Featured Inn: Blue Goose Inn
603-763-5519 | #24 Route 103B, Mount Sunapee, NH
Charmingly intimate 19th century farmhouse evokes memories of Sundays with the family in a day gone by.
Before becoming a B&B owner, Margaret was a process engineer for 22 years before beginning a new career in Real Estate. She has been in real estate for more then 8 years and owns her own brokerage, Sunapee Region Buyers Advantage; She is an Exclusive Buyers Agent so Buyers Only. Ron has been a mechanical engineer for the past 35 years and looks forward to retiring in the near future when he can become a full time "innkeeper". Ron and Margaret have owned the Blue Goose Inn for almost 4 years.
Margaret says in response to being asked why they wanted become innkeepers, "We were looking for a lifestyle that would keep us busy and on our toes as we look toward retirement from our "day jobs". Innkeeping and the hospitality industry in general offers the opportunity to meet lots of great people and affords some flexibility in your "work schedule".
Margaret mentions she finds the most challenging thing about running a B&B is coming up with new ideas for their menu, She loves to bake. They run a simple farmhouse style B&B and keep their menu simple with a few interesting twists. Rons says, "Finding time to get to all the projects I'd like to work on. More fencing and gardens and grounds work. "
Margaret really likes to walk and hike and there are so many great places right near by the inn. Snowshoeing in the winter is a great break for them both while their guests are out skiing. They both also really enjoy their kayaks whether they are on Lake Sunapee, or any of the beautiful smaller lakes and ponds in the area. When they get their "seasonal breaks" in the spring and late fall they try to plan a trip away from the area to unwind. They often visit their youngest son who lives and works in Las Vegas or they may travel a bit further to visit family in CA. They took a great trip in Nov. 2010 and visited Utah/Zion National Park for a hiking trip.
Both Margaret and Ron share the house keeping duties most of the time, Ron is typically at work during mid-week periods so Margaret is on her own. As far as the cooking goes, Margaret is the baker and prep cook and Ron is the cook every weekend! Ron is also the maintenance man, landscaper, and all around "jack of all trades". Margaret takes on the ironing duty as she always iron her linens to make sure the beds are really comfy.
Margaret says, "There is so much to do here year round. Warmer months, motor boating, water skiing, days at the beach. Kayaking, biking, hiking and picnicking! In the fall these outdoor activities are even more enjoyable with the fabulous foliage we have. Come winter time there is downhill skiing at Mt. Sunapee, just 750' from our door to the entrance to the State Park, cross country skiing (ever right from our property) snow shoeing, skating and sledding."
Margaret continues, "Many of our warm weather guests come for the outdoor activities and many for special events like weddings, bike races and the fabulous League of New Hampshire Craftsman's fair. For the winter guests it's very often for the snow! Skiing, and more skiing along with the other winter activities we've mentioned."
The Blue Goose Inn is a "Provider of Simple Comforts" and they do keep it simple but very comfortable. They try to be very flexible and meet the needs of their guest's schedules. They provide really great linens in their guest rooms to make sure the "BED" part of the B&B is really enjoyable. And for the "BREAKFAST" part of the B&B they offer farm fresh eggs from a local farm as one option each morning and homemade pastries for breakfast and afternoon refreshments time.
Margaret says, "I love to bake! I'm now baking fresh bread for our guests to enjoy. Also, Ron is a beekeeper so the honey on the breakfast table comes from the Blue Goose hives. A sample breakfast begins with coffee/tea/ or hot chocolate, homemade ginger scones and fresh bowl of homemade chunky applesauce . Then for your main course; bacon and your choice of farm fresh eggs cooked on the grill cranberry pecan French toast. Many mornings our guests just can't decide and will have some of each."
Margaret comments, "We have guests in all age groups for all kinds of reasons. We have young families, young singles getting away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life as well as those aging baby boomers. Again, we are a simple farmhouse and that appeals to all ages and interests. We've even had newlyweds on occasion be we are not really focused on those "romantic getaways"! We do have wireless internet and our rooms are set up to be suitable for business guests and we'd love to see more of them."
Both innkeepers say with enthusiasm when asked, What would you say to people who have never stayed in a bed and breakfast before? "Try it you will be in for a real treat!" Margaret and Ron's favorite thing about owning a B&B is meeting people from all over the country and all over the world and this gives them am opportunity to do that.
When asked, how do you think B&Bs differ from hotels and what makes staying at a B&B better Margaret says, "It's a totally different experience in that the mission of an innkeeper (speaking for Ron & myself) is to provide you with comfortable lodging and a great breakfast but to also assist you with getting the very most out of your visit to our region. Hospitality is the key to B&B's & Inns. Looking for great hiking trails, skiing venues, restaurants and more? Want to know some of the history? This is part of the service to all our guests along with the bed and breakfast.
Margaret says, "Ron and I are the "innkeepers and our style is "farmhouse friendly". You can sit in our breakfast room and watch the turkeys, birds, squirrels and chipmunks while you enjoy your breakfast. You can sit by the fire in our cozy living room and enjoy a good book or the company of other guests who are visiting. Because our inn is "simple and comfortable" nothing real fancy, Ron and I focus on our guests. Chatting and sharing information about our beautiful region and making every effort to meet your needs to make your stay here truly enjoyable is our greatest offering."
When asked, "What do you consider your signature dish? And tell us a little bit about it." Margaret replies, "WOW! Just one? Well, perhaps I'll give you a first course and a main: cherry chocolate chip scones to start and cranberry pecan French toast to finish. The scones are a French style scone so lots of butter and just a little sugar which makes them really moist and flaky. The French toast begins with an artisan bread that is a pretty dense multigrain bread with dried cranberries and pecans. It gets soaked overnight in Ron's own batter and then is grilled to a golden brown on the grill. That French toast is great with pure maple syrup from the local farm where we get our eggs OR honey from Ron's hives."
Featured Inn: Inn at Pleasant Lake
1-800-626-4907 | Pleasant St., New London, NH
Relax in our elegant ten room inn overlooking Pleasant Lake
and Mt. Kearsarge. Gourmet Dining.
An Interview with Linda and Brian MacKenzie
Linda and Brian have owned the Inn of Pleasant Lake for 14 and half years. Linda lived and worked in the hospitality field in Colorado, New York State and Virginia. Charlottesville, Virginia was where she learned inn reservations and other aspects of running an inn with a fine dining restaurant. Brian after attending university he worked in hospitality in Colorado, then attended the Culinary Institute of America. His first job out of CIA was at an upscale inn in Charlottesville, VA. After a year and a half in Charlottesville they bought The Inn at Pleasant Lake.
Linda and Brian's favorite thing about owning a Country Inn is their daily routine, which goes beyond the guest rooms, guest service and breakfast. Linda says, "We also incorporate into the daily mix our fine dining dinner service. When looking at the whole daily routine, We find that our favorite one thing is basically making our guests happy. Not only just happy, they tend to leave totally relaxed by the inn and its surroundings. A stay at the inn can be mentally and physically therapeutic by removing people from the hustle and bustle of their everyday lives."
Linda says, "We were looking to open a fine dining restaurant and preferred to purchase in a country location in New England versus a large city. To make the financials work in this type of demographic we figured it would make sense to do both an inn and fine dining restaurant. Our goal was to turn our inn into Destination Dining where guests would want to come for the food and extend the experience by staying over in a guest room."
Brian and Linda comment that most challenging about running a B&B is the transient nature of staff in their industry, although they have been lucky to have many great staff stay for many years and they supplement their busy times with additional support staff. Linda says, "Still there is a steady in and out of part-time help that can be challenging to manage."
"Time off can be elusive, " Linda mentions, "But we do try to schedule time away from the inn. In these times we enjoy doing things with our children. We enjoy the lake during the summer and snow sports in the winter. Our lives are really full so a nap always sounds great, but is rarely available."
Linda handles the marketing, payroll, wine list and ordering, bills, the ordering of supplies for guest rooms and the gift case, and décor changes and assists Brian when needed in reservations, with weddings and wait staff.
Brian is the executive chef, handles all ordering for the restaurant, catering agreements, restaurant staff, is the manager on premise and is responsible for anything that comes up. He handles broken things, guest relations, cooking, and much, much more.
The inn is located on Pleasant Lake and has a sandy beach for their guests to use and swim from. The inn supplies two canoes, one double kayak and a rowboat for guest use. A short walk from the inn is the entrance to a great hiking trail system offering easy, moderate and challenging hikes. New London has a nice mix of shops and is home to The New London Barn Playhouse which does summer stock theater.
Linda comments, "Many people come for a vacation or to visit people who live locally. We get many guests attending weddings at our inn or other nearby wedding sites. We get a good amount of parents from the local colleges and boarding schools and we have some customers who come for business."
From check in to check out Linda and Brian try to meet the guest's needs. They provide an afternoon tea each day of their stay and a hearty breakfast. They also have coffee and water available at all times and Wifi and a guest computer for those interested in those amenities. Some of the rooms have whirlpool tubs. They spend a lot of time on the gardens and making their grounds beautiful and peaceful.
The inn attracts all kinds of guests. They do weddings, they accept children so they have a lot of families too. Linda says, "The baby boomers are a big segment of our market as well, but truly it is a pretty good mix of all ages which keeps us competitive in our location."
Linda says that she would say to people who have never stayed in a bed and breakfast before that she would encourage them to try it and notice that a stay in an inn is much more memorable than staying in a routine hotel room. She adds, "Many of the little extras such as WIFI and snacks are included in the rate. It has a homelike feel with sitting rooms and a home cooked breakfast."
Linda feels that their B&B is different from other B&B because they cater to customers that want to enjoy a full breakfast, afternoon tea and the availability of an amazing prix-fixe dinner. They pride themselves on consistency and cleanliness. The inn is their career and they run it very professionally gauging the guests needs for interaction or privacy.
The Inn's signature dish's are their frittata or their Baked French toast get rave reviews at breakfast.
Their prix-fixe dinner is a very special evening featuring a soup, followed by a salad, an entremezzo to cleanse the palate, a choice of entrée and then dessert. Many of their guests have them at the top of their list of favorite dinners of all the places they've traveled in the world. They love that compliment!
Featured Inn: Sunapee View Bed & Breakfast
603-763-4212 | 348 Route 103A, Newbury NH
There's a beautiful view every season at Sunapee View Bed & Breakfast. Located just down the road from the Historic
Fells estate in Newbury.
An Interview with Linda and George West
Linda and George West say they have always enjoyed the results of hard work in their home and gardens as well as entertaining, but when one is working 40 to 60 hours in the traditional work place, there is little time left for that. With their B&B, the pleasure they find in planting gardens, cultivating fruits and vegetables, cooking up creative cuisine, creating a warm environment in their home and entertaining guests now becomes their work place. They say they feel blessed to be able to earn an income doing things that they love.
George and Linda both have children from previous marriages. George has 4 children and 5 grandsons and Linda has 3 daughters and 3 grandchildren. Our Wheaten Terrier, Molly, is the only young one at home at this point and keeps us hopping! She stays in the innkeeper's quarters when guests are here.
George worked many years for the phone company working his way through the system to a management position. He has a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Eastern Nazarene College. He retired in the mid nineties and took on many creative jobs following that from driving a truck and bus to being the caretaker of a small country pre-school.
Linda had previously worked many years as an RN, graduating from Mass General School of Nursing in the days of diploma programs, later getting a bachelor's degree from UMass and eventually a Masters in Nursing Administration from Northeastern University. For most of her career, Linda worked as a nurse manager and later a case manager. She still works during quiet times at Dartmouth Hitchcock in their care management department.
They recognized that it was time to consider how they wanted to spend the next phase of their lives. They had talked about different businesses that they could do from home and focused on the meals and hospitality businesses. They ending up coming back to the B&B plan over and over and took a course through the Boston Center for Adult Education entitled “So you Think You Want to Run a B&B?.” It focused on the very unromantic reality of being an innkeeper.
At the end of the weekend, they were one of the few who still answered “yes” to wanting to own a B&B! Shortly after that, Linda's daughter and son-in-law purchased the old stone barn next door to the Fells, John Hay Estate. They planned to renovate the barn into a vacation home and suggested that Linda and George purchase the original farm house from them for a B&B. They visited, were a bit overwhelmed by the work needed to be done on the property, but fell in love with the area and are thrilled to have met their goals.
George and Linda purchased the property six years ago and relocated from Plympton, MA believing that they would have the B&B up and running quickly. The building was in greater disrepair than they had expected, and it took them five years to completely gut and renovate it. The innkeepers section was torn down and rebuilt initially and by the time they were done, every wall in the inn was replaced. They welcomed their first guests on Valentine's Day of 2010.
Linda says, "Having a bed and breakfast with only 3 rooms is great in the sense that it can be managed without hiring staff to assist. The flip side of that is one always needs to be there or plan carefully for time away. Our home is also our business, so people may drop in anytime to ask for a tour or check to see if there is a room available. We are learning to be creative about how we manage our time so that we can be sure that our guests have the best personalized attention, while still being able to enjoy time for ourselves. "
When asked, "What do you do on your time off?" Linda says, "We both enjoy the outdoors. We turned in our sailboat for kayaks when we moved up to NH and meandering through quiet waterways is a favorite summer past-time. We also enjoy many of the same things that our guests enjoy-hiking, music events and theater. During the winter we love the beauty of the area and especially enjoy cross-country skiing and snow shoeing. George piles the winter snow into a huge mound at the top of a hill and has as much fun as the grandkids tubing down! George enjoys singing and is a first tenor. He sings in the church choir and other local seasonal choirs as well as with the Sunapee Singers, South Church hand bells and a Doo Wop group. "
Linda feels that their skills complement each other well. George is able to fix just about anything. He loves doing the heavy outdoor work and has purchased a tractor for the many outdoor jobs that their very overgrown property required. He finds the snow plow on his old Tahoe a great way to spend a snowy afternoon. Linda is the cook, decorator and gardening person. Both pitch in to do the cleaning.
George thinks The Dartmouth Lake Sunapee Region is a great area for outdoor activities from downhill skiing to water sports. Cultural events including community theater, concerts, art and literature abound. The Fells, John Hay Estate is just a short walk from their door and offers quiet woods walks, beautiful gardens and a wealth of educational and outdoor events. Mount Sunapee Resort is well known for its ski conditions and ski school programs and offers events throughout the year. Lake Sunapee State beach is just 4 miles from the door with its beautiful beach area.
Linda says, "There are probably as many different reasons as there are people that guests choose Sunapee View Bed and Breakfast. This particular summer, is the summer of weddings for us. We have been surprised by the age groups of people choosing our B&B. We had anticipated that the age group staying in B&B's would be fifties and up and have been pleasantly surprised that in addition to this age group, we are appealing to many generation X and Y folks. They tell us they find our décor more to their liking and appreciate the flat screened TV's in each room. We have welcomed bridal parties, newly-weds, overflow company from nearby homes, skiers and just people driving through the area and deciding to stay. Our goal is always to provide personalized service to our guests. We recognize that what we may like when traveling is not necessarily what our guests like, and we try to make the experience personal to them."
Linda finds that having a commercial kitchen in their B&B, opens up many possibilities. They offer a complimentary dinner on the night of arrival for all two night and longer guests. When they travel, they often find it bothersome to arrive late after work on a Friday and have to head out to find a restaurant only to discover that in rural settings they may have closed at 8:30. Their guests are able to settle in and enjoy a simple supper. This is usually soup or stew in winter or grilled chicken and salad in summer with homemade bread and dessert. In addition guests are able to request special dinners, picnics or meals for additional cost. Linda says they have a very special brunch that has been served to wedding groups.
When asked, What would you say to people who have never stayed in a B&B? How do you feel B&B's differ from hotels? Linda says, "Try it! Long before we owned a B&B, we heard concerns of friends when we suggested we stay at a B&B on a group trip… “You don't have any privacy”…”I don't want to share a bathroom”…etc. Each of our guests has their own bathroom, and a spacious one at that. Our innkeeper's section is in an attached wing of the house with our own kitchen, so there is no need to feel that you are sharing someone else's space. We have never stayed in a hotel or motel where someone knew our names, that we were allergic to strawberries, liked a cheese tray with our glass of wine in the afternoon, or cookies and decaf tea prior to bed. A personal approach while respecting one's privacy is what it is all about. "
Sunapee Views B&B offers a full breakfast each day always starting with a fruit dish followed by warm comfort food. Fresh fruits from local vendors or their own garden are mixed into breads and muffins or sprinkled on fruit dishes. Snacks are available during the day based on preferences. Cheese and cracker plates are left in the guest refrigerator for those enjoying a glass of wine by the fire at the end of the day or homemade cookies are left out with coffee or tea prior to retiring for the night. In addition to the complimentary dinner on arrival, they offer dinners for additional charge that are a bit more elaborate. Linda says, "A perfect reason to stay in by the fire on a snowy night!"
Linda thinks they are not sure that there is just one dish that stands out that they cook yet as a signature dish, but they say, "keep reading the monthly recipes and highlighted inns on NH Country Inn Website. When their turn comes up for a recipe, Sunapee View B&B will have a yummy strawberry banana French toast that makes one say mmmmmmm…….!"
Featured Inn: Rosewood Country Inn
1-800-938-5273 | 67 Pleasant View Road, Bradford, NH
Rosewood Country Inn...selected time and again as
America's Most Romantic Hideaway.
An Interview with Dick & Lesley Marquis, Innkeepers
Leslie and Dick just celebrated their 19th year of owning the Rosewood. Prior to running the B&B, Lesley was in charge of research and development for chemistry instrumentation at a medical center in Rhode Island for 21 years. Dick was in charge of the laboratories at another hospital in RI.
Lesley says her favorite thing about owning a B&B is meeting all the wonderful people and making new friends. Some of our best friends started off as guests. I also enjoy making each guest's stay special and as perfect as possible.
When asked why they wanted to run a B&B, Leslie replies, "I'm the oldest of 7 children and my Dad passed away when I was 24. I still had younger brothers and sisters at home. One by one, we'd take them in as they made their transition from living at home to being on their own...almost. So I guess you could say we've run a "B&B" almost all our married lives."
Leslie muses, "For me the most challenging part of running a B&B is separating myself from the business. It's not that we're not able to get away; we take an extensive vacation every year. But even when we're away I'm thinking of new ways we can heighten the guest experience. On an early spring trip to Vermont we stopped at a wonderful little nursery. They had done such a nice job with their container gardens that it got me thinking. We got in touch with our County Home Horticulture Bureau and we set up a Mother & Daughter Weekend with a container gardening workshop with a Master Gardener, and a Spring Tea."
Leslie says, "Days off in the summer are spent gardening. "I guess you could say it's my passion in life, right after my grandchildren. Years ago when we moved here our neighbors from RI sent us perennials from their gardens so we started a "Friendship Garden" along our stone wall. Now, we're able to share many seedlings and cuttings from our garden for guests to take home. Tell me you like our mallow, or our yellow sun drops, and they'll be a pot full of them by your trunk before you check-out. Dick enjoys fishing, both fresh and saltwater and hunting."
An enquiry about are there certain things that you and your significant other prefer to do at your B&B and how do you split the tasks to be done returns from Leslie, "As I mentioned, I love gardening, so Dick doesn't venture into the flower beds. He enjoys the mowing so I leave that to him. We do share time with the guests. He helps to serve breakfast in the morning, while I'm the chef. He takes care of the books while I'm in charge of answering the phone, taking email reservations and sending our confirmations. The bar is also his domain. He makes the world's best apple martini."
Leslie says, "The Rosewood is a great place to visit because its in the perfect location! We have downhill skiing at both Mt. Sunapee and Pat's Peak, We have snow shoeing and X-C right from our back door. With West Meadow Stables within walking distance, we're able to offer sleigh rides in the winter, hayrides and horseback riding. There are 2 colleges close by, and the summer offers scenic cruises on Lake Sunapee, a romantic dinner cruise in the evening, a wonderful summer theater in New London, craft fairs, Farmers' Markets. There's always something going on."
When people think of the Rosewood, they think romance. They have a reputation as a romantic inn...cozy fireplaces in almost all the rooms, Jacuzzis-for-two, five foot doubled-headed showers. And we specialize in small, intimate weddings. Leslie comments, "Guests say it's the caring service and the hospitality. They come as guests and leave as friends." The Rosewood appeals to a broad range of people...newlyweds and romantics, bikers and hikers and baby boomers.
When asked, What would you say to people who have never stayed in a bed and breakfast before? Leslie says, "Try it. It's so much more personal than staying in a hotel where every room is the same as the next." She also comments, "At a hotel or motel, you're checked-in and given your key. It's pretty anonymous. I think that most people that stay at B&B's are interested in socializing with the other guests and making new friends. They want our opinion on places to see and things to do. We can share with them the special, out-of-the-way places to swim or picnic. Or places that have the best vantage points to see the fall foliage. We also do a full, three course breakfast."
Leslie also adds, "We're big believers in "farm to fork" dining and using local produce as much as possible. During the summer I personally pick the berries for our Raspberry Stuffed French Toast and our Blueberry Stuffed Croissant at one of our local farms."
Leslie comments, "Each B&B is unique. I don't think any two are the same. Here at the Rosewood we do lots of theme weekends. Coming up we have our Dickens Christmas Weekend with a festive holiday dinner and a storyteller. We also have sleigh rides and snow shoeing right from our back door. In the spring we do our Mother & Daughter Weekend with a gardening workshop with a master Gardener and a four course Victorian Tea."
Featured Inn: Blue Acorn Inn
21 Sleeper Road, Sunapee, NH
The perfect setting for a memorable vacation whether you are an old friend or a first time visitor.
An interview with Deb and Kurt Markarian. Innkeepers of the Blue Acorn Inn
Before becoming B&B owners Deb was laid off from her sales position from a large disposal company in 2002. Owning a B&B was something She and Kurt had talked about doing later in life, after being laid off later came earlier. Kurt currently works outside the inn as a Quality Engineer.
Deb says that she wanted to run a B&B because of the lifestyle and it was a way for her to stay home and contribute financially. Deb runs the inn on weekdays and does everything on the inside. Kurt takes care of the guests and also cooks breakfast on the weekends. Kurt does the outside maintenance and both of them share the garden work. The inn is going into their 8th year in business and both Kurt and Deb says They both enjoy spending time with their family in between guests as well as the full schedule running the inn brings.
The Blue Acorn Inn caters to families and welcomes children of all ages. Deb mentions that there is so much to see and do in the Lake Sunapee area. "You have the John Hay Estate, the cruise & dinner boats on Lake Sunapee, Mt Sunapee Resort, walking trails, covered bridges. There is something for everyone here-boating, biking, historical attractions. You can be in Hanover/Lebanon in 25 minutes or in Vermont in 35 minutes."
First time guests at the inn usually come for a wedding, to go to the Craft Fair or come for the great local skiing. Deb says, "Guests say they return because of how comfortable they felt on their first visit." Kurt says, "We make each guest feel special. If we know ahead of time they are here for a special day we will have fresh flowers and sparkling cider in the room with a note."
Kurt mentions, "Our favorite part of owning a B&B is the people we meet. The families that come back every year. Watching the children grow up is like having a lot of extended family." Deb adds, "The Blue Acorn sets itself apart from other B&Bs because we cater to families with children of all ages."
Deb says "The experience you have from staying at a B&B can not be found when staying at a hotel. If you love to meet new people, enjoy a yummy breakfast and have more than one room to relax in, then a B&B is just what you arte looking for." She adds, "Returning guests ask for Kurt's home fries and my granola."
Kurt thinks that B&B's are a lot friendlier then hotels, you get to meet some great other people who are also staying at a B&B. The innkeepers will always give you great tips on dining and where to explore. As he mentioned before the best thing about staying at a B&B is that you have more than one room to enjoy.
Featured Inn: Henniker House B&B
Corner of Main Street & Ramsdell Road, Henniker NH
Classic in-town Victorian overlooking Contoocook River. Minutes away from Pats Peak Ski Area and New England College.
An interview with Kate and Phil, Innkeepers of Henniker House B&B
When asking what their favorite thing about owning a B&B is, Kate responds, "it's the people - getting to know them, sharing our corner of NH and just making their days here a little more relaxed than their usual routine." Phil agrees and says he especially enjoys suggesting activities and sites to get the most from the area. Kate and Phil have owned the B&B since May of 2005
Kate had a 27-year career in the financial services industry prior to owning the B&B. She says, "With what has happened in the last couple of years in that field, I feel really lucky to have gotten out when I did. I traveled a lot - both in the US and Internationally, worked on interesting projects and made some good friends. I had the good fortune of being based in London England for 2 years and Sydney Australia for one. I was able to travel extensively from both locations and stayed in B&B's whenever I could. I really enjoyed the insiders' insight on walks along Hadrian's Wall or the best vineyard in the Hunter Valley."
Before becoming an innkeeper, Phil reflects, "I really have had 4 different careers that prepared me for innkeeping. First I was a shop teacher, able to make or fix just about anything you put in front of me. Next I was a power delivery engineer, dealing with the "why" of large systems and "crisis response" to power outages. Third stop on my career path was as a customer service rep for at a 401K center and most recently (& continuing) a ski instructor at Pats Peak. So you can imagine the hands on fix it, crisis management and service ethic all serve me well here at Henniker House. The ski instructor gig is pretty helpful too because, as the sign in our breakfast room says, "it's all about the skiing"."
Kate muses that she wanted to become an innkeeper after the sort of traveling she did in Europe, innkeeping looked like away to live in a nice place, meet fascinating people and still have enough time for her own interests. She says, "At this point I'd say 2 out of 3 ain't bad. I've discovered I'm a bit of an overachiever so my interests aren't weaving, photography and sewing as I once thought they were. It seems that I'm destined to take my corporate skills and apply them to founding a chamber of commerce in Henniker or establishing an inn-to-inn bike tour business with my spare time."
Phil says, "The idea of innkeeping never occurred to me till I fell for this red-headed woman who had a dream but didn't want to face plumbing emergencies alone. Now my most important job is making sure Kate stops to smell the roses (we don't have that many plumbing emergencies)." Kate chimes in, "This sort of relates to the next question about most challenging, on an ongoing basis - when it's my own business, in the place I live - I can spend every waking minute on the business of the B&B and forget to smell the roses."
When asked "What do you find most challenging about running a B&B?" Kate answers, 'this is mostly about the dream vs the reality of it - not so much about current challenges…) - Henniker House was a distressed property when we took it over. My real estate agent saw it before we did and said "it's dirty" and I said, "I can clean", to which she said, "you didn't hear me, it's dirty". It was full of stuff that had nothing to do with the B&B business. I'd say it took us a good 18 months to get ahead of the junk - the guys at the transfer station are my best buddies! We then took another year or so to plan a major renovation that created the Balcony & Pear rooms as well as a very pleasant apartment for us on "the river level" (we don't say basement). In the last 2 years we've been able to enjoy the fruits of those labors and especially love to host folks who saw the "before" and appreciate the "after".
Phil comments, "I've become "so Henniker", I operate at a slower pace, inhale the beauty of our surroundings and treasure the small town lifestyle. Sometimes a guest arrives hyped up with all the energy of today's "New York minute" pace just looking for a place to sleep. The challenge for me is to not preach the Henniker Gospel and just let them race through, missing out on the full B&B experience Henniker House has to offer. The flip side of that challenge is when I do find a convert, they become an evangelist and spread the Henniker word."
Kate says in her occasional time to catch a breather from innkeeping, "I really enjoy a good wander. I'll take a hike or navigate from the back of Phil's old BMW motorcycle or just go for a ride in the car. Since I'm still pretty new to New Hampshire, there are many things on my must see list - guests add more all the time! When I don't have time to wander far, I find a quick ride on my bicycle to the post office or hardware store clears my head." Phil adds, "My time away from the B&B varies by season. Chasing turtles around the boulders in Pleasant Pond gives me exercise from May to October. In the winter, teaching skiing at Pats Peak fills my days with smiling kids and relieved adults."
Most mornings you will find Kate in the kitchen & Phil in the breakfast room. Phil gets the credit for the good-looking lawn and Kate for the decorating inside. It's surprising how things just even out; they both can be busy all day in their own corners of this big house & then come back together for meals.
Kate says, "There's something for everyone & every season. Did we already say ski at Pats Peak? Swim at Pleasant Pond, kayak on the Contoocook River, hike, bike or just drive along country roads and enjoy the views. Plays or poetry readings at New England College. Art at Mill Brook Gallery. Ice cream at Beech Hill Ice Cream Barn. Maple sugaring, shopping and spoon carving workshops. And of course there's skiing at Pats Peak because "it's all about the skiing"
Some of the many reasons guests come to stay at Henniker House is that New England College is here in Henniker and families checking come here to check it out, parents come to visit students or alumni returning to town make up about a quarter of the inn's business. The B&B is also well positioned for travelers crossing New England, or exploring New Hampshire radiating out of our central location. Henniker has a fabulous destination for quilters Quilted Threads (http://www.quiltedthreads.com/). They have hosted folks from as far as Norway and Australia who came to visit the quilt shop. Some of their favorite quilters take over the whole house for a weekend of sewing, visiting and hops across the street to Quilted Threads. And of course there's skiing at Pats Peak because "it's all about the skiing"
Kate says, "Going back to the best part of innkeeping is the people; we truly believe that being present with the guests will make their stay special." She & Phil try to tune into what the guest wants in their experience - quiet time alone on the deck by the river, to linger in the breakfast room with new friends or recommendations of where to eat or tour. When it's not apparent, Kate & Phil ask and listen - She comments, "It's amazing how much people appreciate just being heard."
When asked if are there particular kinds of people that the B&B seems to appeal to. Kate responds, "More of our guests wear Birkenstocks, hiking boots or flip-flops than Manolo Blahniks. Seriously we get all ages and stages of life but the common thread is that they are themselves interesting and interested in the world around them."
Kate comments, "If we have people who have never staying in a B&B before, we tell them, "We promise we'll be gentle"- it's good for a laugh and then we say "relax, you're staying with family you didn't know you had".
She says, :Here at Henniker House you are greeted and served by the owners so we have a personal investment in the guest's experience. There is no one between the guest and the person who cares the most about the guests business. We've had several guests who on their visits back to Henniker stop into visit us - even when they didn't stay here because we were full. The smaller size of a B&B gives you get a chance to make a personal relationship that transcends the product of a place to stay."
When Kate and Phil first came to Henniker House they learned there was a write up in a European guidebook that described Henniker House as unpretentious. They really take that to heart and strive to be a comfortable place with an unbeatable view of the Contoocook River. Phil comments, "Because we're in town (small that it is!) we get good cell service for those who want to stay in touch and there are several good restaurants within walking distance."
Kates adds in closing, "Henniker House was a birthing hospital in the 1920's & 30's. When I went to get apples from a local orchard I learned the owner was born here at what is now the inn. The unique tie between the apple orchard tender and Henniker House makes our "Dutch Babies" the signature dish. Even without the tie, puffy apple pancakes with New Hampshire maple syrup are a real treat.
Featured Inn: Twin Doors B&B
49 High Street, Sunapee, NH
Romantic accommodations with four modern queen/king guestrooms plus ideal location - walk to Sunapee Harbor waterfront activities & 3 miles to award winning Mt Sunapee skiing & riding
An interview with Rosemary and Hess Gates, innkeepers and owners of Twin Doors B&B
"Renovate and they will come"
In 2005, Rosemary and Hess Gates began the transformation of the 1900 country cape farmhouse in Sunapee Harbor to become Twin Doors Bed & Breakfast. They had spent many great times in the area and were thrilled when they purchased the property in 2003. They thought it was such an ideal location: in the Harbor, a 5 minute walk to all the great Summer waterfront activities and just a 10 minute drive to their favorite Winter recreation - skiing at Mt Sunapee. Their goal was to retain all of the property's original charm while providing modern comforts for future guests.
As Hess relates, "We were both working full-time when we started the renovation but it was a great experience. We were fortunate to find George Grant, a Sunapee resident with a real appreciation of older homes. The three of us made a good team, Rosemary had the vision and decorating flair (plus a barn full of collected furnishings), George had the construction expertise and Hess knew which end of a hammer to hold." In 2007, after two years of hard work, Twin Doors opened with four guestrooms with modern comforts including private bathrooms with Jacuzzis, individual room heat control, remote controlled ceiling fans, air conditioning, in room TV/DVD and wireless internet. As Rosemary notes, "Having experienced many B&Bs, we learned what really made a difference: guestrooms with two comfortable reading chairs, plenty of electrical outlets, plush bathrobes, ironed 400-count bed linens & plenty of pillows, bedside reading lamps, lots of soft towels and, of coarse, great hot breakfasts."
Now in their 4th year, Hess and Rosemary enthusiastically comment on how enjoyable Innkeeping is plus note they find it a rewarding lifestyle. Some of their favorite experiences are: Sharing their love of Lake Sunapee, Mt Sunapee and all the nearby activities and hearing great feedback from our guests, meeting interesting guests from all walks of life and from all over the world - skiers, hikers, business travelers, wedding guests, international guests plus many, many vacationers and sharing family updates with their many repeat guests - several have become "extended family" which they find so neat.
When asked about learning about being an Innkeeper, Rosemary relates their initial B&B experiences. Hess's business (software for Distribution & Manufacturing) involved extensive travel and when we went on vacations, Hess all but refused to stay in another big box Marriott or Hilton. She says, "That is when we started staying in B&Bs and most were fun (some even approaching the Bob Newhart TV show)." Rosemary grew up in old houses and always loved old houses. Both would have loved to own an old house but with two sports active children it just never really fit. Well, now it has come full circle for both of them, Rosemary has an old house and Hess stays every night in a B&B!
Both Rosemary and Hess commented on what fun their guests are. This makes the hard work more than worthwhile. A bonus form of entertainment (and certainly a surprise) has been some of the questions from prospective inquiring guests. They mention a few of the more memorable ones:
"I know you are a Bed and Breakfast but do you serve breakfast? "
"Do you have on-site parking and, if so, what is the cost per day? "
"Should I bring my own sheets and pillow? "
Hess asks caller, "How many in your party". Caller replies, "Eleven". Hess says, "We are awfully sorry but we just have 4 rooms and can only accommodate eight". Caller adds, "That is ok we will take two rooms". Hess hesitates, gathers himself and says, "I guess I wasn't clear. Our B&B only holds 8 guests total". The caller quickly replies, "That is ok , six are children. Hess is now really stumped and politely says,
"In Sunapee, we count children as people" Caller now says "Ohhh, that is too bad."
Featured Inn: Candlelite Inn
5 Greenhouse Lane, Bradford, NH
This award winning, country Victorian Inn has all the grace and charm for that
An interview with Marilyn Gordon innkeeper and co-owner
of the Candlelite Inn
Marilyn says her favorite thing about owning a B&B is the people you meet. "We have met people from all over the world and throughout the US. We have had an Indian chief stay with us, a celebrity, and several chefs from the Boston area." They decided to become innkeepers for the lifestyle. "Running the B&B was our retirement. A slower pace than NJ. We both feel that this is the best job that either of us has ever had."
Before becoming B&B owners, Marilyn was in banking for 10 years and then took time off to raise 2 girls. She went back into banking for another 15 years after that. She worked mostly as a teller and a head teller and also as a customer service rep. Les was a machinist and now he has put his skill as a jack of all trades here into projects at the Inn. Marilyn finds the most challenging thing about running a B&B currently is giving value to their guests in this economic climate.
Les and Marilyn have been running the Inn for 18 years. They bought the inn through bank auction and it needed a great deal of repair at the time. There wasn't any furniture other then a few things that they brought with them, so they spent a lot of time going to auctions and barn sales which they said was lots of fun. Everything in the inn was bought in New Hampshire.
"Guests have said our breakfasts are one of the main reasons they come to stay at our B&B," Marilyn says. "We serve dessert for breakfast. Of course that's something you don't do at home. Many people have said when they walk into the Inn that it reminds them of their grandmother's house. Lot's of memories."
The Candlelite Inn mostly attracts the 40's, 50's & 60 year olds as guests. Marilyn likes to say that this area is for grown-ups. It's a little more laid back, quiet, relaxing and restful; but still a lot to do. Marilyn mentions that in the Lake Sunapee area there is the John Hay Estate, the cruise & dinner boats on Lake Sunapee, Mt Sunapee Resort, walking trails, covered bridges. There is something for everyone here, boating, biking, historical attractions and more.
Marilyn says in response to: What would you say to people who have never stayed in a bed and breakfast before? "They should definitely try it. Also to go to more than one. Each B&B is different; each innkeeper is different and each area is different." "We try to make our guest's stay here special with the little touches throughout the Inn - from the little knick knacks to the presentation of their breakfast. Also upon departure, I give them a little gift to take home as a remembrance of their stay with us." She mentions that her menus are seasonal but there are a few recipes she makes at the inn at the time, as they are particular guest favorites.
When asked what do you feel makes your B&B different from other B&Bs? Marilyn says, "I think that each innkeeper puts a little of themselves in their B&B. I enjoy cooking, so there is always some new recipe that I am trying out on my guests." She also thinks that B&B differ from hotels in that B&B's are a lot friendlier, you get to meet some great people who are also staying at the B&B and of course, the innkeepers know all the good spots to eat and see.
Featured Inn: 1806 Inn at Mount Sunapee
1424 Route 103,
The 1806 Inn is the closest lodging to the Mount Sunapee Ski Resort. Each of the five guest rooms
is named for a prominent New England author.
An interview with Bill and Karen Carruth, innkeepers and owners of 1806 Inn at Mount Sunapee
When asked what their favorite thing about owning a B&B, Bill replies, "Creating a business on our property where none previously existed and having it grow each year." He comments, "Now I know what it means to give birth." To which Karen, mother of twin boys, responds, "No you don't"! Bill says, "The icing on the cake with running a successful B&B is the opportunity to meet interesting people from all over the world. We have had guests from France, Italy, Holland, Israel, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Austria, England, Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, Russia, Ukraine, Japan, China, India, and South Korea."
Bill and Karen started their B&B from scratch nearly 5 years ago because they wanted to do something together in their retirement. Before owning a B&B, Bill worked for an insurance company for 29 years and Karen was retired from teaching. In their first retirement, they ran a successful bookstore for 7 years. This is their second retirement. "And, we are still having fun!" comments Karen.
Karen says, "In the summer, the most challenging thing about running our B&B is keeping the lavish gardens weeded and watered. In the winter, being located directly beside Mount Sunapee, finding a place to put all the snow." But it's not all work and no play. They both enjoy reading the books from the Inn's extensive library when it's quiet and they often travel to visit family in Europe.
Karen mentions that their B&B has a great advantage locally in it that makes the area a great place to visit because of their proximity to Mount Sunapee and the State Beach on Lake Sunapee. Guests come to the 1806 Inn because of the location and reasonable rates. Many guests return because of their positive experience the first time.
Bill says, "We welcome our guests by name and assure them that we are close enough to attend to their needs, but far enough away to insure their privacy." He continues, "All kinds of people come to stay with us, e.g. newlyweds, business travelers, those attending family reunions, international guests, skiers, hikers, and wedding party members and guests."
At the 1806 Inn at Mount Sunapee, Bill is the chef. Karen says she happily relinquishes that duty to Bill because too many cooks in the kitchen is not a good idea. The other duties of running a full time bed and breakfast are shared equally by Bill and Karen.
Some of the nicer features of the 1806 Inn are the library, spacious great room, two gas fireplaces, and garden patio. Karen says, "Often the reason the Inn has so many repeat guests, we are told, is because of the innkeepers themselves." And she continues, "We serve a complete breakfast everyday, not just on weekends. We have a hot country breakfast, including eggs prepared to order, French toast, pancakes, sausage, and bacon. Also, we provide a buffet table of breakfast item choices that are only limited by the size of the table. After frequent visits to the Netherlands, we are looking forward to introducing a new recipe, Poffertjes, for breakfast."
Bill comments, "We would say to people who have never stayed in a B&B before, "Give it a try. It is a unique experience because staying in a B&B affords the guests a more personal experience than a hotel. It is an opportunity for guests to meet new people and make new friends. We often see some of our guests, after a few days visit, swapping email addresses, telephone numbers, and business cards for continued contact."
Featured Inn: Shaker Hill Bed and Breakfast
259 Shaker Hill Road, Enfield NH
Welcoming, restored country inn with comfortable accommodations and sumptuous breakfasts. We make you kindly welcome.
Nancy and Allen both originally worked for the federal government, Allen spent 36 years with the US Forest Service, and Nancy worked at the Environmental Protection Agency for the last 11 years of her career. They both thought that they would like to own a B&B and started keeping an eye out for one toward the end of their careers. They found a property in the winter of 1996, under a mound of snow, and decided to take the plunge. They did major renovations while still living in Virginia and have been working on building gardens and "finishing" (Says Nancy,"An oxymoron if anyone has ever heard one!") the B&B ever since.
Allen says, "When guests ask us how we came to settle in Enfield New Hampshire, we often reply, "We were looking in Pennsylvania and turned left one day….and have never looked back." This is closer to the truth than you would believe; we had both been working in the DC area and often vacationed in PA but 12 years ago found our way to the Upper Connecticut River Valley and found home."
The B&B is a 1793 traditional colonial home, which is in very good condition considering its age. They have tried to be true to its history in anything they have done. The house is built on the site of an earlier home - one that burned in the 1780's and which had served as the meeting house for the Enfield Shakers prior to their moving to the other side of Mascoma Lake. The current structure was changed over the years as ownership changed hands - an ell was added in the 1850's to accommodate a growing family. Over the years it was converted into apartments. Nancy and Allen have re-opened the lower part of the house and have renovated the small apartment, which they rent out, usually short term.
When Allen and Nancy first arrived in May 1998, they started decorating and furnishing and were able to open for business with a full house on October 1of that year; it was Dartmouth Homecoming. Nancy says, "Talk about baptism by fire! We have learned a lot over the years and have met such wonderful people that we have absolutely no regrets about our decision - in fact, it is hard to think of ever not greeting and meeting folks as we think of the future. If there is one downside to this business it has to be that you can't "go home after a bad day at work." This is a 24 hr. job and you have to like it."
One source of relief for the innkeepers are their two Vizsla dogs - Willie and Ben. "They are a constant source of delight - for us and for our guests. I often think that they should have their own web site!"
Nancy mentions, "We have learned how to balance our time, we actually do get in an occasional round of golf together and manage to take advantage of other offerings in the Upper Valley. We have added a little golf green which means that we can practice a bit even when we can't get out to play. I'm an avid gardener, we have built extensive gardens and actually have plans for another." She exclaims, "Time does get to be the enemy where gardening is concerned, those weeds are much more persistent than I would have thought!"She says "There are so many things to do in the area: farmers' markets to theater and opera, to numerous historic sites - that we are never at a loss for things to do. We try to get out and see some of the lesser known spots so that we can direct our guests to these hidden treasures."
Nancy and Allen have five children - all located somewhere else (Nancy says, "Its a good reason to travel every now and then"). Their oldest three, and all of their five grandkids, are well settled in Albuqerque, NM; their "baby" is trying to make her mark in the "triangle" area of North Carolina, and their special daughter lives in Virginia. They usually try to travel to see most of them, but welcome them "home" any time they can get here.
Allen says, "We try to make each guests stay a special one - whether it is a birthday, anniversary, parent visit or just a get-away. That personal touch is what sets us apart. We love to share our experiences with guests. We really love being inn keepers - it offers a wonderful chance to meet interesting people and keeps us young - I think. "
Featured Inn: Trumbull House Bed & Breakfast
40 Etna Road, Hanover NH
The Trumbull House B&B offers luxury country lodgings and sumptuous breakfasts just four miles from Dartmouth College.
An interview with Hilary Pridgen, Innkeeper of The Trumbull House Bed & Breakfast in Hanover, NH
Before Hilary owned a B&B, she received an MBA from Wharton and she spent 20 years in business, first in corporate life and then as an entrepreneur. Her last venture before the B&B was a mail order company called The Wooden Spoon. She and a partner started it in 1976 and then sold it to the Campbell Soup Company in 1989. At that point she thought that she had “retired” to raise her kids – only four of them then, ages 2, 4, 6 and 8. She purchased the house in 1991 because it was large enough that each child could have his/her own room, and lived in it as a family until 1995 and at that point turned the house into a B&B.
She started the B&B in order to be home to raise her five kids, then ages 3 to 14. She became a single parent at that point, and told the kids that she would always be able to feed them, but that if they wanted to continue to live there (it had been a B&B when they bought it, it's huge and is on 16 lovely acres, and is only 6 or 7 minutes from schools and town) the house had to pay for itself. She said to them "We’d give it a year and then re-evaluate. If we decided to continue it as a B&B, I would find each of you your own bedroom again."
At that point they moved to the back part of the house which used to be a barn and which their predecessors had converted to their living space with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. Hilary was thrilled that her kids were VERY supportive, and would delight in carrying bags and telling guests about restaurants in town and giving them driving directions. She says "On the very rare occasions when a kid complained, I reminded them that we didn’t have to do this. I have a strong resume and would have had no problem getting a job that would support us all…but we would have to sell this house and buy a much smaller one, and I’d probably have to travel, and they wouldn’t see me as much. Well – 20 seconds later they’d be staring at the phone wanting it to ring so that they could take a reservation for me, or for a guest to pull up so they could show them to their room."
After a year, they had the promised family meeting. She knew the B&B was financially viable, and the kids decided that it was family friendly. A local carpenter turned the garage and the back shed into the “girls wing” with three bedrooms and a large bathroom and each child ended up with his/her own room once again. The family side is very separate from the B&B side. It's like having two separate houses that each adjoin a large kitchen. The kitchen is open on the family side, and separated from the B&B by a butler’s pantry and doors that say “private.” She says it works very well and enables both family and guests to have plenty of privacy.
Hillary says the most challenging part about running a B&B is the constancy of it. There’s never time off when you’re there. It’s 24/7. She feels she doesn't get “time off” in any meaningful sense. She does try to make time to play tennis a couple of times a week, and always makes it to every one of her children’s performances and games. Until last year, her family friendly solution to having time off was to take summers off. She would hire a summer innsitter and she and the kids would move down to the east end of Long Island where they have a small house right on the Great Peconic Bay. It’s been in her family for almost 90 years. The kids could be KIDS for the summer, and have arguments and actually raise their voices! They would bike to the local deli for breakfast or to the library to borrow books. The stretch of two months away from the B&B made it much easier to come back to. She always felt refreshed and ready for foliage season!
Last year her innsitter retired and with the bookings at the B&B down due to the economy (and her kids mostly older and off doing their own things), she rented out the house on Long Island and stayed at the B&B for most of the summer. Hilary said this was tough year to get through. This year, her youngest daughter is going to innsit for her for the month of July and then she's headed for the beach! She says, "Margaret will do a fabulous job innsitting – she covered for me for a couple of weeks when my mom was ill in the spring. She’s as good a cook as I am, and knows the computer inside out, and is much more outgoing than I am! She’s a natural, and is only 19. She has asked me to keep running the B&B for another 14 years by which time she’ll be ready to take it over. We’ll see, I say."
Hilary says one of her favorite things about owning a bed and breakfast is the flexibility it provides her and the very family-friendly nature of it. Hilary mentions that locally for visiting guests, Dartmouth College is a big draw. Hanover is a beautiful New England college town. There are plenty of good restaurants, the Hood Museum, the Hopkins Center for Performing Arts, the Lebanon Opera House as well as a trail system that traverses the Trumbull House property and links in to the Appalachian Trail. She says people come to stay at the B&B for the breakfasts, the rooms, the 16 acres with pond, meadow and maples. But they come mostly the location…Hanover.
Hilary feels that in order to make a stay at her B&B special, she provides the best level of service that she can. Guests appreciate that they can have a sumptuous breakfast, ordered from a menu, at 6am or 10am depending upon their schedule for the day. Rooms are spacious and clean and comfortable. Sheets are high thread-count all cotton (and ironed!). Towels are thick and fluffy. They also have high speed WiFi and a business center for guests’ use. Her inn appeals to all kinds of travelers, business, newlyweds, retirees, families and people just looking for a romantic getaway.
Hilary mentions her breakfast policy, which is a bit different from how most other B&Bs offer breakfast. She will serve it pretty much whenever a guest wishes. She served one guest at 4:30 am, as it was during Ramadan, and he couldn’t eat between sunrise and sunset (she said he ordered two generous entrees!). When asked what she considers her signature dish, she says there are about a dozen entrees on her breakfast menu and she doesn't really consider any one of them her “signature” dish. Her blueberry scones probably receive the greatest number of compliments. Just two days ago a girl around ten years old looked up at her adoringly and said, “These scones are AMAZING.”
She says she thinks B&Bs differ from hotels because B&Bs tend to be run by the owner, who has a strong vested interest in being sure that guests’ needs are met and that they are having a good experience. She thinks people don’t get that level of concern in most hotels. When asked what she would say to people who have never stayed in a bed and breakfast before, she said, "The Hanover Inn refers dozens of
guests each year to the inn, many of whom have never stayed in a B&B. Almost every one confides in her that now, they’ll look for B&Bs first."