Exterior of Addison on Amelia

Category Archives: Innkeepers

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Our Inn’s Transformation

January 12, 2020 by theAddison

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

Paella at one of our favorite restaurants – Espana

That first year, Ron and I threw ourselves into learning the innkeeping business. We joined the Association of Independent Hospitality Professionals, now known as the Association of Lodging Professionals, ALP, 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.

    New cushions on front porch rockers

  • 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!

    Vanities in the courtyard guestrooms

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.

Say Hello to the Innkeepers at The Addison on Amelia Island

November 4, 2019 by theAddison

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!

 

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