Every story has a beginning. This is ours.
After 25 years of running the Magnolia Plantation Bed and Breakfast, we have quite the repertoire of interesting stories. Some exaggerated; some that we wish were exaggerated but are unfortunately true; guest that made us laugh; guest that made us cry; guest that made us want to run down the street; the daily roller coaster ride that comes with maintaining a house over a century old—we could have our own sitcom for sure.
With new arrivals, we often will find ourselves sharing some of these tales. This inevitably leads to the question that we ourselves are still asking—why open a B&B in the first place?
We usually answer with “insanity runs in both our families”, which is true, but, as Walter Cronkrite would say, here’s the rest of the story….
In the early 1980’s Joe and I took our first non-camping vacation. I had done some research on Bed and Breakfast and while there were not near as many as there are now, it was an up and coming trend. We were taking a road trip to Maine and I found a B&B in Bar Harbor, Maine that looked interesting. I booked the Inn for 3 days and as Joe was packing the car to check out on the last day, he found me sitting in one of the Adirondack Chairs in the yard contemplating life. He recognized the look on my face and was justifiably concerned. He sat down in the chair next to mine and asked “The question”…What are you thinking about sweetheart. And so the dream began. “Joe”, I said, “I can do this. I can run an Inn, I want to run an Inn, and I need to run an Inn.” Poor guy, I bet he wished he had just waited in the car for me.
We had just bought a historic house in Orlando. It was a small 2 bedroom, 1.5 baths but it had great potential. We contacted an architect and designed an addition. Our master space was at one end of the house and the other two bedrooms were at the other end. After the renovation was completed I signed us up with a reservation service. Much like the current Vacation Rental by Owner sites, people would call a service and she would call her list of people to see who could accommodate guests. The agency took almost 60% of what I made but I was experimenting to see how we would feel with people in our home. Our first guest was AJ. He lived in New England and traveled around the country building playgrounds from used tires. Since he traveled so much and stayed for over 3 months, he was looking for something homier. He wanted to prepare his own meals since he didn’t know what his schedule was going to be. Joe and I both worked within walking distance from where we lived and would come home most nights to find AJ sitting on the couch watching the news with a cat stretched out on the couch behind his neck and the dog laying at his feet. AJ is the one who introduced us to Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. B&J is what got us through the restoration of The Magnolia Plantation.
One day Joe came home from work and found our suitcases at the front door. I had booked us out of our bedroom for 2 weeks. We had some friends who had just moved and were waiting to close on their house. It was currently empty and without furniture. We slept on an air mattress for 2 weeks. Joe, being the patient guy he is, decided that I must be serious about this B&B thing. Thus began our search for the perfect Inn to call our own.