B&Bs are rare in Las Vegas Valley

So you’re planning a trip to Las Vegas, but resorts on the Strip, their poorer cousins downtown or one of the scores of name-brand, cookie-cutter places in scattered commercial zones around the valley are not your cup of tea.

You’d rather spend your afternoon in a quiet neighborhood living room, reading a good book with Earl Grey in a fine china cup and homemade cookies at your side, and your evening in a room with scented soaps and antiques.

Maybe at someplace like a nice bed and breakfast, available throughout the world?

Good luck. (Legal) places like that are few and far between in Las Vegas and Clark County.

A 2010 county ordinance, which restricts short-term accommodations and mainly targets party houses, is one reason bed and breakfast owners can’t operate legally here.

The county ordinance was designed to protect neighborhoods from parties being held at short-term rental properties. It requires would-be renters to secure proper permits and rent their property for no fewer than 30 days.

“The ordinance affects properties that are what we call chronic nuisances: properties that have been abandoned or properties that are short-term rentals where someone comes in and rents a house for the weekend,” Clark County spokesman Dan Kulin said.

But would-be bed and breakfast owners say the ordinance specifically prohibits them from operating. And in any case, before that law was passed, there was no zoning classification that would allow bed and breakfasts. Such lodgings are illegal in residential zones in Clark County.

And putting one in a commercial zone? Well, that kind of defeats the purpose.

In the city of Las Vegas, there is a code that will allow a B&B to exist in a private home where the proprietor offers breakfast with accommodation. But there’s only one that’s officially licensed in the city, which requires a special-use permit and a public hearing before granting B&B status. In Henderson, bed and breakfasts are allowed only in Lake Las Vegas; North Las Vegas’ code doesn’t address them.

going rogue

“Anybody that advertised as a bed and breakfast in Las Vegas would be in trouble, because there is none. We don’t do that in Las Vegas,” said Karen Rodgers, who formerly belonged to a club that provided homes for international travelers.

That’s not to say Las Vegas doesn’t have rogue bed and breakfasts operating in residential areas. Many advertise on travel websites or on Craiglist, posting rates from $60 to $1,000 per night, and most have recent reviews left by their guests.

Despite that overt promotion, however, few owners are willing to talk. Most didn’t return phone calls for comment, and two who called back wouldn’t provide their last names.

“The last bed and breakfast that advertised as a bed and breakfast on Mount Charleston got put out of business,” Rodgers said.

One that’s clearly listed on Google Plus is Chuck’s Bed and Breakfast, featuring pictures of a bedroom, dining area, coffeemaker and stocked refrigerator. When Chuck returned a reporter’s phone call, however, he emphatically said that he’s not running a bed and breakfast. Rather, he said, he told Google that he was running a bed and breakfast so he could be listed online for easy access to his house for friends and family.

Kay-Marie has walked a fine line in running the FeatherDanse Bed and Breakfast in Las Vegas for six years, and she offers an unusual arrangement.

“We don’t charge our guests,” she said. “It’s an entirely different mentality.”

Instead, “friends” are welcome to stay with her. If they want, they buy food, help out with chores or leave a tip in their room.

So far, Kay-Marie has been able to get around the law by operating this way. She’s had success with her leap of faith, but not everyone is willing to take that chance, or at least talk about it.

The Lucky You Bed and Breakfast, Bed and Office, The Crib, and Kosher Bed and Breakfast are among those that seem to be operating, judging from recent customer reviews and postings online. Their owners, however, didn’t return phone calls.

Others, while a bit harder to find online, are more up-front about their status but call themselves “resorts.” Honey’s Artistic Pot Las Vegas Resort, for example, is a bed and breakfast that targets traveling strippers. It offers brunch and dinner to its visitors, and room rates range from $99 to $175 per night.

While these operations exist, it seems they don’t bother many people. Kulin, Clark County’s spokesman, said complaints about neighbors running bed and breakfasts are “very infrequent.”

In Las Vegas, the city has had 30 code enforcement cases since 2008, Planning Director Flinn Fagg said. But, those cases are flagged as short-term rentals, which could mean they’re properties where the owner doesn’t live on site and food is not offered.

“There is an issue there,” Fagg said.

In any case, his department has been directed to look at licensing and enforcement issues related to those offering rentals.

“We’re in the process of working on additional amendments to the original ordinance,” Fagg said.

untapped potential, perhaps?

Among the many conventions held in the valley during the last week of January was a rather modest one at the Tropicana Las Vegas. For the first time in its history, the Professional Association of Innkeepers International met here, welcoming 500 North American bed and breakfast owners and 200 vendors. The convention and trade show brought an estimated nongaming economic impact of $760,000 to a city that basically prohibits what the group’s members do for a living elsewhere.

If it seems odd that a tourist town would restrict an entire segment that could appeal to travelers , it may seem stranger when you take a closer look at innkeeping.

“Our industry is doing very, very well. Even when the recession hit, our industry kind of held its own,” said Jay Karen, the association’s CEO.

Travel trends have been lining up more and more with the bed and breakfast product, Karen said, as more people take long weekends closer to home by car instead of weeklong vacations by plane.

“I’m pretty bullish about the industry for a couple of reasons. Our research shows that 80 percent of leisure travelers would consider staying at a B&B next year and about 13 percent actually do,” Karen said. “There’s a huge latent demand gap there.”

And outlaw B&B owners seem to be filling some of it in Las Vegas.

Contact reporter Laura Carroll at lcarroll@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4588. Follow @lscvegas on Twitter.