Publisher's Note: After chasing corporate careers across the globe, Annabelle Hunton found herself Living Her Dream right here on Cape Cod. Now owner of an upscale boutique inn, her instinct for business and flair for interior design have translated into a successful and fulfilling career change.
Platinum Pebble Boutique Inn:
"You can open any magazine anywhere in the world and see a Cape Cod style; blue and white with clean lines and a vase of hydrangeas. Then you come to Cape Cod and every Inn is Victorian."
She decided that her renovations would reflect the look and style of the quintessential Cape Cod Inn she had so admired in magazines. "I had the vision immediately," she says, admitting that knocking down walls and removing bathtubs was a necessary step to reinventing the entire space. She did ensure, however, that original architectural details were not only preserved, but featured in the design to respect the history of the building.
The Map Room blends original wooden molding with contemporary shutters
Annabelle was thrilled to watch the architecture reveal itself once the wallpaper and curtains were removed. "The wide plank floors are just to die for! They're beautiful!"
She replaced curtains in every room with white Hunter Douglas shutters, leaving the original molding of the windows exposed. "If you open El Décor, in England, you see Cape Cod white shutters – but where are they over here?"
Her extensive travel experience gave Annabelle an edge on becoming the perfect host - she would give her guests what SHE wanted while traveling. "We've taken some of the best aspects of our travels and incorporated them into our own Inn."
The layout of rooms was adjusted to make them large enough to house King-sized beds, for example, and small bathtubs were replaced with large glass and tile walk-in showers. "I would rather have a nice big shower than try to squeeze a small bath tub into a room, and our older guests love being able to just walk right into the shower."
With no formal interior design training, Annabelle successfully created a sense of space and light within the antique walls of this sea captain's home. Her use of crisp lines, black and white wooden furniture, glass tables and leather seats evoke an airy atmosphere that defies the Victorian heritage of the rooms. Polished wooden floors provide a stark contrast to the soft white comforters and pillows, while luxurious bright red or black throws adorn the ends of each bed.
Nicola Burnell is the Publisher and a contributing writer for this magazine. She teaches novel writing and creativity development classes, Reiki and Personal Empowerment workshops. She is also a member in Letters of the National League of American Pen Women.
Nicola is offering her own writing retreats at Casa della Quercia, an historic villa in Northern Tuscany, beginning May 2012.
Perhaps the most crucial part of the business plan was to identify their market. "We expected to see more retirees here, but there are younger people, and not just in the summer, but year round. We've had guests from 21 to 80 years old!" The boutique ambiance of the inn has also drawn many Europeans.
Annabelle's clear vision and instincts for business paid off as their first season was a huge success. With Boston and New York just a few hours away, the Platinum Pebble is attracting city dwellers in need of fresh air. "We decided to create something appealing to that demographic," Annabelle explains.
"We've picked up a lot of Bostonians and New Yorkers who are popping to the Cape for weekends. We're hoping this will continue throughout the winter months because the plan is to stay open year round and pick up people who are tired of being cooped up in their city apartments."
To this end, Annabelle is planning to install an outdoor fireplace. "Guests will be able sit outside at 4 p.m. with a cup of coffee and still be warm. People were sitting outside in April, right after we opened, eating their breakfast in their coats because they wanted outside space."
Annabelle's is now working on picking up the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's business. "We'd like to stretch our season; to go right through Valentine's, then pick up the April and May business, rather than starting the season in June."
She is also making every effort to be an eco-friendly Inn. Each bathroom is supplied with Monarch Eco towels, made from sustainable ESL cotton, and she participates in Clean the World, an organization that distributes recycled soap products to impoverished countries.
When she joined the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, Annabelle discovered a new source of encouragement for her business. "There's such a community spirit on the Cape. Everybody is promoting the same thing because the biggest industry here is tourism."
Despite her goals to remain booked year round, Annabelle believes working women should make time for themselves, no matter how busy they are. "Go out for dinner or go to the theater," she suggests. "You have to go out and experience the Cape if you work here." Last summer she bought season tickets to the Cape Playhouse and only missed one show. She and Simon also frequent the restaurants they recommend to their guests.
The Platinum Pebble is more than just a Harwich Inn - it is a testament to the courage and vision of a woman who dared to follow her dream. What's truly remarkable is the fact that Annabelle took less than a year to manifest this dream.
Click here to see a slideshow of the Inn's renovations, showing dramatic before and after photographs.
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