How A Storybook Inn came to be as told by the innkeeper:
Seriously, does anyone ever start out as a little girl (or little boy for that matter) wanting to be an Innkeeper? I never knew that was an option until I was much older.
What I did know from my early teen years is what I did not want to be. In fact, I had an aversion to becoming “this” when I grew up. It is something that I feel that no one should aspire to in life. This dreaded thing is “mediocrity.” Some things don’t change and avoiding mediocrity is still one of my goals.
Having a sense of mission and making a difference in the world have been part of my DNA since my early years. In my teen years I had (naïve) dreams about becoming a missionary in a foreign land. There was certainly nothing wrong with that dream, but I have learned that it is not the only way I can serve and make a difference.
I remember in high school struggling with Geometry. My teacher was a dedicated, slightly eccentric older lady who had never married. To boost my Geometry grade, I asked her if I could do an oral report in her class. She agreed. In high school, Honors English, Speech and Debate and Drama (on stage, not in the class room) were my forte, not Algebra and Geometry, though I think I might actually enjoy the latter now.
I did a bang-up job on a very animated oral report on Euclid, the Father of Geometry. Yes, I managed to make a report on the Father of Geometry exciting and interesting; no small task. My teacher was quite impressed. She expressed her opinion in front of the class that I should become a teacher or a public speaker. She asked what I wanted to do with my life. When I told her I wanted to become a missionary, with very exaggerated facial expressions that she was known for, she gave me that look that said all too plainly, “What a waste.”
Whatever I have done, I have tried to put my heart and soul into it. Excellence is something that I take very seriously. Whether it was being a mother to my three children, who are now wonderful, accomplished adults, or running a small farm with horses, a dairy goat herd and a menagerie of other animals and gardens, a study of nutrition and national health, being a Realtor (Rookie of the Year in a large company in the first 6 months) or loving God or serving others, mediocrity was never an option. I used to joke that even in playing Softball in junior high school, I either hit a homerun or struck out.
Had I thought of being an Innkeeper prior to A Storybook Inn? Yes, I had. Years ago when I lived on the farm when my daughters were grown and my son was young, I had thoughts of opening a B&B on the farm. The timing was not the best for that venture, so even after getting a permit to start I put the idea on the shelf and never really thought it would materialize later.
So how did I become the Keeper of the Inn? It all started on a bright November day, on the 23rd in the year 2003 to be exact.
I was previewing the property that is now the Inn for an out-of-town client in my then occupation as a Realtor. I was sent out by said client on a fact finding mission and to report back to him my findings. He was giving serious thought of relocating his company and his 40 workers to the Central Kentucky area.
Since he was well versed in historic homes, I was given a list of specific criteria to look for in the property. I went over the property thoroughly and afterward jokingly remarked to the other Realtor, “I want to buy this place!” I was indeed joking but at the same time, I was inexplicably falling in love with the old place. I called the client to report my findings. There was no answer so I left him a detailed message.
I had seen many gorgeous homes and farms in the Bluegrass area in my role as a Realtor so what was so special about this one? The reasons were beyond my ability to explain at the time but here a bit of background that led to the ‘adventure.’
After the devastation of September 11, 2001, my once prosperous business in Corporate Relocation (Real Estate) took a nose dive for two painful years. Thus, I began to rack my brain and search my heart to see if I needed to pursue another occupation.
In my desperation to know what to do, I did what I had always done when I truly needed to know what direction to take. I prayed; seriously prayed and fasted for 3 weeks while working daily, intent on knowing for sure my next life direction. At the end of that 3 week period is when I previewed 277 Rose Hill for the aforementioned client.
It is an understatement to say that I was taken by surprise at what followed. I unmistakably felt in my heart very strongly that I was to buy the property. Frankly, it was so ‘impossible’ as to be outlandish. I was stunned to say the least. It would take a whole chapter to share the details, so to cut-to-the-chase, I found that “impossible stuff” was not so impossible when trust and genuine faith are involved.
In mid-January 2004, 4 days after closing on the property, the renovations started immediately. My dear sister, Sherry, was with me in those early days. She was a big help. We got to spend some treasured quality time together, especially in our late night chats after impossibly long days. I am so grateful for that time because she passed away unexpectedly a few years later. She and Mom (gone now as well) were both were so proud of the Inn. I miss them both keenly.
In the renovations that followed, there were tremendous discouragements and setbacks and discoveries of unknown, but long-term leaks resulting in ripping out ceilings (multiple times), plumbing pipes, etc, and other difficulties. That’s par for the course in old homes but one is always hopeful that “this time” it will be different.
After a very full, eventful and challenging year, which included getting married to a charming, one-of-a-kind Southern gentleman who perished in a commercial plane crash 2 years later, the dear old place was ready to open.
On April 7, 2005, we officially opened our doors as “A Storybook Inn.” We had guests the first weekend! No stranger to marketing, the word had gotten out. And yes, I do remember the guests from those early days, many of their names by heart, even what some of them ate, what they said and even where they sat. Seriously!
We were ‘off to the races!” In truth, the next ten years that would follow have been a wonderfully challenging and joyful wild ride; certainly never boring! I can honestly say that providing an experience that exceeds expectations for my guests is a passion that has never waned.
A bit about me. I have a love for design, hospitality, conversation, natural nutrition, and preparing wonderful dishes using fresh “real” ingredients. For example, we use real Maple Syrup, we don’t use hydrogenated or trans fats, we bake with organic flour that it not bleached, etc. I grow a big garden and use as many local and organic ingredients as I can in my breakfasts and snacks for our guests.
I have a background in being a mommy (to three grown wonderful offspring) and in the medical field (nurse) as well as Real Estate. I have also cared for, and raised horses and a menagerie of other animals, including a small dairy goat herd that I hand milked twice a day on a small picturesque horse farm in Woodford County. I was a Realtor in Corporate Relocation. The areas of writing, natural health, and travel are also special loves of mine.
I have had the wonderful privilege of traveling much of the world over the past 3 decades, and it is still my opinion that Central Kentucky horse country is some of the most beautiful countryside of all. Most visitors who come here are taken aback by the beauty of the world class horse farms and their 4-legged equine "royalty” as well as the friendly people. The biggest “complaint” that I ever hear from guests is, “We wish we could stay longer!”
We have won national awards in the category of the “Best of the Best Bed and Breakfast Inns.” We have gotten reviews that are so fantastic, I often weep (out of gratitude) when reading them.
One guest put it this way, "It is very hard to design a home to look both tastefully elegant and invitingly comfortable, but you have succeeded." That was indeed the goal.
As I have told many, I "decorate, design and cook for my guests from the “inner flow”... in other words, I pray a lot and ask the greatest Creator of all how to achieve synergy and beauty in what I put my hand to do so that others will be blessed.
Frankly, it takes a lot of the pressure off.
I am grateful for a wonderful staff that I could not do what I do without them. It is our sincere desire that our guests truly have a "storybook" experience at A Storybook Inn; so much so that they will want to come back to experience it again and again. And thankfully, many of them do! - C. Elise Buckley, Proprietor and InnkeeperWELCOME!