that each ride page gives you distance and elevation data in addition to the general route.
“Once a route is chosen, we print out turn-by-turn directions and we also provide a Garmin GPS which mounts on their bike and beeps when they have to make a turn,” Marty said. “I have lots of suggested routes — everything from 12 to 100 miles.”
Marty is a high school history teacher and said he would love to lead a local history bike tour. So far, though, no one has asked for that. Elyse noted that most guests have preferred self-guided rides, because then it becomes an adventure. “People tend to like to do that,” she said.
The house has three bedrooms, each with a private bath, and is open to guests seasonally. It will close Nov. 1 and reopen to guests on April 1 next year. For more information, call 631-675-0393.