We recently caught up with business-owner Suzanne Oldakowski, who runs the Bavarian Manor Country Inn & Restaurant with her husband Stan, the Inn's chef. The Inn is a long-time staple in the area, with boarding house roots dating back to 1865. However, the couple is now combining old-fashioned charm with 21st century solar technology to produce a more cost-effective—and environmentally-friendly—business model.
“Energy,” she told us, “is a big draw for this 150 year old 4-story building. One has to remember that most of the boarding houses were built only for summer business. Electric bills are never fun to open, so we countered that with the installation of 2 solar systems. One is for hot water and the other is for electricity.”
The larger of the two systems is a 100-acre field of solar panels sending power back to the Central Hudson grid. “Instead of our meter spinning like mad,” Oldakowski explained, “it slows it down. Our usage is still greater than what we generate but our bills are much lower. With the savings we expect to pay for the system in about 9 years.” In addition to the savings, she adds that “it is enjoyable to be part of something ‘green.' ”
The Inn also boasts a hot water system placed on the roof of the kitchen. “Hotels have a notorious reputation for using lots of energy, namely hot water. This system has been in place with us for about 3 years now and produces 500 gallons of hot water a day."
When asked if she would recommend solar energy to other local business, her response was a resounding ‘Yes’ – however, she did offer this advice: “Do your research. Get educated better than the companies you need to deal with. There are a lot of snake oil salesmen. But at the same time, the idea of solar is simple.”
2015 marks the Bavarian Manor’s 150 year anniversary. To help celebrate the occasion, there will be a dinner special for $18.65. Although no date has been set, there are also plans underway for a party with music and fireworks.
It is Suzanne and Stan’s hope that their business remains a solid part of area for many more years to come. “We feel a responsibility of being the caretaker of such a historic property. It is a beautiful building and has always accepted the changes we made gracefully.”
Visit the Bavarian Manor website
Visit NYSERDA, the State Energy Division