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!
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!