Of the many rewards of this adventure of being Owners and Innkeepers of the Brass Lantern Inn here in Stowe, Vermont, one of the most special to us is the opportunity to welcome back guests, rather, friends.
We recognize that part of the experience of staying in an intimately scaled Bed & Breakfast such as ours is the sense of place that is only available in this unique style of lodging. In our search for a lodging business we were continually attracted to those B&B’s that were in the 8 to 12 guest room size. With our 9 guest rooms, and, both of us directly involved in the day to day operations of this Inn, we then have the reward of meeting and hosting so many wonderful guests that when they can, and in every way, return as our friends.
Just this past Memorial Day Weekend I was able to slip out of the Inn (thank you Mary Anne!) and go mountain biking with a friend who has stayed here multiple times over the past 7-1/2 years of our tenure here. And due to the generous offer of another returning friend, I have had the chance to drive a Ford Mustang, “Bullitt,” created in similar style to the 1968 Mustang GT and movie of the same name, starring Steve McQueen. Remember those car chase scenes through the streets of San Francisco? Ok, in my little tour through the back country roads of Vermont, I kept all four wheels on the ground (as we of course want our friends to return…). It was just so much fun getting behind the wheel of 300 horses.
Through the various stays of our friends, we catch up with guests who have become engaged, married, are expecting their first child, are taking their first trip away from the kids, visiting their kids for Parent’s Weekend at one of the local colleges and universities, and/or, just returning in search of a peaceful retreat. We continue to share book recommendations with our friends both while here during their stay and through e-mail, exchange holiday cards, etc. We have “regulars” affectionately regarded as “Inn-mates” but always, always recognized as Friends.
As those who have stayed here or other small lodging properties can most likely attest, the social component of interacting with the Innkeepers, staff and other guests is just one of the things that make a stay at a B&B a positively memorable stay. We recognize, very directly, the gift of each guest who stays here and for those who return whether only once or regularly of each friend that through their direct support of our business we are permitted the “pinch-me-to-make-this-real” kind of lifestyle.
“Arrive as guests, depart as Friends” – the photo at the top of this post, is a custom designed and created tray by one of our Friends!
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.