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Laurel bed-and-breakfast plans reopening after being closed due to pandemic | OLD TOWN

Ten years ago, Lisa and Dave Everett purchased the Phelps Mansion along Montgomery Street and spent seven years rehabilitating and updating the historic home. In summer 2018, they opened it as Laurel Manor House Bed and Breakfast, the first such business in Prince George’s County. Later this month, they’ll be opening the doors again.

The coronavirus pandemic caused the shuttering of Laurel Manor House Bed and Breakfast twice. First, during the initial lockdown from late March to July 2020. Then again following the post-holiday surge of COVID-19 cases after Thanksgiving to the present. On April 26, the Everetts will be welcoming guests — one party at a time — to their lovingly restored and charming historic property.

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“I don’t want to be the cause of someone taking the virus home to a loved one,” Lisa said. “So I’ve just been enjoying our house and look forward to sharing it again with strangers in the future.”

Laurel Manor House already has some bookings for late April, some in May and some in June. The couple only books one of the three guest rooms at a time to reduce the possibility of virus transmission, and will leave extra time between bookings for a thorough cleaning and airing out of rooms. It is a strategy that served them well between July and November, when they temporarily reopened. In fact, Lisa said September 2020 was busier than September 2019. Many guests wanted a change of scenery after being in their homes for so long, and the intimate nature of the Laurel Manor House was attractive.

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“A lot of the guests who we had were looking for something like a bed-and-breakfast so they didn’t have to be around many people,” Lisa said.

Innkeepers around the country have handled the pandemic in different ways, and the Everetts decided to temporarily close in late March 2020 after a traveling nurse asked to stay there long-term. Lisa said the decision to halt bookings was easier for Laurel Manor House, which had only been open for 18 months at the start of the pandemic. Dave still works full-time for NASA and the bed-and-breakfast is not their primary source of income. Plus, Laurel Manor House is still small enough that the Everetts don’t have any employees, so no one would be out of work because of their decision.

The Everetts put the shutdown to good use and took the time to make additional improvements to their property. They expanded their garden, added a small waterfall and pond, installed a fireplace on the patio, and built a well house.

Lisa is looking forward to the return of guests, whom she will continue to serve homemade breakfasts in the dining room. She and her husband are always masked when guests are present, and both will be fully vaccinated by the end of the month.

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Laurel Manor House has garnered dozens of five-star reviews on TripAdvisor, and Lisa is active on social media, where she shares beautiful scenes of the property. She hopes that she will be able to fully reopen all three guest rooms soon, if the pandemic allows. Eventually, she’d like to get busy enough to hire housekeeping or groundskeeping staff.

“I would like to get to the point where I can’t do it all myself,” she said. “We’re just taking it a month at a time. But it’s typical that when people arrive, pandemic or no, I show them around the house and they make themselves at home in the parlor or den.”

Pallotti Early Learning Center at St. Mary of the Mills, 800 Main St., will be holding its annual open houses from 10 a.m. to noon April 24 and from 10 a.m. to noon May 22 (adults only). Registration information for the 2021-22 preschool programs will be shared at this time. Spaces are available in the 2-, 3- and 4-year-old programs. Sign up online to reserve a spot at signupgenius.com. For any inquiries, call 301-776-6471.

Contact Old Town columnist Mary Sullivan at marysullivan84@gmail.com.

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