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February 2006

Our Members Speak Out

Butler House on Grand, Des Moines, Iowa

We asked: What is the nicest/funniest thank-you gift you've ever received from a guest?

Question for March: Look for Part II of your stories of great gifts!

Email your responses to If we publish your comments, we’ll thank you with a $25 credit in our Featured Properties Auction program!

“We have received many gifts from guests during our 10 years of innkeeping. The funniest was a book called How to Make Your Man Behave in 21 Days or Less Using the Secrets of Professional Dog Trainers. It was left anonymously in the kitchen one morning. We had five women staying with us – all regular guests. We knew it was one of them but not sure which one. They love to tease my husband, Don. That morning at breakfast, he declined to serve them any portion of the breakfast that he had contributed to i.e. no smoothie, no fruit, and no silverware. This went on until they told on each other. It was a hoot! The book became such a hit with our other guests that our local book store sold numerous copies that summer.

“Our guests have done so many wonderful things for us, but one act of kindness stands out. Two couples always come to the inn for the last weekend of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in October. This year, they sent us a “save the date card” for dinner and theatre on that Saturday night. Saturday afternoon, they left a bottle of wine and a thank you card on the kitchen counter and reminded us our car would be waiting on the drive at 6 p.m. Rod, our chauffer, was waiting for us promptly at 6. The car doors were open and ready for us. (The other three rode in a separate car.) When we arrived at the theatre, the others hopped out of their car and opened our car doors with a salute. We felt like the President with our own Secret Service agents. They hosted dinner and theatre at the Oregon Cabaret Theatre, and we appreciated the opportunity to relax and really get to know them away from the inn. After dinner, they did the reverse – opening/closing the car doors and dropping us off at the front door of the inn. It was a night we will remember always.

“We are always amazed at the appreciation our guests express. We hope we make them feel as good as they make us feel.” – Deana and Don Politis, Romeo Inn Bed & Breakfast, Ashland, OR

“We have received some thoughtful gifts over the years. We have Lenox Christmas plates that we use during the holidays, and one guest gave us a beautiful Lenox table water fountain that matches our china! She has been coming every year to see her father at Christmas, and he passed away last year right before Christmas. The fountain had belonged to him, and she immediately thought of us because of the plates she eats on when she stays with us. The fountain now sits in our dinning room during the holidays. Even though her father has passed away, she is still coming to stay with us this Christmas.” – Clark Smith & Lauren Kernan Smith, Butler House on Grand, Des Moines, IA

“The best gift we ever get from our guests is…their return visits; they remember where we live.” – Jim and Barbara McLean, Apples B&B, Big Bear Lake, CA

“This was a gift of kindness. A couple stayed with us for three nights for their  25th anniversary. On their second day, they were using their whirlpool tub when one of the jets malfunctioned when the glue loosened the PVC fitting hidden in the back of the tub. They didn’t know it and continued using the tub. I happened to go into the guestroom below theirs to turn down the bed for the evening and heard water running. Much to my surprise, water was pouring through the ceiling of that room. I frantically ran upstairs and got their attention to turn off the tub. They immediately got dressed and came down to help with ‘the flood.’

“Meanwhile, the guests in the lower room returned from a drive with a second couple who was also staying here. As I frantically tried to catch water coming out of everywhere, they asked if I had a minute to make them a dinner reservation. I calmly looked at them and said, ‘I should probably take care of that now.’ They went into my parlor and enjoyed a glass of wine while I continued to repair the damage in their room, and I had it all put back together when they returned from their dinner reservation.

“The couple from upstairs were so kind that when they went to dinner they brought back our favorite cheeseburgers from the restaurant, for me and my husband, who was expected home in an hour. Their kindness made the whole experience bearable and now, laughable. They also rebooked for next year for another three days and are bringing another couple.” – Kris Herrell, Miller’s Daughter, Green Lake, WI

“The nicest gift we have received was from a guest who stays with us for four nights during the Harborfest celebration in July in Oswego, N.Y. She makes handmade ceramics and sells her pieces at the festival. One year she came to our inn and gave us a gift. Using a photo from our website, she hand painted the inn on the center of a ceramic square plate, and the edge was done in black. It was beautiful and one-of-a-kind. It was so thoughtful, and the plate is on a display stand in our dinning room so all of our guests can see it.” Diane Bednarek, Battle Island Inn Bed & Breakfast, Fulton, NY

“Recently, we had guests whose car battery went dead just before they were going to Thanksgiving dinner at a nearby restaurant. I knew that in several hours my partner would be coming to the B&B, and he had cables in his car to help them jumpstart their battery for the next day. In the interim, I offered to drive them to the restaurant and would pick them up after they finished. After their meal, they called me, and I picked them up. On the way back from the restaurant my car had a flat tire! They graciously helped to change the tire. Two days later I received a gift from them...a can of ‘fix-a-flat!’” – Alan Rosenblatt and Kurtis Creider, ECCE B&B, Barryville NY

“On the mantle in the dining room, I have Noah’s ark with an assortment of salt and pepper shaker animals proceeding toward it. At breakfast, I’d place sets of animals next to each place setting, varying the animal at each seat daily. One guest commented on how she loved cats, had them at home, but they were missing from the animal selection entering the ark.

“Within a month of these guests leaving, I received a package in the mail. It was a pair of rather comical cats (they were grinning) with a note saying that now my species entering the ark would be complete (from a cat lover’s perspective). A few years have since passed. In the dining room sit these grinning cats. They are great conversation pieces for other guests who inquire about why the other animals look intent on getting into the ark but the cats are grinning. I have to grin when I tell the story. Cat lovers have a common bond, I’ve found! Incidentally, there were no dogs either, so I went out and bought some!” – Dorothy Tameo, Nichols Guest Rooms, Seekonk, MA

“A couple who had been at the Outer Banks visiting with family came to spend a little alone time. They were our age (mid-50s); we had a lot in common and hit it off immediately. When I served them cheese and wine on the deck by the pool the first evening, they insisted we join them. Hours later, we were making plans to visit them. The morning they left, after hugs, we found a card with all their numbers and addresses and a million thanks. Seven minutes after they left us, she called. I answered, ‘Hi, whatcha doin?’; her reply, ‘Missing you!’ Nicest gift I ever got!! We email each other almost weekly.” – Teresa Bonifant, Country Villa Bed & Breakfast, Virginia Beach, VA

“I’ve had guests give me cherubs for our Heaven to Betsy room, bunny rabbits for Secret Garden, and antique hats to hang on our walls, but one guests really topped them all...

“One of our rooms is named Sherwood Forest, and in keeping with the theme, one of our guests recently carved an authentic bow and arrow for us as a gift. It’s beautifully made, in the same way they were made in Robin Hood’s day. It’s hanging proudly on the wall in Sherwood Forest and adds a very unique touch to the decor.” – Sherrie Hansen, The Blue Belle Inn, St. Ansgar, Iowa

“For the past 30 years, our car’s license plate has read ‘Puck’ from Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ where Puck’s famous line is ‘What Fools these mortals be!’

“We had wonderful guests from California, and we had discussed that play and the meaning of the line. Then we forgot about it. About two weeks after they left, we received a box; I just assumed it was something that they had inadvertently taken and were sending back.

“Imagine my surprise when I opened the box and found a framed antique cover of the magazine ‘Puck’ from 1886. The date of April 14 was exactly when they had been with us ( many, many years later of course). It still hangs in a place of honor in our home and is one of our most treasured gifts – such a thoughtful one.” – Wendy and Richard Duvall, Country Life B&B, Saratoga Springs, NY

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