A number of our guests have told us that they’ve thought about someday running a bed and breakfast. That’s when the questions begin. What did you do before becoming an innkeeper? What made you decide to become one? How long have you been doing it and do you love it? Do you stay very busy? Do you get to take vacations? Do you get lots of interesting guest? etc. etc. etc.
Well, to begin with, Bernie and I were both in corporate America for more than 25 years. We had ‘9-5’ jobs which really meant long hours, doing more for less, demanding bosses and lots of stress. Back in 2005 we decided that when I qualified for early retirement I’d take it so we could have a less stressful more tranquil life. We combined our vacations with our search for the perfect B&B and in 2009 found The Oaks Victorian Inn. I retired and we bought it in April 2010. Thus began our second careers.
Do we love being innkeepers? Most of the time. It’s an kind of an odd lifestyle. We give complete strangers a key to our home, let them sleep in one of our beds, and then feed them a 3 course breakfast by candlelight the next morning. Many become friends and we look forward to their repeat stays with us. Several have joined our Sleep Around Club where you stay in a different room each time you visit. After you’ve stayed in all 6 rooms and are done sleeping around, we give you a night free in the room of your choice.
Our busy times are April through early November and when asked “How’s business?”, we reply ” Business is good but we could always be busier”. During our quiet times we have projects, take mini vacations, and sometimes just close for a week or so for a real getaway. Last month we remodeled the Alexandria bathroom. Earlier this month we went to an innkeeper’s conference in Long Beach California and stayed a few extra days to play tourists.
Do we get interesting guests? We’ve hosted people from Argentina, Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Netherlands, New Zealand, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, and Wales. We’ve hosted an actor, several ambassadors, a past Nobel prize winner, several authors, and a past illustrator for Marvel comics who drew Spiderman and other super heroes for 25 years. During our second year as innkeepers, a 91 year old Auschwitz survivor who traveled the world lecturing about his experiences stayed with us. He was a sweet man and we were saddened when we learned of his passing. We love the Virginia Tech alumni who stay with us every football season and the Tech parents who stay when visiting their students. We’ve hosted guests who have told us that a stay at The Oaks was a “to do” on their bucket list. A gang of 80+ year old motorcycle riders stayed overnight on their trip down The Blue Ridge Parkway and quite a few beautiful young ladies in wedding gowns and handsome young men in tuxedos have crossed our threshold. Yes, we get interesting guests.
Innkeeping is never dull. If you’re thinking about someday owning one, stay at B&B’s and ask the owners lots of questions. Who knows, maybe one of these days we’ll see you at AIHP or StayVA conference.