After more than 20 years as owners and innkeepers of the Anchorage Inn in Coupeville, Dave and Dianne Binder are ready to retire. The couple has listed the large Victorian-style house for $1.3 million.
The bed and breakfast boasts seven rooms and nine bathrooms and is more than 4,300 square feet. It overlooks the historic downtown area with views of Penn Cove and the mountains. The inn has a five-star rating on TripAdvisor based on more than 700 reviews.
About a third of their guests are Canadian, or were before the border was closed during the pandemic, Dianne Binder said.
The Binders had already planned to retire this year before the pandemic disrupted daily life.
They had planned to put the inn on the market in March, but waited to list it because another business in town was for sale at that time.
After a slower-than-normal summer, the inn has been on the market for about a month. The Binders said they know of a few local interested parties, though they haven’t received any formal offers yet.
This summer, the inn saw about half the number of guests it would normally serve, according to Dianne Binder. Coronavirus restrictions limited the number of guests and required some hospitality changes.
“We wanted our last year to be a time of friends we’ve gotten to know to come back and enjoy their last visit,” Dave Binder said, but the pandemic changed their plans.
“Some of the attraction of a bed and breakfast is the service, the hospitality, that guests can find and that has been taken away,” Dave Binder said.
“And it’s not like people are traveling right now, anyway,” Dianne Binder added.
Innkeeping was a second career for both Binders. They came to Whidbey after leaving jobs in Silicon Valley in California.
“We wanted to go from high tech to low tech,” Dianne Binder said. Her husband said they wanted a lifestyle change from a rushed city life.
The Binders have stayed at a lot of bed and breakfast-type accommodations. Dave Binder had asked a coworker for ideas of where to take his wife for an anniversary, and the coworker suggested a bed and breakfast.
From then on, the two would look for unique lodging options when they wanted to get away.
Over time they began to think innkeeping was something they could do themselves.
They kept notes of all of the places they visited.
The couple decided they wanted a Victorian home, needed five rooms to be self-sufficient and wanted private bathrooms for each room.
Their friends told them about Washington state and the Anchorage Inn. It was for sale.
The couple visited the inn, decided Coupeville was the right location for them and moved a year later.
“We had done a lot of homework before coming up,” Dianne Binder explained.
Her husband added that they viewed it twice more before they moved.
Dave Binder still remembers serving breakfast on his second day on the job.
The couple had asked the previous owners not to leave them with a full house for their first day as innkeepers, and they honored that with only one guest booked for that day.
The next day, the inn was packed. The first question Dave Binder remembered being asked was how long he’d been an innkeeper — just a day, he answered.
“It’s been smooth sailing ever since,” he said.
Some guests have stayed with them 50 times, Dave Binder said. The couple used to offer a communal sit-down breakfast with dishes such as egg bakes, banana walnut pancakes and stuffed french toast.
“What always amazed me was how people had connections,” Dianne Binder said. “The fact that when you stick eight people together, there was a connection.”
She said she’s given out many copies of recipes over the years and was even asked to make a cookbook. She may attempt it during retirement.
Dave Binder said the inn is in a prime location, especially during the holidays.
Guests could easily see the parade route, see the Christmas lights across the street at Cook’s Corner Park and see the town come out for caroling.
“The Norman Rockwell Christmas is right here in Coupeville,” Dianne Binder said.
The couple plans to stay nearby in their retirement and may work as inn-sitters in addition to some much deserved time off.
“We’ve got plots at Sunnyside (Cemetery) so we’re definitely not going far,” she laughed.
Their adult children are not interested in inn-keeping, and their grandchildren are too young to take on the business.
They hope another innkeeper will buy the property, but Dave Binder said it could also be an option to house a large, multi-generational family.
“With today’s conditions, a lot of people are staying home,” he said. “There’s a lot of possibilities.”
There have been some upgrades over the years, but the Victorian feel has remained the same.
The house was only six or seven years old when the Binders bought it and “had the charm but not the headaches,” Dianne Binder said.
She said they will continue to accept bookings into the summer as they wait for a buyer to come forward.
Dave Binder said he’s confident God will continue to lead them.