Story by Julie Campbell
There’s a secret ingredient included in every breakfast that Lighthouse Lodge innkeeper Bonnie Triplett serves her guests. And it keeps them coming back year after year.
“I had a little guest who was five years old, and she said she didn’t like eggs,” Bonnie explained. “I told her, ‘My eggs are special. I cook with love. Have you ever tasted love in eggs?’”
Needless to say, the little guest tried the eggs and loved them. The next year she returned with her family and gave a special message to Bonnie.
“I remember you,” she said. “You cook with love! And I still eat eggs.”
This is just one example of why guests return to the Lighthouse Lodge on Lake Shafer time and time again.
“It’s the type of place you come to and you know you’re at home,” said Bonnie’s husband, Mike.
Originally from Chicago, the Tripletts are no strangers to the hospitality industry. For 31 years, they owned Gabriel’s Pub, a popular restaurant and bar in Melrose Park, Illinois.
Following a series of unexpected events, including their son developing terminal brain cancer, they retired from the restaurant business and became permanent residents of Monticello.
“During the time we were caring for Michael, he gave us a different perspective on what the quality of life was. He continually told me, ‘You should open a bed and breakfast; you love to take care of people,’” Bonnie recalled.
Following Michael’s passing, the couple decided to rezone their home on Lake Shafer and
add several levels with seven deluxe suites, featuring private balconies overlooking the lake, cozy fireplaces, kitchenettes and all the comforts of home. In addition to the suites, their property now includes five two-bedroom cottages – all within 100 feet of the lodge. A historic stone lighthouse built in the 1930s adds charm and ambience to the large park-like lawn complete with two fire pits, a sandy beach, children’s play area and a scenic dry creek bed that runs through the property.
Mike and Bonnie are delightful hosts with a playful sense of humor and a practical sense of business.
“We divided up the ‘Bs’ for our bed and breakfast: Bonnie’s ‘Bs’ are bed, breakfast, and banquets. My ‘Bs’ are boat, bonfire, and beverages,” said Mike with a laugh. “And we’re both good at what we do.”
While Bonnie enjoys cooking for the guests and planning events, Mike loves taking folks out for excursions on the pontoon boat, which can be rented for cruises and tubing.
With beautiful Lake Shafer as a backdrop, the lodge is a popular spot for weddings, hosting an average of 15 to 17 per year.
“We have plenty of people that come because it’s on the water. We had one wedding where the couple got married on the sand, because they couldn’t afford to go to Hawaii,” Bonnie explained. “When you’ve got a water background and have the waves hitting the rocks – if you’ve got your feet in the sand, it’s OK if its Monticello, Indiana!”
The lodge also hosts several family reunions and corporate retreats each year.
“If they rent all the rooms, they also get the use of the rec room,” said Mike. “They don’t have to go out for lunch or dinner – they can cook their own meals right here. Or we can do all-inclusive packages, too.”
While the majority of their guests come from the Indianapolis or Chicago areas, the Tripletts also host guests from surrounding states like Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Kentucky. It’s no wonder folks are drawn to the area with its scenic lake views and tranquil atmosphere.
“My favorite part of owning the lodge is making people happy,” said Bonnie. “I love that every person who comes to our facility goes home with a memory of me. Whether it be the wedding that I helped with, the breakfast that they had, or their children that we taught how to ski. We’re not in the business of a bed and breakfast – we’re in the business of making memories.”
While you’re in Monticello, be sure to check out Indiana Beach (in season), a popular boardwalk style amusement and water park in the area. The park has come a long way since its beginnings in the 1920s and boasts six world famous roller coasters and a variety of other attractions, restaurants, live shows and, of course, the beach.
The Madam Carroll on Lake Freeman is another sight to see and experience while in the area. the largest boat in Indiana offers dinner and entertainment cruises, and guests can also enjoy cocktails in the Luse Lounge while the boat is at dock Wednesday and Thursday from 4 to 10 p.m.
Another must-see site for transportation buffs is the Whistle Stop Restaurant and Monon Connection Museum in nearby Monon. The museum features over 6,000 pieces of railroad memorabilia inside the museum as well as several railroad cars, cabooses, and railroad crossing signs outdoors.
Visit enjoywhitecounty.com for more information.