“Well, I was an Innkeeper in this crazy little town in Vermont. Nothing made sense in this place. I mean, the maid was an heiress, her husband talked in alliteration, the handyman kept missing the point of things. And there were these three woodsmen… But only one of them talked.”
– Bob Newhart
The charge of Innkeeping is not to be taken lightly. When we speak with aspiring Innkeepers at our seminars across the country, we tell them that our goal is to test their rose-tinted perceptions of the Bed and Breakfast business. Many times, their views are born of Bob Newhart and experiences with Innkeepers that are too poised to reveal that they are running on all cylinders. While Innkeeping is undoubtedly ‘hard work’, there is a lightness and artistry in the continued growth of long term Innkeepers who take challenges in stride and reap the rewards, both personal and financial, of self-made success.
Few Inns offer as great an example as this full service Inn for sale in Rothesay, an upscale suburb of Saint John, New Brunswick. The Inn’s owner grew up in the hospitality world (actually at this very Inn). Thankfully, his comfort with the property has not translated into complacency. I am reminded of this during the many calls I receive from the owner to share the latest refresh of this common room, upgrade of that system or a new marketing tactic that has been put into motion. It helps the Inn that they are the obvious choice for discerning travelers in a very active leisure travel destination.
Saint John, New Brunswick, is Canada’s oldest incorporated city (founded 1604 and incorporated 1785), and the only city on the picturesque and ever-changing Bay of Fundy. The vibrant, historic city center is built around the bay (an active cruise port of call), with its world-famous reversing tides, and natural wonders within view and easily accessible.
There is much to be explored. The Saint John City Market, the oldest continuing farmers’ market in North America, fills a space designed to resemble the inverted hull of a ship. Irving Nature Park offers the great outdoors minutes from downtown. The New Brunswick Museum features three floors of fascinating galleries, including the Hall of Great Whales. For a full day excursion, guests can’t miss Rockwood Park, one of the geosites within the Stonehammer Geopark (the only UNESCO-supported global geopark in North America). My personal favorite, the Imperial Theatre, was reconstructed in the 1980s to exceed its original 1913 grandeur and hosts a variety of world-class performances.
Cut back to the Saint John, New Brunswick, Inn for sale: the latest refresh was of one of the Inn’s meeting rooms (‘The Long Room’). The purpose of the work was to match the contemporary, clean lines of the Inn’s renovated restaurant and further promote its boutique brand. Below is a before and after shot of the refresh.
If you are a current Innkeeper looking for inspiration or seeking your own lightness in a busy season, remember that “for everything there is a season.” Your charge requires skill, creativity, perseverance and an understanding of when it’s time to consider next steps (whether to your interior designer or out the door!).
If you are reading this as a future Innkeeper, there are some aspects of ‘Newhart’ that are relevant to Innkeeping, largely, the focus on people. And, while your head housekeeper may not be an heiress or your partner an iterative orator, you will be sure to meet and care for many different people from every sort of background. It is a blessing that should never become a curse!
Until ‘Newhart’ Returns,