South Dakota bed and breakfasts have good prospects after pandemic


The pair were on their way home to Anchorage after the girl graduated from college, but decided not to take the freeway in an effort to see the sights. That’s when they booked a stay at Molly’s Manor in Platte, SD

Molly’s Manor, owned and operated by Travis, is just one of 328 bed and breakfasts in South Dakota, providing guests with an alternative accommodation experience often enriched by historic homes and typically located in small towns.

Despite a global pandemic disrupting travel, some South Dakota bed and breakfasts have actually seen their activity increase in 2020 and have even higher expectations for the remainder of 2021.

Platte B & B in full swing

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Molly’s Manor was built as a private home in 1918 and was owned by a doctor and nurse in the 1930s. Travis, a local real estate agent, bought the property and renovated it into a guesthouse, which opened in 2010. The house now has two bedrooms, a family suite and an apartment suite.

Travis believes that the smaller environment of a private bed and breakfast offered guests a different comfort value than larger hotels.

Donna Travis is the owner of Molly's Manor Bed and Breakfast in Platte.  (Matt Gade / Republic)

Donna Travis is the owner of Molly’s Manor Bed and Breakfast in Platte. (Matt Gade / Republic)

“The idea that they could stay in a small B&B instead of a big hotel with lots of people,” helped boost business towards Molly’s Manor, said Travis. “I’m on site, but out of sight, so guests can just enjoy the guest room.”

Plus, its small town location and proximity to the Missouri River provided guests with plenty of outdoor and socially remote activities.

“(The guests) could take their boats to the river and fish,” Travis said. “I think it was the idea that they could distance themselves socially and be in a safe and clean environment.”

Data from the South Dakota Department of Tourism shows that while airport arrivals in 2020 have declined significantly, trips to the state from 10 key markets in the Midwest and the Denver area have increased by 35%. .

“I had the busiest spring and summer last year that I have ever had,” Travis said. “People thought this area was a good choice because they could drive here rather than fly. “

Travis said 2020 initially presented itself as bleak, but after seeing business take off, she hopes to see travel to the state and Platte region continue to increase.

Tabor place looking forward to

The Cogan House – a bed and breakfast, RV park, hunting lodge, and event venue – sits on a bluff above the Missouri River between Springfield and Tabor, SD Greg and Holly McCann, Owner and Property Manager respectively, said the business is “OK” in 2020, but they have good prospects for the future.

The Cogan House sits atop a bluff overlooking the Missouri River near Tabor (submitted).

The Cogan House sits atop a bluff overlooking the Missouri River near Tabor (submitted).

As CDC guidelines regarding the pandemic tightened, events at Cogan House had to change.

“We’ve had a lot more weddings booked in 2020 that were either postponed or canceled altogether because they decided to do something a lot smaller,” Holly said. Large groups of hunters also had to cancel their stays.

Holly said travelers passing through Cogan House are typically from the area, coming from neighboring parts of Nebraska or Iowa, and even all of South Dakota. The proximity to their guests gave them a boost for weekend getaways when other businesses fell.

“I get a lot of last minute bookings,” said Holly. “People are kind of slowly testing where they can go and what they can do.”

Holly said quick weekend getaways had made up a lot of their bookings over the past year, adding that many small groups of hunters under six people had continued with their plans anyway, as they are usually alone in the wild.

As COVID cases continue to decline, Cogan House has received more and more calls to schedule or reschedule events at one of the property’s many indoor and outdoor venues.

“It looks like things are picking up and Holly is getting a lot of calls,” Greg said. “We are looking at a number of events.

While the vacations are currently booked, Holly and Greg are looking to continue filling positions for the remainder of this year and into the next year.

Such a pleasant experience, guests do it twice

Both Cogan House and Molly’s Manor are listed on various travel websites, providing potential guests with plenty of resources to plan their stay in South Dakota.

“South Dakota has a lot to offer people who want to see a variety of land,” said Greg. “If we can provide a good place for people entering South Dakota or leaving South Dakota, I think they would be delighted.”

Both guesthouses have an average of five stars on Google, most guests rave about the properties and promise to come back.

“The owner (s) will make or destroy any B&B and in the case of Molly’s Manor, 5 star excellence !! We can’t wait to come back soon, ”said a guest in his review of Molly’s Manor.

Donna Travis, owner of Molly's Manor Bed and Breakfast, makes one of the beds inside the house at Platte.  (Matt Gade / Republic)

Donna Travis, owner of Molly’s Manor Bed and Breakfast, makes one of the beds inside the house at Platte. (Matt Gade / Republic)

A similar review of Cogan House reads: “What an absolutely wonderful facility with breathtaking views of Lewis and Clark Lake. The hunters we had who stayed there and our guides absolutely loved our time there.

Tourism metrics reported by the state for 2021, such as airport arrivals, visitor spending and hotel nights, currently exceed 2019 figures, signaling good prospects for the year so far .


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