Monday, April 20, 2009

Home away from Home

Beds and breakfast offer in-and-out-of-towners new scenery
Saturday, April 18, 2009

Exotic vacations and getaways can be expensive with airfare and hotel costs adding to the equation.

Click to enlarge
The Veranda on Walnut Bed
Matt McKean/TimesDaily

But a nice staycation at a bed and breakfast can be an inexpensive way to reach the final destination of R&R.

At The Veranda on Walnut Bed & Breakfast, Ron and Doris Ross welcome their guests with baked pecan brownies. For breakfast, it's Belgian waffles topped with homemade strawberry jam or a traditional breakfast of biscuits, sausage, eggs, ham, bacon and fresh fruit.

The Rosses opened The Veranda six years ago, and according to Doris, the perks of a bed and breakfast include meeting new people.

"It's a very interesting business to be in because you meet so many different people from all over the country," Ross said.

Ross said customers come from as far as Florida and Georgia, but some of their most faithful clients are from the Shoals.

"That makes me feel very good knowing that they picked us over going out of town," she said.

The Veranda features three rooms. The largest room, the Christopher Suite, includes a California king bed, private bathroom and kitchen. Newlyweds often choose the suite, hence the nickname "The Honeymoon Suite."

"It gives them a neat place to stay without staying at a hotel," Ross said.

Ashley Winkle, of Florence Mainstreet, and her husband stayed at the Veranda for Valentine's Day 2008. Winkle said it was their first time doing a bed and breakfast and the stay was great.

"You get to get away from the house," Winkle said. "It's just a change of scenery."

She said the biggest benefit was not being stuck with the daunting task of packing and unloading luggage.

"It was nice to just go and stay somewhere different," Winkle said.

Carolyn Waterman, owner of The Limestone House Bed and Breakfast in Florence, said more people are staying in town for their vacations.

"We've noticed in the last 6-7 months we're getting more people from a 15-mile radius that just wanted to get away," she said. "It's a nice weekend getaway for them."

Attractions such as the theater, restaurants and downtown night life in Florence bring more people to the area, Waterman said. In addition, people often take a weekend to come to the area for the museums including the Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts and Pope's Tavern.

"I think the Shoals has a lot to offer," Waterman said. "People are enjoying downtown a little bit more."

The Limestone House opened almost five years ago after Waterman and her husband relocated to Florence from Washington, D.C. The inn features two rooms, The Ford Room and The Edison Suite, both adorned with antiques.

"It certainly is more economical, and it still feels like a vacation," Waterman said. "People like bed and breakfasts because it is not like a hotel."

She said most couples return to the inn after staying there once. "Our business has increased every year," Waterman said.

The Emma House nestled in Killen offers wedding packages and celebratory event planning for anniversaries, parties and romantic dinners. But the Emma House is not a typical bed and breakfast. It features a medical spa that offers hair and nail care and Swedish massages.

Shelbia Brown can be reached at 740-5733 or

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