Tucked away on a quiet residential section of Sharon Amity Road is Ms. Elsie’s Caribbean Bed and Breakfast. The yellow ranch-style home can be missed if you aren’t looking for it. But what’s behind the royal blue door might amaze you.
Innkeeper and owner Cheryl Watkins opened Miss Elsie’s back in 2000, yet many Charlotteans still aren’t aware of the Aruba-inspired oasis right in their own town.
As a trained chef and caterer, Watkins treats her guests to a full three-course gourmet Caribbean breakfast each morning. With items such as fresh fruit arrangements, seafood and dessert, guests of this B&B can be quickly transported to their favorite white sand and blue water beaches.
While the amenities and accommodations are designed to bring island life to the Queen City, the story behind the creation of the business may move you.
“It started with a dream. In the dream, I saw my grandmother standing on the veranda of a beautiful white house overlooking the ocean,” Watkins told Charlotte Five. “In the dream, I was crying because I had just learned that she had Alzheimer’s. She told me to stop crying and instead to celebrate her life because there was so much to be thankful for.”
The dream unfolded from Watkin’s childhood up until she was an adult. She recalls that each scene began with her having breakfast with her grandmother, as this was something the pair often bonded over.
“I knew that whatever I ended up doing, I wanted it to be culturally indicative, to be in real estate, and to be near water. I had that dream on March 2, 2000, and the next day I found this house.”
A friend told her about the house on the market, and it was perfect for what Watkins was looking to do. However, she was a bit hesitant, so she called her aging grandmother, now in the later stages of Alzheimer’s.
“My grandmother’s home care aide said it was her first time sitting down in almost two days, and she didn’t think she would be up for talking to me. I insisted that she put her on the phone anyway. Our conversation went as follows:
“Cheryl: I think I want to open a bed and breakfast.
Grandmother: I think that’s a wonderful idea. People from all over the world will come.
Cheryl: Why did you say that?
Grandmother: I’m just telling you what I know.
Cheryl: I think I want to name it after you.
Grandmother: Why would you do that? People will wonder what kind of crazy name is that.
Cheryl: That’s fine, I’ll just tell them it’s named after Ms. Cheryl’s crazy grandmother.
She went silent for about 10 minutes.
Cheryl: What you thinkin’ granny?
Grandmother: With God’s peace, you have my blessing. Trust God for all things. I believe you are going to do well.”
Watkins ended that talk by expressing her love to her grandmother who, less than 10 minutes later, had no recollection of the conversation.
Watkins said she held this conversation close to her heart and she felt it was the sign to move forward with her business.
Today: Best B&B in the South designation
Since opening over 19 years ago, the Charlotte B&B has received many awards and acclaims. It was featured in Essence magazine and named the “Best B&B in the South” by Southern Living Magazine. Most recently, it was recognized by the Aruba Board of Tourism.
There are two bedrooms available for booking, each with its own private bathroom and unique decor.
The king suite is definitely something to write home about. The room features a large bed and its own small sitting area. The bathroom is complete with his and her robes, a large walk-in shower and a Jacuzzi-style tub with mirrors all around it.
334 N. Sharon Amity Road.