Limelight-Carriage Way Bed and Breakfast

When people think of the early colonization of the United States, cities like Jamestown, Plymouth, New Amsterdam, and Philadelphia typically come to mind. However, one additional city, which has earned its place amongst these colonies, but is rarely talked about is St. Augustine, Florida.

The city of St. Augustine was originally settled by the Spanish and has been around for over 450 years. There is a large historical section of the city with many aged edifices and original buildings dating back centuries. One of these buildings is the Carriage Way Bed & Breakfast.

The current owners of the inn, Michaele O’Neill and her family, are very proud of the history of their city and inn. They have worked tirelessly to raise the bar for their business.

The inn was originally built between 1883 and 1885 by Edmond Masters as a home for his family. He was a lead carpenter for the first resort hotel in Florida, the Hotel Ponce de Leon. Because of his trade, Masters used the best structural wood on the house. Much of the original wood work is still there today. The Masters were very prominent family at the time, and there is even a street named after the family in the city today.
The home stayed with the family until the 1930’s when the residence was converted into an apartment building. The building was bought and restored in 1984 and turned into a bed and breakfast. The O’Neills bought the inn 4 years ago and have continued to improve the building’s legacy of home and hospitality to this day.
Michaele basically grew up in the hospitality industry. When she was about 5 years old, she would help her mother, who worked at a hotel, with a variety of jobs. Since then, she has gone on to make hospitality her career, working for large hotel chains, restaurants and as a special events coordinator.

After the O’Neills decided they wanted to own a bed and breakfast, they spent over two years searching all across Florida trying to find the right area. They knew that owning a bed and breakfast wasn’t as simple as people often believe, so doing their research was very important.

“I came into this knowing it would be a full time career,” Michaele said, “It’s hard work, but a good way to make a living.”

Since buying the inn, the O’Neills have renovated much of the old family house working toward a modern/vintage feel with the inn— respecting and appreciating the history of the building while still providing
the modern conveniences people want.

Michaele’s favorite part about running the inn has been meeting people from all over. However, she also found an unexpected surprise in the enjoyment she’s received from building a flexible and reliable team of employees.

The O’Neills hope for the future is to continue raising the bar for the inn and find the potential they can see in it. Of course, they also hope to continue offering the wonderful hospitality the ‘Jewel of the Ancient City’ is known for.

“You don’t have to live in the South to give Southern Hospitality,” Michaele said, “Visitors want to see happy, authentic people, not just people going through the motions.”

Michaele’s Hints When asked what advice she would give to new and current innkeepers Michaele recommended that potential innkeepers should do their research. “People often don’t realize the capital involved,” Michaele said. “Do your research and see what kind of a work loan you’ll need. To current innkeepers she recommended moving off-property if at all possible. Not only does it separate your work and private lives, but it opens up more rooms you can rent out.
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