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The Carriage Way Bed and Breakfast is a lodging establishment located in the central part of St. Augustine, Florida. The property is in close proximity to the historic district of the town, with several shopping, dining, and sightseeing options. The Carriage Way's busiest season starts in November and lasts approximately until May, which the owner attributes to the fact that Florida has hot summers and guests want to try avoiding coming to the property at that time. Michaele, who is one of the establishment's owners, describes the building's style as "modern vintage," which she tries to use to create a romantic environment. This, in addition to the property's policy of not allowing anyone under the age of 21 to visit, means that the inn is visited mainly by couples of all ages, usually to celebrate an anniversary or enjoy a romantic getaway.
Carriage Way Bed and Breakfast is located in the central part of St. Augustine, Florida, in close proximity to Matanzas River and Castillo de San Marcos National Monument. St. Augustine, the oldest continuously occupied city in the U.S., is a historical city founded in 1565. Its historic district is within a two-minute stroll from the inn.
The inn consists of two separate buildings, namely the main house and a cottage. Both of them were built in 1883 in the Victorian style. The two buildings are separated by approximately 30 yards. The main building provides a traditional parlor connected to the dining room. Upper and lower verandas and side courtyards with outside seating are available for guests. It is possible to observe one of the city's attractions, horse-drawn carriages, from the outdoor areas. The total area of the property is a little over an acre.
The inn features a total of 14 guestrooms, 11 of which are part of the main house, and the rest are situated in the carriageway cottage. All of the rooms are designed in the traditional Victorian style. However, the inn prides itself on its "modern vintage" style. Each guestroom contains at least one authentic antique piece, whereas the room's amenities provide modern comfort. The Carriage Way Bed and Breakfast is also called "The jewel of the ancient city." It got its nickname due to the unique design of every room. Each of the 14 guestrooms is styled in different precious stone or gemstone colors, such as the Diamond Suite or Sapphire Room. The guestrooms differ in color, size, amenities, and price. However, all of them include private en suite bathrooms, toiletries, flat-screen TVs, USB clock radios, blow dryers, and ceiling fans. Some of the exclusive amenities are, for example, a kitchenette with a living/dining room or Air-Jet Tub.
The building was built in 1883 and, to this day, adopts a Victorian style. The property also features on-site parking, complimentary beverages, freshly made cookies, wireless internet, and concierge services. The inn also contains a dining room with a common area featuring various board games. Each morning, a homemade breakfast of the chefs' choice is served between 8:30 and 10:00 AM. Breakfasts differ every day, yet the main entree usually contains some kind of high-protein breakfast meat, fresh-cut fruit, and a fresh-baked pastry. A handful of Carriage Way's guests have particularly liked the parmesan artichoke quiche served with parmesan sauce. The bed and breakfast also accommodates dietary restrictions by serving vegetarian and gluten-free breakfasts if announced prior to the arrival.
Near the Carriage Way Bed and Breakfast can be found several touristic attractions, such as San Sebastian Winery, Whetstone Chocolate factory, Marineland, St. Augustine Distillery, and others. The property owner states that one of the area's most distinctive and oldest landmarks the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, built by the Spanish. The historic district of the city offers rather unusual dining options, as nationwide food chains are prohibited in the historic part of the city. Some of the recommended dining places are, for example, Forgotten Tonic, Preserved Restaurant, Sainte-George Restaurant, and Collage.
The Carriage Way Bed and Breakfast prides itself on its "hands-on" owner operation. The inn seeks to provide personalized service and recognition. As one of the guests shared, "the owners and staff treat you like family," which is the impression hosts strive to leave their patrons with. One way of welcoming guests to the property is a whiteboard that has the names of anyone who is arriving that day. Another method that the business employs to create a more distinct environment is to provide amenities that stimulate multiple senses. Thus, the visitors are greeted by aromatherapy oil fragrances, complimentary welcome drinks, and lavender-infused fresh towels to cool off from the heat. Every evening, the inn provides small bags of lavender for guests to use, which are reported to have positive effects on sleep. The Carriage Way also supports local produce and business. For example, body scrub in guestrooms is locally sourced, as well as chocolates, which are produced in St. Augustine in Whetstone Chocolate Factory.
The Carriage Way has the goal of being a place that can serve as a "romantic getaway" for couples. The property has a handful of policies to help create such an environment. Firstly, the inn has a rule that no guest under the age of 21 may stay at the property. The inn also does not allow pets or smoking anywhere inside of the two buildings. A "quiet time" has also been put into place, which starts at 9 PM. As a result of these policies, many of the guests who stay at Carriage Way are couples.
Some of the most popular guestrooms booked mainly by couples are the Diamond, Emerald, or Amethyst rooms, due to the combination of their size and selection of amenities. One of the visitors mentioned that "The owners really make you feel special. Breakfast and service were the highest quality." The owners seek to make their guests feel pampered during the whole stay. The Carriage Way Bed and Breakfast is open year-round. However, the busy season starts in November and lasts approximately until Memorial Day. As a result of the warm Florida conditions, the summer months tend to be slower.
The area is a tourist destination that offers various attractions and events. Some of the recurring events in the town are, for example, the amphitheater farmer's market. Another significant event is the First Friday Afterwalk, taking place on the first Friday night every month. During this night, the art galleries of St. Augustine open their doors for visitors to enjoy the fine art coupled with some food and beverages. St. Augustine is notorious for its high number of galleries.
St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied town in the nation. The Carriage Way Bed and Breakfast has been in business since the 1980s. Since then, the ownership has changed three times, as three different families managed the property. The current owners, Michaele and Jared, purchased the property in August of 2013. Michaele was raised in the hospitality business, and for this reason, she and her husband decided to take on Carriage Way. They were also looking for a more extensive property with over ten units. In 2013, when they purchased it, the property had 11 units. Since then, the owners have added three more rooms to both the carriageway cottage and main house.
Concerning the history of the building, it was built by Edmund Masters, the lead carpenter for Henry Flagler. According to Michaele, Henry Flagler was "the modern father of Florida" and partner of John D. Rockefeller in the oil industry. After finalizing his pursuits with Rockefeller, he established an east coast railway all the way down to Penninsula. On the way, several accommodations were built, among them the building of the Carriage Way as well. Edmund Masters, the lead carpenter, was instrumental in the creation of the Carriage Way and some other buildings in the town as well. His daughter later inherited the house.
Since purchasing the inn in 2013, some renovation has been made every year, though there are no extensive plans for the near future. Michaele has stated that what she enjoys most about her job is being able to adopt the role of caretaker of the historical building and its visitors. However, introducing first-time visitors to the bed and breakfast industry is especially rewarding for her as well.