It’s going to stay a family affair.
Jim and Gail Oldroyd have been the shepherds for the Commander’s Beach House at Point Hudson for more than two decades. But now the couple says they …
It’s going to stay a family affair.
Jim and Gail Oldroyd have been the shepherds for the Commander’s Beach House at Point Hudson for more than two decades. But now the couple says they are ready step away from the bed-and-breakfast and are placing the keys into the capable hands of their son David Dionne and his wife Natalie.
While a mid-pandemic career switch into the hospitality business might seem a daunting task for most folks, Natalie Dionne said she and her husband had been eyeing the B&B well before the current pandemic had materialized.
“When we first started talking about it, the coronavirus was nowhere in sight,” she said. “We kind of had already made the decision to do it.”
Dionne still has her 9-to-5 job, working remotely in the mortgage industry, but said she’s still keen to kick the old grind and dive headfirst into the life of an innkeeper. The patrons of the beach house will no doubt benefit from David’s professional experience as a chef, as well. He said his most recent position was in a hospital kitchen and added that he looked forward to whipping up dishes that don’t have to adhere to his previous employer’s strict dietary guidelines.
Since stepping into the cockpit, the couple have had to implement a strict cleaning regimen to remain in accordance with recent pandemic restrictions.
As for the Oldroyds, they’re not going away any time soon. The couple will be staying at their home in Port Townsend and said they will remain at the ready to jump in whenever Natalie and David need to take a break — something Gail Oldroyd said is absolutely necessary to avoid B&B burnout.
“The good perk for them is they have built-in innkeepers,” she said. “We did not have that. For the first four or five years we pretty much didn’t leave the property. It’s important as innkeepers to take time away and not get burned out.”
In addition to taking “little vacations” throughout the week either by taking a stroll on the beach or a short paddle in a kayak, Jim Oldroyd noted that when it came to matters of dealing with a particularly difficult guest, it didn’t hurt to keep a well-stocked bar, either.
“There’s four things to remember in a B&B: The people aren’t family; they’re going to eventually leave; they pay you; and there’s always tequila in the cupboard,” he said. “It worked for 21 years for us.”
“It’s Tito’s [Vodka] now,” David chimed in.
When asked about how she and Jim came to own a bed-and-breakfast in the first place, Gail pointed to their first date, which, as luck would have it, was in Port Townsend.
“We were living in Silverdale at the time and we both loved coming here,” she said. “We would come to visit whenever we could. Sometimes we would stay at this cute little inn, The Commander’s Guest House. This was in the mid ’90s. I was working as a family therapist and Jim worked retail in a jewelry store.”
The couple decided to make a move in 1999 and, as she puts it, “the rest is history, 21 years of it!”
Gail said she has particularly relished the community she and her husband have found at Point Hudson.
“Our biggest joys have been meeting extraordinary guests, living at Point Hudson which, as an authentic working waterfront, is a Northwest treasure, and having an amazing communal relationship with many of the restaurants, retail businesses, and folks in the marine trades,” she said.
“We have always had a good working relationship with our landlord, the Port of Port Townsend, and hope to see Point Hudson continue to grow and flourish in maritime tradition. We have endeavored to be excellent stewards of The Commander’s Beach House so that folks can stay and experience what we so love about Port Townsend’s waterfront.”
In keeping with Gail’s sentiments, Natalie said she and David are looking forward to continuing the tradition established by the previous management. In particular, she’s excited to get to know the community in Port Townsend and continue to serve the long list of returning clientele.
“They have so many repeat guests, they’ve done a fabulous job doing it,” Natalie said. “We just want to continue that and hope people still feel just as comfortable and welcome. That’s what I love to do, I like helping people have a good time and enjoy this beautiful property that we have here.”
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These are wonderful, warm and friendly people that make all of their guests feel very welcome. The Commanders House is located at an incredible spot right on the PortTownsend Bay, with views of the lighthouse, Bald Eagles, the ferries, sailboats, kayaks and the occasional whale. It's a must stay for visitors to Port Townsend and it is right in town, perfect for walking. Don't miss it.
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