Offers military families free rooms on Veterans Day
One bed and breakfast inn in Mexico has joined hundreds of other B&Bs across the U.S. and Canada this year, inviting military families to stay free for Veterans Day.
The initiative called "B&Bs for Vets" is a way to thank active and retired military members for their service and to raise awareness of the bed and breakfast industry, said Janine Vogel, owner of the A.P. Green House Bed and Breakfast in Mexico.
Vogel and her husband, Michael, opened the A.P. Green Victorian Bed and Breakfast in July 2010, with four rooms. The home belonged to the grandfather of retired U.S. Sen. Christopher "Kit' Bond, a native of Mexico. Each room is titled and has its own unique characteristics. One room is named for Bond's grandmother, Elizabeth Bond.
The Vogels' B&B, 1105 S. Jefferson, is one of 600 in the U.S. and Canada participating in the initiative, one of only five in Missouri offering the free lodging, and the only one owned by veterans. Both Vogels are Marine Corps vets. She is a registered nurse by trade and he is a graphic artist. Both attended college using the GI Bill and are retired.
B&B for Vets, Vogel said, started about three or four years ago, and this is the couple's first year joining the push. A valid military identification card, or a copy of the service members' DD214 discharge papers are required for each reservation.
"My husband is a 100 percent disabled veteran, and we bought the home because he was wheelchair bound," Vogel said. The idea of joining the initiative, she said, "is our way of giving something back to the Mexico community," in return for the welcome mat that was offered when they first moved here and started their B&B.
"We love the fact that we were able to serve our country, and this is our way of giving something back to the Mexico community and all the veterans here," Vogel said. This holiday weekend, she noted they are expecting both enlisted and former military officers from several states including Kansas and Illinois – all bringing family and spouses; one is even bringing two younger children, Vogel said.
"We love meeting people, and the people that are coming have never stayed in a bed and breakfast before, so we are really looking forward to their stay," Vogel said. "They just kept asking repeatedly, is it really free."
In addition to the overnight stay, the military guests will also be treated to a free evening meal the day they check in and a gourmet-style breakfast. Michael Vogel is a trained chef and prepares all the meals. The couple has also arranged for area veterans to be on hand to serve her guests at both meals. Several local businesses donated items for that.
"So veterans will actually be serving veterans," Vogel said. "Which we thought would be a nice touch."
The Vogels heard about 'B&B for Vets' through the bed and breakfast industry. Both are members of the Professional Association of Innkeepers International and hope that the idea attracts other B&Bs to join the effort. Reservations generally open in mid-September.
Currently, there is one other B&B located in Mexico, two in Fulton and several in Jefferson City.
The A.P. Green House was built in 1893 and from 1913 to 1941 it was the privatehome of Allen Percy Green, owner/operator of the A.P. Green Refractory, a once world-renown fire-brick factory.
Vogel said the industry is trying a variety of approaches to raise its profiles. The Professional Association of Innkeepers asks inns to give up one room. The Vogels are offering all four of their rooms.
"We love meeting people and we have never been to a town that is so welcoming and helpful as Mexico," Vogel said. "It always makes it easier when you're trying to do something new or different, when you feel welcomed and not like an outsider.
"And that's the feeling we want to share with our veterans and their guests."