Nancy Howell says it took a while to get recognized, but now more than 10 years after it opened, The Rose Bed & Breakfast is a popular destination.
“We are providing a safe haven for travelers,” Howell says and adds that The Rose is also known for serving delicious, home-made food. Welcome snacks, afternoon treats and a four-course breakfast are included in the room charge.
“This is one of the few bed and breakfasts where you get a (breakfast) menu,” Howell says. “People say the food is awesome.”
One recent menu had seven juice choices, three entrees and five sides in addition to mixed fresh fruit, fresh-baked pastries and coffee or tea. “I bake twice a day,” Howell says. Apple or cherry turnovers, bear claws, chocolate-covered cherries and a selection of cookies are some of her offerings. “One of my most popular dishes is pecan-encrusted French toast,” she adds. One of her regular visitors is allergic to more than 100 items. “She’s my hardest to cook for, but I cater to all types of dietary needs.”
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One couple from Charlotte, N.C. were visiting the area to taste Calabash seafood, but the man showed an extraordinary interest in watching from the dining room as Howell prepared breakfasts in her kitchen. It turned out the man is an executive chef and teaches culinary classes in St. Louis, and his wife is a pastry chef.
“He called me ‘chef,’” Howell says. “I haven’t taken cooking classes. I just like to cook.” She points to her shelves of cookbooks in her kitchen and explains that she loves cooking and is self-taught. Her mother was a great cook, she has cousins who have B&Bs and bakeries, and her son, Philip, a firefighter in Massachusetts, is also a pastry chef. “It’s in the genes,” Howell says.
The Rose is located on well-traveled Hickmans Road in Calabash, N.C., about a 10- to 15-minute drive to the ocean, but that’s a benefit. Howell says the major draw to The Rose is its proximity to beaches, but it is far enough away that people don’t get embroiled in the traffic, noise and congestion. It is also on the North Carolina bike path, so bicyclists choose it for an overnight stay. A vast collection of audio-visual selections are available to guests in the great room, and the wrap-around porch offers relaxation outdoors.
Visitors praise the cleanliness of the entire house, particularly the four themed bedrooms — Coral Room, Berry Room, Lighthouse Room and Seashell Room — each with a separate bathroom. Howell says one guest came with her own cleaning supplies and was astonished she didn’t need them. “This is the cleanest room I’ve ever been in,” the guest said.
The Rose has received the Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor for 2015 and 2016. “I have never had less than a five-star rating,” Howell says.
People from around the world — France, England, Wales, Korea, Portugal, and others — and all but 10 U.S. states have been guests at The Rose. “We haven’t had anyone from Wyoming,” Howell says with good humor. The Howells enjoy meeting all these people and are impressed by their backgrounds. CIA and Secret Service agents, a neighbor of Sarah Palin in Alaska, and a guest from Edinburgh, Scotland, who cultivates the roses for Edinburgh Castle, have stayed at The Rose.
Howell and Warren treasure the stories visitors share with them. They may have experienced a recent death in the family, they may be recovering from a serious illness or they may have a dilemma to resolve. “You make a lot of friendships,” Warren says. “Families ask us to pray for them.”
The downside of owning a B&B are the hours. “I had no idea how much work this takes,” Howell says. “It’s 24/7, 365 days.”
Warren makes the breakfast omelets and may help with the prep work before he goes to his full-time job as lighting department manager at Lowe’s Home Improvement in Shallotte, N.C. He also does all the maintenance at The Rose, yet the Howells wouldn’t trade their lifestyle for any other. They moved from New Jersey where Howell was a financial officer for a pharmaceutical firm and Warren was a fire marshal. When they both decided on early retirement, they had a bed and breakfast as their goal, and they want to make The Rose B&B the best it can be.
“We try to accommodate everyone,” Howell says. “People should know that they’ll be welcome like family here. We offer all the comforts of home.”
At A Glance
Location | The Rose Bed & Breakfast, 545 Hickman Road, Calabash, N.C.
Contact | 910-575-2880 or 866-340- 0139; email@example.com; www.therosebandb.com