Imagine being rocked gently to sleep on a sailboat under a star-speckled sky and awakening the next morning to the warms rays of the sun reflected in tropical turquoise waters and the aroma of fresh coffee and banana-stuffed French toast.
Quite a nice twist on a bed and breakfast!
Sharon Amberg and Emiel Domis are living a life that many dream of, yet few achieve. If the names sound familiar, the two are former owners of the 1823 Historic Rose Hill Inn in Versailles. For 10 years, the inn thrived, spreading its arms wide with Southern grace to welcome visitors to the Bluegrass.
Five years ago, the proprietors – who are experienced sailors – employed a seasonal inn-sitter and expanded their summertime hospitality offerings to include Rose Sail Inn, a 43-foot Beneteau yacht anchored at St. Croix in the Caribbean. Adventurous guests could sign on for six-day sails while enjoying the same bed-and-breakfast hospitality that made the Versailles property such a success. The first year, 60 percent of available weeks on the boat were filled, while the couple continued to run the Woodford County inn. In 2007, happy guests filled the sailing schedule 100 percent.
As the innkeepers’ Caribbean business began to increase, they began to see a new, very appealing possibility.
“I’d always had this idea of a boat and breakfast,” said Sharon, 62. “We fell in love with the concept of being on the boat more than we had been, because when we had the seven-room inn, we couldn’t get away very much. A number of guests said that if we’d do it, they’d love to come. So we decided to try it.”
Last September, they sold Rose Hill to Alder and Gill Blackburn and moved 2,000 miles south to St. Croix to embrace a more laid-back life in the middle of paradise.
Both of their guest properties – the new land-based inn at Carden Beach and the vessel, the Calypso Rose – can accommodate two couples or a family in addition to the owners. Less than a mile from the beach, the house offers two bedrooms bright with sunny tropical colors. One is oceanfront, the other has a garden view, and each has a private bath, flat screen TV and DVD player. Amenities include complimentary full breakfasts on a waterfront terrace, wireless Internet, cell phone access, bicycles, tourism info and airport pickup.
The boat, with three cabins and three heads, offers breakfast, some lunches (most dinners are onshore), cocktails and appetizers. Activities include snorkeling and swimming in crystal blue waters, strolling on pristine pearly beaches or simply relaxing as the world bobs by.
When Sharon and Emil are hosting on the sailboat, the inn is not available.
Guests can earn a scuba certification in three days at an outfitter in Christiansted, St. Croix. The island also offers duty-free shopping, horseback riding on the beach, historic forts and sugar plantations, and a monthly jazz festival.
“A lot of people think that Caribbean sailing vacations are all beer and rum,” Sharon said with a laugh. “We do provide those, but we’re more interested in showing our guests the islands and telling about their history, providing snorkeling opportunities and helping beginners with sailing fundamentals if they’re interested.”
Should you want the boat all to yourself, you can pay a little more for a private jaunt for one couple or two.
Begin creating your vacation version of the dream at www.sailandbreakfast.com or (408) 489-9454.
Katherine Tandy Brown writes for The Lane Report.