Chapter 9: The Art of Innkeeping
I have always had a vision in my head of what the Sugar Hill Inn could be. I have been fortunate to have a dedicated team of managers and employees who have understood that vision and through their talents we have achieved so much. I believe that we have reached the point in our development where formalizing these values in writing will help keep us focused. I also believe that sharing these ideas with the public will help us find those guests who share our vision.
The Sugar Hill Inn is much more then a beautiful inn with 14 attractive guest rooms with scenic views. It is the staff of the inn working together and united by a common set of core values that creates the Sugar Hill Inn experience. In 2006 I found a diamond in the rough and every day we polish the discovery. Our goal is to create the perfect romantic mountain getaway.
We understand that our guests in the real world are active and busy and often don’t always have time to enjoy all of life’s simple pleasures to the fullest. At the Sugar Hill Inn we want to make those pleasures numerous and easy. For some it might be our local farm apples, for others that we are the only lodging property in New Hampshire to have espresso machines in the rooms or having just the right single malt scotch.
Quality defines us. While others in our industry are cutting corners to offer discounts we are focused on quality. For us quality equals value. Quality is rarely a single issue but instead the careful execution of numerous details day in and day out. We understand that your time away is a precious resource and everything must be perfect. Being a romantic getaway we like to focus on plush robes, soft sheets, comfy beds and sensuous milk chocolates. Quality is also about the things you don’t see like good maintenance and housekeeping. We buy the best beds, sheets and towels we can find. As a Select Registry Inn, DiRona Restaurant, and AAA listed property we are subject to surprise inspection. We welcome the scrutiny and our quite competitiveness drives us to set our sights and then achieve top level awards in the field of Hospitality (Distinguished Restaurants of North America Achievement of Distinction in Dining, Wine Spectator award of Excellence, Best of New Hampshire, Yankee Magazine Editor’s Choice, and Open Table’s Dinner Choice Award).
There is no other profession where you can make people happy 99.8 percent of the time. We are people pleasers by nature. Unlike a big city hotel with formal airs, I like to think of it as real people serving real people. It is our policy to hire our help locally, provide year around employment and treat our staff as family. Listening is the key to good customer service. We carefully read all feedback. More importantly, we encourage our guests to speak up while visiting us. We have solutions for most issues whether large or small. Need extra muffins for your hike, your room is too hot or too cold, or your pillow is too soft. Our staff is well trained and we have instant solutions for most problems.
We celebrate our geography, history and New England traditions. We love our town and encourage everyone to explore the back roads of Sugar Hill. The White Mountains with its mountain peaks, waterfall, and covered bridges is heaven on earth. We proudly support our local artists and farmers and when possible buy products made in New England. Our farm house dates back to 1789 (the same year George Washington was elected the first President of the United States) when it was the Oakes farm. The Richardson family in the 1920s added a large addition and converted the property to a country inn. We take our responsibility seriously to preserve the property for future generations.
No stay at the Sugar Hill Inn is complete without dining with us. We strongly believe in the romance and lost art of fine dining. We have a European philosophy about dining. The table is yours for the evening. Take your time to enjoy the candlelight and cozy fire with the combination of great food, wine and conversation. Our four course menu offers a well balanced symphony of flavors and leads guests through a leisurely, romantic and artistic culinary experience. We are very fortunate to have Val Fortin as our Executive Chef. Val takes the time to do it right and is always thinking about how to take it to the next level. Everything is made from scratch using local ingredients when available.
We love art and the artists who enrich our lives with their creativity. Since buying our inn in 2006 we have been building a collection of original works of art. This is not the fastest way to fill the walls of our inn, but we would rather take the time to find original works of art then to display mass produced prints from a hospitality catalog. Original art brings the concentrated energy and creativity of the artist into the room, enhancing the guest experience. While our collection includes art from all over the North East, we take particular pride in exhibiting artists from Sugar Hill and our neighboring towns.
As innkeepers we are the set designers of memories. Country Inns are popular because they all have their own unique personality compared to the big box hotels. Our character was not created in a design studio but instead comes directly from our history, location and passions. It is our job to create those special places that encourage relaxation and romance. Every room at the inn is a unique offering and we encourage guests to study the website before booking, to find just the right room that speaks to their sense of style, comfort and value. We believe in good design and beautiful spaces. We love beautiful fabrics, tiles and natural woods. Our style is understated luxury with an emphasis on comfort. It is important to us that our decorating selections be true and compatible with our historic farm house. We believe that maintaining beautiful grounds and gardens is also about creating special spaces for our guests. The pool was positioned to capture inspiring views of Mt Lafayette and the waterfall spreads tranquility to the entire back yard. In future years we plan to increase our emphasis on landscaping. Over the last 8 years our renovations have touched all 14 rooms. We understand that keeping a historic inn fresh and beautiful is a never ending commitment.
At the Sugar Hill Inn, we do not claim to be perfect, but we are very proud that we get better every year. We achieve this by working together as a team, listening to our guests, learning new skills, investing in our facilities and staying true to our core values.