Being in the hospitality business has been a wonderful adventure for Jim and me and filled with moments of beautiful serendipity. Like a jubilee on Mobile Bay, these happy little moments happen when you’re least expecting them and fill us with joy.
Recently, we hosted a man who is on the executive board for Fresh Air Family, a non-profit organization based in Alabama that helps families and children get back outside. We loved the mission of Fresh Air Family, because this is also what we do at Jubilee Suites! We reached out to the organization and enticed Verna Gates, the founder of Fresh Air Family, to come stay with us for a few days. Our time together was short, but we connected instantly and we learned so much about her and her valuable work.
In 2006, Verna acted on her concern about “nature deficit disorder” in children and founded Fresh Air Family, a statewide organization dedicated to providing families with outdoor science education. With her simple premise of connecting families with highly trained experts to explore the natural world, Verna has grown Fresh Air Family to “offer more than 400 outdoor activities to an outreach of more than 10,000 people. Programs include family outings, summer and holiday camps, school field trips, in-school programs, and fossil hunts, along with hiking, camping, canoeing, birding, star gazing, fossil hunting, orienteering, caving and searching for creatures great and small.”
One of the most accomplished women we’ve ever met, Verna is an author, educator, reporter, humorist/speaker / storyteller, tour guide and travel writer as well as the Founder & Executive Director of Fresh Air Family. Her achievements would take most people several lifetimes. Here are just a very few:
- Contributor to Troy Public Radio.
- Former reporter for Reuters and TIME Magazine.
- One of the original crew who launched CNN.
- Recipient of a lifetime achievement award from the National Federation of Press Women.
- Author of “100 Things to Do in Birmingham Before You Die”.
- Named Alabama Conservationist of the Year by the Alabama Environmental Council.
- Twice been awarded the tall tale title of Biggest Liar in Alabama, lies being Southern-speak for stories.
We were delighted to meet Verna and were so pleased she had nothing but good things to say about us after her visit. Read her review of Jubilee Suites here or on the Soul Grown website, a showcase of the style and beauty found throughout Alabama.
Plan a getaway to Jubilee Suites in Fairhope
November 28, 2022 by Verna Gates
There are only two places on earth where the natural phenomenon called a jubilee occurs: the Fairhope area and Japan. Dana Maloney has had the good fortune of living in both places. Rather than the bounty of sea creatures lulled out of their watery homes into the shallows, her personal jubilees came in different packages. While others may be snapping up flounder, crab, and shrimp during the brief oceanic wonder, Dana gained more permanent gifts. In Japan, her third son was born. In Fairhope, she realized a dream of owning her own bed and breakfast. Jubilee Suites now welcomes others to enjoy their own personal celebrations whether it is a vacation, gathering, or business that brings them to this elegant lodge overlooking Mobile Bay.
It started when Dana and her husband Jim discovered that a grandbaby was on the way. A move to Fairhope from their home in Charlotte, North Carolina became a given when their daughter-in-law spotted a For Sale sign in front of the former Away at the Bay Bed & Breakfast. The Maloneys purchased the prime property and began the renovation to create luxury suites and transform it into a resort packed with amenities. Guests can explore the coast in kayaks and paddleboards available for free at the beach front, along with life jackets. The gentle, shallow waters of the bay make watersports safe enough for small children to catch a ride with dad. Yoga sessions can be booked, as well as guided boat tours and adventures.
Guests can retreat to one of seven suites, four two-bedrooms, and three one-bedrooms. These are complete with kitchens, dining, and living areas, and washers and dryers. Five of the suites open to balconies with sunset views.
After a good night’s sleep, guests start the morning as Jim makes cooked-to-order gourmet breakfasts. The big table in the great room seats diners family-style, with separate café tables available. The big table is recommended, as Dana is a master of conversation starting. She gets to know her guests and shares commonalities among them to promote dialog, even networking opportunities. The daughter of an Air Force father and wife to a Navy husband, Dana learned quickly how to make new friends and get to know new places. She channels this gift from the time guests arrive at the New Orleans-style courtyard to checkout.
“You can never put a price on friendship,” says Dana Maloney.
While guests can experience the great room, fire pit, gorgeous sunsets, and warm hospitality, the couple also wants to share their corner of paradise with the community. Dana’s goal: to make the world a better place. Starting in December, Dana and her experience manager, Christy Wells-Fritz, are expanding their hospitality with monthly speakers in a series called Minds and Meals. Their purpose is to bring people together—guests and locals—to share ideas and interests. The first speaker on December 5 is Lynn Oldshue, the author of “Our Southern Soul” and local NPR commentator. On February 5, Alan Hammack, who was one of the designers of the popular game Dungeons and Dragons, will be the guest speaker. A legend in the gaming community, he will discuss how games are made and played. March 6, Susan Hammack, former president of the Alabama Wildflower Society, will speak on the sentiency of plants. The series, with the exception of holidays and summer, will be held on the first Monday of the month at 6 p.m. in the great room.
The property and buildings have long been associated with sunsets over the water. Once a sailor’s lodge, it has come a long way since it was built in 1940 to house ship workers, many of them World War I and World War II veterans. These workers shared beds in eight-hour shifts, with no change of linens, unimaginable to us today, especially now with big, comfortable beds with spotless, fresh linens in the large rooms. The former dormitory, once located in Chickasaw, was moved across the bay to sit at its current ledge in 1947 by the Shoop family. A veteran himself, Mr. Shoop lived there with his wife and four children and rented rooms. For a time, it was the Sunset Beach Hotel, a nod to the spectacular painted sky at the end of the day. At his passing, his widow sold the property and the result was a series of seven owners. The old seaman’s rest has come full circle with a new Navy family continuing its long history of welcoming those who love ocean breezes. With two granddaughters and another on the way and a flow of new friends, the Maloneys plan a long stay as celebrated as a summer jubilee.
To contact Verna, email her at email@example.com.
It’s true. We love meeting new people and we’d love to meet you! Come join us for breakfast around the big family-style dining table in our great room, explore our beautiful grounds and the natural world all around us, discover the charming resort town of Fairhope, AL, and make new friends for a lifetime. Start by choosing your favorite suite and book your stay soon- right on our website!