Happy New Year! As we enter a new decade—and Ron and I enter the third year of owning The Addison on Amelia Island—it seems an appropriate time to reflect on how far we’ve come since purchasing the inn. As I mentioned in our B&B origin story, we felt like proud parents as we officially welcomed The Addison on Amelia Island into our lives on December 15, 2017. It’s been an interesting process as we found our footing as innkeepers. Since so many of our guests ask about what it’s like to own an inn and what’s changed since we took over, I thought I’d give you a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the transformation of The Addison on Amelia Island.
Year 1: Learning the ropes
That first year, Ron and I threw ourselves into learning the innkeeping business. We joined the Association of Independent Hospitality Professionals (AIHP) to lessen the learning curve of how to successfully run a bed-and-breakfast inn. Locally, we met with innkeepers in Fernandina Beach, developing wonderful relationships with our tight-knit group of competitors/colleagues. Ron and I explored all the wonderful neighborhoods, restaurants, shops, small businesses, and organizations that make Fernandina Beach and Amelia Island such an inviting community. We established relationships with these local business owners so we could make recommendations to our guests looking for places to eat, where to shop, and things to do. Converting recipes to meet the fluctuating number of guests staying with us, ranging from two to 28 guests became a priority. Getting to know repeat guests from the previous inn owners and developing relationships with new guests so they, too, become repeat guests was most rewarding. The goal of year one? To blend the old with the new—offerings, processes, relationships—as we learned how to actually BE innkeepers in 2018.
Year 2: Growing the business
No longer newbies, we now focused on growing the business in 2019. We had to understand the demographics of our guests so we could better meet their needs, whether that’s creating new specials and packages or developing new recipes. Two of our proudest moments this year? Being approved for membership in Select Registry (for distinguished inns of North America) and earning a #1 rating on Trip Advisor. Yay, us!
What enhancements and experiences resonated best with our guests this year?
- Small touches with a big impact. It was time for new cushions for our outdoor chairs, with brighter colors and more padding for a comfortable seat so guests can enjoy a cup of coffee or glass of wine on our gorgeous veranda. Charging stations were added for phones, laptops, and iPads so guests don’t have to crawl under beds or desks. We take guest feedback seriously, so adding little touches like these helps improve our guests’ experience.
- Bigger touches to add that “Wow!” factor. We installed vanities for the courtyard guestrooms, providing more “real estate” on the sink surface and more storage under the sink. (When you’re traveling with cosmetics and personal care items, you need a convenient place to store your things, right?) We also added a fresh coat of paint in guestrooms and bathrooms with our favorite new color—Sea Salt! We think it ties in nicely to the coastal ambiance of our seaside community. Finally, we found a professional landscaper that helped our property blossom by bringing our gardens and courtyard back to their grandeur. We received so many compliments about our stunning landscaping from guests!
In both big and small ways, we aimed to retain the charm of The Addison on Amelia Island and improve our guests’ experience when they stayed with us. With a heartfelt thanks to both our returning and new guests, we increased occupancy by 6.5% from 2018.
Year 3: Creating unique offerings
As we move into our third year in 2020, we hope to sustain our growth rate and add special touches. We’ve got a few approaches to help us do just that. For starters, we plan to continue offering unique guest experiences at The Addison on Amelia Island, such as our inaugural cheesemaking class on January 17-20, 2020, taught by Linda and Larry Faillace of Vermont-based Three Shepherds Farm. (With space limited to just 10 guests, we’re almost sold out! If you want to guarantee your spot, call us at 904- 277-1604 to make your reservations.) Since we don’t want to copy what other Amelia Island inns are doing (such as weddings), we’re creating our own niche with a focus on distinctive experiences, such as Babymoon at The Addison. We’re also creating a rewards program for our repeat guests to thank you for your loyal patronage, so be on the lookout for details! Finally, we want to inform and engage with both current and prospective guests, which we’ll do through our blog, our social media channels, and our quarterly email newsletter.
Of course, we’ll continue to educate ourselves about the innkeeping industry by attending the annual Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII) conference in early January. Here, we’ll network with other innkeepers and learn about industry trends so we can continue providing top-notch experiences for our guests. Our goal? To exceed your expectations and create wonderful vacation memories for you, year after year.
Travelers looking to infuse their Amelia Island vacation with extra special memories often find themselves staying at a bed and breakfast inn like The Addison. If you’re like most of our guests, you don’t want to stay in a large, impersonal chain hotel while visiting the island. Why? Because the lodging is part of your travel experience and you want an intimate, personal, unique stay.
Well, it’s about to get even more amazing with our exclusive culinary adventure just for guests. Whether you’re a full-blown foodie or just a wine-and-cheese lover, you won’t want to miss the special treat we’ve got lined up for our guests at The Addison in January!
Exclusive Culinary Event
To tie-in to Amelia Island’s 12th Annual Restaurant Week, we’re offering an intimate, artisan cheese-making class right here at The Addison on Amelia from Jan. 17-20, 2020. Taught by renowned cheesemaking connoisseurs Linda and Larry Faillace of Vermont-based Three Shepherds Farm, our inaugural three-day class offers a unique culinary adventure in a small-group setting. Think of it as a mini-master class in cheesemaking as you learn the art of making a variety of delicious cheeses while getting expert tips and advice from cheesemaking gurus.
For this exclusive experience, we’ve limited the class to only 10 participates and set aside a block of rooms for this special event, which we expect to sell out quickly. (Hint: Book now to reserve your spot at this limited event.)
Calling All Foodies!
Set against the cozy backdrop of The Addison, the class walks you through the fundamentals of transforming the essential cheesemaking ingredients (curds and whey) into scrumptious mozzarella and ricotta cheese. (Can you say “yummy”?) You’ll get to enjoy your handcrafted goodies during your stay and then take samples back home to share with family and friends.
In addition to the hands-on learning component, we’ve lined up a slate of culinary delights for you and your new wine-and-cheese-loving friends. We’ve scheduled breakfast each morning at the inn, lunch on Saturday and Sunday, and an evening social hour Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Plus, we top the event off with a fun wine and cheese tasting and pairing.
For complete details and the three-day event schedule, visit Say Cheese at The Addison.
Grab Your Spot!
As mentioned, we’re limiting this exclusive culinary event to just 10 guests. We’d love to have you join us! To book your reservation and guarantee your seat at the cheesemaking table, please call us 904- 277-1604.
Finally, if you love exploring local food scenes, we encourage you to spend a few extra days in Amelia Island’s historic downtown Fernandina Beach to taste your way through some of our award-winning eateries during the 12th Annual Restaurant Week
Every year, the Christmas season on Amelia Island officially kicks off the day after Thanksgiving. Locals and tourists alike don their Christmas PJs and go shopping in downtown historic Fernandina Beach to score those Black Friday deals. It’s small-town fun at its finest, and we love to see our guests at The Addison participate in this island tradition!
Fortunately, The Addison is in the heart of it all. We’re close enough to the action that guests can walk to the holiday celebrations, but far enough away that our inn provides a peaceful respite on their return. Much to their delight, Ron and I welcome guests back at night with true Southern hospitality—a glass of wine and appetizers during our evening Happy Hour.
Here’s a sneak peek of our two most popular Christmas traditions on Amelia Island.
Holiday Home Tour
This year’s Holiday Home Tour takes place December 6-7 (10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.), marking the 13th year that Amelia Island Museum of History brings the Christmas magic to our community. What can you expect to see? Five Victorian homes in historic Fernandina Beach, including our next-door neighbor, decked out with holiday flair, courtesy of our talented local florists. Plan to spend about 45-60 minutes in each home for an up-close look at beautiful renovations, family heirlooms, and preserved historic elements intertwined with the Christmas spirit of a bygone era. For example, at the Maier home, you can hear the stories behind the owners’ unique collection of Santas.
Insider’s Tip: This popular tour attracts big crowds! Avoid long lines to enter the homes by going a bit later in the day and touring the homes in a different order rather than starting at the first house listed on the tour. Grab your Holiday Home Tour tickets online.
Dickens on Centre
The following weekend, Dickens on Centre takes over the historic downtown area. Ron and I look forward to the festival’s newest addition: the inaugural Dickens Illuminated Procession, which takes place on Thursday, December 12, from 5 pm to 8 pm and will proceed right in front of the inn! Then the rest of the weekend (December 13-15) is brimming with festivities!
Now in its fifth year, Dickens on Centre transforms Fernandina Beach into a charming, Victorian-inspired holiday village, complete with a full slate of activities and entertainment. This free, family-friendly event draws visitors near and far to experience costumed characters, magical holiday lights, music, theatrical performances, visits with Saint Nick, and plenty of options for seasonal gifts and holiday shopping. It’s fun to watch the locals dress up in Victorian costumes, immersing themselves in the Christmas spirit. Even pets get in on the action, with the Parade of Paws on Saturday!
Check out the complete Dickens on Centre event schedule to map out what you’d like to experience.
Celebrate the Christmas Magic
Despite being known as a beach community and a summer destination, Amelia Island transforms into a holiday wonderland that rivals Santa’s Workshop. This is honestly one of the best times of year to visit Amelia Island, and we’re lucky enough to be able to share this festive time with our guests.
If you’d like to join us this holiday season at The Addison, we’d love to have you! Our rooms book up fast at this time of year, so I encourage you to make reservations soon. Also, if you’re looking for a unique gift for someone on your holiday shopping list, consider purchasing a holiday gift card to treat someone special to a relaxing stay at The Addison on Amelia Island.
Do you love a traditional Thanksgiving dinner? At The Addison on Amelia, we sure do! But it’s a lot of work, right?
Let Ron and I lighten your load this Thanksgiving as we prepare a feast for our guests—and we hope you’re one of them! We’re all about traditions, especially when they involve making holidays special for guests at The Addison on Amelia. And Thanksgiving is no exception.
While other inns make reservations at a local restaurant for guests and attend dinner with them, we like to do things differently here. For years, it’s been a tradition at The Addison to serve Thanksgiving dinner right here at our inn, surrounded by old friends and new ones.
Since buying the inn in 2017, we’re thrilled to carry the tradition forward. We thoroughly enjoyed our first Thanksgiving at The Addison last year as we met returning guests who stayed with the previous inn owners. In fact, we received many calls to see if we would be continuing this beloved tradition. Of course, we said yes! We look forward to welcoming returning guests and we eagerly await the arrival of new guests who will gather around our Thanksgiving table with us for the first time.
As children we enjoyed Thanksgiving with our grandparents and cousins in Pennsylvania. Even though Nan’s mashed potatoes were lumpy, her recipe was the best! As we got older, my brothers and I would rotate hosting Thanksgiving dinner at our homes in Sarasota, Plant City, and Atlanta. After our grandmother relocated to Sarasota, I hosted my brothers and their families so Grammy could enjoy time with her great-grandchildren. And just like the old days, we’d gather around the table, share stories, and laugh, feeling oh-so-thankful for these special people in our lives.
At The Addison, Ron and I want to create the same kind of “warm-fuzzies” for our guests on Thanksgiving. And it begins weeks before the big day arrives. I dig through my family recipes to recreate a few favorite dishes. And I anxiously wait for my issue of Bon Appetit to arrive to see what new creations I can whip up. I plan the inn’s special menu and share it with our wine expert to create the ideal pairings. We want everything to be just perfect for guests joining us for Thanksgiving!
Beyond preparing a sumptuous feast, we take care of all the little touches that make Thanksgiving a truly festive occasion at The Addison. From the autumn-themed tablecloth and napkins to the beautifully adorned Christmas tree in the foyer, the decorations set the stage for a warm gathering.
And one of the best parts (at least according to our relaxed guests) is that Ron and I handle all the cooking and cleaning ourselves. Our guests can linger over pumpkin pie and coffee while we deal with the “kitchen clean-up aftermath” of a wonderful Thanksgiving feast shared with friends.
If this sounds like a little slice of heaven to you, please consider joining us this year. Our Thanksgiving Package begins with a two-hour narrated boat cruise with Amelia River cruises on Thanksgiving morning. This means you’ll be cruising, having fun, and learning about the area while Ron and I are back at the inn preparing an amazing feast for your return. Our Thanksgiving dinner includes appetizers, salad, roast turkey, dressing, potatoes, vegetables, and, of course, several pies (my favorite part!), along with a wine pairing for the four-course meal. The fun continues on Black Friday, as everyone dons their Christmas PJs to go shopping in downtown historic Fernandina Beach! https://www.facebook.com/events/downtown-fernandina-beach-amelia-island/annual-downtown-fernandina-pajama-party/1010434879085010/
Ready to gather around our table this year? Join us at The Addison on Amelia and let our inn be your home this Thanksgiving.
About once a week, a guest staying at The Addison on Amelia Island will ask my husband Ron or me our “B&B origin story.” They want to know our background, why we decided to purchase a bed and breakfast inn, why we picked Amelia Island, and, specifically, why we chose The Addison.
Curious? Here’s our backstory.
We didn’t start out “in the biz”—or even in the same state. Ron, born and raised in Wichita, KS, was a high school history teacher who later moved into pharmaceutical sales and healthcare software sales. Born in Philadelphia, PA, I lived in more than a half dozen Eastern U.S. states, finally settling in Sarasota, FL. I was a hospital director of pharmacy who also moved into pharmacy software sales, later becoming a healthcare consultant and certified project manager. We met working for the same Kansas City-based healthcare software company, with Ron moving to join me in Sarasota in 2002.
Despite neither of us having any professional experience in the hospitality industry, I developed a passion for bed and breakfast inns. How? I lived on an old rice plantation in the Lowcountry of South Carolina (midway between Charleston and Savannah) during the 1980s. The owners’ adult children had no interest in inheriting the property and asked me for my recommendation. I instantly saw the property’s potential as an inn, as it was nestled on a rice pond alongside the Ashepoo River with every room overlooking this magnificent view. Although the South Carolina property sold and remains a private residence, this experience planted the seed of one day owning a bed and breakfast of my own.
Ron and I started out just like you—as guests, staying at B&Bs like The Orchard Inn, a beautiful property in Saluda, NC.
Then we took a deeper dive into the industry side of it. First, I attended an innkeeping conference in 2014 in Charleston where I got connected with industry consultants. Then, I also needed to learn about the ins and outs of owning a small business, so I attended SCORE workshops and found a mentor. Both of these provided a solid foundation in place before we even began looking at properties.
Though Ron and I considered a property near our Sarasota home, the sales process was not a viable option. We abandoned a Gulf Coast search for our dream property, but continued to further our hospitality education.
In the fall of 2015, we attended an intensive weekend conference for aspiring innkeepers just like us. We found ourselves back at The Orchard Inn for this event, with the conference conducted by one of the consulting groups I met at the Charleston conference.
Feeling prepped and ready for the B&B industry, we moved our property search to Florida’s Atlantic Coast. We looked at two properties on Amelia Island in August 2016. Unfortunately, we couldn’t pursue either because we’d already committed to a vacation in South Africa and wouldn’t be available to run an inn just yet. But we adored the community of Fernandina Beach and fell in love with Amelia Island. In fact, the area checked all the boxes we were looking for:
- Coastal location with an intriguing history—it’s the only U.S. location where eight different flags have flown.
- Incredible weather—perfect for year-round outdoor activities.
- Easy access to a major airport—Jacksonville International Airport is just a 30-minute drive
- Walkable downtown with high caliber shops and restaurants—our 50-block downtown historic district boasts more than 100 local eateries, boutiques, bars, art galleries, museums, theaters, and independent shops.
Things moved swiftly after that, as the consultant helped us prepare and submit an offer to purchase the property. The owners accepted our offer in August 2017, we made a validation visit in September 2017, and officially purchased the inn on December 15, 2017.
We felt like proud parents as we officially welcomed The Addison into our lives. We can’t wait to share the rest of our story with you—especially as we look to celebrate our second anniversary here on Amelia Island!
White Oak Conservation Center is just a 45 minute drive from the Addison. Until recently they have been closed to the general public for tours but that is changing. Lee and I took one of their tours yesterday and had the most fun (educational fun) that we have had in ages.
White Oak specializes in the conservation of some of the world’s most endangered animals. White Oak is home to species such as cheetah, rhinos, okapi and many more.
We toured in an open van with Randy who knows so much about the animals, why they are endangered and what is being done to protect the species. We saw cheetah (cubs and full grown), three varieties of rhino, antelope, gazelle and, my favorite, the giraffes. We got to feed the giraffes and I had my arm muzzled by a baby rhino. This is a real up-close and personal tour.
The two hour tour starts at 10:00 mid week only and is $100 per person. Lunch is an additional $25 per person if requested. Advance reservations are a must! Check out this amazing facility at www.WhiteOakWildlife.org
One frequently asked FAQ question that we get is “Do you ever shut down the inn and go on vacation?”. We do occasionally shut the inn down during slow periods for maintenance purposes but once every few years family comes to visit and we close the inn to spend a little quality time with them. And paying guests here for a romantic weekend just might not find the charm of naked little grandchildren running in circles in the courtyard laughing their faces off.
Eldest son, Matt, and his family were here for most of last week. When they left their home in northern Alberta it was minus 39 so they were really enjoying the 70 degree January weather here on Amelia Island. The family got a little beach time and parents got a break from the kids while Grandma Shannon just loved looking after them.
One family outing was the Amelia River Cruise which is always fun. The picture shows Olivia (2 years old, almost 3) driving the boat while her father and Pajama Dave (local legend, far left in photo) watch on and offer advice.
We heard today that they have arrived safely back at their home after an incredibly long air journey. The Addison is back open. We have a pretty busy week ahead of us due to Amelia Island Restaurant Week and are looking forward to a full house this weekend.
Here we have a passive, green approach to mosquito control. Bats will eat 600 mosquitos an hour as they fly around at night. All they need is somewhere to live.
This bat house was just installed on the back of one of the Addison’s courtyard buildings where it is out of sight. It is a deluxe 2-hole house. Apparently if you put up a 1-hole house all you get is bachelor bats. A 2-holed house attracts breeding bat families. The local bats must be pretty small as the slot for them to climb up in and roost is only 1/2 inch wide.
The mosquitos haven’t been too bad this year. I have been sweeping citronella pellets through the cracks in the decks to keep mosquitos away but that just moves the problem to another area. Having a few bats flying around town at night should really cut back the flying bug population.
A big thank you to our local Convention and Visitor’s Bureau for paying for the bat house and it’s installation.
Build it and they will come!
It is a little chilly outside this morning so I put the fire on in the living room. Yesterday we were running the air conditioning, this morning the heat and fire. Yesterday everyone ate breakfast out on the courtyard veranda. I’m pretty sure that won’t be the case this morning. This will be our coldest day this week with a high of 56. And it isn’t even winter yet!
The first day of winter is tomorrow and it is also the anniversary of our purchasing the Addison. We’ve been running the inn for nine years now. We attract the nicest guests with many returning to us for special events year after year. Over half of our guests last night are repeat guests. One young woman first came to stay with us as a solo traveler, returned with a friend for a girl’s getaway weekend, then on her honeymoon and now is here celebrating their first anniversary.
Nine years. The time, she flies.
We have a lot of guests at the Addison who are celebrating wedding anniversaries so you’d think we would be in tune with our own. Funny story about our recent anniversary….
Shannon and I were married 32 years ago on November 30th. On December 3rd, Shannon walked into the kitchen and asked “Guess what we forgot?” I was in the middle of breakfast prep so I’m thinking I forgot the potatoes or to squeeze juice but it turns out we both forgot our anniversary. I guess with all the excitement of Thanksgiving, the B&B Cookie Tour, Christmas decorating and preparing our list of grievances for Festivus we just got run over by the holidays and forgot.
We made up for it tonight with a nice dinner at Le Clos, where we usually go for our anniversary. I had the sea scallops (lousy photo but great food). with pasta and a delightful, light sauce. We ate (we both cleaned our plates), we laughed, we remembered 32 years. It was good.