Archive for the ‘Aspiring Innkeeper’ Category

Do you have what it takes?

November 5th, 2010 by Mariah

It’s almost impossible to describe the typical person who operates a bed and breakfast.

They come from all walks of life, from professionals to laborers. Artists, craftsman, farmers, insurance agents, teachers and anyone else you can think of have opened and run successful B&Bs. Singles, couples and families have all been involved.

Their reasons for opening a bed and breakfast? Just as varied.

Perhaps children have grown and moved away and there are empty rooms in a large home. Some people just have more rooms than they need. Widowed or divorced people have opened B&Bs.

While they are run for a source of income, most people do not depend on them solely for their livelihood. People retired from other professions — such as professionals or farmers — who have a separate primary source of income often operate bed and breakfasts.

All successful bed and breakfasts have one thing in common: owners who like people!

They also like to entertain people in their homes. Many of these owners also have skills they want to use, such as cooking, to please their guests. Others may have historically significant homes they want to share with others.

Anyone seriously thinking about opening a bed and breakfast must like people and be able to deal with all types of people. This is a people business! You must also be willing to sacrifice a big part of your personal life since guests will be living with you.

Many skills are needed to run a successful bed and breakfast. Do you have what it takes?

Before spending a lot of time and money, use this personal assessment survey to help determine if you and your partner (if you have one) have the skills needed.

Answer honestly by writing yes or no to each statement below. (Remember, this survey is for you — if you’re not completely honest with your answers, it won’t do you any good!)

Complete the survey for both yourself and for your partner. Have your partner do the same. (So you both fill out the survey twice.)


Personal Assessment Survey


  • I enjoy getting up early and preparing meals.
  • I’m highly organized and manage my time well.
  • I’m self-motivated and a self-starter.
  • I can do several tasks at one time.
  • I enjoy entertaining.
  • I find it easy to get along with most people.
  • I’m tolerant and patient.
  • I can handle conflict without alienation.
  • I work well under pressure.
  • I can work long hours and face a variety of interruptions.
  • I learn from mistakes and make changes as needed.
  • I keep my home neat and clean at all times.
  • I enjoy performing home maintenance.
  • I’m cheerful.
  • I enjoy interior decorating and remodeling.
  • I enjoy gardening and landscaping.
  • I have a regular income.
  • I communicate well on the phone.
  • I write well and regularly.
  • I’m persistent.
  • I consider myself a risk-taker.
  • I have a high energy level.
  • I enjoy serving others.
  • I consider myself flexible.
  • I have a good business sense.
  • I can handle the business end of a B&B.
  • I handle emergencies well.


Compare your answers with your partner’s. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Did any of your answers — or your partner’s answers — surprise you?


Now identify, in writing, your strengths and weaknesses. If you plan to become an innkeeper, your strengths should outweigh your weaknesses and you need to determine ways to compensate for the weak areas.

B&B on the Sea

August 30th, 2010 by Mariah

US Coast Guard Tower To Be Bed And Breakfast By 2012…..Though he has not set foot on it yet, a Mint Hill man on Wednesday took ownership of an abandoned light tower 25 miles off the southeastern N.C. coast. He paid $85,000 for it. He intends to turn the tower into a high-seas bed-and-breakfast and corporate retreat starting next summer.


Software sales engineer Richard Neal picked up the Frying Pan Shoals Light Tower at a federal government auction in May with the only sealed bid. He then put down 20 percent.


Neal, 50, said his first task as owner is, within a week or so, to send skilled volunteers to inspect the 44-year-old, rusting tower, its electrical system and living quarters. The group will also post “Keep Off/Private Property” signs.


Neal won’t be among the group of electricians at electricianperth, mechanics and architects because he’s scheduled to be in Europe on a sales trip during that period. He says he hopes to get aboard the structure with seven bedrooms, a kitchen, recreation room and helicopter landing platform by mid-September.


“I am feeling thrilled, exuberant, of having something that will impact so many people positively,” he said Wednesday.


The General Services Administration, which auctioned off the tower, is sending Neal a bill of sale, according to Lou Mancuso, GSA official who handled the auction. The deal was finalized Wednesday. “He’s in possession,” Mancuso said from Atlanta.


The tower went up in 1966 at a cost of $2 million. The U.S. Coast Guard automated it in 1979, eliminating the need for the four-man crew, and deactivated it in 2003. Neal owns the tower but not the seabed beneath. Asked if he got a key, as one would get on closing for a house, Neal replied no. “My understanding is, it’s unlocked.”


Neal and Mancuso said the bill of sale provides that Neal can use the tower for anything he wants so long as he complies with federal rules and regulations and any applicable state laws. Neal has said he does not intend to open an offshore casino. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Wilmington would issue permits for restoration and modifications.


He’s arranged for liability insurance, which would cover anyone injured on the tower, at an annual premium that he pegged as midway between $30,000 and $85,000.


An engineering study arranged last winter by the Coast Guard noted corrosion but concludes the tower overall is in “satisfactory condition.” The study estimated repairs at $1.37 million. But Neal said he’s been told by a local contractor who’s worked on the tower that restoration could be done at half that cost. He has no estimate yet on improvements.


Neal has been taking reservations for stays at the tower on his web site,, to gauge the market. But he said he’s taken no deposits. So far, he said, he’s gotten interest from 13 families and businesses for extended stays.


He aims to open the tower for multi-night rentals with meals for anglers on sport fishing boats beginning next summer. From Southport or Wilmington, sport fishing boats can reach the tower in about an hour and a half.


By the summer of 2012, Neal plans upgrades that will allow longer-stay vacations and corporate retreats 60 feet above the waves of the Atlantic.

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Tips for Innkeepers

July 25th, 2010 by Mariah

Tips for Innkeepers

One key ingredient in running a successful bed and breakfast is the ability to get along with all types of people who will be staying at your inn. When you operate a bed and breakfast, you become the host (not an owner) who greets and welcomes guests (not clients).

Hospitality is your business. A successful bed and breakfast operation builds its reputation on the hospitality it provides. Repeat business and referrals often come as a result of your interactions with the guests. Guests who frequent bed and breakfasts usually seek the enjoyment of getting to know their hosts and sometimes develop close friendships with them.

Bed and breakfast hosts can use these tips to increase their guests’ satisfaction levels.

•Provide a warm, friendly welcome at the front door.

•Show guests to their room and give them an opportunity to settle in. Offer to carry their luggage.

•If they feel up to it, you may want to give guests a quick tour of your home soon after they arrive.

•Offer a beverage and/or a light snack after guests have had some time to settle down from their trip.

•Be a “fountain of information” for your guests. As hosts, you should be able to answer questions about your area and mention nearby attractions and places of interest.

•Provide guests with a fact sheet listing frequently asked questions and answers about your inn and the surrounding area.

•Collect brochures and maps for the immediate area as well as other nearby areas of interest. Make these available to your guests at no cost.

•Collect menus from local restaurants. You may put these in guest rooms or leave them in your lounge area, perhaps in a three-ring binder, so that people may browse through them at their leisure.

•Offer “special touches” that will appeal to a variety of guests, such as offering breakfast in bed for newlyweds or for special occasions.

•Find out when guests arrive what they would prefer as a beverage in the morning, and always have coffee made early. A pot of freshly brewed coffee outside the door in the morning will be a treat for the true coffee drinker.

•Be sure to provide a variety of beverages so that guests can choose from a good selection. Coffee should be of the best quality — never instant! Experiment with different blends.

•Offer — for an extra fee — to make special picnic baskets for lunch or dinner so that guest may enjoy a special outdoor location. Be sure to look into your local food service regulations.

•Provide an umbrella stand with loan umbrellas near the door for guests who aren’t prepared for bad weather.

•Set up a special corner in your public lounge area with a variety of games, cards, books and magazines. Provide a variety of reading material in each room.

•Have extra sample-size toilet articles on hand for your guests, such as shampoo, hand lotion, toothbrushes, razors and toothpaste. You can order a supply of many such items imprinted with your logo to promote your bed and breakfast.

•Use liquid soap or small, individually wrapped soaps in the bathroom so no guest has to use someone else’s soap.

•A special guest “welcome tray” in each room can include fruit, cookies, or candy. Provide disposable drinking cups in each room as well as tissues, etc.

•Have an area which is easily accessible to guests where they can always find a beverage or snack of some kind.

•Keep an extra hair dryer, make-up mirror, curling iron, iron and ironing board available for guest use.

•Provide a local newspaper, as well as one with large circulation such as USA Today.

•Be able to provide your guests with a local map. Mark your home, restaurants and other attractions on the map.

•Collect discount coupons from local restaurants, fast food chains and other attractions for your guests’ use.

Required Reading For Aspiring Innkeepers

May 24th, 2010 by Mariah

Required Reading For Aspiring Innkeepers

Many who have had the privilege of staying at a Bed and Breakfast or Country Inn have fantasized about owning one. Those that have gotten the chance to become an Innkeeper, quickly realize that it is a lot more challenging then choosing what color sheets to put on the beds. Hospitality and a smile is a good start, but only the beginning if your Inn is to be truly successful. Below is an excerpt from a story that the Boston Globe ran on May 23 entitled: “Running An Inn Isn’t A Simple Life”. It should be required reading for those considering “Innkeeping” as a future career.

Debbie Lennon, Proprietor

Kennebunkport Inn

Call Debbie Lennon an innkeeper and she cringes because it’s a word that conjures up images of Bob Newhart, playing a befuddled Vermont innkeeper coping with a leaky roof and wacko townspeople. Lennon, the proprietor of the Kennebunkport Inn in Maine, is more of a professional hospitality manager than a frazzled bed-and-breakfast owner.

Sure, she has her share of leaky faucets, horror guests, and power outages, but in-season, her staff of 50, from general manager to housekeeper, takes care of the daily operational details, while Lennon oversees the strategic direction: marketing, finance, and business administration.“Behind every guest stay, there are hundreds of transactions to produce that experience. People may not understand the dynamics behind the scenes: changing light bulbs, clean bedding, wake-up calls, check-in,’’ Lennon said.

Unlike numerous refugees from corporate America who romanticize the experience of owning a quaint New England B&B and end up burnt out, Lennon knows the ins and outs of owning a hotel firsthand. In college, she worked at a Cape Cod resort, rotating through different positions, including chambermaid, bartender, and room attendant. She went on to train at two major hotel chains, rising to general manager and regional vice president. But she always wanted to own her own business, and purchased the Kennebunkport Inn with her husband 10 years ago.“It’s the classic New England inn; and serendipitously, we had our rehearsal dinner here when we were married,’’ she said.

What advice would you give to aspiring innkeepers?

The hotel business is 24-7. If a property is small, work is completely hands-on, cleaning toilets, making breakfast, or checking guests in. People fantasize about owning an inn and living in New Hampshire or Vermont, where it’s idyllic and a quieter lifestyle, but it’s a lot of hard work.

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