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Bertha's Best

by Kathleen Walls American Roads Travel Magazine

When Bertha Hinshaw lost her young husband to pneumonia she was devastated. Bertha and Carl had had great plans. They had formed a partnership with J. L. Kraft of cheese fame to build an exclusive community in central Florida on their pristine acreage. Before those plans could be executed, the great depression squashed the Florida Land Boom. Kraft withdrew. Those dreams were no linger feasible. Then suddenly Carl was gone. Bertha was left with limited funds and two young children to care for.

How often have a woman's dreams sprouted wings and taken on a life of their own? And how often have those dreams been spurred by necessity? It was 1931 and opportunities for women were limited. Bertha decided to do what she did best, she opened her home to paying guests. Little did she guess that she was beginning a venture that would make her inn a haven for travelers from all over the world. Her food has even traveled to the moon.

Today, Bertha's dream is in the safekeeping of another remarkable woman, Vita Hinshaw, Bertha's daughter-in-law. Vita's life unfolds like a movie script, World War 11 WAVE, married her childhood sweetheart and now plays hostess to some of the world's most fascinating people as the chatelaine of one of the most romantic inns in America


The restaurant at Chalet Suzanne
Photo by Kathleen Walls

Chalet Suzanne has become one of the best-loved inns in central Florida. From Duncan Hines to Dolly Parton, from Casey Stengel to Gordon Cooper, the list of famous visitors to Chalet Suzanne ranges from Hollywood royalty to real life royalty, from astronauts to tycoons. But you don't have to be a jet setter to enjoy the lifestyle of the rich and famous here. Drop in anytime for a royal welcome. You can taste the famous Romaine Soup. One sip wil tell you it truly is out of this world. You even visit the on-site cannery. Be sure to note the plaque that list Chalet Suzanne as one of the NASA suppliers.

Another unique aspect of the Chalet is the bowl used for its signature soup. These wide-rimmed bowls are patterned after Norwegian ashtrays by resident artist and potter, Boz Birvis.. Do stop by and watch Boz perform magic with clay.

Bertha loved beautiful things. She collected them on her travels like some women collect shoes. Her collection is preserved in a museum at the chalet, that is what isnít being put to use in one of the innís unique rooms. Tiles and beautiful glass objects are all over the place. Perhaps, the ultimate magic behind this European style fairyland in the heart of Florida is that Bertha built her dream world for all to enjoy. Seventy plus years later, itís still making dreams come true for all who visit it.

For more on Chalet Suzanne, visit www.chaletsuzanne.com

Provided by American Roads Travel Magazine - Visit American Roads Travel Magazine website.