Service and the Art of Hospitality

My walks in the woods are no longer daily rituals, but when I get the chance, my thoughts often wander back to all the interesting conversations that I have had with Innkeepers over the years.

I am amazed by many of the locations that attract guests and by the unique experiences offered and enhanced by thoughtful Innkeepers.  Working with hundreds of Inns in the transfer process over the last 30 years, we have become familiar with various methods used by Innkeepers to “wow” their guests and, yet, we remain in awe of the ability of Innkeepers to serve beyond the guests’ wildest (or seemingly impossible) expectations.

Owners, Innkeepers, Chef and support staff at the Mill House Inn in East Hampton, New York, understand the mighty charge made of successful “hospitalitarians” (to use New York restaurateur Danny Meyer’s term).  Staff at the Mill House Inn offer their guests “The Art of Hospitality” – a level of service that owner Gary Muller refers to as being “invisible, but always available.”  Watch the video below to understand the Mullers’ artful approach to hospitality.  

Another example of unique service and facility exists at this outstanding Latta, South Carolina, Inn for sale.  This stately English Manor, one of a select few AAA Four Diamond restaurants in South Carolina and a member of Select Registry, is built around the strengths of its owners.  Their goal from the start was the create an oasis in a turn-of-the-century town and they have achieved that goal and much more.  The Inn’s upscale guest experience and location were recently featured in a novel written by a long time guest and world traveler who refers to the grand mansion as, “a romantic interlude off the beaten track” and highlights the Inn’s location and service, stating that it “bespoke of old-fashioned Southern hospitality and gentility.”

Photo of the Mark Addy Inn in Nellysford VAA final example is this magnificent Blue Ridge Mountains Bed and Breakfast in Nellysford, Virginia. The Inn’s location, in proximity to the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Wintergreen Resort, the Skyline Drive, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, Poplar Forest and the University of Virginia are clear indicators of an active business.  Yet, even in this destination location, a creative approach to Innkeeping enhances the Inn-goers experience as much as its historic, architectural charms and tasteful décor.

So, to all you Innkeepers out there, what do you do that is quotable and unique to your area and your style of Innkeeping? What is the most distinctive feature you offer your guests?  Of course, it is the ambiance, the décor and a commitment to quality in furnishings and guest amenities, but nothing is as deeply appreciated as your individualized, personal attention to details in providing exceptional service.

I love speaking with current Innkeepers – getting details about the appreciation and loyalty of their guests and their ability to achieve success by doing what they love!  All the best to Innkeepers current and future.  Continue to elevate your guest services in concert with your location and the recognitions, accolades and even greater rewards will follow!  This, I believe, is the formula for a successful career in Innkeeping.


2 thoughts on “Service and the Art of Hospitality

  1. Heide, thanks for being such a champion for our cause. Your tireless efforts continue to encourage us all and your happy spirit is contagious.

    “Finding the right balance between high tech and high touch continues to be my mantra for making people feel special. It’s that simple, and that hard.”

    Phil Jenkins, Executive Hospitalitarian

  2. Thanks Heide! I always appreciate getting information about inn keeping. It helps me be a better inn sitter.

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