When we opened our first B&B on April 1, 1992, there were a lot of pseudo-Victorian style B&Bs, lots of lace, floral bedspreads, and teddy bears–and doilies! We were never much about that over-stuffed rooms. Today’s preferred B&Bs aren’t either.
Twenty-two years later, there are nearly as many types of bed and breakfast properties and businesses as there are innkeeper/owners. You have to find which is perfect for you.
One fact remains: someone has to have taken an aging house (or a suitable newer one or built a new one) –and molded it into a workable B&B property. Just buying new sheets and hanging out a sign does not cut it. From regulatory issues (yes, you need a business license, must collect sales tax and often must make nice with health inspector), to technology needs of guests (yes, you DO need both wifi and TVs in your rooms), there’s more to innkeeping than chatting with guests and making breakfast.
According to the Wall Street Journal last year, the bed-and-breakfast industry 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!
The article emphasized that the most growth in B&B is in the upper 10% of the market (high-end properties) where it is no longer all about “nice sheets” and terrific muffins. It has to be about the “experience.”
In our opinion, lovely linens and great breakfasts do count. A comfortable bed and a great breakfast are all part of that experience! So, too, may be being drawn into the owner’s passion for gardening, parrots, history and legends, motorcycle rides or 1940s campers.
Our own passion–which ties into our niche market– is the enjoyment of the antique/historic home.
In our opinion, behind-the-scenes updating to support our 21st Century lifestyles (and need for technology) is an absolute necessity so people can enjoy all the history an antique house affords. Our 1999 renovations included phone lines for dial-up internet service; today free wifi is a given. This website will soon be responsive; a mobile version is already online. We are always asking “what’s next?”
Those new to going to B&B need to understand that bed and breakfast lodging is NOT synonymous with a youth hostel or motel lodging. American B&Bs are very different from those in England and Europe where the lodging is functional but not “upgraded.”
Rooms in American bed and breakfasts and inn, in some cases, are double or triple motels in the same town. That’s because the amenities, the furnishings, the personal service, free items such as snacks or afternoon tea, excellent cleanliness, and size of the rooms far exceeds a standard motel room. Innkeepers 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– “a quality experience while you travel.”
While many bed-and-breakfasts [remain] budget-priced, wrote the Wall Street Journal, 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 Professional Association of Innkeepers International who counts many full-time innkeepers and professionally-run properties among their members.]
The newest twist in innkeeping is offering up the owner’s passion along with the well-appointed room.
Here at Prospect Hill, our passion has been old-house renovation. We took an ailing property and turned it into a beautiful property, now ripe for an innkeeper whose passion may be cuisine, parties or any one of a dozen other pursuits.
While the market may have slowed during the recent recession, inn brokers are saying interest in buying inns is increasing. People with a passion are shopping for properties where their dreams can come true. 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.
As a future guest at an inn, we urge you to look for a match between the property and your own sensibilities. If in doubt, use the PHONE and call us for a further discussion (or email). We are happy to tell you what we offer, how much it costs and what we don’t have. We’ll help you with the details which can turn an average stay into an awesome experience–that’s what WE do!! Whether you are renting a room or buying an inn, there’s a match for you at a B&B somewhere; unlike hotels, it is NOT one size fits all.