B&Bs Far More Than Teddy Bears & Lace Curtains

Part I of a series on what is a B&B and why own one

The term “bed-and-breakfast” is no longer code for teddy bears, floral bedspreads and doilies.

There are nearly as many types of bed and breakfast properties and businesses as there are innkeeper/owners. The Wall Street Journal in 2013 ran an article about people turning historic homes into high end B&Bs, the top 10% of the market.


In reading this nearly year-old article in light of the fact my property is now for sale (yes, I’m one of the older ones wanting to retire), I am heartened. We have done A LOT of the things the high-end properties do to enhance their market share. These items belong to the inn and ready for the new innkeepers to use to their benefit and for the enjoyment of their guests.

What follows is where I’ve excerpted parts of the original article and added my view of the topic.
The excerpted parts of the article are shown in BLUE TYPE.
The couple [profiled in the Wall Street Journal]  bought the 97-year-old home for $550,000 in 2004.
Like many in the article they did a serious updating of the property, from style changes to important furnishings from around the world. For the upper 10% of the market, it is no longer just about “nice sheets” and terrific muffins. In our opinion, this is an absolute necessity so people can enjoy all the history an antique house affords but not be inconvenienced by out-dated technology. We began our renovations in 1999 and began building our party room complex in 2004.

The fresh look reflects the vitality of the bed-and-breakfast industry, which is attracting a new breed of innkeepers who, instead of being hobbyists, are looking for sustainable businesses.

At the same time younger people are getting into innkeeping as a serious for profit business, more and more baby boomers and post-baby boomers are looking for a home-based business but NOT looking to be corporate tycoons–they’ve been there and already done that!

Prospect Hill’s market niche (and we can only guess for potential new owners since every couple to look at it thus far has had a different “take” on how it should be used and marketed) could be more upscale than it is, depending on changes to the menu, some of the furnishings and amenities, offerings and focus. That would place it near that top 10% of the  US market.

In some cases, the inns profiled in the Wall Street Journal added suites and other out-building amenities, such as spas. Prospect Hill’s 3-acre site would support expansion unlike tight, urban properties or those on the side of a mountain. We have 5 out-buildings, one ready for spa or guest-room conversion.

Bed-and-breakfasts, which grew in popularity as mainstays for travelers, usually were family-run enterprises offering a handful of rooms. They cropped up in rural areas too remote to support larger hotels and often distinguished themselves with homey vibes. “People liked the idea of welcoming the weary traveler and showing off their cooking skills or the antiques they collected over the years,” says Jay Karen (former CEO of PAII and now CEO of Select Registry, a marketing organization representing “the top 10%”).
The number of B&Bs reached a peak of 20,000 between 2000 and 2005, until a generation of aging innkeepers retired and the economic downturn made it more difficult for aspiring new owners to secure financing. But the category proved remarkably resilient in terms of demand. While hotels suffered, the average daily rates at bed-and-breakfasts have increased each year for the past seven years. The median average daily rate in 2012 was $161 a night, compared with $138 in 2006, according to the innkeepers association.  Prospect Hill’s average daily rate is a bit lower than this national average.

While many bed-and-breakfasts [remain] budget-priced, more newer B&Bs are focused on upscale travelers, with rates easily running upward of $1,000 a night. Around 10% of B&Bs have rates that top $300 per night,[ according to PAII].

While the market may have slowed during the recent recession, inn brokers are saying interest in buying inns is increasing. Our broker has certainly found it so. The Inn Partners classes are always sold out. Inquiries are strong and inns seem to sell almost weekly.



An innkeeping business really is far more than furnishing a guest room and planning a breakfast meal.  For upscale service as outlined

Service and upscale amenities plus a unique selling proposition (what’s your passion? Your interest?) have become what it is all about. Taking this route with an inn clearly depends on the vision of its owners as well as its market. Our own perception is that we are the upper 1% FOR OUR MARKET.   We provide really nice accommodations to people who expect something well above average. On a national scale, our pricing is still about half or even 25%  that of swanky tourist destinations.

Prices for rooms at this inn are, in some cases, almost double motels in the same town.  That’s because the amenities, the furnishings, the personal service, free items, excellent cleanliness and size of the rooms far exceeds a standard motel room.  We work with people’s budgets but we are not the “cheap alternative.”  And we prove over and over again, you get what you pay for.

Those new to going to B&B need to understand that bed and breakfast lodging is NOT synonymous with youth hostel.  It is also not in many ways, similar to B&B in England and Europe where the lodging is functional but not “upgraded.”

If you are in doubt as to what a B&B is offering, PHONE US. Ask questions. We are happy to tell you what we offer, how much it costs and what we don’t have. There’s a match for you at a B&B somewhere; unlike hotels it is NOT one size fits all.