So, you want to be an innkeeper?
The best information source about being an innkeeper is an innkeeper. Find a B&B in your area and work as an assistant innkeeper. If you’re not in a position to work at B&B, talk to all the innkeepers you can, stay overnight and offer to pay innkeepers for their valuable time. Attend your state’s B&B association’s annual conference and become an aspiring innkeeper member in the state association. Attend aspiring innkeeper classes and business seminars to prepare for the career ahead. Subscribe to B&B industry publications, email newsletters and research everything and anything. Remember, you’re not just taking on a new job – you are embracing a whole new lifestyle.
As to regulations and permits, your primary governing body is the city or county where your B&B business will be located. You must meet regulations such as planning, building, business, zoning and licensing. In Colorado, you’ll need a State sales tax license and in certain jurisdictions, a local business/sales tax license. Contact the county or city clerk’s office for licensing and the development services or planning department for zoning information. In addition, building codes will vary. Most times, B&Bs are classified as residences under a certain number of rooms (usually 5 or less) according to building codes. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) will consider you exempt if you have five or less rooms in a single structure and the proprietor (innkeeper) resides on the premises.
Adequate research and well thought-out planning will prevent later challenges. Banks look more favorably upon previous experience and research when considering a loan. In Colorado, if complimentary alcohol is offered to guests, you are required to obtain a B&B liquor permit, issued by the local licensing authority. Unless your B&B will have a full-service restaurant and restaurant liquor license, you may not sell liquor, but you may give it away with a valid liquor permit. If you plan to serve lunch or dinner, this must be included with the room or package rate and can only serve your guests (not the general public). If you serve meals to outside patrons other than your guests, a commercial kitchen is required per Colorado State Health Department restaurant regulations. In Colorado, B&Bs who serve only their guests are exempt from restaurant licensing, but some home-rule cities may observe more stringent requirements.
Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself:
- What is my background and how does it fit within the B&B business?
- Are you people-oriented and willing to put others before yourself?
- How committed are you to researching the business aspects?
- Are you financially in a position for success?
General Research Recommendations:
- Work in a B&B (for at least six months)
- Stay at B&Bs, “take notes” and talk to innkeepers (offer to pay for extra time)
- Attend seminars (Business, Accounting, Marketing, and B&B oriented)
- Consult with innkeepers (offer to pay for their extra time and services)
- Research licensing and zoning for the area you’re contemplating
- Research federal, state and local laws
- Develop a business plan
- Research types of financing and ownership in advance
- Know the benefits to purchasing an established inn vs. starting from scratch
- Investigate area occupancy and income figures and be realistic about expectations
- There is no such thing as “too much” research… Research-Research-Research!
Colorado State Laws:
Bed & Breakfast Tax Information:
- B&B Property Taxes (coming soon)
- Trade name and business tutorial
- B&B Department of Health Memorandum
In addition to these links, check with your local licensing authority. If the inn is in a municipality (city/town), the city or town clerk can provide business/liquor/sales tax licensing information. If the inn is in an unincorporated jurisdiction, your county clerk can assist you. For zoning, building codes or planning issues, check with the local government’s planning or development services department. Feel free to contact BBIC for assistance.
What you will need:
- Sales Tax Licenses (State, City and County – varies by jurisdiction)
- Business License (if required by local government)
- B&B Liquor Permit (for “complimentary” alcohol served to overnight guests) – Definition for B&B for Liquor purposes: (3) “Bed and breakfast” means an overnight lodging establishment that provides at least one meal per day at no charge other than a charge for overnight lodging and does not sell malt, vinous, or spirituous liquors by the drink.
- Restaurant License not required for B&Bs if meals are served only to overnight guests
- Proper Zoning (check with local jurisdiction for regulations-some areas have ordinances which place restrictions on B&Bs or require special approval)
- Bed & Breakfast Insurance (with commercial liability)
This is just an overview…do your research before you open!
Aspiring Innkeepers take the road to success and become a successful B&B innkeeper by attending this valuable workshop! Sponsored by the Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers of Colorado (Colorado’s state B&B association), this full-day seminar provides detailed information necessary to become a success in the bed & breakfast industry. Meet bed & breakfast industry experts and learn from their experience and knowledge. The aspiring innkeepers day helps establish your inn-keeping guide and plan for the future.
Thank you for your interest in Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers of Colorado.
We look forward to welcoming you into the Colorado Bed & Breakfast Association!
BBIC Inns For Sale
General Aspiring and Bed and Breakfast Links
- Basic Principles of Opening a Bed & Breakfast (excerpt from Open Your Own Bed & Breakfast)
- Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII)
- Business Plan World B&B Business Plan
- Home Business Center “Start a B&B”
- Take a B&B Quiz