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The Queen of Cape May

June 15, 2009
The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

... So they loaded up the truck and they moved to New Jersey ...

Cape May, that is.

"We looked like the Beverly Hillbillies, with our truck full of stuff. ...." said Doug McMain, who along with his wife, Anna Marie, decided to "chuck it" - their computer careers, that is - and buy The Queen Victoria Bed and Breakfast in Cape May, N.J.

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Doug, a database architect, and Anna Marie, who owned and operated a computer training company, had been to Cape May on many day trips and they had stayed in bed and breakfast inns on other vacations. Every time they came back from a vacation, they'd search for bed and breakfast inns for sale, for about a week. And then settle back into their real lives.

But in 2003, they just kept searching. The post-vacation glow, that dream of owning a B&B, didn't go away as it had in the past.

Then they discovered the Queen Victoria through an online advertisement. It was in May of 2004 when the purchase was final.

They signed the papers in the morning, and hosted a full house at tea that afternoon. That was the week before Memorial Day, quite a busy time in Cape May.

Luckily, the previous owners stayed on for 14 days to help them get their bearings.

Then, they were on their own. It wasn't until late September that they had time to move their personal things and settled in.

They are a pretty busy pair - up at 5:30, at the inn by 6 a.m. Of course it's a short commute; they live in another Victorian building, which houses guests as well, just across the street.

Anna Marie plans all the menus and selects the recipes. Doug does a lot of the maintenance and renovation.

They do have a staff of about 20 year-round, and add some employees for the busy summer months. They have a cook who makes the food for breakfast and for tea. Also on staff are three maintenance guys, a carpenter-painter and four assistant innkeepers.

"That gives us time to spend with guests." They are always at the inn for breakfast, and then later in the day for tea time.

It's the innkeepers who make a B&B special.

While Anna Marie scurries around at breakfast, pouring tea out of one of her hundreds of teapots from her collection, she chats about what's going on in the town that day. The guests share stories of who they are, why they are there, what they've experienced in Cape May since they arrived.

It's the same at tea; who did what all day, and where are they going to eat dinner that night?

And the best part of their lives? "Meeting the people and living in this gorgeous town," Anna Marie said.

"Unless you're doing this, you can't afford to live here," Doug pointed out.

The Queen Victoria is the largest bed and breakfast inn in Cape May and the only one open year-round. It offers 32 rooms in four Victorian structures. They all have different themes, and the rooms are named accordingly. We stayed in the Charring Cross room, which is a London neighborhood. The rooms vary in size and amenities - such as fireplaces, porches, whirlpool baths, double showers, sitting areas. All are beautifully appointed.

Ours had a canopied bed, a sitting room with a daybed and a huge bathroom. All rooms have televisions and DVD players, however, the modern convenience (or distraction!) can be removed at a guest's request.

The Crown Jewel is the "nicest" and may be the "most expensive room in Cape May," Doug noted. A perfect honeymoon suite, the two level cottage features a second-floor bedroom with a two-person whirlpool bath. Adjacent to the first-floor sitting room is a double shower.

"What we really love is that Cape May is so much more than the beach," Doug said, noting that everything is "a short stroll away" - nice restaurants, shops, the library, and of course, the beach.

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