Guide When Researching Bed and Breakfasts

Let me start by saying that I design websites for bed and breakfast providers. I have been inside many establishments, photographed them from all angles, sampled the food, experienced the difficulty of finding them if they are off the beaten track and spent time with their owners.

Sometimes I’ve felt like The Hotel Inspector. Sometimes I’ve buttoned my lip and said nothing, sometimes I’ve politely voiced my concerns. If I’ve spotted something amiss it’s a pretty certain bet that guests will too and will be only too keen to say so on Trip Advisor or social media.

There’s a clue in that last sentence if you are researching Bed and Breakfast providers. Look them up on Trip Advisor. What experiences have previous guests had?

Were the owners friendly and helpful, or did they act like they didn’t want guests in their house?

Were the rooms and facilities clean and tidy? Was the location peaceful or were you looking onto a main road and a building site? Was the breakfast freshly cooked and generous?

Trip Advisor will tell you all this and more.

Take a look at how owners respond to negative comments. Remember, disgruntled guests and those who have to complain about the smallest thing are the ones most likely to post. Did their complaints seem valid and how did the owner respond?

I always tell my website clients that bed and breakfast customers shop with their eyes. Photos, photos, photos. Guests want to see what the place they are coming to looks like. What the rooms look like, what the shower rooms look like, what the view from their window will be, what the food looks like.

If those photos aren’t on a provider’s website, or they are grainy and out of focus, ask yourself why that might be? If the website hasn’t been updated in years, might that tell you something.

In general, you get what you pay for. A B&B that costs £45 a night for 2 people probably won’t be as smart or as spacious as one that charges £145 a night. Lower pricing doesn’t have to mean that rooms are dirty and facilities don’t work.

Look to see if the room(s) you are booking have their own en-suite facilities or have shared facilities. There seems to be an increasing trend in the UK for a roll top bath to be placed in the bedroom. If you are young and in love, you may be very happy to bathe together or to have your partner watching. But would you be so keen if you are two friends using the room as a twin room? Or parent and child sharing a room?

If you have pets – check that dogs are welcome. If in doubt, phone the owners and ask.

If you have young children, check that the B&B is child friendly. You don’t want to find that the establishment doesn’t accept children and have your holiday ruined. Respect those that don’t accept children – they may have had a bad experience, they may have elderly owners, they may specifically run a child free establishment.

Look to see if breakfast is included in the price. Some establishments will offer a “room only” rate. This may be what you want if you are staying just one night and have an early start. Or maybe you are one of those people that simply doesn’t eat breakfast.

Make sure you know what size the bed is. For some couples this isn’t an issue, but if one or both of you is tall, or a little on the wide side, you may prefer a larger size double bed – king or super king size.

Check what facilities are offered in the bathroom. Some will have a bath with over bath shower. If you have mobility issues you may prefer a separate, walk-in shower. Make sure you read the owner’s description and if in doubt, phone or email to check.

If you are a wheelchair user, or have another disability, again read the description carefully and if in doubt, contact the owner to ensure the establishment meets your needs.

Most B&Bs are happy to cater to special dietary requirements. Not telling the owner your special requirements until you sit down to breakfast leads to embarrassment. Most owners will want to meet your needs and will feel upset and embarrassed if they can’t – advance notice ensures that the food your require will be available when you want it.

Check the location of the B&B. You may want peace and quiet in an isolated, rural location. Or you may want to stay somewhere that is more easily accessible to the local sights and doesn’t involve a 10 mile drive up and down the valley to reach it each day. An online mapping service will usually give you a pretty accurate location and there may even be Street View so you can see the place where you are planning to stay.

In the UK there is one site that lists most of the accommodation local to a selection of small towns – B&Bs, self catering and hotels. Unlike other sites that list hotels nationwide, or self catering nationwide, this site focuses on listing all the accommodation in a defined local area.

 

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Things You Should Consider Before Booking

The world travels constantly. At any given time millions of travelers are checking into rooms that were recently used by someone else. Kind of a scary thought isn’t it? Social media has participated in a major way to influence consumers to be far more informed about the quality of the accommodation they choose. Consumer sites like TripAdvisor, Google, and B&B.com to name a few provide quality information from consumer experiences that are regulated for true content before being published.

Of growing popularity are the small business entrepreneurs that own and operate bed and breakfast locations. The reason for emphasis on the individual business owner is that often they are also the operator and closely involved with daily procedures that affect the quality of accommodations the next guest will occupy. Small innkeeper entrepreneurs are a group that takes great pride in providing a service that will give customers a lasting impression. These consumers are more likely to take time to submit an honest review for future guests.

A bed and breakfast may utilize more locally originated suppliers to equip and supply the daily items used for guest comforts. Items like local, fresh in-season produce (strawberries, peaches, and apples, etc.) are amenities you won’t find at the large hotels. Often they employ high quality chefs to provide a multi course breakfast you won’t find anywhere else. In-room amenities are often provided for guests’ comfort and are equal to or exceeding premium hotels in much busier high traffic locations. B&Bs in their own, while likely costing a little more per night are a good value providing a quality breakfast; likely cooked fresh.

Consumers who are planning traveling accommodations will benefit by consulting several reviews from over a period of time; not just the most recent. Travelers leaving reviews often make comments of the quality of cleanliness, hospitality, and overall quality of their visit. While recent reviews are good, if they are consistently favorable this is a good indication that the facility is maintaining a good practice.

Many locations have convenient reservation services on the home page of their website. While this is efficient, taking a couple of minutes to speak with someone (like the owner or general manager) is also a good indicator of the quality. It’s OK to ask detailed questions if you want to know their housekeeping practices. For example, if guests have dietary preferences, by reaching to management in advance of arrival, often their needs can be accommodated, making their visit much more personable and memorable.

 

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/9719709

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Staying Bed and Breakfast In Texas

Some might argue that having a vivid imagination may be one of the most powerful tools mankind has at its disposal. As such, someone must have let their mind wander to beautiful place so that they could conceive of an idea as intriguing as a Texas winery bed and breakfast fans could call their “home away from home”.

Wait, what? A winery in Texas that also serves as a bed and breakfast? There’s no conceivable way that this could be a viable thing, right? Actually, you may be both shocked & thrilled to learn that it is most certainly a thing and a very popular weekend getaway option for many people. Leave it to the state of Texas to take to heart the idea of showcasing two major industries in the state (wine production and tourism) at once. Still, if you understand Texas, this actually makes a lot of sense.

Texas has seemingly always been a state of contrasts. While Texas became a state in the U.S. in 1845, it later broke away toward the Confederacy during the Civil War. Before 1845, it was also a separate country for a time after having gained independence from Mexico. Texas is also the birth place of two U.S. presidents (Lyndon B Johnson & Dwight. D. Eisenhower), but it is well-known for two other presidents’ connection to the state (George H.W. Bush & George W. Bush).

When you look at the wine industry, Texas even finds a way to have contrasts there as well. One would assume that with the heat Texas is famous for, grape harvesting would be hurt more, but it turns out cold temperatures & a lack of water that cause greater harm. Wine in Texas is a billion-dollar industry, and it’s competing with the more well-known markets in the U.S. and the world. With such a financial draw, wineries realized that if they could combine two industries (wine & hospitality), it could be a great thing for them.

If you decide to check out a Texas winery B&B, here are a few things to know before you head out:

Price Varies – Every winery B&B has its own prices, so be sure to check online or call for information before booking.

Place of Business – While you’re not having to get behind the wheel after drinking, you’re also in a place of business with others. Be mindful of your behavior.

All-in-One for Tastings, Classes, and Meals – If you & your special someone are wine fans, booking a stay at a winery B&B is a great way to learn about all phases of wine production.

Experience More – Lodging on the same grounds, which means you can explore more of what the winery has to offer, which often include collaborations with local industry. As the slogan goes, “Keep it Local”.

Book Early – Winery B&Bs are exploding in popularity (bookings averaging 2-3 months in advance), and with the Texas tourism industry bringing in tens of billions of dollars annually, you may want to act fast.

The Texas winery bed and breakfast trend may be more than just a flash in the pan. This could be the next big thing, and as they say, “Everything’s bigger in Texas!”

 

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How To Be Innkeepers

We wanted to see if the lifestyle of a lighthouse innkeeper might be in our future. We arranged for a visit to East Brother Island and its popular light-station located just 30 minutes from San Francisco. Join us, this just might be your cup of tea.

Where are we

East Brother Island is in San Pablo Bay, which connects to San Francisco Bay.

East Brother Light Station is managed by a Richmond nonprofit preservationist group, which in 1980 obtained permission from the Coast Guard to renovate and maintain the active light station.

The organization has many volunteers to help with the constant maintenance, and pays most of the bills by renting out the island’s five bedrooms, four days per week.

Getting to the island

After a series of email communications, we arranged to meet and interview the lighthouse innkeeper couple on East Brother Island.

On Monday morning, we were waiting at the less than luxurious Point San Pablo Yacht Harbor when our Captain/innkeeper pulled up to the dock in the island’s aluminum tender.

Before we could board the boat, the Captain first assisted the guests that were leaving the island. The visitors must have enjoyed their island experience because they were all laughing and carrying on as if they were old friends.

After introductions, our host started the engines and headed out of the harbor for a short 10-minute ride to the island.

He immediately gave us a briefing about what to expect when we arrived dockside. He described how we would be required to climb a very vertical stainless steel pool type ladder that extends from the boat deck to the landing pier that is joined to the island. Depending on the tide, the climb can be as much as 12 feet. Think about that before you make reservations if you are not physically able to climb a ladder. Also, the island is unfortunately not able to be ADA compliant.

Buildings and facilities on the island

The one-acre island has two vintage buildings in addition to an 1874 Victorian Lighthouse. The old work shed has been converted into a cozy innkeepers’ cottage, and the other out-building houses the machinery necessary to power the working foghorns.

The island has electric power supplied by an underwater cable from the mainland, and a self-contained water system that holds about 90,000 gallons of rainwater stored in a white-clad underground cistern and an above-ground redwood water tank.

Because of the ever-present danger of water shortages in the Bay Area, there are no showers available for guests staying only one night. No one seemed to mind the inconvenience.

After gathering our photo equipment and walking up the steep ramp between the pier and the island, the Captain gave us a tour of the first building we encountered, which houses the machinery to operate the foghorns. For our benefit, he cranked up the diesel generator and gave us a live performance of the horns.

Becoming an Island Innkeeper

We soon found that our hosts had only been lighthouse keepers for ten weeks, and as of this writing they have already moved on to their next adventure. Lighthouse keeping is fun, but demanding work, and the turnover is quite high, but that’s apparently not a big problem for the stakeholders.

How many folks would love to run a Victorian Bed and Breakfast on a small island in California complete with a good salary, room and board, seals, pelicans, and a five-star view of the San Francisco skyline? Lots, that’s how many.

We are told that the number of applicants for the job is usually large, but there are serious knockout factors in the innkeeper application.

One of the applicants must be an excellent cook and capable of preparing and presenting food for a table of ten.

Another qualification is that one of the applicants must have a Coast Guard commercial boat operator’s license.

Lastly, both of the prospective innkeepers must be charming. Now we are getting somewhere.

About the work

In the case of East Brother Light Station, the island is open for business four nights per week starting on Thursday.

Prepping for the guests

On Wednesday morning, the innkeepers are on land shopping for provisions for up to 40 guests (5 rooms x 2 guests x 4 nights). They select the food for the menu, pick up the mail, laundry, fuel, and anything else they will need for the coming week on the island.

On Thursday morning, they boat back to the island with the supplies, unload their cargo into a large wire cart waiting on the pier, and winch the cart up a steep ramp that connects the pier with the island. They unload and store the supplies, and get the island ready for visitors.

A day with guests

On Thursday afternoon promptly at 4pm, the designated Captain/innkeeper returns to the marina dock at Point San Pablo Yacht Harbor to board the guests for Thursday night.

Upon arrival back at the island, the hosts provide a tour, hors d’oeuvres with champagne, and show the guests to their rooms.

The visitors then have ample time to explore the small island and enjoy the sea birds, animals, and fabulous views before dinner.

At dinner, the visitors are served an exquisitely prepared multi-course meal of the finest fresh ingredients.

All the guests are seated at one large table, which makes for a convivial atmosphere and an opportunity to socialize.

Friday morning would come all too soon, but a sumptuous gourmet breakfast would await all guests. Pity those one-night guests who must now head back to the mainland to resume their everyday lives.

After transferring the guests and their baggage to the mainland dock, the captain returns to the island to help his partner clean and prepare for new guests on Friday afternoon.

Saturday and Sunday are a repeat of Thursday and Friday.

After bidding farewell to the last guests for the week on Monday morning, the innkeeper heads back to the island and the chores that couldn’t be completed during the workweek.

Later in the day, the innkeepers load the laundry along with the empty bottles and trash into the island wire cart. The cart is pulled to the opposite end of the island and hooked and lowered by winch down to the island’s waiting boat. The innkeepers depart for the harbor, unload the cargo, and start a well-deserved Tuesday day of rest.

It’s not for everybody

East Brother Light Station innkeepers live a romantic life full of guest kudos, fresh air, sunshine, seabirds, and seals. There are probably several of our readers that would trade places if they could. Life is short, you might want to give it a try! However, we decided not.

Happy travels!

 

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