‘We like to attract the millennials’

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Well-seasoned travelers Dave and Kate Parisi say that the Inn at English Meadows in Kennebunk is unlike any other bed and breakfast they have stayed at over the last couple decades.

In fact, the couple enjoyed their experience so much that they decided they would buy and run the inn together once it was for sale. The empty nesters, 61 and 60, respectively, bought the boutique bed and breakfast in July 2014.

“We liked it a lot because it’s not like most inns that have a lot of floral wallpaper and furniture,” said David Parisi. “It’s clean and contemporary.”

And it provides “a feeling of luxury,” added Kate Parisi. “It’s simple but feels very high-end. As innkeepers we realized, that when you own a bed and breakfast, it takes a lot of time and money to do updates.”

Part of their role as innkeepers at English Meadows includes preserving the character of the recently renovated 1860 home while offering luxurious furnishings and interior decoration that is both fresh and modern.

“We like to attract the millennials,” David Parisi said. “A lot of the young people who come here like the style of the inn.”

While the inn is not a seaside destination, it’s only about an eight-minute walk from Dock Square in Kennebunkport. What’s more, said David Parisi, is “it’s quiet here, and there’s very little traffic.”

According to the inn’s website, the former Greek Revival home was built by a local farmer, Asa English, and ran as a dairy business after the Civil War. The cattle barn eventually became a carriage house, which was divided into seven rooms, and the hayloft inside the old barn was turned into what is now the Carriage House Suite. A small private cottage, known as the Bungalow, was also added to the rear meadow on the property through the years.

Before buying the inn, the couple attended an “inspirational” three-day seminar for innkeepers at the Captain Jefferds Inn in Kennebunkport and worked with inn consultants and brokers from the Kennebunk-based B&B Team.

“They showed us inns all along the East Coast, but we liked Maine a lot,” said David Parisi.

Moving to Maine from Connecticut posed a major career change for the Parisis. Previously, Kate Parisi was jewelry designer and master gardener, and David Parisi was an architect for an internationally acclaimed firm with offices in New York, Connecticut and Washington, D.C.

The new innkeepers have traveled extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe since the early 1980s, and have stayed at many bed and breakfasts and boutique hotels.

“We traveled quite a bit in England,” David Parisi said. “Almost always, when we traveled, we’d stay at an inn.”

At English Meadows, “you have your privacy. We aren’t going to sit you down and give you the history of the inn, unless you really want that,” said Kate Parisi.

She said families enjoy reunions and anniversaries at the inn, and eventually, the couple hopes to host small outdoor tented weddings.

“We’ve had engagements, proposals and anniversaries and birthdays and all sorts of fun things,” said Kate Parisi.

David Parisi spoke with My Generation about what brought the couple to Maine and what they enjoy most about being innkeepers.

Q: What inspired you to become innkeepers? What attracted you to Kennebunk?

A: Our love of travel and our fellow innkeepers and friends. We have stayed at many inns/B&Bs throughout the U.S. and Europe. We were attracted to Kennebunk/Kennebunkport because it is a coastal town with year-round activities such as boating, swimming, hiking, surfing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and of course amazing restaurants and plenty of shopping, along with nearby theater, as well as its proximity to Boston and Portland, for easy, last-minute getaways.

Q: What is unique about the Inn at English Meadows? What experience does it offer guests that they can’t get anywhere else?

A: The inn is contemporary, chic, and appeals to millennials as well as the well-seasoned traveler. It’s close to Dock Square, yet it’s quiet. There are various indoor and outdoor areas for quiet relaxation. We have two Common Rooms, each very different, for guests to sit with their travel companion or other guests. These spaces are comfortably furnished and display our personal art collection. There is a courtyard terrace where breakfast is served but is also used throughout the day by guests. In addition, there are lawns and gardens with furniture for lounging. The inn offers wine, beer and cocktails to enjoy along with cheese, meat and fruit platters.

Q: What do you enjoy most about being an innkeeper?

A: Meeting guests from all over the U.S., Canada, Europe, and beyond. Guests are often coming from or going to other parts of Maine, New England, New York or Boston, or Montreal. It is fascinating to hear of their travels and the other inns at which they have stayed. We had a party of three who spent a week prior, ice-bound on a boat in the Arctic. We have a lot of young people (stay here). People will book a stay here if they are celebrating something, and it’s almost like being a part of their celebration. It’s nice.

Q: What are your goals as new innkeepers?

A: Continuously updating the facilities with clean, contemporary furnishings, and adding luxurious guest amenities such as Malin + Goetz products, in-room irons and boards, Nespresso coffee makers, cold-water carafes, free wi-fi, Tesla and other electric vehicle charging stations, 24-hour coffee, tea and soft-drinks and afternoon fresh-baked goods and beverages.

Q: What are your responsibilities as innkeepers?

A: Our daily routine consists of waking up between 5 and 6 a.m. to begin preparing breakfast. Fresh, Inn at English Meadows blend coffee is set out for guests in both Common Rooms. Breakfast service is between 8:30 and 10 and consists of fresh-baked goods, followed by fruit in season and then a breakfast entree?.

We help guests plan their day of activities both locally or on day trips; research information online about places guests want to visit; suggest restaurants and make reservations; prepare afternoon baked goods and beverages; check rooms prior to check-in; check in guests to their rooms; prepare early evening cheese, fruit and meat platters; serve cocktails and wine; attend to numerous guest requests and needs. Then of course there is the part about running a business, (such as) meeting with accountants and attorneys, meeting with food, drink, and product vendors, maintaining the structures, equipment, landscape and facilities, and corresponding with the many “online booking agencies” throughout the world that book rooms, 24/7.

Q: What is your favorite aspect of the Inn at English Meadows?

A: A farmer, Asa English, built it in 1860. The property has offered rooms to travelers for 75 years.

Q: How has the inn changed under your ownership? What is your future plan for the inn?

A: Extensive development of the landscape. There are gardens being planned. The general relaxed attitude of the inn and innkeepers has also changed. We offer the entire inn for family reunions, small weddings, reaffirming of wedding vows, etc. We plan to offer additional amenities for guests, such as badminton, bocce ball, and a fire pit.

David and Kate Parisi are the innkeepers of the Inn at English Meadows in Kennebunk. The couple has traveled extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe, and bought the boutique bed-and-breakfast in July 2014. Staff photo by Faith Gillman

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