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October 5, 2018

Two 1860s inns sold to 'aspiring innkeepers' eager for a fresh challenge

Courtesy / The B&B Team
Courtesy / The B&B Team
The Inn On Carleton in Portland received considerable interest due to its location and ability to generate consistent revenue. Patty and Leo Mennitt sold The Inn On Carleton, at 46 Carleton St. in Portland, to James Smith for an undisclosed price. The inn listed for $1.595 million. The deal closed Sept. 5.
Courtesy / James Smith
The Inn On Carleton buyer James Smith came to the purchase from an extensive background in hospitality.
Courtesy / The B&B Team
From left, The Inn at English Meadows sellers Kate and David Parisi and buyer Elizabeth Arruda, who purchased the inn after a career with Bose.

Recent sales of The Inn On Carleton and The Inn at English Meadows suggest there's plenty of interest from aspiring innkeepers in taking over historic properties from sellers ready to retire.

Patty and Leo Mennitt sold The Inn On Carleton, at 46 Carleton St. in Portland, to James Smith for an undisclosed price. The inn listed for $1.595 million. The deal closed Sept. 5. Rick Wolf, partner/owner of The B&B Team in Kennebunk, represented Smith. Dana Moos, a broker with The B&B Team, represented the sellers.

Kate and David Parisi sold The Inn at English Meadows, at 141 Port Road in Kennebunk to Elizabeth Arruda. Wolf, who represented both sides, cited the purchase as between $2 million and $2.5 million. That deal closed Aug. 28.

Both buyers separately took a B&B Team "aspiring innkeepers" workshop and became aware of the properties through Wolf.

Inn On Carleton

Courtesy / B&B Team
Courtesy / B&B Team
A spacious patio and garden in back of The Inn On Carleton is one of the features that attracted the buyer.

Listed in November 2017, The Inn On Carleton received considerable interest due to its Portland location and ability to generate consistent revenue while also being small, with six guestrooms.

"The national average of bed-and-breakfast occupancy is in the low 40% range, and this one is substantially above that, so cash flow is very high," Wolf said.

According to its listing, the inn, located in Portland's West End, is an 1869 Victorian-era townhouse on four levels. Original features include an all-brick exterior, granite entry stairs, winding staircase, main-level 11-foot ceilings and second-floor 10-foot ceilings. Original details include trompe l'oeil paintings by Charles Schumacher and plaster moldings. The inn has a spacious patio and garden in back, and a two-bedroom, two-bath owner's quarters.

"It has off-street parking," Wolf added. "It's not terribly sexy, but having off-street parking for your guests is handy."

Smith, a Winslow native, went to college in Portland, then moved to Boston, where he worked in hotels. He owned a restaurant in Portsmouth, N.H., then worked in operations for Starwood Hotels and Resorts, staying through the transition when Marriott International purchased Starwood in 2016. His last position there was senior director of internet services.

He started to think about innkeeping a year ago.

"I decided I didn't want to stay on with Marriott," he said. "My brother said, 'You used to talk about owning your own inn.' I did some research and found the B&B Team and took their aspiring innkeeper workshop."

Despite his hospitality experience, Smith said the workshop was useful because owning an inn is different.

"The scale is so different from larger hotels," he said. "I worked for luxury hotels in the Boston market. The resources are far greater than what you'd find in a small inn. I was always in a leadership role and had teams of people. In innkeeping, it's a lot more do-it-yourself. You have to broaden your skill set."

He knew he wanted something in New England and near the ocean.

"I thought I was going to purchase something on the Cape," he said. "But I'm also kind of an urbanite and I like to have a lot of options outside my door."

The Inn on Carleton was one of only two he visited.

"I walked in the door and said, 'I think I've found it,'" he said. "This is a stunning building, and it's well maintained. It has generous owner quarters and that was appealing. And Portland's a really cool city."

Smith launched into operations after the closing.

"I've been sold out almost every night," he said, adding that he inherited one staffer — "one very treasured person" — and hired two more.

Inn at English Meadows

Courtesy / B&B Team
Courtesy / B&B Team
The circa-1860 Inn at English Meadows sold for a price in the mid-$2 million range.

A former Greek Revival home built by farmer Asa English circa 1860, The Inn at English Meadows was listed in September 2017 in the mid-$2 million range.

Purchaser Elizabeth Arruda grew up in Massachusetts but was familiar with the area through vacations. After 14 years as a business analyst at Bose, she decided to go into innkeeping as a change from corporate life.

"I'd always thought about maybe buying a B&B," she said. "Friends I talked with thought it would be a great career for me." She learned of The B&B Team's aspiring innkeeper workshop through her career coach. Her criteria included move-in condition with owners quarters.

Like Smith, her response to the inn was immediate.

"We came in here and I said, 'OK, this is it,'" she recalled of her first visit last March.

A pre-closing transition in August, working alongside the owners, helped acquaint Arruda with the inn's operations.

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