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June 7, 2012 · The Cabell-Huntington Convention and Visitors Bureau is looking for unique ways to attract more visitors to Huntington. The seminar focused on developing bed and breakfasts.

Melody Urbanic and her husband Tim are co-owners of Café Cimino in Sutton. Urbanic was the keynote speaker at an event educating people on how to bring bed and breakfasts like CC to Huntington.

“I think that’s one of the things I want to share with folks today that if they’re thinking about running a B&B and they think they have what it takes and love of people to do that, it allows you to maybe buy a unique, historic interesting property that you wouldn’t do on your own. It’s a fun, nice way to make a living,” Urbanic said.

Café Cimino has been featured in publications such as Gourmet Magazine, Food & Wine magazine and The Washington Post newspaper. Urbanic said bed and breakfasts bring in a unique visitor that might not otherwise come to the area.

“I don’t like to think of it as competitive with chain hotels because it’s a different market, a person that chooses to stay in a home and a B&B, they weren’t looking for another chain hotel and the person that likes chain hotels isn’t going to choose the B&B, but to have all these choices serves the city well,” Urbanic said.

Tyson Compton is the President of the Cabell-Huntington Convention and Visitors Bureau. He says bed and breakfasts don’t compete with current hotels because they offer a different, unique experience that can’t be received anywhere else.

According to Compton research shows many travelers choose destinations with local lodging experiences. Compton said they hope entrepreneurs in the area will jump at the chance to develop those kinds of businesses.

”We also realize, studies show us there is a particular group of people who prefer to just stay in or mainly in Bed and Breakfasts, so we feel like we’re really missing out on a specific audience and with that audience comes the potential for economic development through the funds they would be spending in the community,” Compton said.

Huntington’s Planner James Baldwin attended the seminar and said the city would be sure to work with anyone wanting to develop a Bed & Breakfast that encountered zoning issues.

“We’ve really been trying to respond to people’s desires to do different businesses. The way the ordinance is now it’s not very friendly to bed & breakfasts, but hopefully with the push from outside folks we can help change that,” Baldwin said.

Tim Hensley is from Kenova where he’s already developing a B&B. He used the seminar as a way to gets tips on moving forward.

“It’s pretty much in the renovation stage for me, I have a 1907 house that two Norfolk and Western train masters lived in, I call it the train masters house and I’ve done a lot of remodeling down through the years and I live there by myself so I’m looking to hopefully get it off the ground in September or this fall,” Hensley said.

Café Cimino co-owner Melody Urbanic said it’s hard to believe a place like Huntington doesn’t already have a B&B.

“I was amazed to learn there was not a B&B in Huntington. It’s a necessary niche I think for the tourism industry. West Virginia is right there on the cusp of tourism becoming number one, the fastest growing industry that we have,” Urbanic said.

Urbanic says B&B’s are gaining momentum in the state.

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