Vacation season is upon us and people will hit the road or take to the skies to get to their destinations.
One option for summer accommodations is a Bed and Breakfast. There are numerous Black-owned Bed and Breakfast locations across the country; here are a few:
Welcome Inn Manor; 4563 S. Michigan, Chicago, Il; 312-493-2953; www.welcomeinnmanor.com
Welcome Inn Manor was opened in Bronzeville seven years ago. Mell Monroe and his wife, Angie, have been living in the house for 10 years. The couple restored the 7,000 square foot vintage home and did a lot of renovations.
“We believe things should be preserved,” Monroe said.
Welcome Inn Manor is the only African American Bed and Breakfast in Chicago. It is licensed and has approved members of the Chicago Bed & Breakfast Association.
Monroe said they wanted to get the training to make the Inn the best it could possibly be.
“We knew we wanted to be professional in everything we do,” he said.
Part of that training focused on what guests want out of their stay.
“They always want more than just a place to stay for the night,” Monroe said.
At Welcome Inn Manor, a full breakfast is provided at a set time. Monroe said breakfast time is an opportunity for him to engage with his guests and for guests to engage with each other.
“People like to engage; that is part of the experience,” he said.
Monroe said 90 percent of his guests want to engage.
“The innkeeper will provide guests with cool things to do…not just touristy things,” he said. “We give them a lot more insight on Chicago.”
While there are six rooms available for rent, there is also a full floor of space that is utilized for guests to socialize.
“They’re not confined to their rooms. They can have a glass of wine on the porch when the weather is nice,” he said. “There’s a lot more access to the flow of the house.”
Monroe said throughout their seven years in business, the Welcome Inn Manor has received 700 reviews — 100 reviews per year.
“We’re proud to say we have 4.7 out of 5 stars,” he said.
Monroe said guests come from all around the world, including Korea, France and Italy, and that once the visitors see the space and the décor, they are comfortable. He said it is his goal to make sure they have a good experience.
“Everything we do is at a premium,” he said. “We’re ambassadors to the city.”
Oak Bluffs Inn; 64 Circuit Ave., Martha’s Vineyard, MA; 866-466-3855; oakbluffsinn.com
Erik Albert purchased Oak Bluffs Inn 21 years ago. He grew up going on vacations to Martha’s Vineyard and loved being there. His family house was down the street from the inn and when his mother came to Martha’s Vineyard, she would stay at the 10-room property.
“It’s a great place to be,” he said. “There’s plenty to see and do. The town’s pretty lively.”
Albert described Martha’s Vineyard as a small town with no traffic lights where people know everyone.
“Oak Bluffs is like a home base. People are out riding bikes…going to the beach,” he said. “It’s a relaxing home base — a place to chill with a wraparound porch.”
Ms. Elsie’s Caribbean Bed & Breakfast; 334 N. Sharon Amity Road, Charlotte, NC; 704-365-5189; www.mselsies.com
Cheryl Watkins has owned Ms. Elsie’s Caribbean Bed & Breakfast since 2000. She named it after her grandmother, Ms. Elsie. Watkins said she didn’t choose the house, it chose her.
“I had a dream that I saw my grandmother standing on the veranda of a white house,” she said.
She found the house and decided to turn it into a bed and breakfast because breakfast was the meal she and her grandmother used to enjoy together.
Watkins said there are three rooms and what sets it apart from other bed and breakfast spots in the area is the house’s uniqueness — she said it has tropical vibes. Her family and her husband’s family are from the Caribbean.
Also, there is a three-course fine dining breakfast with fresh juices and herbal teas. Watkins, who has been a private chef in the Charlotte area for years, said she has a gift for hospitality.
“We spoil our guests,” she said. “Our biggest challenge is getting our guests to go home.”
Watkins said she spends quality time with the guests and enjoys conversing with them. The guests like the island-themed hospitality of the home, she explained. There is a steel drummer there who plays island music.
“We just try to bring the Caribbean — island vibes,” she said. “It’s a tropical hideaway in the middle of the city.”