Have you ever dreamed of owning a cozy bed and breakfast? Being up at the crack of dawn baking delicious pastries, and cooking up that breakfast your family always asked for on Sunday mornings for a house full of appreciative guests? Meeting and greeting new guests, and saying good-bye to the ones who have just become new friends?
It could be you.
I have a fantastic little B&B for sale in Wallkill, NY. It's in the perfect situation: run by a charming couple who love guests, dogs, and the hospitality business, in that order. It's just far enough up state to be nestled in the rolling hills of the Mohonk Mountains, and just close enough to New York City to be a mecca to those who want to get away for a week or a weekend. Which may explain why it's been so successful for the last 30-odd years. They're retiring now, and want to sell the place to the right people. Competent staff included.
It's called Audrey's Farmhouse, and it's one of a very few B&B's accepting guests with dogs. I was so enchanted by my visit to take pictures for their listing's website that I scheduled a visit. My husband and I went a few weekends ago, and we took our dog Dwight, an English Lab. What a fabulous experience.
We got there in the late afternoon and seven other guests had already arrived, all with dogs in tow. Our Dwight was quite excited to see new faces, and the sniffing and panting and chasing around the living room went on for quite some time as the four legged residents worked out their social arrangements.
The inn has six guest rooms, each named for a characteristic of the room. We stayed in the Fireplace Room, so named because it has its own working wood stove. But as lovely as it was, we chose to spend most of our time there in the kitchen, the living room and the library, talking to the other guests, enjoying wine and cheese, and watching the doggie show as it ebbed and flowed around us. We sat in three large comfy sofas around a big coffee table in the great room in front of a crackling stone fireplace.
The entire inn is decorated with the owner's eclectic collections of glassware, art, nature and crafts. Rattan baskets hang from the rustic beamed ceiling in the great room, with loads of antique furniture, plates and decorations. It has a colonial country feel that just doesn't exist anywhere but around here. The kitchen is well equipped, and the staff certainly know how to make use of it. We had a fabulous breakfast there, with local sausages and cheeses and some muffins that were out of this world.
The inn sits on a lovely piece of property with spectacular views of the mountains. When we were there, in the dead of January, they were covered in a fine white linen blanket of snow. Had it been summer, we would have enjoyed the vibrant colors of the gardens surrounding the house, and also taken advantage of the in-ground pool and hot tub.
Instead, we sat in front of the fireplace. And we talked. I couldn't get over how the combination of the ambiance, the guests, and the dogs made for such a convivial situation. It wasn't like the forced conversations you have when you're parked with a bunch of strangers on a cruise ship dinner table or in a hotel lobby with nobody wanting to say anything. We didn't want to watch TV, or catch the ballgame or check the stock ticker. We were all quite happy to swap dog stories; brag about the really great antique place we found just down the road, talk about our families and complain about just how much goddamn snow WE got last week!
If you are interested in becoming an inn keeper, even if you've never had any hospitality experience, it's not hard to find lots of resources to get you started, and to answer your questions. A good place to start might be the book Running a Bed and Breakfast for Dummies. There are also a lot of online sites offering advice, with varying degrees of avarice involved. (Many want you to buy their book, subscribe to their blog or pay to take their course, so beware), but some are genuinely helpful. One is BnBFinder.com's New Inkeeper page, which offers resources, links and articles on the ins and outs of inns. Another interesting website is "We Are Open!" the diary of a first time B&B owner. Also of interest is About.com's list of articles on running a B&B.
It could be you! If it is, contact me. I'd love to show you this property.
And I'll bring Dwight too.