Growing up and living in many parts of the U.S. that people from the world over want to visit and traveling widely herself, Shelley Goulding dreamed of owning a bed and breakfast one day.
“This has been a dream for quite a long time because I’ve always lived somewhere people wanted to visit,” says Shelley, proprietor of the 9 Cranes Inn in Seattle’s Phinney Ridge neighborhood, who grew up in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Her first job was scooping Italian water ice at Hershey Park before embarking on a career working in various associations, living in other tourist destinations – such as Washington, D.C. and Denver, CO – to traveling the world, she says.
“We always got a lot of visitors wherever we lived,” says Shelley, 49, who enjoys “helping visitors enjoy their visit.”
Shelley finally took the plunge after completing a year and a half long apprenticeship at another local B&B before opening the 9 Cranes Inn in 2010. The inn was named after a piece of artwork of cranes that she bought during a trip to China with her husband, Mike Fitzmaurice, 51, while the inn was being renovated. At a loss for a name for the inn, he suggested the cranes, which now hang on a south facing wall greeting guests. The name is the perfect balance between pleasant and worldly considering that cranes symbolize many good things, such as loyalty, longevity, luck, and prosperity to name a few, in many cultures, she says.
The 9 Cranes Inn is housed in a craftsman house built in 1916. Inspired during a stay in a hotel in Berlin, where artists created their own vision for each room, each of the four rooms in the inn are decorated to reflect the spirit of Seattle and represents one of Seattle’s neighborhoods – Ballard View, Fremont, Woodland Park, and Phinney Ridge.
“Seattle has so many personalities,” says Shelley about the city’s casual and modern flare that is immersed in history.
Shelley’s experience working for many years in associations, traveling, and living in tourist towns brought the pieces of her life together when she became a bed and breakfast owner, she says.
Well traveled, Shelley and her husband, who have been together for nearly 25 years and have visited all seven continents, implemented what they didn’t like and liked about places they stayed in over the years. There is also a touch of whimsy throughout the inn as well as plenty of clean surfaces for guests to place their belongings.
Gone are the days of doilies and inns cluttered with antiques, but the stereotypes remain, says Shelley. She hopes that will change as people become more acquainted with modern day B&Bs.
“A lot of people don’t stay at bed and breakfast, not necessarily because they don’t like bed and breakfast, it does not occur to them for whatever reason,” says Shelley, wishing that “people knew it might not be what you think and it might be fun to try it out.”
“We provide a really valuable service,” says Shelley, who helps guest discover the city. “So many visitors are surprised to find the kind of gems in Seattle that are Seattle’s neighborhoods. I would like to contribute to the positive image of Seattle.”
Many of her guests are relatives of her neighbors, but she’s slowly gaining more referrals from other Seattle B&Bs, business travelers, in particular women, and cruisers who extend their vacations before sailing in and out to Alaska, seeking a different type of lodging experience. She’s also welcomed guests from as far away as Australia, Britain, Finland, Germany, and the Netherlands, she says.
“Guests always continue to expand my horizons. It’s not a surprise, but it’s always refreshing,” says Shelley, who doesn’t speak any languages, but her husband speaks Japanese.
She welcomes guests with children who are 12 years old and older, but she can’t accept younger children or pets beyond her own dogs, Philip and Terrance, that she rescued.
Shelley, who runs the inn herself along with a part-time housekeeper, is grateful for the success the inn has experienced since she welcomed her first guests. Business has been so good within the nearly two years that she’s introduced a Frequent Sleeper Program – if guests stay nine times a year they get the 10th stay free – earlier this year. Two of her guests have already had their free stay, and several more are close to getting their free night at the inn, she says.
Seattle’s bed and breakfast community is competitive, but friendly often recommending guests to each other depending on guests needs and preferences, says Shelley.
To book your stay at 9 Cranes Inn, visit 9cranesinn.com.
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