You’ve probably stayed at a B&B or small inn before. What made it memorable? The setting? Your hosts? Special circumstances or your fellow travelers? It probably was a combination of all these aspects – and more.

In a bed and breakfast, most guests look for a place to stay with a personal touch: the room is comfortable, cozy, clean and private with a beautiful view; you awake to a delicious breakfast prepared by your hosts, who are kind, caring and attentive and understand how to offer you just the right amount of personal space. Carl and Sue deliberately styled Otters Pond B&B from their travels staying at small country inns in Europe where innkeeper’s knowledge of local customs and amenities is so appreciated by travelers.

Table set on the deck at Otters PondOtters Pond B&B innkeepers Carl and Sue Silvernail love people. “We’ve always enjoyed bringing people into our home so it was a natural evolution to cultivate a business around a revolving door of house guests,” says Sue. Both Carl and Sue love to cook for guests and, over the years, perfected a selection of favorite recipes, which they’ve thoughtfully compiled in a cookbook, Featherbed Eggs and Other Favorite Recipes.

The intriguing pond, teaming with wildlife and reflections, affords a highly memorable setting. “The pond is an ever-changing thing of beauty,” says Carl. “Everything we do maximizes the remarkable water view.” With great care, just about every room and every seating area focuses on the pond as a center of attention.


Are You a ‘People Person’?

Of all the skills needed to run a bed and breakfast, Carl and Sue say it’s most important to be a “people person,” one who enjoys the company of others, is hospitable, well mannered and sociable  – actually interested in others and in making them feel at home. As in any business that caters to a wide range of clientele, you also need good communication skills and know how to deal with many types of people – from the shy to the gregarious to the demanding – and on very rare occasions be able to work through difficult situations, balancing the needs of different guests.

“Ninety-nine percent of our guests are delightful, and we develop deep friendships with clients who return year after year,” says Sue.  “All of this is easier if you build relationships with your guests as soon as they walk through the door. I take time to welcome each guest, give them a quick run-through on where to find what they need, do an orientation to the B&B and answer any questions they have regarding nearby restaurants and island activities.”

The business side of operating a bed and breakfast includes everything found in home maintenance and housekeeping, meal planning, inventory, marketing and accounting. All of this is second nature for Carl and Sue, who both are detail-oriented and have divided up the tasks for well-oiled daily operations.

After 17 years, Carl and Sue are passionate about Otters Pond and hope to find new innkeepers who are just as appreciative of the setting and just as devoted to providing a memorable B&B experience. They have trained several interim innkeepers to act in their stead while they take breaks. They are mentors to new innkeepers joining the Washington Bed and Breakfast Guild and they are committed to doing everything possible to facilitate a smooth transition of the property and business, and to support the new owners in their endeavor.

Carl and Sue are active in a variety of tourism organizations including The Orcas Island Lodging Association, The San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau, The Washington Bed and Breakfast Guild and the Orcas Island Chamber of Commerce.


Recommended resources:

The First Step Every Aspiring Innkeeper Needs to Take

What Every Aspiring Innkeeper Should Know

Running a Bed and Breakfast for Dummies – Cheat Sheet

Do You Have the Right Skills to Run a Bed and Breakfast?


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