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!