MAIDEN ROCK — It took seven years for Charlene Torchia and John Huffaker to find where they would build their resort center and bed-and-breakfast inn. After all of the looking, they decided upon 66 acres outside of Maiden Rock. The land included hills, prairies, wooded areas, and cars. A lot of old cars and other debris.

What they could see in front of them did not matter as much as what they could see in their mind’s eye so they bought the land, cars and all.

John Huffaker and Charlene Torchia opened Journey Inn in Maiden Rock 13 years ago. Today, they run the bed and breakfast and host retreats. Photo provided by Torchia.
John Huffaker and Charlene Torchia opened Journey Inn in Maiden Rock 13 years ago. Today, they run the bed and breakfast and host retreats. Photo provided by Torchia.

More than a decade before ground was first broken on Journey Inn, the couple had begun dreaming about their retreat space. Torchia explained:

“We lived in Minneapolis and worked in Minneapolis so John had his office for private practice psychology and I was doing massage therapy and we met 26 years ago, so we blended our practices together and we had an office and people would see both of us sometimes. We had our own private practices, too. … And then we started taking people on retreats, so we’d go to different retreat centers and have various themes whatever we were interested in at the time, but mostly self-care focused.”

After years of taking people on retreats, Huffaker and Torchia began looking into creating a space.

Eco friendly

When building Journey Inn, the owners deliberately worked to make it an environmentally friendly space, using forest stewardship council certified wood, formaldehyde-free insulation, solar-powered hot water collectors and more. The building’s positioning also was taken into consideration. Huffaker explained that the building faces the south, allowing warm light to pour in through the windows in the shared living space for guests, two of the bedrooms and the attached apartment that Torchia and Huffaker share with their kittens, Luke and Izzy.

“We oriented the whole building by the compass,” Torchia explained.

Construction was completed 13 years ago, but Torchia and Huffaker still strive to maintain an eco friendly space, one that fits-in with its surroundings. Organic cotton bedding and towels are used in the guest rooms, cleaners are chemical free, and food is sourced from co-ops in the Twin Cities and local growers and producers.

Despite Torchia and Huffaker’s original plan to create a retreat center, Journey Inn is more frequently used as a B&B, which hosts guests most weekends with traffic slowing-down in the cold, snowy months.

“We figured out we had to be licensed as something so we got licensed as a bed-and-breakfast and figured, ‘Oh, we can do a bed-and-breakfast, too.’ Well, the bed-and-breakfast took over, that became the dominant force,” Torchia explained. “You have to go with the flow,” she added.

While there are not retreats every week, retreats that are held remain an important part of the business. Journey Inn hosts individuals, couples and groups for retreats. There are also retreats with specific goals or aimed at one group of people, for example, women’s retreats.

According to Torchia, those who participate in retreats “come and they’ll spend a weekend, they’ll work with John, they’ll get energy therapy or a massage, and you know, just have a quiet (weekend).”

While running the retreat center, Torchia and Huffaker continue their practices -- Torchia as energy therapist and Huffaker as a life direction coach. He remains a licensed psychologist in Minnesota, but focuses on life coaching in Wisconsin.

Journey Inn also includes a Japanese soaking tub, yoga classes, yoga nidra (guided relaxation) and a labyrinth.

The relaxation is meant to be carried through the rooms rented by those on retreat. Three rooms are available in the main building: the fire room, air room and water room (the earth room was converted into a small gift shop that offers many of the teas and natural products that are used at Journey Inn). The air and water rooms are calming, painted with white and blue colors. The two rooms are filled with soothing decorations. The fire room is red and meant to activate energy. These private rooms each have outdoor access.

For larger groups, the cottage sits adjacent to the B&B and has two queen-size bedrooms with a sofa in the living room that folds out into a full bed.

For more information about Journey Inn, visit journeyinn.net.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Charlene Torchia offers massage therapy at Journey Inn. Torchia offers energy therapy.