For episode #20 of the Frictionless Innkeeper podcast series, we speak with Monique Greenwood, Owner/Innkeeper of Akwaaba Bed & Breakfast Inns and star of the television reality show “Checked Inn” on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). In Part 1 of a two part podcast, she discusses her personal and professional journey, how she built the Akwaaba empire of luxury properties, and much more.

You can also listen to the podcast at blogtalkradio.

It’s not often that we find an innkeeper who has built a reputation to the level that attracted the attention of Oprah Winfrey. Monique Greenwood is a highly regarded innkeeper who developed the Akwaaba empire of five properties, and has parlayed this experience into an OWN TV reality show called “Checked Inn.”

Prior to reaching these heights of innkeeping success, Monique started her career in journalism and achieved her dream of being the editor-in-chief of Essence Magazine. In 1995, she decided to move into the innkeeping arena, and realized that real estate investments were the key to success.

With her business plan tied to her overall lifestyle plan, she ultimately wanted to own properties in areas around the U.S. that she loved.  She started with the first Akwaaba property in Brooklyn, and eventually used its increased equity value to help fund the acquisition of four other properties in the U.S.  Today, there are Akwaaba inns in Brooklyn, NY; Washington, D.C.; Bethany, PA; Philadelphia, PA; and Cape May, NJ.

The property in Bethany PA, called The Mansion at Noble Lane, is the “crown jewel” for Akwaaba, and ended up being the location for the “Checked Inn” reality show. It was built and formerly owned by the Woolworth family, and carries significance for Monique that goes beyond its incredible architecture. As an African American business leader, owning a mansion that is connected to a company that would not serve her grandmother during segregation is a reminder of how much she has overcome and achieved in her career.

In this podcast, Monique discusses her background, the growth of the Akwaaba Bed & Breakfast Inns, her book titled, “Having What Matters: The Black Woman’s Guide to Creating the Life You Really Want,” and much more.

  • Monique’s background and how she came to be an innkeeper. (1:07)
  • About Monique’s strategy for owning Akwaaba inns, and more about the properties. (2:05)
  • How Monique made the transition from being a journalist to innkeeper. (10:07)
  • Insights into her “Having What Matters” book, and how it has guided her success. (16:39)
  • More about The Mansion at Noble Lane, and the newer Philadelphia property. (19:26)

We are very thankful to Monique for sharing her insights with us!  You can learn more about Akwaaba Bed & Breakfast Inns by visiting their website.  Stay tuned for Part 2 of this podcast, where Monique discusses “Checked Inn,” as well as her philosophy regarding enhancing the guest experience.