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Tough Economy? The Best Things in Life Are (Almost) Free at Unique Inns

From Elvis' Classmate to Life in American Embassies Around the World, Innkeepers' Pasts Enhance the Stay for Guests

PORTLAND, Ore. (Dec. 17, 2008) — Unique Inns, one of North America's first bed and breakfast innkeeping organizations, is today introducing the innkeepers behind the extraordinary experiences that the organization offers. Getting to know the personalities and personal histories of their innkeeper hosts is what many guests consider a favorite part of their Unique Inns experience—and it is included in each stay and every package at no additional cost.

"Our innkeepers are deeply involved in the day-to-day operations of our inns and often guests tell us that it is the innkeeper stories and personalities that keep them coming back," said Rose Allen, executive director of Unique Inns. "Each inn reflects, at least in part, the personality of the innkeeper and the history of the area where it is located. The friendships that develop between the innkeepers and their guests are special experiences for both the hosts and the visitors."

Unique Inns has locations in British Columbia, California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. The organization's members actively participate in the vibrant and varied food scenes sweeping North America. Most have been recognized for offering superb travel and dining experiences and award-winning wine collections. The inns operate in the upscale or luxury segment and are selected for membership in the organization based on their one-of-a-kind location, style and guest experiences.

From Elvis' classmate, to self-appointed historians, to world travelers, each innkeeper brings his or her own past to the hospitality that is shared with guests. Below are samples of what guests may learn when visiting with a Unique Inns innkeeper.

Memories of Elvis Shared by the Groveland Hotel's Peggy Mosley

Elvis Presley never stayed at the Groveland Hotel, located at the gateway to Yosemite National Park and amidst the spectacular Sierra Nevadas, but his spirit lives on with Innkeeper Peggy (Simmons) Mosley. She not only attended high school with the King of Rock and Roll, but describes their relationship as "good friends and shy teenagers" who enjoyed spending time together.

"Elvis was a really cute and shy guy who was always strumming that guitar," recalls Mosley. "None of us had any idea back then what he would become."

Peggy and her husband, Grover Mosley, are both originally from Tennessee. Their dedication to excellence and good-old-fashioned southern hospitality is apparent in every nook and cranny of this historic hotel located in Groveland, Calif. The Groveland Hotel includes 14 guest rooms and three suites with fireplaces and spa tubs. The Mosleys have painstakingly restored the adobe hotel and neighboring 1914 Queen Anne Victorian. They offer an award-winning restaurant and saloon, superior quality mattresses, linens, feather beds and down comforters, and they hand select each of their always-attentive staff members. Rates include complimentary breakfast buffet daily.

Guests should be sure to be sure to take a look at Elvis' and Peggy's yearbook during their time at the hotel.

Guests can Re-live History in Photos and Murals at Vancouver's West End Guest House

In previous lives, Vancouver's turn-of-the-century West End Guest House served as a hippie commune, as well as a boarding facility. In May 1991, Evan Penner became the innkeeper of the new West End Guest House, a classic bed and breakfast boutique inn that provides intimate accommodations within the city's dynamic center.

Built when Vancouver was just 20 years old, the Edwardian-era home is one of the last remaining early homes in the city. Its builders were a family of professional photographers, and Penner features an important collection of their work throughout the Inn. Celebrating the lost historic homes of Vancouver's West End, the innkeeper commissioned an artist to paint wall murals of the houses that once peppered the neighborhood.

"One of the frequent questions I receive is about the buildings in the West End," explained Penner. "Unfortunately we had a lot of houses, but they are lost. I researched at the local library and came up with 11 or 12 photographs of former houses in the neighborhood. With copies of photos in hand, I asked my painter to reproduce them on the wall of each of our guestroom bathrooms. Now each guest bathroom has its own 'Lost House of the West End.' All are different and all but one no longer exists. It's my tribute to what was," added Penner.

The West End Guest House offers eight guest rooms. Most rooms are equipped with Casablanca ceiling fans or opening skylights; some rooms have fireplaces. Guest rooms have brass beds with goosedown duvets, feather pillows and fine cotton linens. Breakfasts are a five- or six-course event served family style. Guests have complimentary use of the inn's bicycles and find restful spaces in the inn's parlour with its fireplace, the verandah, sundeck and the intimate garden. Complimentary off-street parking is available.

Innkeeper Patricia Valletta's Globe-Trotting Life Comes Home to California's Old Monterey Inn

Innkeeper Patti Valletta considers herself a native Californian, but was raised on both coasts when her father's job moved the family to New York. Gifted with wanderlust inherited from her parents, Valletta eventually joined the U.S. Foreign Service as a staff officer. She served in administrative offices at American Embassies in Vienna, Austria; Taipei, Taiwan; and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. She also lived in Paris, France, while serving on the U.S. Mission to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

After 10 years of living outside of the United States, she decided to discover her home again. Valetta tried her hand at various bed and breakfasts in Oregon and Northern California. Along the way, she also graduated from Clark College's culinary program and taught herself to be a barista, which resulted in a seven-year stint as a specialty coffee house owner in San Luis Obispo.

Since 2002, the Old Monterey Inn has been her home and is where she plans to stay. According to Valletta, the Monterey Peninsula is representative of all that is the best of California and her goal is to make the Old Monterey Inn an example of the best in bed and breakfast and innkeeping. Guests can expect every amenity provided at the finest world-class hotels.

Set in a beautiful garden, this Four-Diamond, AAA-rated inn has received numerous accolades from Conde Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure magazines, as well as The Today Show. With six guest rooms, three suites and a separate cottage, rooms are luxurious and the attention to detail is impeccable. Guests enjoy the graceful and sophisticated surroundings, outstanding breakfasts, exceptional hospitality and if they are interested, the innkeeper's stories from her world travels.

Excelsior Inn: Maurizio Paparo Brings European Style to Eugene, Ore.

Born in Italy and trained at the hospitality school in Florence, Maurizio Paparo, moved to the U.S. bringing his European-style of hospitality with him. Since 1993, he has owned the Excelsior Inn, embracing guests with Old World charm, contemporary comforts and attentive service.

The Excelsior is also home to the distinguished Ristorante Italiano, a local favorite for fine cuisine and regional dishes. European charm and elegance is found in the restaurant, which serves traditional Italian food, and where Maurizio's philosophy is to use local, fresh and organic products. With his menu offerings, Paparo embraces the Slow Food Movement, a non-profit educational organization dedicated to supporting and celebrating food traditions.

After a wonderful dinner with fine wines and special desserts, guests are only steps away from the comfort of their rooms. In the morning, overnight guests are invited to a complimentary breakfast from Maurizio's enticing menu.

Like the elegance of his inn and his dishes, Paparo embraces artistry throughout the inn and restaurant with custom stained glass by Ian Fuller, wrought iron work by Sculptor of Steel artist, Dave Thompson, and over 100 paintings by artists of the Oregon Watercolor Society that are on display.

Hospitality is Abundant at River Dance Lodge in Central Idaho

Hospitality comes naturally for Betsy Bowen and Peter Grubb, owners of River Dance Lodge in Central Idaho. Since 1979, they have owned and operated an active travel company that runs trips around the world (www.rowadventures.com). After 17 years of operating their whitewater rafting trip at another Idaho inn, they decided to build their own adventure resort.

The result is the River Dance Lodge, a rustic, luxury experience resort. Open since 2005, the resort offers eight handcrafted log cabins, each with a private hot tub and views over the Clearwater River. Guests can enjoy meals at the resort's Syringa Café, which serves fresh, healthy Northwest regional and Mediterranean cuisine. In addition to whitewater rafting, guests may choose gentle float trips, hiking, biking and other outdoor activities, or simply sit on their cabin's porch and watch the river flow by.

"The two aspects of our business that we enjoy the most are sharing our guests' enjoyment of our place and discovering that we are providing the respite from life they need, or fulfilling a dream of adventure," reports Peter Grubb. "We also find great satisfaction in the sense of community we've created for both our guests and our employees. There is a real sense of warmth and belonging that extends well beyond just the two of us as owners that is tremendously gratifying," he added.

Hospitality is a Family Affair at Washington's Shelburne Inn

After growing up on the Long Beach Peninsula in extreme southwest Washington State, David Campiche left the area to earn a college degree in fine art, before returning to the peninsula where he ran a small art gallery and sold his own pottery creations. A lover of history and antiques, David jumped at the chance to purchase the Shelburne Inn, built in 1896, when it came up for sale in 1977. A year later, he met Laurie Anderson who had just returned to the states after being a stewardess on a Norwegian passenger liner. She was living in Seattle, taking a commercial baking course and started college in the fall. By spring, Laurie and David were running the inn together.

Thirty years later, the inn continues to fulfill them. They raised three sons, including their son, Michael, who is the inn's executive chef, while Anderson serves as the baker. David and Laurie find much satisfaction in the relationships they have formed with their "extended family" of inn guests and enjoy sharing with guests their keen interests in food, wine and travel.

They find that there is no end to the creative outlets in the life of innkeepers. In 1998, they purchased the China Beach Retreat in Ilwaco, Wash., and converted the home into a bed and breakfast so they could share this beautiful spot with their clientele. In addition to operating the in-house pub, David and Laurie recently took over the operations of the Shelburne Restaurant, also on site.

The Shelburne has 13 guest rooms and two suites. The suites are furnished in fine period antiques from America and France. All rooms feature fresh cut flowers and freshly baked cookies upon arrival. A sanctuary for nature lovers, the inn is located just a breath away from the longest beach in North America. Lighthouses, ocean vistas, and old-growth forests highlight the Long Beach Peninsula. Nearby is the Innkeepers' China Beach Retreat, an elegant beachfront refuge with the new "Audubon Cottage."

About Unique Inns

Established in 1982, Unique Inns is one of North America's first bed and breakfast innkeeping organizations. Every member inn is operated by experienced innkeepers, who are committed to providing guests with genuine hospitality, generous amenities, and world-class accommodations. Innkeepers also specialize in providing off-the-beaten-path travel experiences. From customized fine dining and wine-tasting events to shopping, wilderness adventure and some of the most spectacular sightseeing tours in the world, Unique Inns' members are experts at packaging their best regional offerings to create memorable travel experiences.

Additional information on the Unique Inns' organization and individual member inns is available at uniqueinns.com.

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