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October 2007

Our Members Speak Out

Ahern's Belle of the Bends Bed and Breakfast, Vicksburg, MS

Question for November: What was your most embarrassing moment as an innkeeper?

Email your responses to
Sandy@BedandBreakfast.com. If we publish your comments, we’ll thank you with a $25 credit in our Featured Properties Auction program!

You were asked: Why did you take the plunge into innkeeping? Inspired by an inn where you stayed? Enjoyed a financial windfall? A life-changing event?

“It was 9-11-01 that was my epiphany. For 20 years I ate, drank, slept, and breathed bed and breakfast innkeeping. When my son was a baby, I would put him in his snuggly and take him for walks in our old Northwest Denver neighborhood and say things like, "Oh look Jacob, wouldn’t that house make the perfect bed and breakfast,” and then walk to the next block and say the say thing about another house. I went to floral design school when Jacob was 13 months old and then to cake decorating school when he was 13 years old because I knew in my heart, that someday, I was going to own a bed and breakfast. I wanted to host weddings that I could bake the cake and do the flowers for. I read and reread So You Want to be an Innkeeper so many times that could nearly recite chapter after chapter verbatim!

“Then, I watched the television in horror as planes crashed into buildings and everyday people fled a wall of black smoke in New York City. My office closed early that day as well as my husband's engineering firm. I remember sitting in the family room of our home when my husband walked in, and I said to him, ‘I am not doing what I want to be doing; we could all die tomorrow as was just evidenced today. I want to own a bed and breakfast, and I am going to start looking tonight!’ I got on the internet and found B&B for sale sites and the search began.

"'Where is Vicksburg, Mississippi, and why would you ever want to move there?’ Those were the questions friends and family asked us as no one could grasp the concept of leaving beautiful Denver for Mississippi. Since then, all of our friends and family have come to visit us and they walk in the front door of our beautiful home and look at me and say, ‘Oooh, now I get it." – Mary Lee, Ahern's Belle of the Bends Bed and Breakfast, Vicksburg, MS 

“I was living in Colorado Springs, in my late 30s and divorced. I had always wanted children, but as that didn't seem like it was going to happen, I decided I wanted to move back home to northern Iowa/southern Minnesota and get to know my nieces and nephews before they were all grown up. The question was: How could I support myself in a largely rural area with limited job opportunities? I had stayed at Blue Lake Ranch, a beautiful B&B near Durango, CO, and couldn't stop thinking about opening a B&B. A lot of my friends were into camping at the time but said while they loved going to the country, they wished for a comfortable bed and a nice bathroom instead of a tent and an outhouse. My hope was that if I opened a B&B in a quaint little town like St. Ansgar, IA, that people would be able to escape the city and all its stresses, while feeling pampered with luxurious, comfortable surroundings. Sixteen years later, I'm living where I want to live, doing something I love, and able to spend a lot of time with my family, too. Three and a half years ago, I married a wonderful man who I never would have met had I not followed my dream and moved back to the Midwest.” – Sherrie C. Hansen, The Blue Belle Inn, Saint Ansgar, IA

“My husband and I had enjoyed a fair amount of travel by the time we read the new bed and breakfast regulations just published by the Wyoming Department of Health in a full-page article in our local newspaper one cold February day in 1986.

“Reading that article struck a chord with both of us. We realized how much we enjoyed meeting people from all walks of life and from all around the world. We had never been to a B&B, but we learned of a nucleus group that had just been formed by some ranchers in central Wyoming, so we joined the WHOA group: Wyoming Homestays and Outdoor Adventures. It has evolved now into Wyoming Hospitality and Outdoor Adventures, and you can find us directly on the web at www.WyomingBnB-RanchRec.com and other tourism sites.

“Our inn, The Howdy Pardner, became the first bed and breakfast in Cheyenne and about the third in the state to officially register and get inspected.

“Yes, it was the social aspect, not making profits, that lured us into this fascinating business, and it has kept me going for 20 years now! What a fun occupation!” – Jan Peterson, The Howdy Pardner Bed & Breakfast, Cheyenne, WY  

“I wanted a job that I could do at home, as I was the divorced mother of one child. My cousin had spent his life in the hotel trade, and I knew how fulfilling it had been for him. However, I didn't listen to him when he told me it was a lot of work. But my daughter wrote a great college entrance application essay about growing up in a B&B, and garnered plenty of acceptances to fine colleges and financial aid, so it was worth it after all!” – Diana Mara Henry, Lathrop House B&B, Springfield, MA

“We were on vacation with four of our six kids and drove past a lighted sign: Millstone Inn Bed & Breakfast. ‘I want to stay there tonight if they availability!’ We turned around, and I knocked on the door. Was I B&B material? We got one room for my husband and me and one room for the kids. The next morning, breakfast was an assortment of quick breads and muffins, juice, and fruit. We rolled out we were so stuffed. As we drove away I said, "I can do that!" From that day on my plan was to have a B&B. Since my non-believer husband thought there "has to be a hook,” we started going to seminars looking for the hook. (I found it. I have to clean house!) Moving back to West Virginia to have a B&B was my husband's reward to me for raising the five kids he brought to the marriage and the one I brought.

“Now about 25 years later, I am in my twelfth year as owner/host of a start-up and would not be doing anything else.” – Kathleen A. Panek, Gillum House Bed & Breakfast, Shinnston, WV

We consider ourselves corporate refugees. We lived in the Northern Virginia area for nearly 25 years and realized that due to long work hours and commutes, we barely knew each other. We decided there had to be a better way of life. We moved to New Hampshire and purchased a B&B; that was nearly six years ago. There are days that we are frustrated, discouraged or feeling burned out, but we love innkeeping and will never go back to corporate America if we can help it." Linda and Wes Matchett, Tuc' Me Inn B&B, Wolfeboro, NH


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