We had the pleasure of staying at two charming places: The Old Powder House Inn and the Hilton.
The Hilton, a full-service hotel, is the smallest in the Hilton system with 75 rooms. It may be small, but it is mighty, and is in the Top 10 in the nation as judged on service, noted Bob O’Neill, director of sales and marketing at the Hilton Historic Bayfront in St. Augustine.
“We are pretty proud of that,” O’Neill said.
All of the decor was completed to match the Spanish flavor of the city.
He pointed out the “cracked” paint and “it looks like we took old buildings” to build the hotel. But, in fact, all the buildings are recently constructed.
There are 10 deluxe rooms with Jacuzzi tubs and all the amenities of a luxury hotel. The rooms are comfortable and spacious, and the beds have the most comfortable sheets I’ve ever slept on!
Not only was The Hilton built on the “footsteps” of old buildings from centuries ago — from around the 1770s — it was built on the site of the Monson Motel, which was the focal point of a demonstration led by Dr. Robert B. Hayling and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The steps of the old motel have been salvaged and are marked with a brass plate to remember the event.
The Powder House Inn got its name because it was built on property where a gun powder storage building was located in 1702.
I was in love with the Powder House and the innkeepers, Katy and Kal Kalieta, the moment we set foot in the place. But I was especially glad that it wasn’t until we were about ready to leave that Katy told me about the ghost of a “gentle little girl” who apparently inhabited our room.
Four out of five psychics have described the same ghostly activity at the inn, and all have described it as “full of positive energy.”
Well, at least some of that positive energy comes from Katy and Kal.
Katy fell in love with the whole idea of owning a bed and breakfast 35 years ago after her first stay in one in Olean, N.Y.
“But it happens that you know it’s the right time to do something different.” And at the same time, the opportunity opened up in St. Augustine. That was about 12 years ago, Katy noted.
“We looked for two years. Nine inns were for sale. This was not for sale,” she said. Her real estate agent eventually hooked her up with the owner of the Powder House.
“She liked my energy. She thought I’d be a good match for her inn.”
Katy and Kal are the third owners as innkeepers. Some guests keep coming back and there are two couples who have been guests with all three innkeepers.They have told Katy and Kal that “it just keeps getting better,” Katy said.
Katy and Kal have been expanding and renovating the lovely inn. Each room is different, with beautiful appointments.
Personal touches run rampant in the inn.
There is always a platter of cookies in the parlor and a decanter filled with sherry. Katy is a bit insulted in there are more than crumbs left on the plate at the end of a day.
Cocktail hour is at 5 p.m. for guests each day, when Katy and Kal join everyone for wine and hors d’oeuvres.
During our first evening’s cocktail hour, we met a couple from Florida who were related to a friend of mine from Wheeling. Small world!
Katy even left a box of chocolates, a small bottle of sparkling wine and some notecards in our room on the day of our anniversary!
Leaving the inn, I felt as if I’d made new friends.
Katy and Kal Kalieta, above, are up early each morning to provide a delicious breakfast to the guests at the Old Powder House Inn. Every morning she serves a fruit mix, a cereal blend (with four grains, four types of nuts and six kinds of dried fruits), a muffin (one of eight varieties) and a breakfast entree.