What's it all about?

This blog is one Innkeepers opinion. Over time I'll try to explore the differences between a B&B and a hotel/motel/resort as well as differences among B&Bs. Why we do what we do and what the trade-offs are.
You can agree, disagree or just sit back and enjoy my ramblings. If you have questions or opinions of your own, let me know and I'll attempt to give a fair and impartial reply - I may even address the topic in another blog.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Pace's Ponderings - Fall

Woof Woof!
  Me again, Pace'! My master is in MN, visiting his grandson Matty.  You'll remember him from my last posting.  Well he is getting that 2nd cochlear implant this Thursday (9/20) and Don's there to cheer him on and lend some support to Jeff (Matty's dad).  We pray that all will go well - he's in the hands of one of the best surgeons doing this work (and it shows in his bedside manner, I'm told).

  But it's Fall in MN and Don has traveled up to Lake Superior's North Shore to take in the early fall colors.  They're not prime just yet but the North Shore is a great place to visit Spring, Summer or Fall (not Winter so much)!  Fall is a great time to visit most places, it seems.

  In MN, as in Colorado (where my home, the Old Town GuestHouse, is) it's 'Shoulder season', the time between peak Summer (or Tourist) season and the much slower Winter (aka Off) season.
  What's so good about Shoulder seasons, you ask?
     - The weather is still wonderful - often better than during the hot summer months (or the cold winter months if you're not a skier.)
     - No (few) families with children - they have returned to home and school.
     - Uncrowded attractions - most remain open limiting hours as summer staff dries up, but open at the best times of the day.
     - Room rates take the first dip - at least in the B&B/Small hotel area.  Occupancies are down and rooms need to be filled while the guests are still coming.  Look for specials, especially mid-week.
     - The locally grown seasonal produce is outstanding - everything is fresh from the farm.  Farmers markets are in full swing and the harvest is always bountiful.  In Colorado look for Peaches and Apples from Palisade, CO, Melons from Rocky Ford, and Hatch chilis fresh roasted while you wait.  At our Inn, and most other local B&Bs we buy local and use the freshest produce we can find - you can tell by the taste.

  OK, I'm starting to get hungry and they don't even feed me table scraps.  Come and visit, take me for a walk in the woods, bring a jacket but layer up because it can still be rather warm in the sunshine - and there's plenty of that.

Gotta go and 'water the plants' - wink, wink


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Pace's Ponderings - Service Animals

Woof Woof:  Hi, I'm Pace',
Along The Crag's trail

   That's me hiking The Crag's trail up the Western side of Pikes Peak with Matty (Shirley & Don's grandson).  It was a couple of summers ago and Matty has grown a bunch since then.  He's got a cochlear implant now and soon to get the 2nd one.  He signs (ASL), reads lips, talks all the time, hears almost perfectly and is, in every way, a typical 5 year old.  Disability?  What disability!?!  We should all have the abilities this kid has.

  Anyway, speaking of disabilities.  We had our first Service Animal stay with us last week-end.  A cute (well, not as cute as me) puppy name Penny.  It was a challenge for an old dog like me but I handled it pretty well if I do say so myself.  You see, Service Animals are the only exception to the GuestHouse's no pet policy.  By statute, if your place is handicap accessible you have to accommodate Service Animals as well.  The wording is loose and there's room for interpretation but Don & Shirley believe it would be unkind (and inhospitable) to turn away a person who needs, and benefits from, a highly trained Service Animal.  Penny was a great guest, never barked and didn't soil the room.  I guess I'm OK with Service Animals after all.

  Well, other than that, and some guests with food allergies (gluten and dairy), it's been a quiet time at the GuestHouse.  The summer has returned to normal, warm days, cool nights and the occasional afternoon shower - I'm lovin' it!

Woof!  Bye For Now!


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Pace's Ponderings - pet policies

Woof, Woof,
  Translation: Hi, I'm Pace'
Me in Vermijo Park.
  Let me introduce myself!  I'm the house dog here at the Old Town GuestHouse.  House dogs don't have much to do other than lay around and look cute (I'm good at that) so my friend Kim Abels suggested I write a BLOG about things that go on here at the GuestHouse.
  So I was sitting there in my favorite park (just down the street), overlooking Fountain Creek and the new Midland Trail extension, wondering what to say.   HMMMMMM!

  OK, how about pet policies!?

  I'm a pet - duh, and Don and Shirley (well actually EVERYONE) loves me.  Maybe you have a pet too!  I hope you do and I hope you love your pet as much as I'm loved.  As it turns out, Don & Shirley don't take me on their trips, I'm left behind to do my house dog thing, just work, work, work.  But the truth is I like it that way.  I'm safe at home, plenty of food, plenty of company, I sleep in my own bed, take walks in my favorite park and avoid the stress of long car rides or, worse still, being caged up in an airplane going someplace I don't care much to see anyway.

  But maybe you like/need/want to take your pet along.  There are, I'm sure, any number of valid reasons why you might do this.  What you'll face at most hotels, almost all B&B's and even at Aunt Martha's house are 'policies'.  Google "pet policies for hotels" and you'll see an endless list of links to an endless array of 'policies'.  Large hotels are the most lenient (they can reserve a couple of rooms at the far end of the hall for guests with pets).  Cheaper hotels/motels are pretty lenient too, you can imagine why.  Small upscale Inns and B&B's have the toughest 'policies'.  Here's why:

  Allergies:  Pet dander is one of the most common allergies and one of the hardest to control and clean up.

  'Accidents':  Most Inns are not carpeted and furnished with industrial products - often the furniture is antique or 'one-of-a-kind', even throw rugs may have been hand picked to match the room's decor.

  Ambiance:  The other guests expect a quiet, relaxing, perhaps romantic experience.

  House Pets:  Yes, I'm the bad guy here.  I was here first.  This is my home, I'm trained to behave according to the rules.  I have a place to go if I behave improperly.

  The GuestHouse does not allow pets but they will make reservations at a near-by kennel (of which I have approved).  Inns that do allow pets often provide on-site kenneling of some sort (check first) and most always charge a 'clean up' fee and possibly a rather large damage deposit (refundable, all or in part).

  Remember:  Just because an Inn is not "pet-friendly" doesn't mean the owners are pet unfriendly.

  Well I hope this helps!

  Bye for now!  "Woof"


Monday, November 8, 2010

Greening the Inn

  The concept of a 'green' Inn is an interesting one.  As with most things the big boys have the advantage and usually get all the press.  If Hilton installs T-8 fluorescent lights in the lobby of every hotel, it's news - just because of the sheer magnitude of the Hilton chain.  But what can the little guy do?  We don't own 1000 or more properties (or even a 1000 rooms) but we can and do make a difference.
  Here's what's been done at our place, the Old Town GuestHouse in Colorado Springs.  No one item is outstanding but the aggregate, we think, is significant:
  - The Inn was built (1997) using the best insulating materials and techniques available.  Walls are thicker and window exposures are West and South.  We also use high-efficiency double insulated glass window panes.
  - Our 8 lovely rooms all have individual Heat/AC, reducing the need to manage temperatures in unused space.
  - We have 8 gas fireplaces providing the ambiance our discriminating clientele want without the energy loss of conventional wood burning chimneys and flues.  These fireplaces also provide an energy efficient source of supplemental heat on really cold nights.
  - Our hot water system is oversized, gas fired and well insulated, of course, but we also employ a constant hot water circulation system throughout the guest rooms.  This system not only provides nearly instant hot water - even on the third floor - but it eliminates the need to run a few gallons of water down the drain waiting for the hot water to arrive.
  - Lighting, where possible, is either low-voltage (gift shop cabinets, accent lighting) or fluorescent (security lighting, non-dimmable fixtures).  Where possible we employ motion sensors to turn lights on and off automatically.  Dimmable fluorescents are prohibitively expensive but will be introduced to the Inn as soon as practical.  In the meantime, wherever possible we have removed our dimmer switches and deployed fluorescent lights.
  - Laundry, of course, follows all of the now traditional cost, energy and water saving measures.  It's done in-house, and only when dictated by use or direct guest requirement.  Guests may request fresh linens daily but are encouraged to re-use twoels that are still servicable - like they would at home.
  - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - doesn't everyone?  Well, apparently not in Colorado Springs.  Here there is no curbside pickup and no bottle recycling whatever.  At the Inn, therefore, we have adopted our own recycling procedures.  Naturally, wherever possible, we Reduce using less (our new high-efficiency clothes washer is an example) and we Reuse (glass & plastic containers, soap & lotion dispensers as well as real linens, dishes and tableware).  We buy in bulk, wherever practical, saving on cost for sure but also saving on redundant packaging and requiring fewer trips to the store.
  We have collection bins for cardboard, plastic and metal, carting it all off, ourselves, to the local recycling plant whenever another errand takes us to the area.  We collect all non-reusable glass and bring it to a Denver recycling facility periodically (they DO recycle glass there).  Newspaper and magazines go to our flower vendor (the Colorado Correctional Institute) to be used as mulch.  These efforts have reduced our trash output by over 50%.
   - Food products are more difficult (we can't reuse anything that's been served to a guest) but there are a couple of things we can and we do.  We manage portions by consulting with our guests as to their dietary concerns.  We allow our guests to opt out of breakfast altogether or eat a lighter continental style meal.  Our evening reception is served sparingly, with frequent replenishment, guaranteeing freshness but limiting the amount of food thrown away at the end of the day.
  AND we compost!  With the help of our employees, and our own small garden, we are able to dispose of most of our food waste (meat excepted) without running our garbage disposal (almost never used) or filling up our trash receptacle.  We end up with beautiful healthy gardens and we have saved a bit more energy and waste processing.
  - Future projects include more fluorescent and, hopefully, solar panels.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Why choose a Bed & Breakfast?

Have you ever stayed at a B&B?  If not, why not?  Let me know your reasons!

  Bed & Breakfasts are a growing (and changing) segment of the overall lodging marketplace.  We offer a unique and interesting alternative to your run-of-the-mill Hilton or Ramada Inn or Travelodge.  Over the course of this BLOG series I'll explore some of those differences, also differences between B&Bs (we come in all shapes and sizes), and ways in which the 'industry' is changing to address the needs of today's traveling public.  So let's begin!

  Question:  "Both Bed & Breakfast hotels as well as several motel chains offer free breakfast. Then how are these two types of lodging different?"

  Answer: It's not the Breakfast that makes the difference - even tho there's no comparison between a freshly hand-made three-course gourmet breakfast using local ingredients and served at it's perfect temperature and a self-serve pile of scrambled eggs that started in a box and have been sitting on a hotplate for a few hours.

  So why stay at a B&B?

  People stay at B&Bs for all sorts of reasons but mostly because we are unique.  Each Inn, GuestHouse, Lodge, Castle, Estate and Residence is 'one-of-a-kind'.  We are unique on every level, behind every door and down every corridor - here's are a few of the things that make each of us stand out.
  Location:  Remote get-a-way places, quiet side-street addresses, homes that are off the freeeway but close to the action, mountain or lake-side retreats, farmhouses and penthouses, even houseboats are numbered among the B&B community.
  Ambiance: Contemporary, Old Victorian, Country, Sea-side, Mansion, Mountain Cabin or Tree House - we're all different. 
  Amenities: Fireplaces, Hot Tubs, Feather Beds, Antique Furnishings, Large screen TV's, Balconies, Internet Access and on and on...
  Service: Owner (or resident Innkeeper) operated guarantees personal service beyond expectations.  From the greeting at the door, to advise on places to eat or things to do, to a well-stocked butler's pantry, to personal knowledge of the surrounding area, to no-hassle Check-In and Check-Out our first and foremost concern is to be of service to our guests.  After all you'll be sharing our home, it's the least we can do.
  Opportunities: Many B&B's offer Cooking Lessons, Mystery Dinners, Romantic Get-a-Way packages, Theatre tickets, Limo service, Pottery or Knitting or Quilting Classes, Live Music, Hiking from the front door.  All B&B's offer respect for our guest's needs for privacy and none-of-the-above.
  Price: Factor in; Full plated breakfasts, evening wine/beer receptions or warm cookies in your room, personal service, pillow mints, 24x7 coffee service, unique surroundings and concierge services; it all adds up to Value for Dollar!
  Hospitality:  For all the differences HOSPITALITY stands out as the one most-common hallmark of a Bed & Breakfast.  Hospitality like you will find no where else. Hospitality designed to make you feel at home.  Hospitality that is non-intrusive but always evident.  Where do you find that at your neighborhood Motel?

  Check back in every now and then and I'll elaborate on these and more.  Drop me a note, let me know your experience, good or bad, as conscientious Innkeepers we learn from our guests every day, what we're doing right, what we can improve on and, just as often, what we haven't ever thought of.