"KAREN BROWN INTERVIEW" Page 1,
Charming Inns & Itineraries books are illustrated with handsome
drawings like this sketch of the Pension Privata in Sils-Maria,
Q. Getting back to
your books, what's the difference between your Charming Inns &
Itineraries and Charming Bed & Breakfasts guides?
We now have three companion guides that focus on the B&B
category. This is partly because the Inns & Itineraries books for
France, Italy, and England were getting too big and cumbersome. The B&B
owners are another reason for the new guides. They told us that some readers
didn't understand the difference between a bed-and-breakfast and a five-star
chateau--for example, the fact that a B&B normally won't offer room service,
direct-dial phones, or a restaurant. In countries where the bed-and-breakfast
and agriturismo movements were well established, it seemed a good idea to
have separate books.
Q. I understand that
you're an innkeeper yourself. How did that come about? And does being an
innkeeper have any effect on your work as a guidebook author?
I'd always had a dream of owning an inn with the kind of
personal service that you get in Europe. One day, when my husband and I were
staying in a gorgeous place in Belgium, my husband looked at the owner's
children playing and said,"Wouldn't this be a wonderful way to raise
kids?" So we built the Seal Cove Inn [see photo on page
5] in Moss Beach, California, about 30 minutes south of San Francisco. We
worked seven-day weeks, but our schedules were flexible enough so we didn't have
to put our children in day care.
I think owning an inn gives me a better appreciation for what
innkeepers do. It makes me a little more forgiving, but it also helps me know
what to look for because I've been behind that closed door. And I love seeing
both sides of the business.
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