It’s a good sign if you’re running a bed and breakfast and your guests keep coming back. It’s a better sign if you have a hard time getting them out the door at the end of their stay. “Often, people come in stressed-out or tired and ready for a break,” says Peter Gebauer, owner of Prescott’s Watson Lake Inn. “After they stay with us for two or three days, they’re almost like family. And they don’t want to leave.”
That affection results from a successful pairing of rustic charm and culinary expertise. Gebauer’s career as a chef has taken him from his native Germany to cruise lines and resorts all over the world. He met his wife, Aimé, in Mexico, and by 2016, the couple and their two children were living in Milwaukee, but Gebauer was getting tired of the corporate world — and the cold Wisconsin winters. “I’ve always had in the back of my mind that I wanted to open a bed and breakfast,” he says. “I thought it might be time.”
The opportunity arrived when Gebauer attended a chefs convention in Phoenix and decided to look for properties up north. A log home along State Route 89A, nestled between Watson and Willow lakes, caught his eye. Built in 1996, the building had served as a B&B and a private residence over the years. “I knew this was it,” Gebauer says.
The Watson Lake Inn opened in early 2017 and now features four rooms, although capacity has been limited due to COVID-19. Each room has a queen bed, a private bathroom and views of the area’s landmarks, including the Granite Dells, Granite Mountain and the distant San Francisco Peaks. Breakfast is served downstairs and tailored to guests’ preferences and dietary needs, and dinner is available by request.
“People come specifically with high expectations on the food,” Gebauer says. “I do a lot of local and seasonal ingredients. I cure meats and make cheese a couple of times a week. That all gets integrated into the menus.” And for vacationers seeking their own culinary education, Gebauer offers cooking classes on a wide range of topics in the B&B’s kitchen. (Those classes are available to non-guests, too.) “We often hear, ‘Oh, I’ve never had this ingredient or that ingredient,’ or ‘I’ve never had a dish like that,’ ” Gebauer says. “That tells me I got my mission accomplished.”
The views, the food and the nearby recreation opportunities mean it’s no wonder guests often are reluctant to hit the road. Gebauer knows that feeling, too. “It’s been a very pleasant experience,” he says. “If I had a chance to do it over again, I would have done it much sooner.”
3155 State Route 89