Wine Trader Magazine

Featuring the Travel Curmudgeon by Jerry D. Mead

Sans Souci Euro Inn...Without a Michigan

SANS SOUCI is one-of-a kind. This is not an ordinary inn by any stretch of the imagination. In 1988, Angelika Siewert decided to share her glorious southwestern Michigan property with guests. And a special domain it is! A lusciously landscaped estate, one-third of it encompassed by Lake Sans Souci and other waterbodies, it enjoys boundaries that run along the Galien River. It is also home to rarely found lowlands where the yellow-throated warbler, wood ducks, kingfishers, herons, and others live together in harmony.

Sans Souci is, in reality, a state of mind-a feeling. Literally translated "without a care," Sans Souci, in essence, is to find total tranquility and relaxation. And, Angelika has seen to that. Coexisting and blending with the environment is uppermost in her mind. The estate, over 35 years in the Siewert family, has taken on the character of a nature preserve, with emphasis on tree growth and preservation of wildlife habitat. The gentle characteristic of flowing meadows and sparkling lakes completes the feeling of stress-free surroundings and makes for a very pleasing atmosphere.

dot Accommodations, located in several buildings to insure privacy and quiet, reflect the simple sophistication of nature itself. They include: a 3 bedroom house, a 2 bedroom house, two 1 bedroom cottages, and two 1 bedroom suites with private entrances. Angelika's superb and impressive taste shows. Elegant and classic European design characterizes each interior, complete with quality furnishings, German antiques, buttersoft colors including the window, wall and floor coverings, and appropriate accessories. She has seen to it that her guests enjoy the best by combining Old World collections and craftsmanship with New World comforts and conveniences. Amenities include: TV w/ VCR, audio system, telephone, A/C, toiletries, whirlpool/jacuzzi, fireplaces, and turn-down service. Languages spoken are: English, Spanish, and German.

Guests awaken as the sun rises over Lake Sans Souci to the fresh aroma of home baked goodies. After a morning walk through the woods, meadows, and/or along the shoreline, they can indulge in a complimentary, hearty, full breakfast of juices, fresh fruit, yogurt, granola, assorted cereals, meat & cheese plate, soft/hard boiled eggs, a variety of fresh-baked breads, coffee, tea, and milk. Or for those who have kitchen facilities, they may elect to prepare their own meals. The option is there.

Rates for a stay at Sans Souci begin at $98 and go to $185 plus any and all applicable taxes. The inn is handicapped accessible; for particulars check with reservations. Children of all ages are welcome. All major credit cards are welcome as are personal checks and cash. This is a no pets inn and smoking is allowed only in rooms with fireplaces. Gift certificates are available.

dot This is the quintessential retreat and the ideal rural locale for weekend getaways, vacations, corporate seminars, or think-tank sessions. To help in the latter, audio-visual equipment and fax are on-site.

Water sports on Lake Michigan is an added nearby treat and fall foliage, biking, cross-country skiing, fruit picking, and horseback riding should always be on the agenda seasonally. Guests will definitely want to set aside a day or so for antiquing, browsing through art galleries, and visits to some of Michigan's finest wineries. Check with the staff for all the newest "fun things to do" and for other recommendations and/or reservations.

dot To get to Sans Souci, take I-94 in Michigan: exit #1. Go south toward Laporte for 3/10 of a mile. Then go 3 miles east on Wilson Road to the end.

For a brochure or a reservation, write to: Sans Souci Euro Inn, 19265 South Lakeside Road, New Buffalo, Michigan 49117 or call them @ (616) 756-3141. Their FAX is: (616) 756-5511. E-mail:

There's also a website to visit:

Sans Souci is a few miles off the beaten path, but for those who want total relaxation and waterfowl as their vacation neighbors, this is the place!

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Sandi Wechsler is a prolific writer whose syndicated columns on antiques and collectables has been running for 14 years. She also writes three different travel features for as many different publications. In previous lives she was one of America's first female disc jockeys (specializing in rhythm & blues before it was fashionable), a talk show host, retired as a director of nursing, and has spent more than 30 years married to (and following around) a clinical professor who went from medical schools to Indian reservations.

dotThe Travel Curmudgeondot
By Jerry D. Mead
The Travel Curmudgeon (TTC), and the Curmudgeoness, recently did the "Inside Passage" to Alaska thing. It was our first time to Alaska and our first time with Princess Cruises, specifically the Crown Princess.

In typical TTC fashion, we'll give the proverbial pat on the back before delivering the metaphorical kick to the groin.

Overall, it was a great trip (TTC's lifelong ability to take sunshine with him wherever he goes worked again...the cruise people kept commenting how it was the most clear days they had seen all season), and the ship itself is a beauty, large and well appointed, with a variety of restaurants, theaters, nightclubs and shops.

The casino, however, is a major "gyp-joint" (typical, TTC thinks, of cruise casinos in general). The poker machines pay the lowest per hand payouts anywhere in the gaming industry (so one can assume all the slots are equally stingy), and the form of blackjack played is that sometimes seen in Europe rather than the more player-friendly Nevada style.

The cabins are very roomy, even in the modest sections of the ship where TTC was situated. Comfortable twin beds, and a well appointed bathroom, desk, tv, refrigerator and a great picture window instead of a porthole. This window feature being extremely important on a cruise where virtually every minute of every daylight hour (and there's plenty of those during the cruise season) offers spectacular scenery from one side of the ship or the other or both.

dot The side trips arranged by Princess were all professionally operated and interesting. Alas! We soon learned that the same excursions could have been booked on shore for as little as half as much as Princess was charging, but paying the cruise ship's mark-up does guarantee you getting back to the ship if it has to leave without you due to some delay on your side trip.

We did most of the tourist stuff, including the seaplane through the Misty Fjords, landing on an isolated lake and walking on the pontoons, listening to the dramatic silence broken only by the occasional call of some distant bird.

The helicopter visit to a real live glacier, landing on same and having the opportunity to walk around on this thousands of years old giant ice cube on its way to the sea was in a word... awesome.

Another visit to a mock mining camp with lunch in a tent followed by a camp show and the chance to pan for gold was very, very touristy and D-landish, but TTC thought one of the entertainers was a real cutie... and the Curmudgeoness was heard to mumble something about "dogs chasing cars..."

The service throughout the ship tended to be cruise ship attentive (a good thing) and our waiters at both lunch and dinner were outstanding and went out of their way to accommodate. We were never charged corkage (we had been told there would be a $10 per bottle fee) though we brought our own wine for virtually every meal.

The food? Adequate, would be TTC's assessment. Imagine an upscale hotel serving banquet fare to several hundred people at the same time and you get the idea. We're not talking coffee shop food here, but neither are we talking 50-seat gourmet restaurant style either. And some dishes were better than others. Rare and even medium rare for red meats seemed an impossible request, and underdone for fish was out of the question.

All of the above can be forgiven considering the volume, and the basic ingredients generally tended to be of high quality.

dot Two things, however, TTC found to be absolutely unforgivable.

Princess serves INSTANT COFFEE, even in its fine dining room and in most of its bars, at breakfast, lunch and dinner. We did discover one lounge across from the hotel main desk where coffee was actually brewed. It became TTC's breakfast spot, even if there was nothing but pastries to eat. The instant coffee that Princess serves is not the powdered stuff, but a liquid concentrate such as Air France and some others use. TTC doesn't even have to taste it to recognize it...its aroma gives it away every time.

The other unforgivable is some kind of prefab scrambled eggs. I don't know if they're actually powdered a la the military, or some new kind of institutional liquid or what, but there isn't anyone back there breaking eggs to scramble, and they have all the taste of wallpaper paste. The dining room captain insisted you could get the real thing by requesting "two eggs scrambled, as opposed to scrambled eggs." I didn't feel I should have to bother.

TTC would like to thank the Princess Cruise personnel who facilitated getting wine onboard for both seminars and personal consumption. Due to Canada being unfriendly toward American wine, we had to ship much of it all the way to our first port in Alaska to avoid customs and red tape

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Latest Update: December 10, 1997