Gen Xers Become Next Wave of Bed and Breakfast Inn Lovers
Trend or Fad: Will the Next Generation of Tori Spellings Fall and Stay in Love with B&Bs and Country Inns?
By Shirley Anitra Swagerty
The recent buzz around Tori Spelling and husband Dean McDermott opening Chateau La Rue, their bed and breakfast in Fallbrook, California has American Historic Inns (AHI) and iLoveInns.com wondering whether younger innkeepers are a trend or a fad. Tori has said, “We fell in love while staying at a B&B and we came away with the idea that we would like to reinvent the B&B for our generation.”
From Pet Rocks to Chia Pets, fads are short-lived and vulnerable to hype, suffering from the public’s short-term fanaticism. Fads can resurface unexpectedly, as is the case recently with the Rubik’s Cube craze after having a prominent focus in a Will Smith movie. There is also the potential for a fad to become accepted as mainstream. Introduced in the 1950s, skateboards have experienced an ebb and flow of popularity over the years to now become a commonplace part of our culture.
Trends slowly develop and have staying power. Trend watchers attempt to predict the next wave in order to market profitable ideas and develop businesses. Christina Kerley in a recent online article in The Madison Avenue Journal wrote, “Fads create a frenzy and fade; trends spur a transformation and transpire.”
In a 2002 issue of Wall Street Journal, Mei Fong reported that, “Record numbers of young owners are taking over B&Bs.” Kathy Sheppard, then 27 years old, from Sheppard Mansion Bed and Breakfast of Hanover, Pennsylvania, was interviewed. AHI and iLoveInns.com recently followed up and were pleased to find Kathy Sheppard Hoar, now married and in her early thirties, still avidly involved in running the country inn.
In Woodstock, Vermont, owners Dora Foshi and David Liveley were new to the business and opened The Woodstocker Inn Bed and Breakfast about a year and a half ago. Already named Vermont B&B Innkeepers of the Year in 2006, they have turned this boutique inn into a popular place for young couples desiring a getaway weekend or a ski base for Killington. The brightly colored walls, modern design details, 24-hour guest refreshment station and innovative amenities have interested 20-somethings who were concerned about staying in an old fashion B&B. A made-to-order breakfast offers flexible hours with fresh pressed organic coffee.
For Innkeepers Jeremy and Erin in Stillwater, Minnesota, running the Ann Bean Mansion is the only married life they know. This bed and breakfast needed Jeremy’s background in historic restoration and construction experience to provide modern amenities while retaining the classic Victorian features. Erin comments that while they toss off comments like, “are you helping your folks with the business?” she knows that quality trumps age when she notes how satisfied their guests are whether happily stuffed from the four course breakfast she prepared or relaxed after enjoying a whirlpool soak. Her first-time B&B’ers often write in the guest book that they can’t wait to become “regulars” and most innkeepers would agree, that is the best compliment of all!
Since its opening almost eight years ago she and Timothy Bobb, general manager, have created the ambiance of a small luxury hotel with a wide range of clientele. Timothy said, “We are changing the mindset of a B&B being old lacy doilies and Grandma’s bed.” Sheppard Mansion, Hanover, PA has become an elegant destination inn with full service under one roof. The inn’s culinary team includes two highly trained chefs to offer a fine dining experience accented with fresh local ingredients.
Innkeepers Bob and Linda Humphrey opened Shiloh Morning Inn Bed and Breakfast in Ardmore, Oklahoma after extensive research. They defined their market and offer a place of peace and rest for the young professional. “The age range of the vast majority of our guests is between 25 and 40. Of course, we do get some of the more traditional B&B guests in the 60+ range, but a lot of our guests are first-time B&Bers,” says Linda. Knowing the demographics of their clientele was valuable to them as they built the inn. They included more upscale amenities such as jetted tubs, spa showers and secluded private cottages.
Destination weddings have become a popular trend for young couples to gather with friends and family at an inn for an entire weekend celebration. Some wedding guests plan to arrive days before or stay long after the festivities as part of their vacation. Offering “gracious, high-spirited comfort in the Heart of Colorado,” the Wild Horse Inn Bed and Breakfast features professional event planning services and onsite catering. Accommodations include lodge rooms and secluded guest cabins that are so inviting newlyweds often choose to remain here for their honeymoon.
Young adults show growing concern for the environment and actively support inns that are green and eco-friendly. More and more B&Bs and country inns are embracing renewable technology and adopting sustainable practices. Maple Hill Farm Bed and Breakfast Inn in Hallowell, Maine boasts the state’s largest solar energy array and also uses a wind-generating turbine to minimize environmental impact. Take a hike or bike on the inn’s trails that span 130 acres or on the neighboring 800-plus acres of Jamie’s Pond Wildlife Area.
One way to encourage the tradition of innkeeping is by equipping the next generation. The Maine Innkeepers Education Foundation, affiliated with the Maine Innkeepers Association (MEIA), has awarded more than $115,000 in hospitality scholarships for twenty-two years. Greg Dugal, executive director of MEIA exclaims, “We are really proud of the recipients, they are truly outstanding individuals. We enjoy supporting people who are thinking about pursuing careers in hospitality, to help build the growing business of tourism in this state.”
Celebrities are known for starting fads and only time will tell how long Tori and Dean love being innkeepers of Chateau La Rue, but many young inn lovers have already set the trend and many more will experience the tradition of country inns and bed and breakfasts.