From PRIMETIMECAPECOD.com, written by Johanna Crosby...
Julie Valentino is one of
those multi-faceted people
with a flurry of interests.
Besides working in the
food and beverage industry
for over 25 years, she was a realtor,
property manager, and owner of an
antique and consignment business.
She always had a yen for home design
and dabbled in refurbishing and selling
houses. At 48 she has found a
mid-life career change that combines
her passions and talents as the owner
of a Cape bed and breakfast inn.
"I love old properties and restoring
them," she says during a recent tour of
the completely renovated Cape Light
Guest House in Hyannis. Her vivacious
personality is well-suited for the
people-oriented business. "You have
to be a good host," she says. "I love
meeting people from different countries
and cultures. I get to learn about
where they come from."
She opened the doors of her guest
house during the July Fourth weekend.
Since then she's welcomed more
than 100 guests from all over the
United States, England, Ireland, Italy
and Australia and treated them to her
Italian brand of hospitality and love of
The Milford native has had a
lifelong love affair with Cape Cod.
After graduation from high school
in 1981 she landed her first summer
job at a Hyannis food stand. Over the
years she vacationed on the Cape and
always dreamed of owning property
here someday but could never afford
She started researching the real
estate market three or four years ago
when prices, unfortunately for Julie,
were at their peak. But that didn't
dissuade her from finding a property
she could turn into a B&B. She
finally found what she was looking
for: a rambling six bedroom Cape in
Hyannis within walking distance to
are seven other bed
and breakfast inns in
Julie was convinced
there was room for
one more. "There's a
shortage of rooms,"
she says, in the
Hyannis area. "A lot
of the mom and pop
places had sold out."
To get off on a
good footing she
to the other owners.
They enjoy a friendly
when they're filled
up. "Each one (inn)
is totally different," Julie says. "What
makes your place different is your
Her maiden season was a success
despite the sagging economy and a
rainy, cool summer. "I got to hang out
my 'full' sign six or seven times," she
says proudly. The inn is open from
April through November.
The extroverted innkeeper is a firm
believer that B&B inns have a built-in
appeal. "People come here for the
Cape Cod charm," she says. "They
want to stay in a place that is reflective
of the Cape, not a chain hotel on
the highway." She's sampled over 150
Cape B&Bs as a guest herself over
the years. "When I travel that is what
I prefer to get," she says. "B&Bs are
unique. You get a home-cooked breakfast
and the prices are moderate. Each
one is a totally different experience.
"The experience she's striving to offer
her guests are all the modern amenities
of an "upscale boutique hotel"
in the charming and comforting surroundings
of a vintage 1920 Cape. But
reaching that goal took a lot of hard
work. After closing on the property
in January of 2008, Julie started a five month
renovation project with the
help of a carpenter friend. The house
had been a long-time rental property
and was in a state of disrepair. Besides
installing a new electrical system and
heating system, she added a new roof
and had the original pine and fir floors
Julie, who studied interior design at
Newbury College in Boston, had great
fun redesigning and
updating the inn. "I
changed the footprint
of the house," says
Julie who took on
the redecorating job
herself. Her plans
a small bedroom into
a master bathroom,
adding on a second
floor deck with a
balcony, and transforming
into a cabana with an
and sitting area.
She set up her own
living quarters in a
Each of the three
B&B rooms features a different decor.
The Sunset Suite is a romantic setting
enhanced by a queen-sized bed with
an antique, hand-carved mahogany
headboard and a 1909 bridal painting
in its original antique frame. The adjoining
master bath features a pedestal
sink, a glass-enclosed shower and a
period armoire. The Garden Serenity
Suite is a peaceful Asian retreat with
its minimalist furnishings, including a
queen-sized platform bed. The Waves
Room has a beachy cottage look,
decorated with crisp white and blue
accents and custom built-ins and an
antique full-sized brass bed.
"In a B&B the bed has to be special,"
says Julie. She enjoys catering to her
guests by offering customized service,
like providing luxury linens, including
The furnishings in the rest of the
inn are contemporary, but Julie plans
to redo in a more traditional look. "I
like the Cape Cod cottage style with
modern technology," she says, technology
such as flat screen TVs.
The other draw of her inn is her
home-cooked, Italian buffet-style
breakfasts. Normally, she serves hot
meals on the weekends and cold during
the week, but she is conscious of
the needs of each guest. If someone
makes a request, she'll try to oblige, or
if she just feels like cooking more for
her guests she will.
"I love to cook and I'm a great
cook," says Julie who worked in restaurants
in the North End and learned
culinary tricks from the chefs. She
heads to the kitchen at 7 a.m. where
she whips up hearty, homemade fare
drawing from her cultural heritage,
including frittatas, home fries and
French toast made with Tuscan bread.
Breakfast is served buffet-style from 8
to 10 a.m. in the inviting
Julie, who is married
but runs the inn herself,
shares her home
with Gus, a friendly
apricot toy poodle
named after her uncle
Augustino. "Most of
the guests fall in love
with him" she says.
Her family was in
the bar business. Her
grandfather and uncle
owned a popular hotspot in Milford
the late '50s. She began working
in the food and beverage industry
straight out of high school and never
stopped. "It's in your blood," she says.
"You either have it or you don't."
She learned the art of fine dining at
an Edgartown inn where she worked
her way up from dishwasher to busboy,
waitress and hostess. "I fell in love
with the service industry," she says.
"I learned you can take great pride in
Julie also worked as a waitress, bartender
and bar manager in a number
of establishments in resorts areas
in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and
Florida. "I had great training," she says.
A highlight of her career was working
as a waitress in a '50s revival style
restaurant in Manhattan.
"I was the only (staff) person who
wasn't an actor or singer," she recalls.
"People would ask me what I'm doing
and I said I'm a waitress." One night
she got to perform by serving for actor
She spent many winters working in
private country clubs in Palm Beach
"I always wanted to live in a vacation
area," she says, and enjoys the
snowbird lifestyle. Her ultimate goal is
to build a successful enough business
at the inn so she can afford to spend
her winters in a warm climate. "I don't
think it's a unique dream,"
she says smiling. "But I'm
trying to make it come