Summer Rain Storms

30 August 2011

Recently, due to Hurricane, then Tropical Storm, Irene, Vermont has received a lot of air time on CNN, WeatherChannel and other round the clock “news” organizations. And if you watched much of it you would think all of us here in Vermont may need to pull the Ark out of the garage for the next 40 days or so. Not exactly the kind of exposure on the news that us in the travel and tourism industry like to work with. The Brass Lantern Inn as your Stowe Lodging choice is very much open and ready to welcome you.

The Green Mountain State of Vermont is overall in great shape. While there are some tragic conditions spread throughout the state (mostly in southern Vermont) we feel like we live in an oasis here in Stowe, Vermont. The extent of our damage at the Brass Lantern Inn – 1. One sunflower blown over – restaked with a bamboo pole left over in the garage and now the sunflower seems happy to be facing the sun again, 2. One wall planter/container blown off the wall and cracked, decided, or rather rationalized, that the new crack “adds some character to the container” so now back on the wall, 3. Small puddle of water inside the doorway to hot tub deck (door faces the typical wind direction), shop vacuum and dehumidifier and the situation is resolved. That is the full extent of the damage. Thank goodness and this rain helps keep our valleys and mountains green.

We very much appreciate the thoughts, concerns and prayers of many of our past guests and those yet to come. We know we “dodged a bullet” and want you all to know that we are ok, especially for our guests that are planning to be here in the next month or so and especially for our Signature Fall Foliage Season guests.

Please feel free to contact us if you still have questions, concerns or stories of how you survived Irene. We would love to post the stories on our Brass Lantern Inn Facebook page.

By the way, become a Friend of ours on Facebook, and drop us a comment on our Brass Lantern Inn Facebook Page regarding how you survived Irene OR something special regarding your own hometown and we will give you a 12% discount on a two night or more stay (offer expires 12/31, discount applies to all rooms except Roundtop Mtn. and Sugarloaf Mtn., not valid during holidays, special events or Fall Foliage). And of course in true Facebook fashion if you let your Friends know about this deal, everyone wins!

Thanks again everyone for your concerns. Beautiful day here, think I will go golfing.

So, Are You Semi-Retired?

1 August 2011

Of course we very much enjoy the opportunity to chat with our guests and learn a bit about what our guests do or have retired from back home. And as part of the verbal exchange with our guests we also enjoy the opportunity to share things about ourselves as people are interested in how our family of five landed here in Stowe from Baltimore, Maryland.

There are a few general questions we typically hear from our guests and one that will instantly bring a smile to our face is, “So, are you semi-retired?” While it is certainly and most likely a popular belief that most B&B Innkeepers are semi-retired, the truth is that this Innkeeping gig is definitely not the lifestyle of the Gentle Farmer. Honestly, it is my hope that my semi-retirement includes a bit less work (especially paperwork) than what we currently accept as part of the deal to maintain this wonderful lifestyle.

And “work” has an entirely different meaning in this “Chapter 2” phase of our lives. In my corporate days I didn’t necessarily perceive a time clock but I did have a clear sense of work time and non work time. Sunday evenings in particular were dreadful to me as my head began to think about the meetings and pending deadlines of the coming work week. Now, I get so absorbed in the everday life and process of operating this Inn that I find myself looking at the newspapers in the living room to confirm the day of the week, seriously. I think that is pretty cool. The trade off; as it has become obvious to us in our short tenure as Innkeepers, there is a profound sense of realization that there just isn’t enough time in the day to do everything you want to do. But, truthfully, isn’t that the same for most of us anyway? And all things considered I am happy to be filling my days as an Innkeeper than anything else I can dream up.

So, in my semi-retirement life plan, I would be hiking more trails, hitting more golf balls, tacking and jibbing more on my sailboat “Oh Chessie” on Lake Champlain, bicycling many more miles through our beautiful valleys of cornfield and dairy cows, skiing trails such as Nosedive and Perry Merrill at Stowe Mountain on a much more frequent basis, and snowshoeing and/or x-country skiing along the Catamount Trail right after that perfect snowfall. Essentially, semi-retirement would appear to allow me the opportunity to become completely and totally absorbed in this amazing landscape of Stowe, Vermont.

Hmmmm, semi-retirement would be a great thing here in Stowe.

Sunsets in Stowe, Vermont

19 July 2011

We are very fortunate to have some pretty amazing sunsets here in Stowe.  This past Sunday afternoon/evening, for example, Mary Anne and I attended the “Music in the Meadows” Concert Series at the Trapp Family Lodge Meadow.   What a beautiful venue to watch the day turn into night. 

With a generous glass (or two…) of Chardonnay, some Extra Sharp Cheddar Cabot Cheese, French bread with a little prosciutto, live music, in this case, from “Crooked Still” (folk/bluegrass “with a contemporary twist”) and wonderful weather, I found myself absorbed with the ever changing natural light of the background scenery and keeping only an ear on the great music.  It is amazing how quickly and dramatically the light changes the sense of depth and scale of the Sterling Mountain Range.  As any amateur photographer can easily attest, it is impossible to capture that sense with a photograph, no matter how fancy of a camera you may or may not have. Ok, and maybe that glass of Chardonnay had some effect as well…

At this concert we shared the evening with some good friends that happen to also be Innkeepers in this small New England town.  Like most people, our community of friends and neighbors  is also closely tied with our type of business and profession which in our current station in life happens to be Innkeeping.  We all have a feeling of deep appreciation for where we live and the opportunities we have at this point in our lives to participate in this lifestyle.

Last night, the sunset from our back porch was as dramatic as last night but without the live music.  Instead, we shared that moment of the sun slipping behind “the slumbering man” (Mt. Mansfield) with some wonderful guests from Boston as they played a rousing game of scrabble on a blanket stretched out on the floor.  The sun going down behind Mt. Mansfield, highlighted by streams of light through the distant thunderhead clouds, again memorable, but so very difficult to fully capture or permanently record.  Good thing we can see this event repeated many times over in a typical summer! 

Summer in Stowe, Vermont, filled with great memories….  Why not come on up to Stowe and create your own here at the Brass Lantern Inn?

Outdoor Enthusiasts Welcomed!

16 July 2011

We very much enjoy the opportunity to help our guests plan either a full day of outdoor activities or help them find the right place for dinner. Ultimately, we then get to live vicariously through our guests. Especially during this busy time of the year, we tend to be so involved with our guest relations and keeping the Inn in top shape inside and out that we have to make sure we schedule our own personal time to enjoy this great area. I mean, we moved here as we wanted to experience this area… right?

As with any business, profession or vocation that you love, you should find it easy to literally pour yourself into the day to day operations and to a great extent, blissfully lose track of time. It is very easy to do, I know from personal experience now as an Innkeeper!

So, here is how we insert some Vermont time into our day with some of our/my favorite Outdoor Pursuits -

Bicycling – the Rec. Path is just a 1/4 mile away and provides a wonderful lunch hour break. The trail is 5.5 miles one way and typically I can make that roundtrip of 11 miles or so well under an hour, unless of course I stop to take photos and get distracted by the ever changing scenery along the Path.

Hiking – there are several short hikes within minutes of our Inn – Moss Glen Falls is one of our favorites and an easy one to slip out of the Inn and enjoy.

Golf – unbelievably beautiful vistas from every hole of the Stowe Country Club. The SCC is not a fussy, high brow kind of place but one where I am likely to see a neighbor a fellow Rotarian, our own guests or get partnered with a tourist and have a great time and a good conversation over a Trapp Lager at the 19th hole. It feels more like a club that happens to be in in the country.

Sailing – ok, I have to admit, I do miss the Chesapeake Bay (our former home of 20+ years). Stowe, VT is a heck of a long way from our other favorite town, Oxford, Maryland, where we used to spend some great family time in the summer sailing our 19′ Mariner. “Oh Chessie,” though most would consider as a small sailboat (at least by Chesapeake Bay standards), is still a bit big for most of the bodies of water near us. While Lake Champlain is really only about 50 mins. away, typically it is difficult to fit this into the time schedule of a Innkeepers life. And Lake Memphramagog is just 60 mins. north along the border with Canada, that too is even more difficult to squeeze in.

As most of us inherently know, of all of thie “things” we can possess, time is probably the most precious (though I guess one could argue or question whether or not you can actually possess time). We typically do not know how much time is left in our personal account and unless you have “hit the lottery” or “have other means” we all of course have to “make a living” and consequently have to strike some realistic balance in our pursuit of happiness and surviving.

That is why it is so critically clear to this dreamer, now Innkeeper, that prior to creating this Chapter 2 in my/our life I had better find a balance in my life for the things “I have to do” and the things I truly “want to do.” And if you are really lucky, as I believe I am, by witness of being here in Stowe, Vermont, you find a way to do both. I am still challenged with that pursuit to find that balance each and every day and can’t imagine it any other way.

We look forward to helping you find your passion or perhaps retreat here in Stowe and hope you feel comfortable while here to share your Stowe experiences with us on the back porch at the end of the day. Happy Trails All. George

Innkeeping in a Stowe Vermont Lodging Business

7 July 2011

Even in our relatively short tenure as Innkeepers of the Brass Lantern Inn we have spoken to many, many guests that tell us, “you know, my husband/wife/partner/better half and I have always talked about running a Bed & Breakfast.” We realize that this lifestyle may inspire some romantic notion of a wonderful alternative to the corporate 9 to 5 work style but please note this innkeeping gig is not just about baking cookies or sharing life stories over a glass of wine with our guests. Though these are a couple of the perks.

We tell our guests, with a very sincere smile, “perhaps you would like to take the Brass Lantern Inn on a test drive.” “We would be happy to let you step in and get the experience of what it is like to own and operate a B&B” here in Stowe where there are numerous choices for owning and operating a Stowe Vermont Lodging experience.

Even our local banker, when completing the final loan approval documents, asked me this one final question “This isn’t the Bob Newhart syndrome is it?!” And if you are too young to know that reference just Google it. I’m sure the local bankers have seen these corporate type burn-outs looking for utopia here in Stowe, Vermont, many times over. Perhaps even a place like ours in the form of a romantic and historic farmhouse. And perhaps there have even been a few, or maybe, unfortunately, more than a few who never fully understood the risk of this type of business and somewhere in pursuit of the dream they lost track of reality. You have to do your homework.

And we did our homework. Among the many “due diligence” items the number one item was attending a three day seminar for “Aspiring Innkeepers,” through the B&B Team, www.bbteam.com . The setting for this seminar was at a beautiful Bed & Breakfast, the Captain Jefferds Inn, in the picturesque coastal resort town (and summer home of George Bush) Kennebunkport, Maine. The B&B Team, which at the time included Peter, Rick and Jan gave us an amazing level of personalized service from this first seminar to our initial searches of B&B’s for sale through in-depth due diligence analysis of the purchase of the Brass Lantern Inn. Completing your homework is essential. Remember what your high school teachers told you about completing your homework assignments? They were right.

Make no mistake, this isn’t a hobby or a side venture, it is a business that we have developed, work on daily to maintain and is the basis of the support our family. It is our livelihood. And it is through this business that we now have the luxury to call Stowe, Vermont our home, with a commute that requires only a walk down our hallway and the incredible opportunity to welcome guests to this beautiful area, guests that quickly become our new friends. And as you would imagine, it is the opportunity to meet incredible people from around the world that becomes the real reward of this business/lifestyle.

So, you still want to be an Innkeeper? Give us a call, we would love to chat about it and perhaps even give you a chance to take her out for a spin around the block.

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