California’s bed and breakfast beacon beckons adventurous aspiring hoteliers

It is the job offer that would attract the attention of any adventure seeker.

A bed and breakfast, with a working lighthouse, has openings for two skilled innkeepers who can cook, clean and operate a ferry. The catch: The job is on a one-acre island in San Francisco Bay, separated from the city by about 10 miles of choppy ocean.

Daunting as it may seem, the jobs have in the past attracted applicants from all over the world, including Russia, China and Italy. And once again, applications are accepted.

As part of the job, hoteliers will receive a health care plan and two weeks of vacation, with room and board included. Previous hoteliers were paid about $140,000 a year, split between two people.

One of the applicants must have a valid U.S. Coast Guard captain’s license, and applicants must commit to at least two years, according to the East Brother Light Station job listing in Richmond, California.

A captain’s license is usually the biggest hurdle for applicants, said Richmond Mayor Tom Butt, founder of the nonprofit that runs the bed and breakfast operation.

The innkeepers welcome guests four days a week, give guided tours, change the sheets and, above all, prepare a good meal.

“That’s a big part of the experience,” Butt said. “No one should apply for the job if they are not prepared to do a hard job for at least a couple of years.”

Applicants will need to file jointly if they want to throw their hat in the ring. The one-acre island features a working lighthouse built in 1873. The lighthouse was intended to help sailors navigate the San Francisco and San Pablo bays, but the site fell into disrepair in 1969 when the light and fog signal were automated. About a decade later, conservationists tried to save and restore the site, Butt said.

Over the years, hundreds of volunteer preservationists have worked to restore the site. There was a need to generate income to ensure the site did not deteriorate again, Mr Butt said. That’s where the idea of ​​a working bed and breakfast came into play.

Depending on the economy, the operation sees a steady stream of visitors who can enjoy the panoramic view of the San Francisco skyline from a unique vantage point. A stay on the island runs from $475 to $525 per night in a quaint two-story Victorian home. Maintenance on the island is done by a non-profit organization, but the innkeepers are expected to maintain the bed and breakfast and all that goes with it.

Hoteliers are expected to wear several hats, and while it may seem like a daunting role, the job listing went viral around 2019. Applicants came in from all over the world. The nonprofit ended up with about 60 qualified candidates, Butt said.

During the pandemic, the operation was closed for about a year and a half. The nonprofit expected to be inundated with hotelier candidates once the hiring window reopened, but the group did not receive any viable candidates. The group was forced to hire veteran hoteliers last year to fill the positions.

Butt is hopeful that a pair of tenacious and qualified young candidates can take over the jobs this spring.

“It’s a great opportunity, especially for younger people, to earn and save money,” Butt said.

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