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September 2007

Our Members Speak Out

Mountain Thyme Bed & Breakfast Inn, Jessieville, AR

Question for October: Why did you take the plunge into innkeeping? Inspired by an inn where you stayed? Enjoyed a financial windfall? A life-changing event?

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

You were asked: Buying an inn doesn't make you an innkeeper - it takes time. When did you know you were really an innkeeper?

“I knew I was really an innkeeper when:

  • Everything I requested for Christmas, birthdays or anniversaries were for things I could put in my cottages.

  • I could control my hypertension when my housekeeper would call in sick for the umpteenth time in a month. (I learned that scrubbing toilets and chasing hairs in a shower stall, while in a rage, can be very therapeutic.) This also aided greatly in my skill for placing ads for new housekeepers.

  • While dining out, I found myself cleaning off the tables meticulously when we were through dining. Not a crumb, not a smudge was left. My family is always mortified. If my husband didn't put his foot down, I would probably ask for a carpet sweeper for under our table.

  • I found myself getting really excited about a new ‘revolutionary’ mop or cleaning product on the market.

  • My Christmas card list had more guests on it than friends and family.

  • I found that I had more business cards in my billfold than pictures of my children and grandson.

  • I would get up a couple of hours earlier than I needed to just to be alone. No phones, no guests needing anything and my only chance during the day to really have some ‘me’ time.

  • And last but not least, hearing from our far-flung relatives for the first time in years and years. Extended and distantly related DNA-sharers that hadn't been in touch forever, suddenly starting flooding our phone lines. However, I really started to believe I might be a serious owner of a B&B when I let them know they were welcome and then proceeded to quote our rates. I did offer a discount for midweek stays. In the beginning, I took their long pause on the other end of the phone as astounded gratitude for being offered a discount. But that was before I really, really knew I was a serious innkeeper. To date, not one of them has visited, and to the best of my knowledge, not one of them has passed on to that great golden B&B in the sky. I just hope St. Peter doesn't quote them any rates when their time does come.”

– Kate Wentworth, 2 Wee Cottages B&B, Fredericksburg, TX

“When I really, really know I am an innkeeper is when I am reading the loving and revealing notes left me by my guests who have been touched.” – Greta Zeit, Backyard Garden Oasis B&B, Middletown, CA 

“Imagine that upon returning from a relaxing overnight romantic night out to recharge your batteries, you find that the house-full of 16 women have just spent one of the hottest days of the summer at the botanical gardens and are very hot, tired and cranky … and that two of your three A/C units blow … and that all 16 women are trying to take a cold shower at the same time so the water pressure drops to nothing … and one frustrated woman pulls so hard on the shower handle that it comes off in her hand ... and that amidst the turmoil your cat manages to get into the guest area, runs for the guest rooms and lodges himself under the bed of the one person who is allergic to cats.

“You really know you are an innkeeper when you can offer a wry grin to your spouse and say ‘Welcome home, honey’ as you each head off to address one of catastrophes.” – Rhonda Hicks, Mountain Thyme Bed & Breakfast Inn, Jessieville, AR

“We were serving one of our very first breakfasts to an older couple from the east coast via England and Germany who were ‘avid B&Bers,’ and he had a dairy-free diet. It made us nervous because we knew we were going to be held to high expectations.

“When they checked in, they were very impressed with the room, expecting it to be much smaller than it was, and when we asked them about food restrictions her comment was, ‘He doesn't eat dairy, so just cook him some bacon and eggs; that’s what I do.’

“Normally we do a three-course gourmet breakfast, and I was not about to serve someone bacon and eggs! Luckily we live in an area that has a lot of vegetarian and vegan people, so I went to my local resources and found a recipe for vegan scones (no dairy), roasted pineapple with rosemary and honey, and for the main course potato pancakes, applesauce and sausages. He loved it!

“During breakfast they asked us questions about the area and the house and how long we have been here. Nathan told her about two weeks. She asked, ‘So where was your first B&B?’ Nathan smiled and said, ‘Right here.’ They really couldn't believe that it was our first B&B and that we had only been innkeepers for a few weeks. It was a great compliment and boost for our confidence that we were doing the right things.

“They enjoyed their stay with us and have come back since then, but when they were checking out she said, ‘The only problem is that now he will expect me to cook something other than bacon and eggs!’“ – Nathan & Casey Allan, Swantown Inn Bed & Breakfast, Olympia, WA

“A few years after we opened, I checked in a guest who was visiting her aunt and uncle in route to Minneapolis. Her relatives had made the reservation and paid for the room; all I had on file for her was her name and phone number. Our conversation as I showed her to her room was brief, as she was rushing to meet her relatives for dinner. I didn't even find out where she was from.

“In the morning, she came down to breakfast and spoke with tears in her eyes as she told me that she had slept through the night for the first time in over a month, that in fact, it was the first time in weeks she had slept for more than a couple of hours. She was from Oklahoma City and had lost several friends and loved ones in the terrible bombing of the Federal Building just weeks before. She said it was the first time since the tragedy that she had felt secure and at peace enough to really sleep. Through her tears, she gave God credit for leading her to the Blue Belle Inn, for knowing exactly what she needed on that particular night, and thanked me for providing her with a safe haven during a very sorrowful, tumultuous time in her life.

“Knowing that I had made a small, but very significant difference in someone's life really, truly made me feel like an innkeeper. Since then, I have always had a sense that what we do as innkeepers -- all the labor, and all the love – has a purpose -- sometimes mundane, and sometimes divine.” – Sherrie C. Hansen, The Blue Belle Inn Bed and Breakfast, Saint Ansgar, IA

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