How are B&Bs getting by? Constant cleaning, contactless dining and socially distanced goat walks 

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  • Jay’s Bed & Breakfast owner Jay Candelario tends the large patio where he holds brunches on the third weekend of each month. Photographed Aug. 27, 2020. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Jay’s Bed & Breakfast owner Jay Candelario makes an open quesadilla in the kitchen of his Victorian home in Holyoke on Aug. 27, 2020. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Jay Calendario operates Jay’s Bed & Breakfast at his Victorian home on Dwight Street in Holyoke. Photographed Aug. 27, 2020 STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Jay’s Bed & Breakfast owner Jay Candelario stands in the combined dining rooms where he would hold buffet-style brunches before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now he serves the monthly brunches to socially distanced tables outdoors on the patio, deck and porches of his Victorian home in Holyoke. Photographed Aug. 27, 2020. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Jay’s Bed & Breakfast owner Jay Candelario prepares an open quesadilla in the kitchen of his Victorian home in Holyoke on Aug. 27, 2020. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Candace Talley picks flowers at her bed-and-breakfast, Stone House Farm in Amherst, Sept. 3, 2020. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Candace Talley displays a fairy house at her bed-and-breakfast, Stone House Farm in Amherst, Sept. 3. It was one of the projects made in a fairy camp she can no longer have due to the pandemic. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Candace Talley talks to Cowboy after picking flowers at her bed-and-breakfast, Stone House Farm in Amherst, Sept. 3. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jay’s Bed & Breakfast owner Jay Candelario used to hold buffet-style brunches in the combined dining rooms of his Victorian home in Holyoke. Now he serves the monthly brunches outdoors. Photographed Aug. 27, 2020. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Candace Talley holds a rug at her bed-and-breakfast, Stone House Farm in Amherst, Sept. 3, 2020. Rugs like this one were made in a craft camp she can no longer have due to the pandemic. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Candace Talley walks Lizzie, from left, Maggie and Cowboy at her bed-and-breakfast, Stone House Farm in Amherst, Sept. 3. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Candace Talley talks to one of her goats after picking flowers at her bed-and-breakfast, Stone House Farm in Amherst, Sept. 3, 2020. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Candace Talley walks her goats as she watches her grandchildren, Josie, 8, and Violet, 5, swing on land owned by the University of Massachusetts near her bed-and-breakfast, Stone House Farm in Amherst, Sept. 3. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Candace Talley picks flowers at her bed-and-breakfast, Stone House Farm in Amherst, Sept. 3. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Candace Talley talks to Lizzie, top, and Cowboy after picking flowers at her bed-and-breakfast, Stone House Farm in Amherst, Sept. 3. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Candace Talley walks Maggie, from left, Lizzie and Cowboy at her bed-and-breakfast, Stone House Farm in Amherst, Sept. 3. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Candace Talley walks Maggie, from left, Lizzie and Cowboy near her bed-and-breakfast, Stone House Farm in Amherst, Sept. 3. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Candace Talley at the entrance to her bed-and-breakfast, Stone House Farm in Amherst, Sept. 3. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Candace Talley inside a room at her bed-and-breakfast, Stone House Farm in Amherst, Sept. 3. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Candace Talley inside a room at her bed-and-breakfast, Stone House Farm in Amherst, Sept. 3. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Candace Talley steps out the door of her bed-and-breakfast, Stone House Farm in Amherst, Sept. 3. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • A fairy house made during a fairy camp at Stone House Farm, a bed-and-breakfast in Amherst. The camps can no longer be held due to the pandemic. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Candace Talley walks Maggie, from front, Lizzie and Cowboy near her bed-and-breakfast, Stone House Farm in Amherst, Sept. 3. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer 
Published: 9/11/2020 1:57:31 PM
Modified: 9/11/2020 1:57:21 PM

In the first few months of the coronavirus pandemic, Jay Candelario, owner of Jay’s Bed & Breakfast in Holyoke, lost over $100,000 in revenue due to cancelations and a steady decline in guests staying at his Queen Anne Victorian home, which is more than 130 years old.

“Basically, all of my source of income was coming from the bed-and-breakfast,” Candelario said, adding that he has refunded thousands of dollars to people for previously planned events such as weddings, baby showers, graduations, bridal showers and guest bookings.

Candelario has a few guests booked for later this month, but the pandemic has changed the way he interacts with his guests. He’s constantly cleaning and disinfecting rooms and surfaces in the house, he said. And when he makes breakfast, he simply leaves the food in the dining room for guests to pick up instead of greeting and serving them.

He has continued to operate his business with the help of COVID-19 relief funds, including a loan through the federal government. “That helped out,” Candelario said. “I got a grant from the city of Holyoke Chamber of Commerce with the mayor’s office, and then Berkshire Bank stepped it up and I was able to get a loan through them … On one hand, there’s a large overhead to maintain this place, and on the other hand a couple other doors opened.” 

He noted that he also received funds through the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce as an openly gay man and minority small business owner. 

“Those have been keeping me afloat to pay the mortgage with a little delay here and there,” Candelario said. “I’m determined to keep my doors open. This is my baby. I don’t have any kids, but this is like my child.”

Candelario and other owners of local inns, retreats and B&Bs continue to struggle financially amid the pandemic, but some are finding new ways to adapt to a changing industry.

Candance Talley, owner of a 1904 farmhouse B&B in Amherst called Stone House Farm, is the president of the Five College Area Bed and Breakfast Association in the Pioneer Valley, which includes 13 members who are owners of inns or B&Bs.

She said that only three out of those 13 locations are currently open — including the Centennial House Bed and Breakfast in Northfield and the Brandt House in Greenfield — with the rest temporarily closed due to the pandemic. 

“It’s older innkeepers,” she said of the group’s membership. “We’re retired and doing this because we love it, and for supplemental income. For the larger ones in our group, it is their income. It’s affected us deeply.” 

Some members were able to secure unemployment benefits being self-employed, Talley noted.

“We all have to pay our mortgage,” she said. “I’m extremely grateful. In fact, I resisted applying because I thought other people needed it worse. But then I realized I had really lost my income, and this is really legit.”

Talley said she reopened her B&B in August, but only one of the two suites at the location can be booked at a given time, in keeping with COVID-19 safety precautions. 

Before the pandemic, she would book guests every weekend from April to November. Now, only a handful of people are booking per month. Guests receive breakfast in a bag the day prior to eat the next morning, and she offers socially distanced “goat walks” with her pet goats, Maggie, Lizzie and Cowboy.

“It’s mostly people from Boston wanting to get out for the weekend, or repeat guests,” Talley said of her guests. “Anyone from out of state has to go to the Massachusetts state website and fill out the visitor request. They have to either be tested or be quarantined for two weeks.” 

Carol Duke, owner of a 1790 farmhouse that’s home to the Flower Hill Farm Retreat in Williamsburg, said one way she has adapted to the pandemic is by renting rooms long term instead of hosting guests every weekend. The long-term guests don’t bring in the same amount of income for her, but they do offer some consistency, she noted.

“Now I have someone who is hopefully staying through the winter,” she said. “He’s looking to hopefully buy land or a house in the area. I have another person who’s just escaping New York [and] another person who is here for 11 weeks. I don’t do any short-term guests now.” 

Chris Goudreau can be reached at cgoudreau@gazettenet.com. 


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