NEW ULM - Finding quality lodging is no easy task, but Gary and Ramona Sonnenberg make it look easy.
The couple has been running The Deutsche Strasse Bed and Breakfast for the last 16 years. The New Ulm B&B, which is located in the 400 block of South German Street, is a recipient of the 2014 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence.
The TripAdvisor award recognizes hospitality and excellence in establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveler reviews on websites of organizations.
Staff photo by Clay Schuldt
Ramona Sonnenberg, left, and Gary Sonnenberg, prepare for a video taping of the business Deutsche Strasse Bed and Breakfast with “Best Of” executive producer Brett Allen. The B&B will be featured on CBS television stations and the Disney Channel this summer.
The Deutsche Strasse Bed and Breakfast is located in the 400 block of South German Street in New Ulm.
An honor given by customers represents the greatest seal of approval, said Gary Sonnenberg.
The B&B has also been selected by The Officially Best Of production company as the "Best Historic B&B in Minnesota." As a result, the Sonnenbergs and their B&B will be featured on a television program that will air on CBS affiliates and the Discovery Channel.
The Sonnenbergs' initial decision to open a B&B came out of necessity as much as desire. Ramona explained that upon moving to New Ulm from Wisconsin, the couple spent a great deal of time house hunting and began noticing the city had several beautiful, historic homes. They were also surprised to learn New Ulm did not have a B&B at that time. They decided to not only buy a home, but also to use the residence to start a business.
The Sonnenberg purchased the house at 404 S. German Street, which previously served as office space and a rectory for the Church of St. Mary. They named it Deutsche Strasse, which translates to German Street.
Deutsche Strasse was built in 1884 and was expanded and renovated from 1915-1918. The Sonnenbergs are only the fourth owners of the home. The selling point for the couple was learning that the house was already conducive to the needs of a B&B because it featured extra bathrooms and space for guest rooms.
The Sonnenbergs soon discovered the City and Chamber of Commerce were very supportive of the B&B concept because New Ulm needed extra lodging. In fact, requests for reservations were received before the Deutsche Strasse officially opened.
Since opening in February of 1997 the couple has strived to make guests as comfortable as possible.
The B&B currently contains five themed guest rooms - Castle Room, Crystal Room, Flower Room, Ivy Room and Black Forest Suite. Over the years the Sonnenbergs added bathrooms to all five rooms and fireplaces to meet expectations of guests.
"The main thing is trying to keep guests comfortable," said Ramona. She works to ensure each guest gets a quality four-course homemade breakfast. If guests have special dietary needs, she will cook accordingly. "Gluten-free is a big deal right now," said Ramona. "I have dedicated equipment for people who cannot have gluten or wheat to avoid cross-contamination."
For Gary, the enjoyment comes from forming friendships with guests. Although some guests are first-time visitors, every year a few familiar faces return and some remain in regular contact with them.
Last Thursday, the Sonnenbergs opened their B&B to "Best Of" executive producer Brett Allen for primary filming. The program will feature an interview with the Sonnenbergs as well as footage of their residence.
Allen is currently traveling through Minnesota filming footage for various Best of Minnesota features. He had previously been to New Ulm to film a feature on the Kaiserhoff Restaurant.
The Deutsche Strasse program is being edited and will likely air on the CBS affiliate station WCCO after the July Fourth holiday. The program will also air on the Discovery Channel and be available on the Best Of website.
Meanwhile, the Sonnenbergs are preparing for an expected influx of guests who have made reservations. July through October tend to be the busiest months. Last year the B&B experienced 21 consecutive days with full occupancy - a record. This season the Sonnenbergs are expecting to break that record.