Season 1, Episode 8

A Voice from the Pamlico Sound   

On this episode of the Life in the Carolinas podcast, we are joined by Steve Nelson, Owner of The Inn on Pamlico Sound boutique hotel. Steve grew up in New Jersey and had a prominent career in Manhattan for many years, but it was not until the first time he vacationed on Hatteras Island that he finally felt that he was at home. Before leaving the island from that first vacation, he had purchased a beach house and knew that he would be spending a lot of time “at home.” Within 2 years of that first trip to Hatteras, Steve was living in that beach house full-time and telecommuting to work whenever necessary, but he knew that he and his family needed a change of pace. 

His epiphany came on a late-night drive home from the airport when he realized that the homey but classy boutique hotels that he frequented during his work travels across North America and Europe would be a perfect fit for the Hatteras community. He was committed to steering clear of the clientele that the current inns and bed-and-breakfasts in the area attracted, and he knew that creating a unique boutique hotel experience could boost tourism to the island and provide full-time jobs with benefits for dozens of locals.

In 2004, Steve opened The Inn on Pamlico Sound as a test with just 5 rooms, and the next year, all 12 rooms were available, and the Inn was up and running. With a lot of support from the community, especially 2 veteran innkeepers, Steve and his team created the boutique hotel experience that had been dreaming of. To this day, they do not invest in any paid advertising, but rely solely on organic marketing: online reviews, media publicity, and word of mouth. The staff at the Inn are extremely loyal and have grown to be a family community, much like the larger community on the island that they are a part of.

One of the things that makes Hatteras Island unique is the generational culture: the native residents typically stay on the island for life, and some of them go back 7 or 8 generations of living on the island. This means that the residents of this small community essentially all do life together, just like their parents, their grandparents, and so on did. Their roots are very deep, and though they are accepting of outsiders, it is common for the native residents to remain distant in their relationships with non-natives for several years because they are committed to having lifelong friendships. Steve experienced this dynamic as he integrated into the community, and he has a higher appreciation and understanding of the culture, which strengthens his commitment to investing in the next generation of Hatteras Island residents.


For more information:

Life In The Carolinas TV segment on Pamlico Sound 

Carl White