The Hen House Retreat offers a vacation destination different from the typical bed and breakfast experience. Only one group or family is allowed to have free-run of the entire house for the number of days they choose.   CHRIS LANNIN/SUBMITTED PHOTO
The Hen House Retreat offers a vacation destination different from the typical bed and breakfast experience. Only one group or family is allowed to have free-run of the entire house for the number of days they choose. CHRIS LANNIN/SUBMITTED PHOTO
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The next time you and your family, group of friends or needlepoint club need a comfortable place to roost for the weekend, The Hen House Retreat in Highland may be just the location you are looking for.

In 2011, Chris Lannin bought a property in the small town of Highland that had a home which was built in 1918. According to Lannin, the house was little more than a blue and green shack at that time. Her father had previously owned the property and knew Lannin was looking for a place to start up an inn of some sort. Upon acquiring the property, she methodically went about restoring the building and soon transformed it into the Hen House Retreat.

The retreat is something Lannin had dreamed about owning and running for a while. She had experience working at Mrs. B's Historic Lanesboro Inn and being a housekeeper and owner of her own place was "something I kind of always wanted to do." However, she had her own spin on the typical bed and breakfast house.

Lannin loves to scrapbook and quilt and she recognized a place in the market which would allow her to provide a space for those activities. The Hen House idea was a perfect opportunity to align with those wishes.

"I go to retreats myself," said Lannin. "I thought it would be nice to have one."

The house needed electrical work done, fresh paint, floor refinishing and other updates to make it livable again. The interior design work followed a very prominent theme: chickens. Everywhere you look inside and even outside the house, a hen or rooster will be seen. Between a stained glass window in the kitchen and salt and pepper shakers on the table, chickens decorate almost anything that can be decorated. Lannin noted how there is, ironically, no live chickens on the property . . . at least, yet. There sits a chicken feeder in the front yard which her father used when he raised chickens, so that possibility may be yet fulfilled.

Lannin pointed out that the retreat is run differently from inns in the area. The Hen House can accommodate up to six guests and only one family, group of friends or quilting club can stay at one time. This allows guests to feel more like the building is all theirs, which it is. Guests must stay a minimum of two nights with at least four guests, but with that comes free reign of the entire property. The retreat has three bedrooms in the upstairs level, each with two twin beds. Linens and towels are provided and tub and shower facilities are available in two bathrooms. A washer and dryer are also available for guest use. Each bedroom has a television with a DVD or VCR player along with a selection of movies in each room.

The main floor provides a unique space for hobbyists. Dubbed the "Creativity Room," each possible guest is provided their own five- to six-foot table with swivel chair. Lannin promised there to be sufficient lighting for all manner of projects. Two irons and ironing boards are available as well as quilting books and magazines.

Scrapbookers may well be pleased to see they have free use of a Cricut Expression and 13 cartridges to choose from. A nine-inch Xyron and other miscellaneous supplies, books and magazines are also there to use.

The Hen House has wireless internet access, a computer and wide format color printer.

The kitchen is fully stocked with all the supplies you might need to whip up a gourmet dinner. You just have to add the food.

Lannin's goal was to create a home-away-from-home experience. In the near future, she will be hosting a community education class from the Kasson-Mantorville area and hopes to develop relationships with community education programs in nearby towns. She shared how the space would work well with very small class reunions, trout fishing expeditions or generally any kind of small-scale retreat.

The Hen House Retreat will be having its Grand Opening on Oct. 19 and an open house from 2 through 7 p.m. Tours and refreshments will be provided.

Reduced reservation rates will be offered until Dec. 31 for a stay anytime before Oct. 19, 2014. The current rate is $35 per person/per night, and will increase to $50 per person/per night starting in 2014. A $50 deposit is required at the time of reservation and the balance in full is required 30 days prior to retreat date.

Lannin's dream of operating a retreat is coming true. Already she is thinking about where she will go in the future.

"It initially started off as a hobby, but I'm becoming more excited about it," she stated.