STAY A WHILE: Anne Tundermann, owner of Providence’s Annie Brownell House, serves breakfast to two out-of-towners: Victor Rodriguez and Annecy Baez, both of New York City. Tundermann’s bed-and-breakfast has been around for 14 years.
Rhode Island’s seaside offerings, art and cultural activities and preservation of history bring $5 billion a year into state coffers from tourism. A relatively small, but critical, part of Rhode Island’s hospitality industry is the colorful palette of bed-and-breakfasts, said state Tourism Director Mark Brodeur.
Rhode Island has about 200 bed-and breakfasts and inns that provide richness, not just in dollars, but in travel experiences, Brodeur said.
The state’s bed-and-breakfasts and inns include 147 in Newport, many of them historic homes with inviting porches and antique furnishings; 30 on Block Island, 27 in South County, including a B&B at a winery in Westerly; and four rooms at an inn on a working dairy farm in Portsmouth.
“Every bed-and-breakfast is unique. The bed-and-breakfast traveler is generally interested in the experience, as well as the location,” Brodeur said. “They’re often interested in the heritage aspect of the house and they want to enjoy the local flavor. They want the experience of staying in someone’s home and getting to know the host.”
Some hosts are getting to know a new generation of guests, said Cheryl Schatmeyer, president of the Newport County Inns and Bed and Breakfasts Association. She owns the Victorian Ladies Inn and the Adele Turner Inn in Newport.
“We’re getting more of the Gen X and Gen Yer’s, people in their late 20s up to about 40. That’s because they’re always on the Internet and many have never stayed in a bed-and-breakfast and just want to try it,” Schatmeyer said. “So the idea of mom-and-pop and lace and doilies in the rooms is changing. They want Wi-Fi in their rooms. They like tables for two.”
These younger-generation guests often come from New Jersey or Pennsylvania or other places that make for a convenient, long weekend, she said. And they find Newport an interesting destination, she said.
“They say they like the harbor and the beautiful vessels they can go out on, the museums and the wine tastings at vineyards nearby,” Schatmeyer said. “They also come because Newport is a destination for weddings and the wedding party will often take over an inn. It’s a good place to congregate.”