Friday, February 20, 2009

I Get by with a little Help from my Friends!

Looking back on the past 18 months of innkeeping, I can't help but wonder about all the little (and not so little) things that have helped us get where we are. We're #3 on the current Trip Advisor listing for popular B&B's in Lancaster; we're doing pretty well with occupancy while keeping up with some much-needed renovations; reviews also look good on I Love Inns and I usually fall into bed at night quite satisfied with the accomplishments of the day.

Yet there's more to innkeeping than all positive reviews, the improvement projects and the guests. Yes, it's true that I wouldn't be an innkeeper with out an inn or without guests (who wouldn't come if the reviews weren't good). One of the most important 'little things' is my association with other innkeepers - near and far. Just a couple of months after we took over the B&B, we were invited by some neighborly innkeepers to join the local bed and breakfast association. We were already members of PAII, but had learned that Pennsylvania does not have a state association specifically for bed & breakfasts.

I cannot tell you how vaulable the association with these local, fellow innkeepers has been! They're a wonderful group of people. Each has his or her special gifts and talents; each property is unique in its own way; each inn and innkeeper has something valuable to offer. If you were in a room with these people, someone would have to tell you that they were competitors and sometimes I think they forget that they are. The cooperation, for the most part (well, we all have our opinions!), is second to none. In fact, right now we're working on a sort of round-table discussion of sorts to brainstorm ideas for helping each other out given the current economic condidtions, i.e. determining what special skills and talents each of us has that might be of some assistance to another. For instance, we have a tile saw that we purchased last year in anticipation of renovating our bathrooms. Bob is pretty adept at using it. So, we would offer our talents and tools to help someone else out who needs a small repair.

Our association organizes all kinds of opportunities for fellowship and continuing education. We have retreats, dinners and let's not forget our monthly meeting! Any excuse to have potluck! We've developed close friendships with several other innkeepers. As I mentioned previously, we're new to this game and it's only through my association with these other innkeepers that I've learned of some of the other wonderful things that have taken place in the association. There was an innkeeper undergoing treatment for cancer. Well, the others stepped up and provided breakfasts so that the ill innkeeper did not have to close her doors! When one member experienced the death of a close family member, the association sent flowers. Other examples include get well cards; congratulation kudos; and two of our members were even nominated by the rest of the group for awards given out by our local visitor's bureau. There was no one who sulked that they themselves weren't nominated or recognized, but everyone gathered round our awarded fellow members to share in their joy!

So, thank you, Authentic Bed & Breakfasts of Lancaster County! We consider ourselves very fortunate and blessed to be a part of the family!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

What's Goin' On?

So, here we are in the 'middle' of winter. According to that famous Pennsylvania groundhog, what's-his-name, we've got 6 more weeks of winter. blah! That puts us well into March before we have any hope of thawing out. Personally, I'm sick of winter and being cold; tired of snow boots, hats, gloves and ear muffs; grown weary of getting shocked every time I get out of my car.

However, there are some redeeming qualities to the winter months for those of us who live in, and those of you who visit, Lancaster County. Because there are fewer tourists, we can take advantage of less traffic, more open and available seating at restaurants and shows, and a generally slower pace of life than we experience from June through October.
A couple of weeks ago, we were finally able to go to one of the new restaurants in town that we've been wanting to experience. Fenz Restaurant has a very hip decor and fantastic food. Entrees range from $12- 28 and there are plenty of wonderful appetizers to choose from as well as an ample (and reasonably priced) wine list. This place opened this past fall and my guess is that come summer, you'll need reservations at least a week in advance.

Another Lancaster offering that we've been able to sample during the winter is the Rainbow Dinner Theatre. This is not someplace you go to for the cuisine, as it is pretty much a run-of-the-mill, feed the masses buffet. The talent, on the other hand, is something NOT to be missed! The producers have done well and keep their audience in mind regarding content of the shows as well as length and other physical attributes of the stage. There's no bad seat in the house.

Next weekend, of course, is Valentine's Day. Today I did a little checking to see which of the restaurants to which we commonly refer guests, still had reservations available. I was surprised to find that most places are almost completely booked for Saturday and both Friday and Sunday are filling up fast as well. Did someone say there's a recession going on? Looks like there are many people who are refusing to participate.
While my schedule of bed and breakfast guests is still somewhat light, I've made a list of Lancaster County offerings that I want to take advantage of. They include - Herr's Snack Factory Tour, Sturgis Pretzel Bakery, a Ghost Tour, Lancaster Newspapers Newseum, the Lancaster Quilt & Textile Museum, Susquehanna Glass Factory, the Ephrata Cloister, President James Buchanan's Wheatland , and the Conestoga Area Historical Society. We've been here 18 months and I've still got so much to get out there and see!!

Of course, we've always got room for you, whether you want to enjoy Lancaster County during the cooler winter and spring months (don't forget, Mud Sales are going on!) or if you want to wait a while until the daffodils, tulips and iris start blooming. We hope you'll join us soon.