I must need a vacation because this month I covered a lot of towns in my ongoing B&B Kinda Towns series! There's Jackson, Sonoma (part II), Denver (Part II), and Leavenworth (part II). I'd take a week in any of them after being snowbound on the east coast for the last few months! And of course, I'd take my trusty dog Lucie along with us and stay at a pet-friendly B&B. That's Lucie up top. She loves the snow!
Sure the New Year's a great time for looking forward, but there's a lot of reflection that goes on during this time of the year. That's why it was the perfect time to feature an innkeeper's reminiscences about how she came to be the owner of a delightful B&B in the cool green hills of Jamaica (part II here). As I was looking back over our experiences owning and running our own B&B with my wife, we remembered plenty of the good. But we also remembered one particular challenge: the constant need to make small talk no matter how talked out we might have felt. That's what gave birth to her guest column this month about how innkeepers can keep their conversations with guests energized and flowing smoothly (see part II here).
Something else I like to do when the weather gets cold is EAT! Which is why I can't wait to make a loaf of the Coconut Pumpkin Bread Cloe Tuttle was so kind to share with all of us this month.
See you at the inn!
Happy New Year to you! 2013 was certainly a busy year here on the About.com B&B site with about 40 new articles written including reviews of inns, information about starting and running your own B&B, and B&B destination stories like St. Petersburg (part II), Kauai (part II), and St. Louis (part II). We even got to cover five things that guests do that drive their innkeepers crazy (with part II here)! I'm looking forward to lots more coverage from the B&B world in 2014. Don't forget to drop me an email at email@example.com if you have something you'd like to see covered or even if you're interested in writing a guest post. See you at the inn!
Photo: Courtesy Paul Wilkinson (EEPaul), Flickr
When I asked my fellow innkeepers about the things they'd incorporate into a B&B if they could create an inn from scratch, the response was overwhelming and led to my first four-part article (I, II, III and IV) on this site! Although we all love our inns, having the chance to start from scratch and incorporate all the things that would make life easier in a very demanding profession is just too tempting a topic on which to not spend some serious day-dream time.
Speaking of making things easier, I did some reflecting over the holiday weekend (always a busy time at B&Bs) about the aspects of dealing Read More...
I was recently asked by a reader what things I would incorporate into a B&B if I was building one from scratch.
For me, the division between personal life and work life is very important when you own an inn, so I'd ensure that I had a clear distinction between my own quarters and the areas of the inn guests could enjoy. At my inn, we had lovely quarters with one fatal flaw -- no kitchen. So when we were making our dinner, guests would poke their head in to ask what we were having. If I wanted a late-night snack and was already wearing my sleep clothes, I always worried that if ran down to the kitchen, I'd run into a guest not looking very "innkeeperly." Read More...
Ah fall. It's the perfect time to visit an inn and curl up on the front porch with a good book -- maybe even a book about a B&B! Some inns even sell or give away books for free, so you can leave it up to chance and choose your novel when you get there.
As you're considering an inn for your autumn getaway -- be it for your family or for a romantic jaunt -- be sure to check out this list of three of them that give back to charity, or this article that'll tell you how to stay at a B&B for free! If you're on the West coast, a getaway to Portland offers hundreds of inns to choose from and that's exactly why it makes our list of one of the best B&B towns in Oregon. Wherever you go, I hope the air is crisp and cool and that you get plenty of rest!
If you're thinking about opening a bed and breakfast, one of the things you'll want to keep in mind is seasonality. My inn was located in an area of the country the drew leaf peepers in Autumn. That was great for business, but not so great for me because Autumn happens to be my favorite time of the month, and I missed plenty of them! If you find that you're a summer person, you might want to consider buying your inn somewhere that lets you get away to beach B&B yourself for a week or two in the warm months (Key West might be a good idea!). If winter's your thing, consider a B&B that slows down in January and February. Then again, there's always a B&B you can just drive off in so you can be wherever, whenever you want!
As for my own summer, I had the chance to visit with the lovely folks at the Inn At Meander Plantation in Virginia's Wine Country. I also moved myself to Asheville, North Carolina which reminded me of a great inn with a labyrinth I once stayed at: Wintersun. Speaking of Labyrinths, I also had the chance to correspond with the new owners of a brand-new inn in Maine called Winding Way. As they build their business, they might want to employ some of the strategies I've laid out in these this article (see part II here) about using Facebook to enhance occupancy. If anyone's got any other ideas, do let us know!
When I ran my B&B, I loved connecting with other innkeepers. It was a special brotherhood (and sisterhood) of like-minded people with whom I could gather and share nightmare stories of clogged toilets, dropped breakfast dishes and middle-0f-the-night check-ins. We also shared the good stuff too, like stories of wedding proposals, birthday celebrations and guests that connected deeply with us in some way. This week, I checked in with a few innkeepers: first about their picks for reservation software and second, about bouncing back after Hurricane Sandy (see Part II of that article here) ...
I was recently asked by one of my readers to do a post about how long different tasks take when you're an innkeeper. I decided to answer the question by creating a "Day in the Life" post that went hour by hour through my life as an innkeeper. It was a great exercise for me to realize just how much I'm capable of fitting into a day, but I think it might be a good exercise for all innkeepers to do once in awhile. Read More...
The picture above is a foley fork. I'd never heard of one until I surveyed some of the hardest-working innkeepers in the business and asked them about their favorite kitchen tools, but I sure want to get one now! According to Mary Ellen Cox at the Phipps Inn B&B, it's a great device for hand mixing practically anything. After struggling with a particularly thick batch of coconut flour cookies this weekend that kept clogging my whisk, I can see its benefits.
I had a great time compiling these two lists of kitchen tools, although the gadget-lover in me has had a hard time not surfing over to Amazon to buy them all!
For me, my favorite tool as an innkeeper wasn't used much in the kitchen. Read More...