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Drops in tourism and travel taking toll on locally owned bed and breakfasts

Posted at 8:55 PM, Dec 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-03 20:55:49-05

VERSAILES, Ky. (LEX 18) — When you step into the Montgomery Inn, the soft creaking of the floorboards give away the history of the building.

The longer you stay, the more you learn about both the inn and its owner, who has dedicated 14 years of her life to making the Montgomery Inn feel like a home away from home.

“It’s not just my business. It’s our home,” said owner Pam Matthews. “It’s our history and it’s our life. Worst case, if we lose our business, we lose our home and our livelihood.”

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Pam Matthews has owned the Montgomery Inn for 14 years.

Shutdowns and event cancellations have impacted the state’s tourism industry, which has, in turn, led to many people making room cancellations at locally owned inns and bed and breakfasts.

According to Matthews, December 2019 was bustling, but this year she has only a handful of reservations made for the entire month.

“Provided everything continues to improve, we will rebound and go from there and if it doesn’t, I don’t know,” said Matthews. “Unfortunately, we can’t just flip a switch and say okay game over. We just have to ride it out.”

Charred Oaks Inn owners Pamela and Richard Riley are also feeling the toll of the pandemic on their business.

“We’re at about 45% of what we normally are,” said Pamela Riley. “We’ve definitely seen a decline in guests.”

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Charred Oaks Inn owners Pamela and Richard Riley stand in front of their business.

Not only are fewer people traveling, but Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines require rooms to be left empty for a minimum of 24 hours after each stay. As a result, the Rileys can only reserve two of their four rooms at any given point.

An added challenge has been recreating the inn’s traditional “at-home” experience while abiding by social distancing restrictions, according to Riley.

At both the Charred Oaks Inn and Montgomery Inn, dining rooms have been closed and housekeeping has been suspended while guests are staying in rooms, among other changes.

“We want [our guests] to be safe and happy, and we want to keep our group safe and happy,” said Riley.

But even with changes underway and a new year to look forward to, the journey to fully rebounding is a challenging one, according to Matthews.

“Hopefully, things will be back to normal by spring and if it isn’t, I don’t know,” she said.

At the end of the day, it will take the community’s full support to ensure the historic inns can stand for a hundred years more.