The bed-and-breakfast market is expanding in Waco.

One new bed and breakfast, The Camille House, has an opening planned for Sept. 11, and another proposed operation on Colcord Avenue has applied for a zoning permit with the city of Waco.

The Camille House, the two-story home at 1515 Columbus Ave., and the operation on Colcord will bring the number of bed and breakfasts in the city to seven.

Bed and breakfasts are generally small inns offering a homelike atmosphere and a morning meal and are usually somewhat pricier than a hotel room. Common prices for bed-and-breakfast rooms in Waco run from $100 to $150 a night.

Camille House owners Michael and Ronnie Fanning are hoping to serve businesspeople during the week and tourists and Baylor sports event visitors on the weekends, Michael Fanning said.

The 3,400-square-foot Camille House, built in the early 1920s, has a large front porch and a brick and siding front with white columns. It has four guest suites.

The Ward family built the home, and the lady of the house was named Camille, Fanning said. The house has passed through different owners and undergone extensive renovations, he said.

Another couple, Dan and Viviann Capps, have applied for a special-use permit to operate a bed and breakfast at 2425 Colcord Ave., which they plan on calling Spencer House. The Capps believe their house was built between 1913 and 1917, and they are in the middle of renovating it. They expect to open around the first of the year.

Increasing interest

Permits are usually required for bed and breakfasts. There had been no new requests in recent years until these two, said Clint Peters, senior planner for the city. There also have been calls from people with questions about other sites, he said.

Bed and breakfasts tend to be operated by older people, said Rick Allen, co-president of the Heart of Texas Bed and Breakfast Owners Association.

They may see it as a second act after their careers are finished, he said. The association has 14 member businesses, most of which are in Waco and McLennan County.

“It may be that some people have decided to retire and see bed and breakfasts as an opportunity,” he said.

It’s often a way to help cover costs, too. Owners often have other incomes than the bed and breakfast, and the business often helps pay for a home through revenues and tax write-offs related to the business, said Herb Dickson, corporate administrator for the Texas Bed and Breakfast Association.

Michael Fanning is a retired Time-Warner Cable vice president of operations, while his wife continues to work at another job. They had talked about working in bed and breakfasts for several years. The Fannings bought the home, which was in need of some work, for $130,000 in 2008 and put about $125,000 into the renovations, he said.

The Fannings already live in the house and will continue to stay in an attic converted to living space after it is open, he said.

Family-oriented city

Liz Taylor, director of the Waco Convention and Visitors Bureau, said Waco is a family-oriented city, and that kind of city often works well for bed-and-breakfast operations.

The existing bed-and-breakfast businesses in Waco are Creekside Garden, 115 N. 22nd St.; Colcord House, 2211 Colcord Ave.; Colonial House, 2301 Colonial Ave.; The Cotton Palace Bed & Breakfast, 1910 Austin Ave.; and the Judge Baylor House, 908 Speight Ave.

Other innkeepers said the Fannings’ location should work well.

“It’s near downtown. I think it’s a good location businesswise,” said Linda Williams, owner of Creekside Garden.

Texas has between 1,000 and 1,200 bed and breakfasts, Dickson said, noting some areas of the state are stronger than others for the operations.

Fredericksburg and Brenham are doing well, but some areas of East Texas are seeing slower business, Dickson said.

Bed and breakfasts generally do best when located within a 90-minute drive of a major metropolitan area in order to lure people looking for quick, overnight getaways, he said. Much also depends on how well local tourism agencies promote the area where the business is located, he said.

Rick Allen and his wife, Pam Allen, have run Colcord House for 13 years. Four of the five existing properties in Waco have been in business more than a decade, Rick Allen said.

Serious business

For those serious about doing business, it’s been a stable one, Allen said. Since the Allens went into business, three bed and breakfasts have opened in Waco and then disappeared because of poor management or a lack of commitment, he said.

The economy has been tough, but it is survivable with good management, said Allen, who estimates Colcord House lost 30 percent of its business last year.

Another operator, Bruce Dyer, owner of the Judge Baylor House, said his was down 25 percent. Dyer said he had planned ahead and had been able to weather the economic problems.

The Capps, who hope to open on Colcord, ran a large bed and breakfast in Peoria, Ill., several years ago, Dan Capps said.

Sometimes bed-and-breakfast owners don’t understand what they are getting into, he said. The businesses require a lot of time and attention to be successful, and as most owners live on the property, there is a lack of privacy, Dan Capps said.

Taylor of the convention and visitors bureau says the timing on Camille House’s opening is good.

“Fall is a good time for bed and breakfasts because of Baylor events and parents coming here,” she said.


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