Healthy Demand for Intimate Lodging Is Spurring a New Generation of Investor-Innkeepers
The term “bed-and-breakfast” is no longer code for teddy bears, floral bedspreads and doilies.
Karen Lynch, a 49-year-old former stay-at-home mom, and her husband Dan, a 56-year-old IT specialist at Chevron, recently invested nine months and $600,000 gutting an 1860 Victorian home, purchased for $1.5 million. They kept the historic wainscoting and hardwood floors, but replaced the old-fashioned décor with more modern equivalents. Named the Inn on Randolph, the B&B opened in May 2012 and costs $225 to $425 a night. The couple live next door in a restored, 1,600-square-foot bungalow that backs up to the property.
In February 2007, Raymond Brunyanszki and his partner Oscar Verest bought what was originally a carpenter’s home in the 1870s for $2.8 million. They then spent an additional $2 million on renovations, which included adding a restaurant, reconfiguring the layout and shipping furniture from Italy, Belgium and Spain. Called the Camden Harbour Inn in Maine, the inn’s priciest rooms run around $1,500 a night during high season and are decorated with all-white walls accented by pops of color like purple and orange. “People will change their entire itinerary if these rooms are booked,” says Mr. Brunyanszki, a 44-year old former hospitality consultant, who adds that guests have included members of Boyz II Men.
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. Today there are 15,000 B&Bs in the U.S., up from estimates of between 5,000 and 8,000 in the 1980s and early 1990s, says Jay Karen, CEO of the Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII), a B&B trade group.
Bed-and-breakfasts, which grew in popularity in the 1800s 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,” Mr. Karen says.