2006-03-22 / Business

Village native banking on success at bed and breakfast in Key West

State Sen. Mary Lou Rath meets with Donald Whitehead, new owner of the Wicker Guesthouse Bed and Breakfast in Key West, Fla. State Sen. Mary Lou Rath meets with Donald Whitehead, new owner of the Wicker Guesthouse Bed and Breakfast in Key West, Fla. Donald Whitehead, formerly of Williamsville, recently purchased the Wicker Guesthouse Bed and Breakfast in Key West, Fla.

With more than 40 years in the hospitality business, Whitehead hopes to make the highly popular B&B a destination of choice in the Florida Keys.

"This property has been welcoming guests year after year since the early 1980s," said Whitehead. "I have been looking to buy business property in the Keys for 10 years and the Wicker Guesthouse was the perfect opportunity."

A 1957 graduate of Williamsville South High School, Whitehead grew up on Garrison Road and still has family in the village today. After receiving a degree from the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University, Whitehead began working for a variety of hospitality services including Hilton Inns, Inc. and currently owns and operates Barron's Cove Inn in Sag Harbor, N. Y.

Whitehead was an instructor at Cornell University for 25 years, sharing his firsthand knowledge with students studying Hotel/Motel Operations, Casino Management, Hospitality Investments, and Franchising, which he still teaches internationally.

Currently, Whitehead is the president of Hospitality Enterprises in Southampton, N.Y.

The Wicker Guesthouse is located on Duval Street on the main thoroughfare in historic Old Town Key West. The 21-room guesthouse, with a pool and tropical garden, is located just blocks from Ernest Hemingway's former home and is within walking distance from many of Key West's world-class attractions.

"Being involved with tourism in Long Island, and now in the Florida Keys, will allow me to vacation along with the tourism industry," said Whitehead. "Southampton is a popular spot for summer travel and many people from Western New York and all of the Northeast visit Key West to take a break from the winter's cold."

A prominent tourism professional on Long Island, Whitehead recently participated in statewide roundtables organized by State Sen. Mary Lou Rath, chair of the Senate Committee on Tourism, Recreation, and Sports Development.

For more information on the Wicker Guesthouse, call 1-800-880-4275.

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