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“Bed and something called, breakfast”

22 April 2014

Our family recently had the opportunity for a two night getaway to Boston (over the Easter weekend).  Great time, love Boston; diverse cultures, deep history, a proud sense of place for Bostonians and we were blessed with wonderful weather throughout our short two and a half day stay.  We also had our first experience at a Red Sox game at Fenway Park with the home team winning the game in a clutch, bottom-of-the-ninth-inning, kind of way.  Fenway was rocking and on our first visit!

We don’t travel outside of Stowe regularly as we truly enjoy what still feels like our new career as Innkeepers in our newly adopted town of Stowe, Vermont, but this trip helped me understand how important a local, friendly concierge can be to someone who is completely foreign to the area, to feel welcomed and appreciated for making an investment in this lodging establishment, and most importantly the value of a real breakfast.

Based on our personal budget needs and the special needs of those family members travelling together, we selected a franchise hotel brand near a commuter train station just west of Boston.  The location, near a commuter train line that provided easy in and out access to Boston was a prime decision maker for us.  Overall, we received about what you would expect from a mid/upper priced franchise hotel experience.  No major flaws, but nothing really to write home about or recommend to our friends either. 

The mattresses were fine, the bed linens were fine (though it would have been nice to have an extra blanket and pillows in the closet) the level of amenities in the bathroom was fine, etc.   The through-the-wall heater/ac unit was about as noisy as you would expect from these kind of devices, though, it was very efficient and I have to admit ultimately became somewhat effective as background noise to drown out the lawn mowing that started well before 8 a.m. on our last morning there.  Ultimately, everything (with one slight issue that I will leave for a separate story) was “fine.” 

Nothing really memorable about the entire experience and this at $200/night has me wondering.

I know we weren’t staying in a “Bed & Breakfast” type of lodging and the hotel truthfully advertised a complimentary “continental breakfast” but “continental breakfast” certainly can vary from passable food to “I’ll take a cup of hot tea/coffee to go please…”  In this case, it was passable as I made due with creating a toasted plain bagel, cream cheese and sliced hard-boiled egg sandwich from that which was presented to me in a series of baskets on a cloth draped banquet table with paper plates, plastic spoon and fork  (they were out of plastic knives on our last morning).  Trying to slice the hard-boiled egg and spread the cream cheese without a knife took some creativity.

So my question is, has breakfast lost its role in our fast paced society?  Why can’t a breakfast be as enjoyable, satisfying and yes, as memorable as a dinner?  Most certainly we all can tell you our favorite place to have a special dinner, but why is it that breakfast seems to be left out in our current culinary experiences?

The meal termed “Breakfast” means just that, to break our fast.  Thoughtfully considered I think that breakfast can, and should be, the most important meal of the day.  I think we have kind of lost that notion as you see television advertisements for “breakfast bars” and oh, my goodness, “Eggo Bites” that come in a bag that you pop in the microwave oven and eat on your way to school.  These Eggo Bites even have “maple flavor.”  Mmmm, mmm good.  Really, is that what breakfast has been reduced to in our society?

And I recognize that culturally, breakfast is experienced quite differently from guest to guest in their native homeland.  We have and do happily adjust our breakfast menus to that of our guests preferences, diet and allergies.  For instance, some of our guests like something “lighter” while our outdoor enthusiasts are looking for a fresh, hearty breakfast providing fuel to keep them energized while climbing, skiing, hiking, biking, etc. and are grateful for the attention we pay to this part of their lodging experience (extra buttermilk, blueberry pancakes please?, Absolutely!).

Since Breakfast is part of our lodging signature we happen to think it is critically important that breakfast is thought of as more than just a passable means of starting your day. I love to cook, and with all humility aside, I hope my passion is carried through to our guests from the variety and consideration of each day’s menu through and including the execution and presentation onto warm china plates that are all served with a bright, happy attitude each and every morning.  I want someone to recognize this isn’t your standard diner fare breakfast here at the “Brass Lantern Inn, Bed & Breakfast.”

Is it a long signature name; “Brass Lantern Inn, Bed & Breakfast,” for a lodging establishment?  Perhaps, but if we were just Brass Lantern Inn we could easily be lumped in with those franchise hotels that have “Inn” at the end of their names and that’s not the career and/or lifestyle I was looking for when we purchased this lovely Bed and Breakfast.

So many thoughts on this recent stay on the other side of the sheets and will post more thoughts on them soon as I’m sure we need to keep Google “happy” with our posts and keep that SEO strong and fresh!

Night all,

George

Last Run of the Season

12 April 2014

This time of year is always somewhat bittersweet in Stowe, Vermont.  While I enjoy the longer days, warming temperatures, the emergence of our garden beds, and the opportunity to bring out the bikes I recognize my ski days are coming to an end and I’m not really looking forward to that last run.  I still keep the skis in the car and try to sneak in a few early morning runs when I can.  This past Thursday, 4/10, was one for the books; a bluebird day, clear skies, temps. in the mid 50’s with soft snow and a wonderful sense of solitude (just a few fortunate people on the mountain able to adjust their life schedules to fit in a ski day).  Now, also have to admit by noon the conditions got a bit like mash potato but that’s when the tailgating begins!

Now that the snow has finally all but disappeared from down here in the valley, I get to reconnect with the gardens that have been asleep under a blanket of snow since late November.  I know this may sound strange but without our winter white we now long for some color.  Yesterday, I stopped off at our local plant nursery and picked up some pansies to dress up the front entrance  with some hanging baskets as the ground is still too firm for a shovel. 

I know I will ultimately be happy to move the skis out of the vehicle soon to make room for the golf clubs and planned-for mountain bike!  These days I like to drive past the Stowe Country Club on my way to Mt. Mansfield to “check on things” and make my guess as to an opening day for the golf season here in Stowe. 

Our last run for the past couple of years, has coincided with Easter Sunrise Service at the top of Mt. Mansfield.  This year, due to the generosity of a neighbor here in town, we will actually be in Boston on Easter Sunday for a Red Sox/Orioles game!  So, last run, sometime this week, and look forward to another fabulous spring, summer and fall here at the Brass Lantern Inn in Stowe.  Come join us for an escape from the ordinary! 

Happy Spring, George

Left Turns in Stowe

2 April 2014

I love small towns on so many levels. Just one attribute of this peaceful, New England town that draws us closer to its heart ever day; left turns in Stowe, Vermont.

Moving here from a major metropolitan area of the Baltimore/Washington D.C. we were immediately struck by the courtesy and politeness of drivers with “green plates” (of course that would be Vermont). One of our frequent errands includes going to the Post Office, which, from the Brass Lantern Inn, requires a left turn off of Main Street onto Depot St. A driver with green plates, with several cars behind them, stopped in front of me, flashed their lights, and gave a nice little wave yielding the right of way.

Of course this is just one of those infectious courtesies that can be discovered in Stowe, Vermont. Like holding the door open for the next person behind, you immediately realize this is not the big city and to feel part of it your responses and actions should reflect those around you in similar regard.

Downtown Stowe is marked by the only “traffic light” in the town, a flashing red, three way, stop sign. I am consistently amazed at how efficient this system of traffic control is to our community’s needs. In fact, the nearest full red, yellow, green traffic light is a good 10 miles from here. And if there is ever even the slight discussion in town to add a light at a particularly busy crossing (“busy” being a relative term where you might have a back up of say 4 or 5 cars), you are met with some polite local response of “we like our small town feel just the way it is, thank you very much!”

So, if you are traveling through Stowe and need to make that left turn, don’t be surprised if someone flashes their lights and gives you a friendly wave. And don’t forget to pass along the courtesy. – George

“Spring” is here, well, sort of…

22 March 2014

What a winter it has been here in the north country of Vermont. And while the calendar says we are into day 3 of spring, the snow and the conditions for outdoor enthusiasts are probably the best they have been all winter. Truly!

All outdoor activities of skiing, riding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding, snowmobiling, ok, you name your favorite winter activity, is still on here in the month of March (and most likely well into April) in Stowe, Vermont.

There are signs, however, that winter is losing some grip as our recent warm sunny days, cool crisp nights are also perfect for the true spring event in Vermont; Maple Sugaring. The sap is running now that we have the temperatures swinging from below freezing overnight and well into the 30’s and 40’s during the day. Have you ever tried “sugar on snow?” It is an amazing “culinary” experience and the whole experience of how those maple sugar farmers turn maple sap into maple syrup is well worth the trip to a local sugar house/shack to see for yourself.

And preparations for spring in Stowe and here at the Brass Lantern Inn are well underway. We plan to expand our wildflower meadow out back as the 8 pounds of flower seed mix has just arrived (now just waiting for the couple of feet of snow to melt…). Building Plans are being drawn up from retired architect, George, for a new deck off the dining room. We are looking forward to offering breakfast “al fresco” this summer with Mt. Mansfield as the perfect backdrop to that setting!

We hope you had a wonderful winter and if you haven’t had your fill of winter activities or perhaps you were too busy with life and just couldn’t fit us into your calendar this past season there is still time to enjoy it. The Stowe Mountain Resort is scheduled to be open for skiing and riding until April 20th. We know, great stuff, huh?

Mid-Winter Report from Stowe, Vermont

26 January 2014

We have had quite the range of weather conditions here in Stowe so far this winter season. Starting out with several good dumps of snow in late November and early December, we were again skiing well before Thanksgiving 2013.

The season started out so promising and even with a few rainy weekends in late December, early January, our guests have certainly pulled a wonderful time out of each stay.

As one guest told us, “It’s never the wrong weather, only the wrong clothes.” We think that is a great motto to consider in northern Vermont, especially during the transition periods of each of our wonderful four seasons. With so many outdoor activities to choose from and some amazing scenery as your backdrop, and while we do everything we can to make your room a sanctuary, we recommend getting out and experiencing our unique location.

Downhill skiing at Stowe Mountain Resort has clearly benefited from the Mountain’s $8.5 million investment over the past two years in snowmaking equipment. We have experienced some wonderful ski days, everything from spring-like conditions to cover-all-exposed-skin-surfaces types of conditions and can report a great time was had by all with each trip to the mountain.

The Stowe Arena, our new, fully enclosed ice arena (that will also be used for “turf” sports in spring/summer) opened in December to rave reviews (locals and visitors). Hockey is huge here in northern Vermont and while you are sure to see lots of this activity in the new arena there are daily open ice skating sessions each day to allow our guests to get out on the ice.

With all that there is to do in Stowe, in any of our seasons, it’s important to also remember the benefits of Rest and Relaxation! Remember we do our best to provide that warm, inviting home away from home atmosphere in your guest room and our common areas. We understand if you just want to curl up in front of the fireplace and read a book, take a nap, and just relax. We get it!

Oh, and don’t forget to follow/Like us on the Brass Lantern Inn, Bed and Breakfast Facebook page as we keep you updated on the seasonal scenery and any last minute specials and packages.

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