Article & images by Valerie Macdonald

Coffee cup in hand, watching the sun rise over Moonlit Pines Guest House on the south shore of Rice Lake with snowflakes drifting to the surface of the lake, is as close to total relaxation as you can get according to owner Kerin Valcourt. Visitors to her unique getaway have told her this repeatedly.

Along with her husband Chris, they project-managed construction of this unique 1,800 square feet of vacation paradise this year. Walls of windows and glass doors together with a soaring pine tongue-and-groove cathedral ceiling provide magnificent views of Rice Lake.The beautifully treed acreage around the house has also been landscaped.

This custom-built, three-bedroom house features an open-concept living room and kitchen plus three well-appointed bedrooms and two baths. Everything is on one floor with interesting and comfortable furnishings plus special touches including a playpen and high chair.

Though only open for a couple of months, every weekend until May 2018 is booked Valcourt said during an interview.

Customers have included those taking part in a girls’ weekend, whole families and a pair of couples. The house accommodates up to eight people easily.

“Some people have already rebooked for the summer,” she said.

There are still weekdays available through the winter starting in January and into early spring as introductory prices make this getaway more than just affordable for the amenities which include enjoying a hot tub under the stars, a prelude to restful sleep while cuddling under quilts and comforters.

Kerin and Chris didn’t set out to build a guest house. They wanted to build a large garage and man cave for Chris on the property they owned behind their waterfront home. However, township regulations don’t permit this type of building when two parcels of land are separated by a roadway.

The alternative was to build a second house. So they constructed the guest house with a huge ground-level garage with a keyed, separate entrance making sure to include everything Chris wanted in a man cave. There is no connection to the rental accommodation above.

The welcoming air of Moonlit Pines Guest House includes bathrobes, slippers, a canvas “hello” bag with toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors, custom, hand-made soaps exclusive to Karen’s business and even local maple syrup.

“I really want them to feel welcome,” Kerin says.

The smiling host of Moonlit Pines Guest House, Kerin Valcourt.

Mani/pedis, massages or reflexology sessions can be pre-booked.

The guest book records complimentary comments such as this one from a recent visitor, “You have done a great job to make this a home-away-from-home.”

The full-service open kitchen includes cooking-and-eating appliances such as the Raclette party grill on the quartz countertop that invites the whole family to gather around to grill meats and vegetables. Or there are the Himalayan Sea Salt Stones that can be heated on the BBQ or the oven and then used as a cooking surface.

On the private rear deck and patio area, you will find the hot tub together with a seasonal pool, cabana (with hammocks and shower) and the outdoor kitchen (which will be finished by spring).

There is also a propane fire pit and bonfire area. Close by, you can launch a boat, fish or swim in warmer seasons and at colder temperatures ice fish, snowshoe and cross-country ski.

Away from town and city lights, the front and back decks make excellent places to look at the stars.

“This is how to live,” wrote one guest. “Can’t wait to come back in the summer.”

For information go to www.ricelakevacation.com and rest assured there is free WiFi.