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A 'test drive' for aspiring innkeepers

I have an aunt who would be an ideal innkeeper: She always has an impeccable guest room, with B&B-style details such as chocolates on the pillow and bottles of water on the nightstand. She buys travel-sized soaps and shampoos for me to use, and folds the washcloths into fan-shapes.

I'll have to tell her about the latest hospitality trend, where aspiring innkeepers can shadow B&B owners and managers for a day or two, making the breakfasts, welcoming weary travelers, preparing the guest rooms for each night's visitors. While many fantasize about leaving cubicles and copiers behind for an idyllic life running a beachfront or countryside inn, these programs offer a real chance to investigate exactly what managing a B&B entails.

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Programs vary by location; here are just a few possibilities.

  • The New England Inns and Resorts Association offers an Innkeeper for a Day program at six inns in Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Each inn has a different curriculum combining hands-on activities (such as making beds and preparing meals) with learning workshops and seminars.
  • The Hillcrest Inn and Carriage House in Burlington, Wisconsin, features "shadow an innkeeper weekends" where visitors can learn first-hand all the ins and outs of running a B&B. Travelers must first have taken part in the inn's Aspiring Innkeepers Workshop before booking the shadow weekend; seminar topics include housekeeping, menu planning, and amenities.
  • The Elizabeth Point Lodge on Amelia Island, Florida, runs a B&B Bootcamp where visitors get a crash course in innkeeping. Participants work all job positions, such as check-in, laundry service, and bookkeeping, to familiarize themselves with daily operations. While the B&B Bootcamp is typically offered year-round, the lodge is currently revising this program; they anticipate it will be available again at the end of 2007.

You can find additional possibilities at About.com's aspiring innkeepers site and the Professional Association of Innkeepers International website.

Who knows—if my aunt decides to be an innkeeper's apprentice, perhaps I'll tag along. I'm curious to see if we'd make the grade.

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