Chapter 5 The Art of Innkeeping
Even with the seventy hour work week, I enjoy being an innkeeper. It is the most demanding but best job I have ever had. Until buying the Sugar Hill Inn I was never known as a workaholic. Being an innkeeper is more a life style then a job. For those that can totally commit to the demands, I totally recommend it. It is the total confusion between work and play that is so seductive. These are the ten reasons I love what I do.
1. We have the best guests. I meet the most interesting people from around the world. A great conversation never feels like work. Guests pick Bed & Breakfasts and Country Inns because they value the personal connection not available at lager properties. There is nothing better than at tea time, having total strangers share the tales of the day and travel tips. This is the only job that I know of where I can consistently please people 99.7%. Certainly even the best lawyer, teacher, doctor or financial planner cannot come close to those stats.
2. The inn is a happy place surrounded by natural beauty. We are a place for proposals, weddings, honeymoons, vacations, adventures, romance, daydreaming, great conversation, fine food, relaxation and luxury. There is always someone celebrating a birthday or anniversary.
3. I work with the greatest team of people. I enjoy their company and have the greatest respect for their talents and contributions to the inn.
4. I enjoy business and it is very rewarding to see a “so – so” small business grow into something really special. It starts with a vision. A vision is just a really good daydream. The next step of strategy development is like a good chess game or playing sports. The final step of implementation brings the tangible rewards.
5. I am a professtional student. I am always looking for something new to learn. To be a great innkeeper there is so much to know. I am currently studying to pass the Certified Wine Specialist Exam. As I write this, I am also reading a book about twitter marketing. My library is full of books on green construction and interior design. In the past year I have read great books about the Ritz Carlton, Four Season Hotels and the Union Square Hospitality Group.
6. The Sugar Hill inn is all about the fine art of good living. Where the simple pleasures of life are celebrated. A good wine, in the right glass paired with great company, amazing views and a leisurely environment adds up to much more than the sum of its parts. I always look forward to wine tasting appointments with distributors. I send much of my free time searching art galleries and antique shops for the inn. I also get to dine at the best restaurant in the White Mountains most nights. No, I don’t have all four courses. Is that fun or is that work? Sometimes it is hard to know when you are passionate about what you do.
7. I get to live in an area surrounded by natural beauty. I just need to look up. Mountain Views are everywhere. I get to live all year around where guest at most, can only enjoy it for a week. It is so refreshing to live in an area where you do not need to worry about locking your car or house. We have no rush hour. Even on the hottest day of the year the air is always fresh. Step away from the lights of the inn and we have the most fabulous sky of stars. From the wildflowers of early spring to the first snow of winter every season unfolds with gifts of beauty.
8. Being the breakfast chef gives me a creative outlet. I enjoy working with good ingredients, and making every dish taste as good as it looks. I strongly believe that food should be cooked to order and I want my guest to enjoy the luxury of being served. Breakfast tends to be more about comfort food then being overly gourmet. When we are full, I enjoy the challenge of sending out the food as fast as the orders come in and seeing if the servers can keep up. Also at breakfast, if there is a low between orders, I visit guests in the dining room wearing my chef’s coat. Sometimes we will talk about recipes and on other days about the best hikes to explore waterfalls and covered bridges.
9. I enjoy interior design and renovating. I can frequently be found in the design section of the Dartmouth Book store. My ideas come from trying to uncover the essence of what it means to be a New England farm house, a county cottage or mountain escape. It is not uncommon for me to lose sleep over an exciting idea. Seeing a room go from ordinary to extraordinary is very satisfying. As we renovate, I am constantly on the lookout for practical ways to make the inn greener. All new newly renovated rooms are painted with zero voc paint.
10. In the end, there are two factors that keep me going every day. The first one is celebrating our achievements. We have come so far so fast. This is not the same inn I purchased in 2006. The second factor is the challenge of knowing that there is so much more that’s needs to be done. The day I run out of ideas or lose the desire to take it to the next level is the day I sell out. I don’t foresee that happening for a very long time.