Monday, December 11, 2017
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“CHECKED INN” Check Inn And Learn How To Be A Boss  
By Lapacazo Sandoval, Contributing Writer 
Published November 30, 2017

The Akwaaba Mansion (courtesy photo)

In January of this year, essence.com featured 19 Black Owned Hotels with a strong recommendation to add all of them to your very own “to do” list. The implications are that the collective “we” deserve to treat ourselves like the Queens and Kings that we are, and while doing so, to support black-owned and operated establishments.

On that list was the Brooklyn-based Akwabaa Mansion, which is one of four bed-and-breakfast establishments that are owned by former Essence Editor-In-Chief Monique Greenwood, her husband Glenn and daughter, Glynn. It’s an interesting fact to share that the Brooklyn location, is the only black-owned bed-and-breakfast in New York. The Akawabba empire is without question a family affair with other b&bs in Washington, DC (Akwaaba DC), Cape May, NJ (Buttonwood Manor aka The Mansion at Noble Lane) and in Bethany, PA (The Mansion at Noble Lane).

It’s a lot of hard work running a bed and breakfasts but the key to success says Monique Greenwood is that it’s a “labor of true love, family love” which has helped bring their dreams to life and, she says, “it’s important to have the same goal; will help a business thrive”, a key component of building an empire.

“Our goal is to become a trusted and successful brand. And that people, all over the world, will be sleeping on Akwaaba sheets, drinking their beverage of choice inside Akwaaba glasses and coffee mugs, and much, more,” added Monique Greenwood.

In building the Akwaaba franchise Monique has admitted that it was the mistakes that often opened the door to the greatest success.  Advice like this and the willingness to share with aspiring entrepreneurs is—I suspect—why the team at Oprah Winfrey OWN Networks decided to back “Checked Inn”.

To get the media’s attention, the savvy marketing gurus at OWN Networks hosted a private media luncheon for the highly anticipated docu-series at the noteworthy Akwabaa Mansion, located in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, New York.

Let’s rewind the clock. It’s now 1995.  Monique Greenwood took a leap of faith and decided to follow her heart, which told her, with clarity, to open her very first B&B in Brooklyn, NY.  Mind you, Monique was still working as a magazine editor. Then, she blinked and five years passed and she landed her dream job, at Essence Magazine, and Monique quickly rose to become Editor-in-Chief—all this while running the growing B&B.

Superwoman Monique Greenwood, to everyone’s shock, decided to walk away from her high-profile job at Essence because she was exhausted.  After two years of juggling two professions, she just wanted to focus on building the B&B business.

“It takes great focus to get a dream up and running,” Monica adds, “but in the end, it’s worth it.”

The Greenwood family is committed to each other’s success like white is painted on rice. These smart working parents have made it clear that they are building a legacy for their daughter and those that will follow.

OWN’s “Checked Inn” for the Greenwood family brings them one step closer to their legacy with the series focusing on the Akwaaba’s Mansion at Noble Lane in the Poconos, Pennsylvania, a former Woolworth estate.

Here is where couples go to push back the world, re-ignite passion and celebrate life’s most exciting events.

Things may not always go smoothly at Akwaaba’s Mansion at Noble Lane but Monique-with Glynn under her wing and the hard-working staff, make sure their guests have an experience they’ll never forget. Celebrity guests include two-time Grammy® Award-winning singer/songwriter Peabo Bryson, black hair care entrepreneur Lisa Price of Carol’s Daughter and Pastor John Gray and his wife Aventer.

Here is a very brief excerpt from an interview with Monique Greenwood one of the owners of the Akawabba empire, and co-star of OWN’s “Checked Inn.”

The Greenwood Family (courtesy photo)

Los Angeles Sentinel:  What does it take to turn a successful bed and breakfast into a business model?  Right now your family has four bed-and-breakfast establishments in different states and “Checked Inn” only focuses on the Pennsylvania property,  Mansion at Noble Lane.  Can you share your insight into the industry?

 

Monique Greenwood:  I like to call myself an innkeeper and I am, but the bed-and-breakfast industry is [a] lifestyle industry. Our goal is to figure out a way to scale it so it becomes a business industry, one that can pay handsome returns. To this end, we took on more properties and that allows us to take advantage of economies of scale and try to at the end of it all have a decent profit. Our family also live in each of them, so it’s a feeling of home for everyone involved.  We also choose our staff very carefully because, again, it’s our home as well.

LAS: How did the Akawabba empire begin?

MG: My husband, and I [Glenn] made a plan early. We wanted to be retired at the age of 50. That was always our goal. Our parents worked until they couldn’t work anymore and they could not enjoy the fruits of their labor. So, we said, ‘that’s not going to be us!’  Glenn left his job. He was a Broadcast engineer. He put in his resignation [at 50 years old] and he was like ‘ok’ — I am ready but I was still working.

LAS:    You were still working at Essence, running the B&B and raising your daughter. That’s a lot of hard work.

MG:    Yes it is.  I didn’t have any hospitality experience but I enjoyed going to B&B’s myself, and so that’s where the seed of the dream was planted.

LAS:  You are a role model to many women. I suspect after the first season of “Checked Inn” on OWN that you will become even more popular.  Who is a role model for you?

MG:  Great question. Oprah Winfrey definitely, but the young woman sitting right here, next to me, is my daughter.  She is my role model. It gives me faith that we are going to be alright.  We have wonderful young people who are the next generation, like her. I see her determination and her passion and that fuels me.  We feed off each other.

LAS:  And why or how did you choose the name Akwabaa?

MG: Akwabaa is an African word and it means welcome. I learned that later. At first, I just loved the sound of the word and the fact that because it begins with the letter “a” it would be first in most listings.

LAS:  Has your family visited Africa?

MG: Sadly, no. I’ve not been to Africa yet, but it’s on the list. As a family, we did plan a trip there to mark key milestones in our lives.  We first planned it when our daughter turned 16, and then 18. Then to celebrate 20 years of marriage, and then 25.  And it just hasn’t happened.

LAS: How about marking the fact that “Checked In” is on OWN and that it will have its network premiere on Tuesday, November 21 at 10 p.m.

MG:    That is a milestone.

“CHECKED INN” premieres Tuesday, November 21 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on OWN

http://www.oprah.com/own-checkedinn/checked-inn-first-look-welcome-to-the-mansion-at-noble-lane-video  “Checked In” will air regularly on Saturdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT, beginning on November 25.

Twitter:  Monique Greenwood (@MoniqueAkwaaba)

Categories: Entertainment | TV
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