Kicking back with a coffee or tea and watching birds feed and trees blow in the wind can do you a world of good every so often.
This type of stress-free relaxation is on offer at the White Horse Escape, the bed and breakfast operation run by Jim Bakken and Sheila Cox at their home in St. Francois Xavier.
"We always have songbirds at our feeders," Bakken said. Pelicans, herons, eagles and many smaller birds are regularly spotted close by, along with a variety of wild animals.
"We’re really gifted with the area," he said.
Located at 75 Caron Dr., just off Highway 26, the couple’s home is filled with artwork and surrounded by natural beauty. And they’re willing to share these comforts with guests from around the world.
"We haven’t had a bad experience in 10 years," Bakken said.
He and Cox moved from River Heights in Winnipeg into the house, situated close to the Assiniboine River, 15 years ago. While they worked in downtown Winnipeg, they felt the benefits of a rural lifestyle were worth the commute.
Bakken said they didn’t originally buy the two-storey home with the idea of running a bed and breakfast, but the idea of opening one came to them later after they stayed in B&Bs while travelling in eastern Canada.
"We sort of slid into the B&B sideways," he joked.
The couple added a front section to the house, along with a garage and pottery studio, about 12 years ago. They now have two large second-floor bedrooms, each with a double bed and private bathroom available for guests, along with the use of two attractive sitting areas, a library, pool table, kitchen and dining facilities on the main floor. Guests can enjoy the outdoors while soaking in the hot tub, sitting on the deck or in the gazebo.
Bicycles and a canoe are available for those who want to cycle and explore the area or paddle along the river.
Bakken said he and Cox tell their guests about the rich history of St. Francois Xavier, and recommend that they take a walk through the village. Visitors can stop at the S.F.X .
Country Store to buy some homemade baking or a bottle of their favourite wine to enjoy in front of one of the White Horse Escapes’ fireplaces.
Artwork by artists from Manitoba is displayed throughout the house and offered for sale, along with pottery created by Bakken.
While breakfast is included in the room rates, Bakken offers to cook dinners for an additional cost.
Bakken said their rooms are usually booked about six months ahead.
"A lot of people come out from Winnipeg for escapes," he said, adding that many couples use it as a handy destination for a romantic weekend.
"Often it’s just the need to get out of the city," Cox said.
As of Aug. 20, White Horse Escape was listed on TripAdvisor Canada as No. 1 of 17 B&Bs in the Winnipeg area.
Bakken said, as members of BBCanada and the Bed and Breakfast Association of Manitoba, their B&B is listed on those organizations’ sites, but many of their guests first hear about them from family and friends who’ve stayed there.
"We get a lot of repeat business. We feel good about that," he said.