PALM BEACH HISTORIC INN - 365 SOUTH COUNTY ROAD
Properties such as The Breakers, The Brazilian Court and The Four Seasons Resort set a high standard for luxurious full-service hotel stays on the island, but some travelers seek a somewhat more down-to-earth experience when visiting.
That there are notably few places for the more budget-conscious to stay is not so surprising, considering the wealthier demographic that has been the target market.
Since 1923, the Palm Beach Historic Inn, 365 S. County Road, has been an exception to that rule, offering quaint and modestly priced accommodations to guests from all over the globe. Rates range from $99 for a queen room during the summer months to $329 for a suite from December to April. A breakfast buffet and light snacks are included in the daily tariff.
But the 17-room inn was not in the best shape, physically or financially, until Alicia Grace’s family purchased the down-on-its-heels bed-and-breakfast in 2010.
Until last fall, the previous operators continued to manage the inn. That’s when Grace, 23 and fresh out of Florida Atlantic University with a degree in psychology, stepped into the role of innkeeper, upgrading the property and upping its profile while in turn aiming to improve her family’s return on the investment.
“I had no experience in the hospitality business before I took this on,” said Grace, who relied on the Internet for ideas on operating a successful bed-and-breakfast.
The first order of business was aesthetic improvements, starting with fresh coats of paint for the exterior and interiors.
“We also redid the electrical systems, added central air-conditioning and installed new key card locks throughout,” she said.
Grace “kept it simple,” she said, in terms of redecorating.
“We bought some area rugs and purchased new beds and bedding, keeping most of the existing furniture that was in good condition, adding a few new pieces as needed.”
Rooms also now feature Smartphone, MP3 and tablet chargers and speakers, along with flat-screen HDTVs, high-speed Internet access, blackout shades and new bath products.
“We haven’t gone overboard,” she said. “We have just brought the rooms up to current standards and to a level that most guests have come to expect.”
“The recent freshening up was sorely needed,” said Michael Stephen, a Wellington resident who has been a regular at the inn for 15 years. Stephen is a frequent business traveler, who often stays at the inn for a day or two during the week when he needs to get to the Palm Beach airport for an early flight.
“I like the inn’s convenient location and proximity to the airport,” he said. “It’s quaint and quiet, and has a unique charm that appeals to me.”
Stephen is pleased with the upgrades.
“I was actually more impressed with simple things like USB chargers in every room,” he said. “This attention to detail tells me that the new folks in charge have actually stayed in hotels and know what’s really needed and appreciated.”
Since Grace has been on the scene, occupancy is up, she said.
“We launched a new website, have arranged for guest parking at 150 Worth and gym privileges at Palm Beach Fitness around the corner, joined the Chamber of Commerce and met with the Convention and Visitors bureau to get the word out.
“And we’ll continue to make improvements as we go forward.”