Thistledowne at Seul Choix
Picture Lake Michigan in your head and mark a spot centered at the top equidistant from Escanaba to the west and the Straits of Mackinaw to the east. You have just located Thistledowne at Seul Choix about 12 miles east of Manistique. On a state map you will see prominent Seul Choix Point and Seul Choix Bay. Pronounce it "Sis-Shwa". It means "only choice."
Arrington's Bed & Breakfast Journal's 2004 Book of Lists reported that inngoers have voted Thistledowne at Seul Choix the "Seventh Most Elegant Inn in North America."
I will never forget our first visit. Bouquets of fresh cut flowers filled our room. The furnishings and art were exceptional. We found personal terrycloth robes, Thistledowne stamped dark chocolate wafers, abundant Aveda products in the bathroom, a fresh breeze off the lake and the easy sound of surf washing to the beach. The wonderful ambiance of it all was unexpected and the second morning I said to my wife, "It makes me wonder what those other six inns are like!" She replied, "While you go find out, I'll just stay right here!"
Thistledowne was as good a B&B as I can imagine, and I was raised in the resort business, but don't limit it to that. You may want it all for yourself as a magnificently finished single family home on a perfect beach with unusual privacy and great access off US2 six miles to the north. Perhaps it would also make sense to use it as a B&B for a while, depreciate it for tax purposes, and then use it for your private home. Or someone who offers specialized training, such as a master chef or watercolor artist, might offer a package of housing and classes.
I grew up on a Lake Michigan beach just like this one and the memories are all so good. Every morning I would wake up and immediately walk to the window to look out at the lake. It was never the same. That first look would give me a forecast for the kind of day that was in store.
Lake Michigan can be a lake of glass with varying pleasures of the moment: a commercial fisherman trailed by a flock of gulls; a pair of bald eagles fishing (two pairs nest on the property); long, dark freighters sparkling with lights steaming to distant ports; storms, sun, flight ducks low over the water; a veil of mist, fog, or the soft light of sunrise and dramatic sunset. When the wind is up I love that too.
This lovely place has the fresh, pine scented feel of the North Country but it is within a day's drive for anyone in the Midwest, which is to say 60% of the U.S. population. If you are thinking you'd own and use it not as a B&B but as a vacation home be prepared to discover that you love the winters in the U.P., as I do. Thistledowne was designed to be maintenance free and always has been used year round. It has redundantly large utility systems and even a backup 8,000 KW generator.
The difference between most homes and this one with 4,000 square feet, 4 1/2 baths, four bedrooms, five fireplaces, all magnificently conceived and elegantly finished, is all in the details. Click right here to read what it takes to get it right.
We stayed there in June. The wind was up on Lake Michigan, and I woke very late to a moonrise and the sound of the surf. I listened for an hour to the rhythmic sound of waves washing to the beach. It's a lovely, sustained, three-second crescendo and wash to the beach, the sound of an ocean. And this is an ocean with no hurricanes, and no offshore oil and gas.
Beaver Island and the cluster of small islands, Whiskey, High, and Hog lie 20 miles to the South, actually ten miles closer to this shore than to Charlevoix. You can view them in detail with the telescope in the Tower Room.
This is the least-fished area on northern Lake Michigan, which is to say that this is one of those rare places that miss the fishing fleet. Fisheries biologists tell me it holds bragging size trout, bass, perch and northerns. There's a public launch ramp nearby at the Seul Choix Lighthouse.
This beach is 60 feet or so wide and the swimming is perfect. Behind the beach the pines in front of Thistledowne were retained to keep the structure from dominating the natural setting. I admire that so much and know from a real estate perspective that a view through trees, and the sound of the trees in the wind, is infinitely more interesting and appealing than a glaring, unobstructed view of an open lake. So many people make the mistake of cutting too much, too soon, and then compound the error by planting non-native trees.
This bay is as private a stretch of Lake Michigan beach as you will find. No other structure is visible except the 1895 Lighthouse across Seul Choix Bay, but in fact you do have neighbors here in fine homes. You'd have to be in a boat to see them as all are set back from the forested edge. That's about as "developed" as this bay will ever be.
Two pairs of bald eagles nest on the property. A black bear once walked across the porch, three moose live here and a mountain lion roams the property with pictures on the wall to prove it. When we were here Canada geese were calling, riding on the wind.
So who needs it? Well...
Would you like to own a very private, architect-designed home that was built totally without compromise and with exquisite taste on the sandy shore of an inland sea?
Have you looked at owning a home or vacation home in Traverse City, Charlevoix or Petoskey? If what you really want is more land, a more perfect beach, and a house of uncompromising design and quality at what will likely be a $2,000,000 to $3,000,000 discount over what you'd pay for the same structure, on the same beach but below the Mackinaw Bridge, you might want to think about this property.
Will you "retire" soon but plan to remain active? Do you like meeting interesting people? Guests have come to Thistledowne from all over the world: England, Australia, Hong Kong, Germany, Ireland, and Czechoslovakia. The guest log tells it all: "Thank you for spoiling us", and, "The attention to detail is outstanding. Everything from site selection, building design, decor, food and beverage choices, and food preparation is exquisite. You chose not to compromise and the result is one of the finest B&B's in the country." Take a minute to read more comments from former guests by clicking here.
Have you always wanted to own a B&B, one that was built for the purpose by an Innkeeper with a lifetime of training who built it for himself and got it right? This one has been recognized as one of the best B&B's in the country, one that defines the word "hospitality."
You can read some history of the property and reflections about it written by the former owner by clicking here.
Change your life. The great western novelist Wallace Stegner said every story is a journey, sometimes physical, sometimes mental. With perceptive insight he said, "Every story begins at that moment when nothing is ever the same again." Perhaps Thistledowne offers you that kind of moment now, and the story begins...
More Information About This Listing
Typical Guest Comments
Information -- Features and Mechanical Systems
Former Owner's Reflections
Fantastic vacation rental!
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