Making the leap from electrical engineer to innkeeper might seem like a stretch to some people, but not to Shelley Nobile, 34, proprietor of the Deacon Timothy Pratt Bed & Breakfast in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. For her, it made perfect sense. While working on submarine and surface ships for the Navy, Nobile fell in love with the Colonial architecture that punctuates the towns along the Long Island Sound.
"My work as an engineer was challenging, but I wanted to do something I was really passionate about," she says. The B&B she started in 1995 proved to be just the thing. Combining her interests in antiquing, decorating and entertaining, Nobile now makes a living doing what she loves best.
She's hardly alone. The inn industry has never been stronger. There are about 25,000 B&Bs operating in the United States today, compared with 1,000 in 1980, according to Pat Hardy, co-executive director of the Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII).
Andrea Poe is a freelance writer specializing in business issues. A nomad by nature, she's never met an inn she didn't like.