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Published in Small Business
Kalamazoo House Bed & Breakfast has reverted to its previous owners during the COVID-19 pandemic. Kalamazoo House Bed & Breakfast has reverted to its previous owners during the COVID-19 pandemic. COURTESY PHOTO

Couple comes out of retirement during pandemic to run historic Kalamazoo inn

BY Sunday, August 30, 2020 05:09pm

KALAMAZOO — Laurel and Terry Parrott sold Kalamazoo House Bed & Breakfast in 2014 and moved to Arizona, but the pandemic has brought them out of retirement to return as innkeepers of the historic building.

The Parrotts bought the bed and breakfast in 2007, and owned and operated it until they sold it to Steve Gibson and Stephanie Nelsen, who operated the inn until the pandemic caused many businesses to close in March. Gibson and Nelson didn’t have the financial ability to weather the pandemic, and formally returned the inn to the Parrotts as its land contract holders and owners.

“In a few months of talking to them, we all came to the agreement that it would be good for us to take (Kalamazoo House) back because they just couldn’t withstand the losses,” said Laurel Parrott.

The Parrotts, who own the 135-year-old home through an LLC, returned to Kalamazoo House and started taking reservations on July 31. 

“We opened up with some trepidation,” she said. “We didn’t know if people would still be traveling, if we would get sick, or if people staying here would be fighting against the mask ordinance — but it’s been good. We’ve had really wonderful folks stay here who are open to the changes.”

The Kalamazoo House offered guests the option of contactless check-in pre-pandemic, where guests receive a code to enter through the side of the building and see themselves to their room, Parrott said. This method of checking in to lodging is becoming more common in the hotel industry, she said. 

The Parrotts have also removed throw pillows and certain extra decorative items from common areas that can’t be easily cleaned, and have replaced comforters in guest rooms with triple sheeting.

“We’ve always had high cleaning standards, but we’re doing a lot more intense disinfecting between guests, which takes more time,” Parrott said. “In the common areas, we’re hitting those common touch points multiple times a day and have sanitizer and wipes scattered throughout the inn with extra masks if someone forgets theirs.”

Breakfast at the inn has always involved separate tables rather than communal seating, she said, but outside deck tables were added to offer open air seating.

“That’s been really popular,” Parrott said. “We don’t know if it’s because people are nervous eating inside or if they just like eating outside, but people like it.”

Since reopening, occupancy has averaged at around 20-25 percent. August is a slower month when they typically see occupancy at around 50-60 percent. The inn, located at 447 W. South St. near downtown, has 10 guest rooms.

“For some people, it gives them a sense of comfort knowing we only have 10 rooms and that we’re owner occupied,” Parrott said. “We’re worried about our own health as much as our guests’ health.”

As restaurants and breweries reopen and activity ramps up again in Kalamazoo, Parrott said ownership could change once again to the pre-pandemic arrangement.

“We’re certainly hoping once the uncertainty with COVID-19 calms down, the same owners will want to take back the inn,” she said. “But we have no guarantee of that at this point.”

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