By Christy Collins
My husband and I knew before we decided to have a child that we wanted to both have the opportunity to be home to watch her grow up. We had visited many bed & breakfasts and we knew that based upon our skills and things we enjoyed doing, we would make good innkeepers. We read many books and talked to innkeepers. We even attended a three day aspiring innkeeper seminar. We began the search for property - fully intending to build or renovate and start from scratch.
What we found was a six room property that was already a bed & breakfast - a very unsuccessful one. We knew based upon its location and the fact that it was the oldest structure in town that it had loads of potential. We crunched numbers and crunched numbers until we couldn't see straight. Finally we made an offer and it was accepted. We scraped together our 20% down payment and jumped right in.
We immediately had the website redesigned and began submitting it to free directories and select paid directories. The phone began ringing. As we made money, we poured it right back in - replaced furnishings, decor, repainting, adding amenities. The phone kept ringing. We raised our prices. The phone continued to ring - even more.
Over four years later, we have a very successful luxury inn. Our daughter was born in November 2001 and she fits into the inn perfectly. The guests enjoy her company and she loves being passed around the breakfast table each morning. And best of all - we are BOTH here see her first smile and watch her learn to crawl. And she is such a social butterfly already!
It hasn't been easy. With over 1500 guests coming through our front door each year, we are bound to have a few bad eggs in the bunch. We were smart in that we chose to live next door to the inn rather than in the inn itself - which would be virtually impossible with children. We have offered our guests a wonderful product backed with wonderful service and they continue to return and send their friends and family.
Inn keeping is not for everyone. It is a 24 hour a day job, 7 days a week. You cannot call in sick when there are 14 guests waiting for breakfast! People do not think twice about knocking on your door at all hours of the day and night. It takes a while to learn to set boundaries for yourself, but they are a must in this business. Working with your spouse all day every day is a challenge as well.
We are currently trying to sell our inn and relocate across the country to begin a new bed & breakfast venture - mostly because the baby has given us the desire to be closer to family. We believe we will stay in innkeeping for a long time - we cannot figure out what else we would want to do!
Christy Collins, Innkeeper/Owner
The Village Inn Bed & Breakfast