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Success Story

Bayfront Wescott House

It couldn’t have been easier, and we could not have done it without the SBDC!

 

Andrew and Joy Warren are originally from England and immigrated to California in 1969. Both worked in the hotel industry; Joy was a Director of Catering, and Andrew was a General Manager. Andrew went on to own his own company that managed five hotels for someone else, but the couple longed to have their own hotel. In 2009, they moved to Florida to look for an inn. When they saw the Bayfront Westcott Inn, they knew they would stay a lifetime. Although the old building had fallen under some disrepair and was pink in color, they knew at once it was the one. They later learned it had been built in 1882 by Dr. Westcott for his family home and had the historic charm they envisioned for their inn. The Warrens took on the monumental task of restoring the home to its original colors and style, completely remodeling the 16-room home and carriage house.

The inn had seen its fair share of weather issues over the years. Hurricane Matthew blew through in 2016 and caused severe flooding and loss of business, but the damage could have been much worse. When Hurricane Irma threatened St. Augustine less than a year after Matthew, Andrew and Joy felt confident that the inn would once again survive. They took the extra steps necessary to protect the inn’s contents and irreplaceable flooring, sandbagging the entrances from flooding, and covering the antique glass windows. Once again, they had flood damage and loss of business. And once again, they began the recovery process.

Just days after the storm, Marge Cirillo from the FSBDC at UNF called to let the Warrens know that the Florida Disaster Bridge loan program had been activated. This program allows businesses to borrow up to $50,000 with no interest or payments for six months to assist with repairs and economic injury. Marge assisted them last year after Hurricane Matthew, and they were able to get loan proceeds quickly to help them reopen. After Hurricane Irma’s landfall, they once again met with Marge. She walked them through the details of the bridge loan program, explaining how long it would take to process and terms for repayment. Within days Marge called to say that they had been approved, and they could pick up a check. “Marge’s compassion and straight forward approach was much appreciated in the post hurricane whirlwind of activity and emotion”, said Joy.

With this assistance, the Warrens were able to make the needed repairs to the inn. By mid-October they were back in business and fully operational along with the City of St Augustine. The quality of their guest’s, experience when in residence after the storm, was not diminished. And while you may not recognize how important the correlation… positive guest experiences and their subsequent reviews directly equate to success and increased business. Bayfront Westcott Inn is rated a 5-star inn by Trip Advisor! Andrew stated “It couldn’t have been easier, and we could not have done it without the SBDC!”

Bayfront Wescott HouseAndrew and Joy Warren

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