The dawn of a New Year is a great time to reflect on all that we have to be grateful for. When we first became innkeepers, over 7 years ago, it was common for guests to say things like “We’ve always fantasized about owning an inn” or “It must be so much fun to do this in your retirement”. We were always quick to remind them that this is not “retirement”- it’s a career change! Lately, though, guests are more likely to say, “We thought about buying a B&B, but it’s too much work!” The pendulum has swung too far in the other direction! The truth lies somewhere in between. It is a lot of work, but these are some of the reasons why we love it.
- We get to live in a place that is so awesome that large numbers of people want to come see it. Most inns are in what we call “tourist destinations”. Whether you have an inn in the lush countryside or one in a vibrant tourist-attracting city, it is a place that draws people for a reason. We’re lucky enough to have chosen Asheville which has it all; amazing natural beauty, fantastic restaurants, talented artists, abundant galleries, music around every corner, creative people, historic architecture. We get to live right in the heart of it all!
- An inn or Bed & Breakfast is going to be a distinctive home, whether it’s an historic Queen Anne Victorian like ours, or a sprawling lodge in the mountains. Innkeepers get to live in these grand homes and be stewards of the property. We have always loved historic preservation and have lived in and restored four historic homes. But in order to afford to do that we had to work long hours in stressful jobs and never had enough time to enjoy being in the homes! As innkeepers we get to be here to enjoy our historic property. As historic preservationists we get to ensure that another historic home does not get torn down by developers or “modernized” to the point of losing it’s historic charm.
- There’s no commute to work! Living just outside of Boston for many years and working in the heart of the city makes us appreciate this one tremendously!
- Owner/innkeepers get to be their own boss. If you have that entrepreneurial spirit and want to do it your own way this is so important. I could never go back to punching a clock for somebody else’s business.
- We get to enjoy our community just like a tourist does. Trying out new restaurants, visiting the Biltmore Estate during the Festival of Flowers or hiking a waterfall trail at DuPont State Forest is all research! We can write about it on our blog and share our recommendations to our guests with confidence.
- We get to make our living doing the same things we used to do for fun! Cooking, baking, gardening, antiquing, decorating and filling our home with fresh flowers are all in a day’s work. Add writing, photography and puttering to that. Recently I realized that I never would have imagined that baking cookies every day would be in my job description!
- Then there are the guests! Imagine spending your workday dealing with people who are on vacation instead of slugging through their daily work. Full disclosure is needed here- they don’t always come walking in the door relaxed and in vacation mode! That’s where the work comes in, but it’s easy work. Making guests feel welcomed, feeding them amazing breakfasts and providing a beautiful place to stay does wonders.
- The guests we get to meet every day truly do enrich our lives. They come from all over the country and the world; they span generations and diverse cultures. We learn about careers we’ve never heard of and places we’ve never been. We recently hosted 4 generations of the same family! As we get older, we especially appreciate having this way of keeping in touch with young people, learning about their concerns and their lives. I have never been particularly outgoing (unlike my husband!), so this was an unexpected bonus! The world comes to us!
- And sometimes we have the privilege of being a part of our guests’ most important life moments. You can’t imaging how wonderful it is to answer the front door late in the evening and see a bride in her bridal gown on your front step. Helping to plot the details of a proposal or a surprise anniversary stay are some of the best moments for us. We’ve even had weddings here in the parlor or on the front porch and helped couples celebrate one of the most momentous days of their lives.
- Last, but not least, is enjoying the support and community of innkeepers and the myriad of other tourism professionals that we deal with every day. Here is Asheville we are lucky to have an innkeepers association that provides welcome support, from mentoring of new innkeepers to helping each other during emergencies. We refer guests to each other’s inns when we are full and join together to do marketing. We also get together to have social events and share best practices. This year we collaborated on a beautiful new cookbook, “Morning in the Mountains”!
All in all we have a lot to be grateful for this year and you, our guests, are a huge part of that. Happy New Year!