If owning and operating a bed and breakfast has ever been a dream of yours, Janice Sage, owner and innkeeper of the Center Lovell Inn and Restaurant in Maine, totally understands. That’s what she wanted to do when she took over ownership of the beautiful, 210-year-old bed and breakfast 22 years ago.
But now she wants to retire, and before she does, she wants to give someone the opportunity to own the inn, and so rather than selling the property outright, she’s offering up a contest. Write an essay of 200 words or less about why you would be the next great owner for her inn, and send it in with a $125 entry fee, and the place could be yours.
All Sage needs to do to retire with the value of her business in her own pocket is attract 7,500 contestants willing to pay the $125 fee. That would give her the $900,000 the Maine property is estimated to be worth, and allow her to retire after being constantly on the go for more than two decades. And by doing it this way, she’s giving someone who may have the passion for the business but lacking the funds to do it a chance.
“There’s a lot of very talented people in the restaurant business who would like to have their own place but can’t afford it,” said Sage. “This is a way for them to have the opportunity to try.”
And Sage absolutely knows what she is talking about, since the essay contest idea is not her own — although she came by it honestly enough. Writing an essay and sending it an entry fee was how she herself became owner and innkeeper at the Center Lovell Inn. But she won’t be sharing any essay-writing tips, however; her winning entry remains the property of the previous owner and cannot be divulged.
Sage does warn potential entrants that the business of running a bed and breakfast is not for the fainthearted. “Unless you raise 14 kids, you’re not going to be used to this,” Sage said, comparing the need of seven clean, ready, welcoming rooms being needed every day of the week during peak season. “Look, this is something you start when you’re young. It takes a lot of stamina.”
The property, which is a little over three hours from Boston, includes the inn itself, which, according to its website, has ten guest bedrooms with their own sitting areas, as well as outbuildings, all sitting on a total of 12 acres with views of the Presidential Range of mountains and Kezar Lake. And not only does the winning contestant get all of that, Sage is throwing in all the furnishings and a nice monetary cushion of $20,000 to help you get started.
It’s pretty much a BYOB deal, though — all food and liquor will be removed from the property before ownership is transferred.
But if you think you are the right person, all you have to do is explain why you want to run a country inn, in 200 words or less, and send it in with the $125 entry fee by May 17, 2015. Beyond strongly recommending that all contestants use good grammar and spelling, Sage doesn’t offer any other guidelines.
There are a few strings, but they seem pretty negligible. The winner of the contest and new owner of the inn must agree to keep the property up and running as a bed and breakfast for at least one year, or a total of 185 operating days. In addition to that, the building itself must be kept painted white, with the roof and shutters maintained in either forest green, hunter green, or black.
So, what do you think? Would you be willing to try your hand at an essay that may net you a profitable business?
And click here to read about three guys who took the idea of a bed and breakfast to another level, going from rags to riches in a short matter of time.
[Image via Twitter]