Posts Tagged ‘bed and breakfast’
I was so pleased when a lovely German couple came to the door, without a reservation, and asked if we had a room for the night. I took them up to our Brass Room and they said “this is it, this is how we imagined New England”. I was so proud that they saw our property as quintessential. The next day a sweet Swiss couple came to the door and asked if we had a room. I showed them our Chart Room and they said “ahhhh, this feels like home”. The next morning the Swiss couple said the Chart room was the most comfortable room they have had on their trip so far. The following day a Chinese family rang the doorbell, also with out a reservation, and I rented them our Quarterdeck room. The family fit comfortably and appreciated the tea and cookies upon arrival. The family spoke very little English, but the international language of smiles conveyed to me that they too were happy with their New England Bed and Breakfast.
All three guests were stopping over in Camden on their way to Mount Dessert Island. They were on their way to Acadia National Park. Sometimes international guests look at maps of New England and do not realize how big Maine is. That is why I am so glad that our Inn has such a prominent place in the downtown of Camden. Once guests drive 2 hours from Portland, or 4 hours from Boston, they get to Camden and realize how charming it is. The boutique shops and the magnificent harbor encourages the weary travelers to stop and stay the night. The guests can check-in and walk right back down to the town and enjoy a Maine dinner consisting of either lobster, Aldermere farm hamburgers, local fish or head to Long Grain or Fresh for a vegetarian, vegan or Gluten Free option dinner.
Nine years ago, when I purchased the Bed and Breakfast, I did not realize the important part I would play in international relations. It is important for Americans to be proud of their heritage, maintain the charm of historic New England Bed and Breakfasts and to be a kind face to travelers from other countries. We have to let our guests enjoy our country and to return home with the lasting impression that America is gracious.
The days are much shorter here in the winter in Maine. The mornings are dark and often very cold. I feel like Santa Clause each morning when I wake at 6:00am to set the breakfast tables, put on the coffee, start the tea water, turn up the heat, start the fireplace and have my own cup of coffee. I tip toe around the house to make sure I do not make any noise. The house is very quiet and warm. This morning. I took a picture of our Christmas tree that I have in the dining room. My daughter strung some cranberries and made moose ornaments. Our guests will slowely wake and they will be treated with a lovely breakfast. Every day should be like this! The Bed and Breakfast lifestyle is pretty amazing.
Melt vegan butter in pot, stir in rice until it is all coated in oil. Add the liquids and put a lid on the pot and bring to a simmer. Simmer until all the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Be careful not to let it stick. You may stir it if you are worried about that but remember to put the lid back on to keep the moisture in.
Portion the rice while hot, add a little warm coconut milk, cinnamon and maple syrup to taste.
For non-vegan recipe substitute organic butter salted or unsalted for the vegan buttery sticks.
I walked into a friend’s store the other day and everything was different. She had changed the aisles and got rid of a lot of products. I asked if she was going out of business, she said she was getting rid of the things that did not sell and “re-imagining” the store. She definitely was not going out of business but re-inventing her business. This was very refreshing. Ever since that experience with my friend, I have been looking at my own “store”, my website and my bed and breakfast. Our website was re-designed this winter. I contacted a web designer last fall and was quoted twenty thousand dollars for a redesign. Needless to say, we decided to do it ourselves. I am pleased with the way it came out. Jesse and I are constantly learning new things. 10 years ago I never would have guessed Jesse and I could write computer code. It is amazing what you learn when you are a small business owner.
Another re-invention, our menu…
Our guests are always a source of inspiration to us. More and more we are hosting vegans for breakfast. Each year we see changes in dietary habits and we have always been able to accommodate our guests. First it was diabetics, then gluten-free, peanut-free, then vegetarians, now vegans. I am waiting for someone to say they are on the raw diet. Recently a guest wrote on their reservation that both he and his wife were vegans and hoped that we could accommodate them. The first morning of their stay I handed them a menu and said, I understand you have restrictions, but we can accommodate you with these options. As I was saying it I realized that it was not the guest that was restricted, it was my menu that was restricted. From that moment on I have seen food in a new way. It is very easy to convert most breakfast items into a vegan, and also a gluten-free option. I investigated new ingredients and we still have almost the same menu but there is a little (V) next to the items that we can make Vegan.
I am so proud of myself for looking at things a little different this year at the Bed and Breakfast. I am 38, been doing this for 7 years now and still willing to re-imagine this business each year. I hope you will like the new things happening at Windward House.
Jesse says we should finally unpack our bags. We moved here to Camden Maine 5 years ago from NY. I was in my early 30’s and none of my children were in school yet. Everyday was a surprise in this new state. Things are definately different here in Maine. My kids are “growing up Maine”. They know things about hiking, sailing, hockey, & hunting. They are also watching their parents try to make a living selling rooms in an historic home. They see us get up every morning and prep for breakfast. They watch us interact with guests. They are learning alot, whether they know it or not. After 5 years we finally feel like we are home in this 1854 house.
Come January we will be doing some renovations to the Inn, but also renovating the owners quarters to make it more warm and comfortable for us and the kids. Most Bed and Breakfasts use every square inch for the guests, to generate revenue. Some innkeepers live in the attic or the basement. We are lucky, when we found windward house, the owners’ quarters consists of a large part the house. We have 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. The former owners however did not focus on making the owners’ quarters warm and comfortable, and that is the challenge Jesse and I will go about tackeling this winter.
But, not to neglect our guests for the next season, we are making improvements to our guest rooms also. We are tiling a bathroom in Windrose, adding a beautiful accent wall of wood in Coastal Garden and extending the bathroom wall in Quarterdeck. We will be able to offer our guests two more King sized bed options and one more two twin bed options, and the King bed in Chart should look spectacular with posts and a canopy. All great things to make the guest rooms even more comfortable. We will be the only Bed & Breakfast in Camden Maine that has 3 ground floor rooms with King sized beds. We are also finding more ways to be green by bringing lines of amentities that are environmentally and socially good.
We are excited and nervous about all the new things we are trying to do. The economy, as everyone knows is still giving people the jitters, but in a sense it makes a Maine vacation, and our rates, which haven’t gone up, but have gone down in the last five years, a real great vacation or weekend getaway or Camden Conference or PopTech or Maine Coast Fall Leaf Peeping good deal! And with more King beds, there’s more room to stretch out.
So we have many reasons to be optimistic and thanks to our guests, and providence we keep moving forward. We hope you will come to visit in the spring and summer to see our improvements and enjoy Camden Maine the way we do. There will be no price increases in 2011, just more added value. Happy Holidays and see you in the New Year.