Mary White is the go-to source in the bed & breakfast industry for opinions and advice. A noted expert on B&B travel, she has been involved in promoting and marketing B&Bs on the Web for more than a decade and has appeared in dozens of media outlets. Her site BnBFinder.com is hailed as the most informative B&B site on the Web.
Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with Mary and discuss her new book: Running a Bed and Breakfast For Dummies. While the book is a practical guide to show you how to turn your dream of owning and running a B&B into a business, what I found most fascinating is how many B&B’s are haunted. At this point, I knew it was time to sit down with Mary and ask her a few questions, just in time for Halloween here on Haunted History.
Kala: Hi Mary, thanks for joining me here on Kala’s Quick Five, where I chat with fascinating authors, artists, teachers and researchers and ask them five questions about their work.
Tell me, do you have any experience with the paranormal or were you surprised to discover how many B&B establishments are haunted?
Mary: While I have not had a first hand encounter with any extra guests during my B&B stays, I find it fascinating how many guests have and the interesting stories that they tell. Even the doubters amongst us must admit that it’s intriguing how similar the stories are and how they can frequently be traced back to an event in history. Of course, the good news is, these long-term guests are harmless yet their appearances and antics make for interesting tales nonetheless.
Kala: Along your journeys, you ended up in Tennessee, at the Prospect Hill Bed & Breakfast Inn in Mountain City. It’s reported here that guests here have woken up to the scent of what they thought were peanut butter cookies and peanut butter muffins though peanut butter wasn’t anywhere in sight. One guest was all lathered up in the shower when the smell of liquor, spilled bourbon to be precise, filled his room. Another guest reported a female presence and lingering rose perfume in a room that unbeknownst to him is believed to have belonged to a grandmother, in the mid-Twentieth century.
I love peanut butter, so this sounds like a warm and welcoming place to be. Do the current owners and operators of the Inn join in on the fun and make peanut butter cookies to appease the ghost and the guests?
Mary: This inn goes above and beyond to please its guests. Peanut butter cookies are a frequent treat along with coffee, teas and hot chocolate that are always available. Every room is designed with the guests’ comfort and privacy in mind; each room has a fireplace and many have whirlpool tubs. While you may not wake up to the scent of peanut butter (unless the innkeeper is baking) you will wake up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee as early coffee is available and I recommend enjoying a cup on the porch.
Kala: My favorite paranormal movie of all time is GhostBusters and ghost hunting is at an all time high in popularity. You report that at the Inn at Jim Thorpe in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, they are hosting a ghost hunting weekend with the Philadelphia Ghost Hunters Alliance on October 29-31st. Stay two nights and ghost hunt your way
through the famous Old Jail where the Molly Maguires were hanged, walk among the spirits in the historic district, and attend several seminars. Dinner on Saturday night and daily breakfasts are also included.
Mary, did you experience any paranormal activity while at this Inn?
Mary: I love that movie too…the firehouse where the movie was filmed is here in NYC and I smile every time I walk by it. The Inn at Jim Thorpe is rich in history dating back to 1833. There was a terrible fire in 1849, then after being rebuilt the inn was a stopping point for the rich and famous (such as General Ulysses S. Grant, President William H. Taft, Buffalo Bill, Thomas Edison and John D. Rockefeller). Hard times fell on the inn during the Depression, but thankfully the inn was revived and today offers comfortable rooms and elegant suites with whirlpools and fireplaces. Being so rich in history it’s not surprising that guests have reported mysterious activities such as objects moving around and TVs turning on and off. Strange orbs and shadows have appeared in photographs. Many people believe in this paranormal activity and the unbelieving are sure there must be a logical explanation…who knows?
Kala: Savannah, Georgia has a reputation of being one of the most haunted cities in the U.S. You recommend a visit to The Ballastone Inn this Halloween where your weekend begins with an introduction to the inn’s resident ghost, Mrs. Sarah Anderson, wife of General Robert A. Anderson, whose been rattling nerves since the 1880s. You’re also invited to follow an experienced guide on a legendary evening tour of haunted spots and meet the author of the best selling book Savannah Hauntings and get an autographed copy.
Mary, what did you uncover during your visit to Savannah, how haunted is the city?
Mary: From its architecture to its Spanish moss this old town ekes in history with its graceful elegance and southern charm. As for haunting, I enjoyed hearing the innkeeper tell some of the inn’s ghost stories while lingering over a cup of coffee after breakfast. The inn is not appropriate for children; although during the 1800’s 12 children lived in the house, so stories of children sightings do raise suspicion. A few guests have reported seeing sightings of what appear to be a little girl approximately 5 or 6 years old wandering the inn. One guest who suffered from insomnia was drawn to the aroma of warm chocolate chip cookies and reported seeing the image of a little girl eating the cookies and gulping a glass of milk. As he approached, the image slowly disappeared. Another guest was sound asleep and felt “something” pulling the covers at the foot of the bed. When she looked she saw a little girl tugging at the covers as though she were looking for a playmate. Savannah is known for its ghost tours so if listening to ghost stories is not enough the innkeepers can recommend several haunted tours.
Kala: Mary, what tips would you offer to our readers here, who are interested in running a B&B of their own one day, including how to deal with the permanent haunted house guests?
Mary: The most important thing for aspiring innkeepers is to research and plan. Running a bed and breakfast is the most wonderful profession for some and a big mistake for others. Too often owning a B&B has been romanticized – living in a beautiful home, being creative, entertaining guests and so on. In order for their guests to relax and enjoy, good innkeepers know that part of their job is to make the job look effortless, so it’s not easy to judge what it takes to be an innkeeper just by visiting many bed & breakfasts. Instead I encourage aspiring innkeepers to attend innkeeping conferences and educational seminars. All of these resources are listed in my book, Running a Bed & Breakfast For Dummies.
Handling (ghosts) guests who won’t checkout is a marketing decision. Many inns in areas known for haunted happenings such as Savannah, Georgia and Jerome, Arizona have created creative packages for those brave at heart who want a chance to experience paranormal activity, others include the legends on the history pages of their website. It’s all in good fun. After all, everyone seems to be Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day so why not believe in a ghost for Halloween?
Kala: Mary, thanks for your time. A pleasure speaking with you and wishing you many more adventures and haunting travels, Happy Halloween!
Mary: Thank you. We love to hear guest stories and I hope your readers will share their experiences with us when they stay at any of our B&Bs. To encourage their reviews we have a contest where they can win a $250 gift certificate for a future getaway! Visit www.bnbfinder.com/rateyourstay for details.
For more information: Mary was kind enough to provide us information on a few more haunted B&B sites. Check them out, they may be in your local area or plan a visit to them soon for a haunting good time!
The Battery Carriage House Inn: In a historic city that preserves remnants of the past, Charleston, South Carolina is famed for its spirits and haunted happenings. The Battery Carriage House Inn is known as Charleston’s most haunted inn. While the current innkeepers say they have not seen these ghosts, guests and employees alike have had eerily similar encounters, rattling doorknobs and all. Among them a gentleman ghost, believed to be that of the young man whose family owned the house earlier in the century. Another of the inn’s ghosts, a headless torso, is likely a man from the Civil War era. The Battery was an active artillery installation during the siege of Charleston, and all the houses in this area were damaged and abandoned during the four-year bombardment. There is no proof the torso intends to harm anybody, although guests have admittedly felt a little intimidated by glowing lights and inexplicable occurrences.
Mt. Washington Bed & Breakfast: Why not circle the ghosts? You know, visit with each one? In Mount Washington Valley in New Hampshire, bed and breakfasts have teamed up so guests (and non-guests) can trek for treats. On Saturday, October 30th from 11 am to 4 pm innkeepers and trek-or-treaters will take over the area, dressed in costumes, sporting plastic pumpkins, and mingling with spirits. While there is a jumbled word contest and sneaky clues, the real mystery is in the ghost and goblin-hunt. Tickets to the trail cost $15. Separately, many area bed and breakfasts are offering special haunted packages so make sure to ask each inn about their resident ghosts but be careful you don’t get shushed! The Mt. Washington Bed & Breakfast in Shelburne has a ghost that frequently sits at the bottom of the stairs waiting for someone and likes to shush guests to keep quiet. The innkeeper says he’s one of three ghosts who live at the inn though there could be more. “I made them a deal, if they don’t bother me, I won’t bother them,” said innkeeper, Mary Ann Mayer. Now multiply those ghosts by about a dozen inns—that’s a lot of goose bumps!
Alma de Sedona Inn: When a copper-mining town goes out of business, getting ghosts to leave the ghost town is tricky. At the Alma de Sedona Inn in Sedona, Arizona, innkeepers arrange for gutsy guests to go on a guided tour of nearby Jerome — once a flourishing copper town, now a ghost town and artist colony. Guided by a local historian, who claims to see dead people, you’ll be guided down the off beaten track and hear stories of ghosts misbehaving. Throughout the trip you’ll use an EMF meter, so you can walk around detecting spirits. If you chicken out, the inn understands. You can substitute the haunted excursion for a historic tour of saloons and brothels. Turns out, Jerome was also the bootleg capital of Arizona. Who knew, “spirits” and spirits.
Shining Dawn Bed and Breakfast Retreat Center: Looking for a medium scary experience? Why not a Do-It-Yourself Halloween weekend? At the Shining Dawn Bed and Breakfast Retreat Center in Hanover, Pennsylvania, the innkeepers have a special two-night stay package where guests receive a book on county haunts. Spooky York, Pennsylvania offers a step-by-step walking ghost tour of 50-plus locations. You’ll also receive two complimentary tickets to the original Ghosts of Gettysburg Walking Tour, a complimentary rental of a scary movie, and of course—delicious “no tricks all treats” breakfasts. If you’re ready to up the ante, there’s a large “ScreamPark” 20-minutes away, as well as several nearby farms and orchards that feature corn mazes, pumpkin patches, and hayrides.
Trek-or-Treat. Inn-to-inn Ghost & Goblin tour, anyone? In Mount Washington Valley in New Hampshire, bed and breakfasts have teamed up so guests (and non-guests) can trek for treats. On Saturday, October 30th from 11 am to 4 pm innkeepers and trek-or-treaters will take over the area, dressed in costumes, sporting plastic pumpkins, and mingling with spirits. While there is a jumbled word contest and sneaky clues, the real mystery is in the ghost and goblin-hunt. Tickets to the trail cost $15. Separately, many area bed and breakfasts are offering special haunted packages that include the cover charge. There are about a dozen inns on the trail, including: Cabernet Inn, Buttonwood Inn, Covered Bridge House, Cranmore Mountain Lodge, Mt. Washington B&B, The Notchland Inn, and the Spruce Moose Lodge & Cottages.
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More about Kala Ambrose: Kala Ambrose is an award winning author, intuitive and talk show host of the Explore Your Spirit with Kala Show. Her thought-provoking interviews entice listeners to tune in around the globe! Described by her guests and listeners as discerning, empowering and inspiring, she speaks with world renowned authors, artists, teachers and researchers delving into metaphysical, holistic and paranormal topics. Kala’s book, 9 Life Altering Lessons: Secrets of the Mystery Schools Unveiled delves into the mysteries of ancient Egyptian mystery schools and explains their wisdom teachings. Kala Ambrose is a highly interactive teacher on a mission to educate, entertain and inspire. She lectures on the Ancient Wisdom Teachings of Egypt and the Mystery Schools, Working with Auras, Chakras and Energy Fields, and Wise Woman Wisdom.