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Amazing Bed and Breakfast Marketing From A to Z

bed-and-breakfast-marketing

Amazing Bed and Breakfast Marketing From A to Z

What if there was an amazing way to market your bed and breakfast by keeping the alphabet in mind? These are some of the most important factors to consider when blogging about your bed and breakfast inn.

  • Amenities: What extra amenities does your B&B have that others do not? It is important to know what sets you apart from your competition. Whether you have in-room hot tubs or fireplaces, this is a great thing to mention in your blog and on your website.
  • Antiques: Do you have any unique antiques that guests can look at? You may want to keep priceless or fragile antiques behind glass to protect them. Some B&B’s sell antiques to their guests.
  • Art: Do guests admire your art collection? Whether you have paintings, murals, or sculptures, people enjoying looking at art. You may refer them to your local art museums and galleries.
  • Awards: Do you have some honor or distinction that is noteworthy? It is okay to mention your Diamond Rating level, your prize-winning recipe, or anything else that distinguishes you from other places of lodging.
  • Bathrooms: Show off your spacious, well-decorated, and luxurious bathrooms with pictures and blog about recent upgrades.
  • Beach: Having a beach or waterfront property adds to your appeal. Share plenty of outdoor pictures as well as pictures of the outside view from inside your inn.
  • Bedrooms: You could let guests know the meaning behind the names of your bedrooms. Is it named after a former resident, your state bird, or a local sports team? Blog about what your own guests tell you they love about your guest rooms.
  • Benefits: Blog about the benefits that come to those who take a break to relax and spend time with loved ones. With permission, you could feature some of your guests and have them share how they have benefited from their stay at your B&B.
  • Birthdays: It is always great to ask guests the reason for their visit. Even if the reason is not a birthday, it may be a good idea to find out those dates so you can send guests a postcard or email on their birthday to remind them of their stay and entice them to want to come back.
  • Breakfasts: Do you cater to special diets like gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan? How do guests receive their breakfast: delivered to their room or eaten in a common place? These are all things you can blog about. Even give a behind the scenes look at your kitchen or interview your chef.
  • Business: Do you host a number of business travelers in your area? Do you have a conference room and technology resources like free Wi-Fi and guest access to a printer and fax machine? Blogging about this may result in hosting more business travelers.
  • Classes: Do you teach, or know of someone who could do this, a certain skill? This could be cooking, dancing, photography, etc. By offering unique classes, you can attract more people to your inn.
  • Complimentary: Emphasize all the free things that come to your B&B guests versus those who stay at your local hotels. This includes: breakfast, concierge services, parking, etc. This gives people a reason to choose to stay with you over your local hotel competition.
  • Concerts: Are you near a big venue like a concert hall or stadium? Blog about the next musician or theatre performance coming to your area.
  • Decks: If you have a deck with an amazing view, by all means blog about it and show pictures of the view.   People like to get away to scenic places.
  • Dining out: Do you provide your guests with a list of local restaurants or have local restaurant menus available for guests to browse? You could feature certain restaurants you know are popular with your guests.
  • Eco-Friendly: If you are an environmentally friendly bed and breakfast, then you should write about what things you do to earn that green distinction. If you line dry your blankets and/or offer an electric car charging station, guests will appreciate that.
  • Events: Keep an eye on events that are happening in your local area. A great way to do this is to regularly check your local and state visitors’ bureaus.
  • Farms: If you live on a farm that grows crops and/or has animals, blog about this. Some guests would love to meet animals from your petting zoo. Other guests want the experience of picking berries, for example.
  • Fireplaces: If you have fireplaces inside and/or fire pits outside, this is an attractive feature. Mention that indoor guests can sip hot cocoa or drink wine by the fire. Outside they could roast marshmallows and make s’mores.
  • Flowers: As long as you know your guests do not have any allergies, displaying fresh flowers on throughout your B&B is a nice added touch. These flowers could come from your own garden or a local florist, farmers market, or grocery store.
  • Frequent stay: Reward your repeat guests in some way. This could be a free upgraded room, a free bottle of wine, free massage, or even an extra night.
  • Games: Do you offer cards, board games, or even video games at your inn? You may have a pool table or air hockey table or even have a horseshoe pit outside. Blog about the games that your guests enjoy playing at your bed and breakfast.
  • Garden: Guests love to walk the grounds of bed and breakfasts with gardens of all kinds, including: flower gardens, produce gardens, and rock gardens.
  • Handicap accessible: Do you accommodate handicapped people? If you have these available, discuss your ramps, ground floor guest rooms, wheelchair friendly bathrooms, and elevators in a blog post.
  • History: Many bed and breakfasts are registered historic places. You could blog about the history of your B&B including its former occupants and what it was used for. Some bed and breakfasts were once private residences, boarding schools, or used for other purposes.
  • Holiday: Use the time leading up to holidays to show pictures of how your inn is decorated and discuss local events related to the holidays.
  • Honeymooners: Many couples choose to stay at a bed and breakfast for their honeymoon. You may even have a Honeymoon Suite as part of your inn.
  • Innkeepers: Your guests want to know more about the innkeepers, the people who run your inn.
  • Just in Time: You could offer discounts based on the time of their stay. This could be last minute specials, mid-week discounts, or stay for a specific number of nights and get the next night free.
  • Kid-friendly: All bed and breakfast inns need to establish their minimum age requirement. Some bed and breakfasts cater to romance and do not allow anyone under a specific age to stay overnight. Others B&B’s are known as “kid friendly” and welcomes kids as well as provide accommodations like adjoining rooms.
  • Lakes: Being located on a lake is a tremendous advantage. If your guests can go fishing, swimming, waterskiing, rafting, canoeing, or do any other water-related activities, this is an opportunity to blog about it and share pictures.
  • Leisure activities: Anything that your guests can do for fun should be mentioned in your blog. I recommend having a list of links to local leisure activities such as amusement parks and golf courses.
  • Libraries: Do you have a common room that is perfect for guests to read in? Do you have a library of books available for them to use during their stay? If so, you could write a blog post about it. If you know a local author (or happen to be one yourself), consider hosting a book talk or book signing. Your library can include movies that guests can watch in their rooms.
  • Linens: Brag about your high thread count sheets, plush towels, and luxurious robes.
  • Local area: Find out why most people visit your area and blog about those reasons often. For example, if you are located near a famous race car track, feature that.
  • Membership: Belonging to associations can attract more guests. Guests rest easy when they know that you are part of a bed and breakfast association; have a certain Diamond rating, and so on. Membership in these organizations adds credibility.
  • Mountains: Bed and breakfasts located in the mountains can show their breathtaking views and discuss those pictures on their blog and website.
  • Museums: There are many types of museums that could be in your local area: art museums, history museums, natural science museums, and even sports museums (or hall of fames). If your inn is near any museums, blog about this.
  • Mysteries: Some bed and breakfasts offer Murder Mystery evenings or weekends. This may even include a dinner and/or getting into a costume. Those who like reading mystery novels are great candidates for people who are likely to enjoy these kinds of mysteries.
  • Night walk: Some local area events happen late at night or you could host your own night tour.
  • Occasion: A special occasion might bring people to your inn. This could be an anniversary or even a family reunion or class reunion.
  • Outdoors: It is important to know what people like to do outdoors in your area.   It often depends upon the weather your area receives and the topography of your region.
  • Packages: Add more value by putting together guest packages based upon interests, seasons, area activities, occasions, and much more. This could mean making arrangements, on behalf of your guests, for restaurants, tours, concerts, and more.
  • Partnerships: You may decide it is in your best interest to form partnerships with local business people. For example, in exchange for exclusively using only their business, you can get a deal with a local florist to reduce their rates.
  • Patios: If you have an outdoor patio area for your guests, take pictures of it. Blog about any outdoor events you hosted on your patio.
  • Patriotic: American patriotic holidays include Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and Veterans Day. Your bed and breakfast may decorate, host events, and/or offer patriotic packages.
  • Pets: Your bed and breakfast may not allow pets or the only pets allowed are the innkeepers. Other bed and breakfast inns may accommodate pets in certain places of the inn (like the first floor, rooms with private exits, and private cottages) or it could be entirely pet friendly. If your B&B does allow pets, you could devote a blog post about the lovable pets that have stayed.
  • Pictures: They can say much more than words ever will. Be sure to have flattering pictures of your bed and breakfast inn on your website and in your blog posts. The pictures should accurately represent what your inn looks like today.
  • Pools: If your B&B has an indoor or outdoor pool or hot tub, you can share pictures of that. Guests really appreciate private in room hot tubs.
  • Porches: Many bed and breakfasts are known for their porches. Share pictures of your porch with its rockers, swing, and other furniture.
  • Promotions: Bed and breakfasts can offer special promotions based on the holidays, seasons, and local events. This could include discounts, complimentary services, and free upgrades.
  • Quiet: Guests like to get away from the noise of everyday life. If you live in a tranquil setting, write about the compliments you receive about being a quiet place to stay.
  • Recreation: Discuss types of recreation guests can take part in on your property as well as in your local area.
  • Redecorating/remodeling: Feature the before and after pictures from a recent redecorating or remodeling project. Blog about how and why you decided to make those changes as well as why guests will want to visit.
  • Referrals: Give your guests incentives to make referrals to their friends and family. The incentive could be a discount on their next stay.
  • Restaurant: If you own your own bed and breakfast restaurant, this part of your inn may be open to the public. This is a great way to draw new overnight guests by giving them a taste of your incredibly delicious food when they come to dine at your restaurant.
  • Retreats: You could offer retreats like yoga retreats, scrapbooking retreats, or business retreats. Blog about the variety of retreats you offer.
  • Reviews: Share genuinely positive reviews you have of local places of interest to your potential guests.
  • Romantic: Bed and breakfasts may be the perfect place to rekindle the romance in your relationship. Relationship building is one of the primary reasons people take vacations.
  • Seasons: Decorate your inn to reflect each new season. This encourages people to return at a different time in the year to enjoy that time, too.
  • Shopping: Whether you have your own bed and breakfast shop or you are near a lot of wonderful area shopping malls and retail outlets, guests who like to shop will want to read about the shopping that is available in your local area.
  • Spas: You may have your own spa or have a partnership with a local spa or masseuse to provide spa services. Having these services sets you apart from other lodging accommodations.
  • Sports: Bed and breakfasts near sporting arenas and stadiums can blog about local sports teams season schedules, players, and coaches. Innkeepers might provide a Sports Package that includes tickets to their choice of certain local sporting events.
  • Tea: Bed and breakfasts may have a tea time or even a tea room. They may serve scones, tea sandwiches, cookies, and other finger food.
  • Ultimate experience: Position your bed and breakfast inn as the ultimate experience in lodging accommodations, hospitality, and cuisine. Encourage guests to give you a five star rating, or if they cannot do so, to talk with you about it instead of sharing their less than 5 star rating. This keeps up your image as the ultimate experience and gives you valuable input for how you can improve your guest experience.
  • Videos: If your bed and breakfast has its own video, be sure to put that on your website in a prominent place for your web visitors to see. Videos show more than pictures do. This allows your guests to get a feel for the layout of your bed and breakfast.
  • Weddings: If your inn hosts weddings, it is wise to dedicate a place on your website for that as well as to blog about it. Smaller bed and breakfasts may do small weddings or elopements.
  • Wine: Depending upon your state laws and licensing, you may host wine tastings or allow your guests to bring their own wine. You may even offer your guests the opportunity to tour one or more local vineyards in your area.
  • Xtra special: This was my “extra special” attempt to come up with a word that starts with “X.” It is important that your guests feel extra special not just when they arrive, but from the moment they see your website and speak with you over the phone.  Your bed and breakfast should have a great reputation.
  • Young and old guests: Bed and breakfasts appeal to young couples as well as older ones. You may have guests that return regularly over the years. That is great to have such loyalty and friendship with your guests.
  • Zzz…. Are your guests ready to have a restful experience at your inn? Make sure that your mattresses are comfortable. Be sure to offer extra pillows and blankets. Have a night light for guests to see their way to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Be sure to share your blog posts regularly in social media.  No time to write your own blog posts?  Contact us about your bed and breakfast blogging.

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

4 Secrets to Biltmore Success

secrets-to-Biltmore-success

What are some of the secrets to Biltmore success?  I am referring to America’s largest private residence, the two-hundred and fifty room Biltmore Estate.  After six years of construction while collaborating with architect Richard Morris Hunt and landscape architect Fredrick Law Olmstead, on Christmas Eve in 1895 George Vanderbilt officially opened Biltmore House.

George Vanderbilt pictured the possibilities for his family and friends on his eight thousand acres of Blue Ridge Mountain beauty.  In present day, the Estate includes:

  • delightful shops
  • four-star Inn on Biltmore Estate
  • gorgeous gardens
  • romantic restaurants
  • wonderful winery

Today, with two hundred full-time employees and a total of over eighteen-hundred employees working for The Biltmore, bed and breakfast owners may wonder what they have in common this hospitality giant.  If we can understand what helps make the Biltmore such a success, then hoteliers (as well as owners of restaurants, shops, and wineries) can apply this knowledge to run their own hospitality businesses better.

Secret #1: Offer add-ons, like tours and activities, to your guests.  This caters to individuals who have the ability and desire to pay more for these additional benefits.

The visitors to the Biltmore Estate can opt for additional tours:

  • Audio Guide to Biltmore House: capture the feeling of being guided through Biltmore’s grand rooms by our curators and hosts on this ninety-minute audio tour filled with stories about the Vanderbilts and treasures in their collection
  • Behind-the-Scenes Guided Upstairs-Downstairs Tour: in this sixty-minute guided tour, descend the back stairs to explore servant life at Biltmore, discover cutting-edge technology that kept America’s largest home humming, visit the domains of the butler, head housekeeper, and lady’s maids, then continue on to a suite of guest rooms to learn about grand house parties hosted by the Vanderbilts
  • Rooftop Tour: enjoy amazing views from rooftops and balconies and get a closer look at the design and construction of the Biltmore House with this sixty-minute guided tour of areas not on the regular house visit
  • Legacy of the Land Tour: take a motor coach tour of the estate and learn about the history of the land, structures, and former residents while visiting areas not usually open to guests

For an additional cost, visitors to the Biltmore Estate can participate in certain activities (available seasonally):

  • Biking
  • Carriage Rides
  • Fly-fishing School
  • Guided Horseback Trail Rides
  • Land Rover Experience Driving School
  • River Rafting, Kayaking, and Paddleboarding Trips
  • Segway Basic, Off-Road, and West Side Tours
  • Sporting Clays School

Morehead Manor Bed and Breakfast of Durham, North Carolina gives guests options for extras, such as:

Rosemary House Bed and Breakfast of Pittsboro, North Carolina offers add-ons, such as:

  • bouquet of roses or variety of flowers
  • chocolate-dipped strawberries
  • fruit and cheese plate
  • handmade Deneen pottery mugs
  • restaurant gift certificates
  • wine tastings for two at five local wineries

Secret #2: Variety encourages your guests to return.  Always keep things fresh.  Each Biltmore experience is different.  As the seasons and their themes change, so does their décor and displays.

For example, during our visit to the Biltmore, they had a Downton Abbey theme and featured real gowns worn on that popular British television show.  They had signs informing visitors about the material of the gown and what was happening in history during the time it was made as well as more information about the character who wore it on the television show.  A Biltmore employee revealed to us that each gown was literally made in that time period or individually hand-made to be authentic to that time.

Many inns choose to decorate during major holidays, such as Christmas.  One of the Biltmore’s biggest attractions are its Christmas displays.  In addition to the obvious holidays, how about choosing a less commonly celebrated holiday like Arbor Day?  Plant a tree in the backyard of your bed and breakfast.  Then show the growth of that tree by taking its picture each year.  Many innkeepers have their inn for more than twenty years, so this could really be a focal point in your yard.

On the topic of gardening and variety, Biltmore plants things that will bloom at different times of the year.  The acres of gardens were designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, the father of American landscape architecture. That way whenever people visit, they will see something pretty.  When we visited the Biltmore Gardens, the tulips were in full bloom.

Secret #3: Offer a closer look at your inn.  The Biltmore Estate is full of carefully researched stories of its past.  The people who lived and worked at Biltmore, the events and people they hosted, and how historical events (including war) affected them.  The Biltmore has many stories to tell.

I was impressed that was a huge painting of the architect and one of the gardener.  The audio guide noted that this was rare for a wealthy person to have portraits made of two people that worked for the family.  This is a testament to how George Vanderbilt honored his employees and valued their contributions to the overall look of his estate.

1898 Waverly Inn of Pittsboro, NC has photo albums with historical pictures of the people that actually lived at their inn.  The Esmeralda Inn and Restaurant of Chimney Rock, NC also is full of history, including a Presidential visit and two fires.  If your inn is brand new, then share pictures of its construction and let your guests know the steps it took from the time you decided to build your bed and breakfast to the time that you opened your doors.

Find your bed and breakfasts’ story.  Some name their rooms after a significant person in history or after their official state symbols such as the state bird and state tree.  Then you can tell stories about the people who made important contributions in history or about how your state symbols came to be.

Secret #4: Make visitors feel welcomed and appreciated.  Biltmore employees are very attentive, polite, knowledgeable, and helpful.   They go out of their way to help you and smile while doing so.  Let that be said of you and your inn.  Extend to your guests your greatest hospitality, and they will reward you by returning and referring others to visit.

While there is no other place quite like the Biltmore Estate, we can implement some of their secrets and apply it to achieving our own success. Innkeepers can ask themselves if they offer extras, create a variety of looks and themes throughout the year, reveal a deeper look to guests, and help their guests feel appreciated. May your place of hospitality be profitable like the Biltmore.

Do you want help marketing your bed and breakfast onlineBed and Breakfast Blogging writes search-engine-optimized blogs as well as gives inns an active presence in social media.  Let us do that work for you so you can focus on what you do best!

1898 Waverly Inn

Better Way to Stay ~ A super relaxing getaway at our Inn and The gas is on us! at 1898 Waverly Inn Bed & Breakfast 800-537-8195

The 1898 Waverly Inn is Hendersonville’s oldest surviving inn.  The first guests (coming by train or stagecoach) walked on boardwalks and at night the street corners were lit with oil lamps.  For the past 28 years, Diane Sheiry and husband John have run the inn.  They are thankful they have Darla (her sister) as well as Debbie and Sandra to help keep things running smoothly.

The colorful flags hanging off their porch can be changed to represent the countries of the guests who are staying at their inn.  The Waverly Inn has delightful curb appeal and I love their cute stepping stones.

Looking down my little path in the side garden.

The National Wildlife Federation certified that their bed and breakfast garden is an official wildlife habitat.  They provide the birds with food, water, and shelter.

You can bring the third person or have a bed to yourself in this room.

This is the American Holly bedroom where we stayed.  It was perfect for my mom, my daughter, and I to sleep in. The desk (partially shown in the above picture) in this room is from the 1940’s.  This historic bed and breakfast has charming antiques yet it also has modern amenities.

Janie came and took this just before I found a great mirror for the mantle.  I love the cozy European feel of this room.

The gorgeous Catawba Rhodedendron bedroom is shown above.  I love everything about how this room is decorated.  All fifteen guest rooms have comfortable queen or king sized beds.  Their luxurious bedding comes with extra pillows and blankets.

This pencil post bed is made of pine and was created in Kennesaw GA

Like the American Holly room, the Mountain Laurel room also accommodates up to three guests.  Their claw foot bath tubs in their bathrooms come with bubble bath, a bath pillow, and a book rest. The rooms all have fluffy towels and cozy robes.  Since the 1898 Waverly Inn is an environmentally friendly inn, they encourages guests to reuse linens and towels, but are pleased to provide fresh ones when requested.

Couple’s Spa Package at 1898 Waverly Inn Bed & Breakfast 800-537-8195

The inn offers Couples Massage at their Spa which is located on their second floor.  They also offer massages to individuals who are interested in receiving the pampering and relaxation a professional masseuse offers.

First Floor Parlor.  For those that keep asking about the color it is Lowe's Valspar "Caramelized Onion".

In the common areas, guests can interact and share experiences as well as give recommendations for beautiful places to see and exciting things to do.  Diane said that the younger guests tend to prefer zip lining while the older guests prefer touring places like the Biltmore Estate.  We loved touring the Estate as well as the Gardens, Winery, little shops, restaurants, and much more!

If you feel like relaxing right here at The 1898 Waverly Inn, they offer a wide variety of things to entertain you and your companions:

  • Interesting collection of books
  • Fun and challenging jigsaw puzzles
  • Classic board games (we played Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble)
  • DVD movies to watch in your guest room
  • and much more!

This Apple Carrot Pecan Cake with Mascarpone Topping was in this month's Southern Living Magazine.  OMG!

Each afternoon, the 1898 Waverly Inn bed and breakfast has a Tasting Hour with complimentary wine and other beverages as well as snacks like cheese and crackers.  Sometimes they even have decadent desserts like this Apple Carrot Pecan Cake with Mascarpone Topping.  It was the recipe of the month in Southern Living Magazine.

Dining Room set up and ready to go for breakfast.

Their delicious gourmet breakfast is always served hot and fresh. Diane says they love to use locally grown food. Their delectable jams were from South Carolina. John is usually the breakfast chef and we enjoyed his six grain pancakes.  We asked for pecans and blueberries and they were hiding right inside the pancakes.  They offer healthy choices like Egg Beaters and turkey bacon.  They also accommodate guests’ dietary restrictions and food allergies.

Six grain pancakes with bacon

The Waverly Inn leaves out different flavors of hot tea as well as hot cocoa packets so guests can use the inn’s hot water to enjoy them at any time.  A guest refrigerator as well as an ice machine are available at any time.  If you need anything, you can visit their front desk or conveniently place a call from your guest room.

Civil War

Innkeeper Diane told us that half of the experience of visiting Hendersonville, is visiting their Historic Downtown.  We received a personally guided tour through the Henderson County Heritage Museum at the Historic Henderson County Courthouse.  The museum holds memorabilia from all American Wars including their actual uniforms.  The informative volunteer tour guide revealed that she is a Veteran Naval Nurse who served during Desert Storm.

From the museum’s information about the history of the town of Hendersonville, we learned that in 1878 it had a major railroad station where people could travel over the Appalachian Mountains in only two days rather than the fourteen day journey it took by horse and wagon. The museum even featured information about the 1898 Waverly Inn:

 

“Across the street from the Wheeler Hotel (where Boyd Park is today) stood an elegant home built in 1885, by Major James Anderson, an engineer who served as superintendent of the railroad.  In 1897, following Anderson’s death, the six-acre lot and very large house was sold to Joseph Noterman, a jeweler from Cincinnati, Ohio.  He moved in with his wife and two youngest daughters, one of whom later married a son of David Henry Wheeler.  The couple, Emily Noterman and Samuel Fair Wheeler, were married in 1904.  Money from the sale of the Anderson property was used by two of his nieces to build a handsome boarding house on adjacent land.  That building still stands and is known as Waverly Inn.”

Logo

The Hendersonville area offers so much for visitors to see, hear, taste, and experience:

  • The Flat Rock Playhouse, The State Theatre of North Carolina brings a wide variety of theatrical and musical entertainment throughout the year.
  • Historic Johnson Farm is an 1870’s brick farmhouse that is oldest home in Henderson County.  Visitors can tour the ten historic buildings and walk the nature trails.
  • Their yearly North Carolina Apple Festival happens over Labor Day Weekend
  • The Mineral and Lapidary Museum of Henderson County was established in 1997 and houses mineral exhibits from North Carolina, replicas of world famouse diamonds, Indian artifacts, a dinosaur egg nest, fossils, fluorescent minerals, gems, and faceted minerals.
Tulips in the Walled Garden

The Biltmore Estate and Walled Garden

Nearby Asheville has many other great tourist attractions, including:

  • The Biltmore Estate, America’s largest private home, is a 250-room French Renaissance chateau, exhibiting the family’s original collection of furnishings, art, and antiques. Biltmore encompasses more than 8,000 acres including historic gardens designed by Frederick Law Olmstead.  It is located in nearby Asheville.
  • Western North Carolina Nature Center in Asheville is a living museum with a focus on wildlife of the Appalachians.  The Center houses a collection of 130 injured and orphaned wildlife including reptiles, mammals, birds, insects, and amphibians.
  • Wildwater Ziplines in open year-round and the closest location is in Ashville, NC.  Soar through the trees with views of the beautiful mountains and downtown skyline.
Relax and feel at home on one of our two shaded porches with rocking chairs at the Waverly Inn Bed & Breakfast

1898 Waverly Inn has two porches to relax on while you sip coffee and read

The 1898 Waverly Inn is proud to be part of the North Carolina Bed and Breakfast Inns Association.  I highly recommend that you visit Diane, John, and the entire friendly team at The Waverly Inn.  Their mission of providing warm hospitality, luxurious amenities, and delicious gourmet breakfast is a success!

The Esmeralda Inn of Chimney Rock

Don and Kim Cason are no strangers to hospitality and innkeeping.  Before becoming the current innkeepers of The Esmeralda Inn and Restaurant of Chimney Rock, North Carolina, they were innkeepers (for over ten years) at Eight Gables Inn of Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  The couple thoroughly searched twenty-two different properties and kept coming back to The Esmeralda.  Now they call it home and welcome guests from all over the world to visit.  They revealed some of The Esmeralda Inn’s fascinating history.

The Esmeralda Inn built originally by Colonel Tom Turner in 1891 and opened for business in 1892.  Turner named the Inn for the book Esmeralda by Frances Hodges Burnett (author of The Secret Garden), written while she was staying at a nearby inn. A play, based on the book, enjoyed a year’s run on Broadway.

Tragically, a fire burned down The Esmeralda Inn in 1917.  Rebuilt on the original foundation, the location of the Inn was Esmeralda, North Carolina since a post office was at the Inn in 1917 and where Thomas Turner, son of Colonel Turner, served as postmaster. The post office discontinued in 1926.  Later, the town’s name changed to Chimney Rock (after one of its most popular tourist attractions).

When Hurricane Fran (along with a 200-year flood) hit North Carolina in 1996, the people who lost their homes stayed at The Esmeralda Inn.  The Esmeralda Inn was higher ground than the land of most local flood victims, so the Inn took those people in and provided water, showers, and lodging for several months.

After the flood, lumberjacks salvaged huge wooden logs floating down the river, separating the good ones from the bad.  Unfortunately, a second fire to The Esmeralda Inn occurred in 1997.  This was just a year after Hurricane Fran and, remembering the inn’s generosity, the local community pulled together to help rebuild the inn.

They used about seven hundred of the best logs to rebuild the inn.  The logs were split (and partially hollowed out) to fit around new steel beams.   The steel-girded new structure appears to be made entirely of wood, but owners Don and Kim Cason are confident that this steel reinforced structure, along with added sprinklers, will prevent The Esmeralda Inn from ever burning down again.

A local Asheville artist volunteered his time to work on the stunning staircase.  He wove Laurel Vine throughout the banisters.  Two stones from its former structure cap the bottom sides of the rugged stairs.

The hardwood floorboards in the Lobby were from the original dance floor, constructed by Hollywood in nearby Lake Lure, North Carolina, for the famous movie, “Dirty Dancing.”  Hollywood has filmed other movies such as “The Last of The Mohicans” and “Firestarters” in this local area as well.  In fact, the inn became a favorite hideaway for famous film stars, including Clark Gable.  Speaking of films, the script for the movie Ben Hur was finished in Room #9 of The Esmeralda Inn.

A more recent addition, the historic mantel (not pictured above) came from Indiana.  Since it matched the right time in history, it shipped to The Esmeralda Inn.  Part of their chandelier comes from a wagon wheel of an old stagecoach.  The Esmeralda Inn was formerly the first stagecoach stop in the area.

A historic photo in the Esmeralda Inn Lobby depicts a car driving up the massive front steps of the Inn to allow President Franklin D. Roosevelt to enter in his wheelchair.  This was before the convenience of handicap ramps.  The Esmeralda Inn now provides wheelchair access.

Many modern day notables also stay at the Inn, but out of respect for their privacy, Don and Kim Cason do not disclose their names.  However, given its consistently high reviews and previous well-known visitors, there is always the possibility of meeting a famous guest at The Esmeralda Inn.

Owners Don and Kim Cason (and the whole Esmeralda Inn team) have a deep desire to serve every guest that walks through their doors.  Along with their attentive staff, they anticipate needs ahead of time.  The Casons enjoy their family-run bed and breakfast inn.  Kim’s sister is the talented pastry chef, her sister’s husband is the executive chef, and her nephew is the Sous chef.

Each morning guests delight in a gourmet full hot homemade breakfast.  The Esmeralda Restaurant is open to the public for lunch and dinner and offers exclusive wines and local craft beer.  Don Cason said that The Esmeralda Inn sold out of tickets for the last Thanksgiving Dinner.  They served about two-hundred people at three different times that holiday: noon, 2 pm, and 4 pm.

The bistro lights on the deck of the restaurant are romantic when they shine at night.  We highly recommend their juicy steak as well as their fresh caught grilled salmon.  From our outdoor table, we could see the famous Chimney Rock.  In view, a gorgeous little waterfall trickles down the huge stones.  The lush landscaping is evident everywhere the eye can see.

Exiting the restaurant and taking the elevator leads to the open second floor.  It boasts a high ceiling with view of the main level below.  In addition to two guest bedrooms (each with private balconies), this floor has a huge game room.  Kim Cason, not only has a background in hospitality, she also has a talent for interior decorating.  This is especially evident in her selection of décor throughout the inn.

Kim’s choice of pictures hanging on the walls in the game room gives the room a classy look.

  • Dice framed
  • Pool ball painting
  • Royal cards framed
  • Poker hand rankings
  • Albert Dawson clocks

The game room features:

  • Wrap around couch with ottoman in view of a huge flat screen television
  • Round Scrabble high table with dictionary with two high-back chairs
  • Telescope for viewing the night sky or the pool and landscaping by day
  • Checkers and chess set on a round table with two high-back chairs
  • Red Billiard table with balls, triangle, sticks, chalk
  • Poker table with poker chips and cards—it even has cup holders
  • Foosball table
  • Air hockey table

Connected to the game room is a little kitchen with a dumbwaiter to receive food from the kitchen on the main level.  The Esmeralda Inn often hosts events such as corporate groups (companies will rent the whole inn), local fundraisers, and elegant weddings (with up to 75 people).

The room just past the game room on the second level is a multipurpose room.  A large roundtable, with leather executive chairs around it, is useful for companies who book the entire inn.  This area also has a privacy screen and fits up to two spa tables for couples’ massages.  Their spa is ideal for anniversaries and marriage retreats.

We recommend going outside at night.  There is a stone patio with an outdoor fireplace for roasting marshmallows and making S’mores. Next to the outdoor fountain, there is a fifteen-person hot tub with jets and lights. There are towels available outside for your convenience.

Speaking of towels, it may seem like a little thing, but I just loved the little black washcloth with the word “makeup” stitched on it.  I am sure this has saved their white towels from cosmetic stains.  The bathroom even had an adorable black bag hanging up labeled “hairdryer.”  It worked well to dry my hair after it got wet from using their relaxing hot tub.

All Esmeralda Inn rooms come with:

In addition to enjoying the amenities at The Esmeralda Inn, the greater Chimney Rock area offers many activities and attractions for guests to experience.

Area Activities:

  • Championship Golf
  • Fly Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Rock Climbing
  • Water Sports
  • White Water Rafting
  • Zip Lining

Area Attractions:

  • Asheville: art, Biltmore Estate (with its great architecture, gardens, history, winery, shops, and tours), lively music, shopping
  • Bat Cave: local jams and crafts, nature conservancy, old cider mill, working cider mill
  • Black Mountain: historic downtown with great galleries, majestic mountain views, and elegant shops
  • Blue Ridge Parkway: access in Asheville (about 30 minutes from The Esmeralda Inn)
  • Chimney Rock State Park: hiking, family activities, rock climbing, scenic views
  • Dupont State Forest: hiking, breathtaking views, waterfalls
  • Flatrock: home of late poet and writer Carl Sandburg, Playhouse State Theatre of NC, rainbow row
  • Hendersonville: annual NC Apple Festival every Labor Day Weekend, dining, main street shopping, summertime music and events
  • Lake Lure: boat tours, canoe and kayak rentals, swimming
  • Mount Mitchell State Forest: highest point east of the Mississippi with gorgeous views of the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Pisgah National Forest: cradle of forestry

The Esmeralda Inn is a proud member of the North Carolina Bed and Breakfast Inns (NCBBI) Association as well as an elite Select Registry member inn.

Nestled in the rocky woodland setting, The Esmeralda Inn stands out as the jewel of Chimney Rock.  Guests will continue to visit The Esmeralda Inn for its unique amenities, beautiful scenery, and welcoming hospitality.  In their restaurant, the wall has a saying written on it, “May all who enter as guests, leave as friends.”  Thank you, Don and Kim Cason as well as the entire Esmeralda Inn team, for a wonderful experience.  As many have written in your guest book, “we will return and next time our visit will be longer!”

What Should My Inn Blog About?

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What should my inn blog about, you ask?  Since each inn is unique, your blog should give readers a better understanding of your particular bed and breakfast.

Is your location a relaxed beach setting, a scenic mountain location, a rural country farm, a contemporary urban inn, or something else entirely?  Entice your website visitors to stay at your bed and breakfast.  Pictures are a very visual way to attract vacationers.

Why do people visit your local area?  What local leisure activities can guests participate in?  Does your area have any local tourist attractions?  Blogging about this will give you fresh content and keywords for search engine optimization.  Moreover, knowing this information helps you target different types of guests:

Do you offer any special packages or retreats?

How does your inn serve breakfast?  Some B&B inns have their own restaurant.  Some bring breakfast to your room on a tray while others have a common dining area for guests.  At some bed and breakfasts, guests can choose from a menu what they would like to have while at others everyone the same delicious gourmet cooking.

Be sure to ask guests if they have special dietary needs.  Your blog can feature pictures of your breakfasts as well as recipes of guests’ favorite dishes.

What kind of amenities can your guests enjoy?

Potential guests also like to know more about the owners, innkeepers, and staff members of bed and breakfasts.  Be sure to put their pictures on your website including their name, a couple sentences about what they do, and what they recommend guests try when they visit.  You could even feature staff members that receive a lot of compliments from your guest feedback.

Be sure to tell guests what you, as an innkeeper, love the most.  Let them know that you will be attentive to their needs, but also give them the privacy they desire.  If you have a historic bed and breakfast, be sure to share your inn’s history.

Do you have any accreditations or affiliations?  Membership in a bed and breakfast association and/or having received a certain award or level of distinction will set you apart from other bed and breakfasts.

Do you have your own bed and breakfast shop?

How does your inn celebrate the seasons?

How does your inn celebrate holidays?

You can even write about remodeled or redecorated rooms.  Improvements to your inn are worth talking about.  Previous guests may want to return based on your description of the new changes.

Do you offer any incentives for frequent stays and/or referrals?  Reward your guests for returning and recommending your B&B to friends. On the topic of frequency, be sure to have a frequently asked questions section on your website.

Let guests know how to connect with your bed and breakfast on other social media websites. Have a presence on one or more of the following websites can make a big difference in your visibility online.

 

When you share your blog on social media, this lets people know more about you and your bed and breakfast inn.  Give website visitors an “inn-side” look at your B&B from behind the scenes.  Having a blog and being active on social media is a great way to draw more attention to your website.

Don’t have the time or desire to write a blog or stay active on social media?  Let Kristi Dement and her team at Bed and Breakfast Blogging do all the hard work for you.  Her clients see results with consistently booked rooms.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Bed and Breakfast Curb Appeal

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Have you seen that HGTV Channel show called Curb Appeal?  That informative show is full of tips on how to attract people to want to come inside your home.  It is about becoming the best looking house in your neighborhood.  As a bed and breakfast owner, your goal is to look so appealing from the curb, that those passing by will want to book a stay.

The last thing you want is for people to visit your website that shows your bed and breakfast looking at its best, only for them be sadly disappointed when they visit and see that it has not been well maintained.  This is why first impressions are very important.

Useful Curb Appeal Questions

  • Do I have an attractive sign displaying the name of my bed and breakfast?  Well made signs can attract the attention of others from the road.
  • Does my home look inviting?  You want it to look loved and cared for, just as you will do for your guests in showing them hospitality.
  • Is there a clear path to my front door?  Guests should not be confused about the main entrance to your bed and breakfast.
  • Does my front door look welcoming?  You may need to refinish it and add a coat of fresh paint.  You may want to feature seasonal wreaths on it. Some even inns have front doors with stained glass.
  • Is there an outdoor focal point that tells guests where to look first?  This could be a fountain, bench, walkway, tree, or anything else attractive.
  • Do I have an attractive way to distinguish the boundaries of my property from that of my neighbors?  This could be fencing with landscaping inside your yard.  Or it could be trimmed hedges that add an attractive border.
  • Is my lawn well-manicured?  The key is to consistently mow and fertilize so that it is easy to maintain and you have the greenest turf on your street.  If your yard needs to be revitalized, talk to some local lawn care companies.
  • Do my windows sparkle and shine?  Make sure that windows are clean.  If they need replacing, go green with energy efficient windows.
  • Do I need to have anything repaired? This means looking at things like your roofing, gutters, decks, and siding.  Make sure that nothing is rotted.  Have regular pest inspections performed.
  • Are my driveways and walkways safe, clean, and attractive?  This could mean power-washing, repairing brick as well as repairing stonework and concrete.
  • Do I have any dead or diseased plants or trees that need removing?    Trim shrubs, prune overgrown plants, and remove dead trees and their stumps.
  • Do I have a variety of evergreens and flowering shrubs?  Group plants by height and layer the groups for visual interest.  You can also vary the colors and textures.
  • Is there something that sets my yard apart from others?  This could be a gazebo, a pond, a fountain, statues, porches, and swings.
  • Do I have plants in pots or urns in eye-catching places like near steps and walkways?  Some people prefer a symmetrical look at the front door with the same thing on each side of the front door.
  • Do I have a garden of some kind for guests to enjoy?  This could be a flower garden, rock garden, or a vegetable garden. You can even grow your own spices to flavor your meals.
  • Do I have a plan for irrigation?  Depending upon your climate, ideally you have sprinklers for hot and dry times of the year.
  • Is everything that is painted on my property look clean and bright?  You never want guests to see cracked or peeling paint.  It is amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do to revive the look of something.
  • At night, will my guests be able to see when they return to my bed and breakfast?  There should be enough outdoor lighting that it is safe and attractive for guests to come back to your inn.  Any paths they should walk should be well lit.

It is important that your property gives them a great first impression and sets your guests at ease that they made the right choice to stay at your bed and breakfast.  Help them feel sure of their decision from the very moment they see your property.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Union Gables Inn and Suites

I want to share with you my interview with the Head of Marketing, Carla Smith, about bed and breakfast Union Gables Inn and Suites of Saratoga Springs, New York.  So why do people love staying at Union Gables Inn and Suites?

We offer all the luxury amenities like an outdoor pool, free wifi, plush bathrobes in the room, as well as the personal touches and comforts that only a locally owned bed and breakfast can provide like freshly made cookies and complimentary wine each evening. What we receive the most praise from guests about after they have stayed with us is how much they enjoyed getting to know and interacting with the staff. Jane, the Innkeeper, has a personality that brightens everyone’s day and she makes each guest feel at home at Union Gables. Creating that personal connection is the greatest benefit, although the outdoor pool, private parking lot and pet-friendly rooms are also greatly appreciated by guests.

Since you have seven pet-friendly rooms, how many guests bring pets?  What pets have stayed at your inn?
As we are one of the only pet-friendly bed and breakfasts in the area, guests often come to us because it is luxury lodging that they can enjoy with their beloved canines. Guests looking for pet friendly rooms compromises approximately 30% of our bookings. Once we had a guest bring a bird for a weekend stay, but mainly the staff gets to gush over guests’ dogs and spoil them with bones!

What is your most popular room and why do you think that is the case?

Guests always ask us which room is our favorite, and it is honestly almost impossible to choose one because each room has a unique charm and various antiques. The two that are requested most by guests are the Bill Room and the Pond Cottage. The Bill Room is in the main mansion of the Inn on the second floor and is one of the largest rooms we have. Its unique feature is a private outdoor porch overlooking Union Avenue that is perfect for morning coffee or an evening glass of wine. The Pond Cottage allows people more privacy because it is a one bedroom cottage in the Japanese garden area of the grounds and has a private outdoor patio so guests can have an area to themselves surrounded by the beautiful gardens.

Are the rooms with names named after people you know?

The rooms were originally named after the individuals who resided here when the property was state-owned in the 1900’s. A few names have been changed over the years after members of the owner’s family.

Do you have regular guests that visit at least once every year?

We actually have regular guests that visit as often as once a week or once a month and that have become very close friends. We offer a discount to Skidmore [College] parents as they visit their children or attend sporting events regularly, so they comprise a significant portion of our regular guests. We also have many guests that come back each year for the Saratoga Race Track or for annual events in Saratoga like the Flurry Festival or the Food and Wine Festival.
From what locations have your guests visited from?
We have had guests from as far away as Australia, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
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Your website shows your award-winning gardens you have, do you have a landscaper or gardener to help you or are you a master gardener?
The owner is the master gardener, credits for the beautiful gardens go to his vision and hard work of him and his maintenance staff.
pool
The heated pool is a nice touch!  Since it is heated, what months does it get used?
Thank you! The pool opens in May and closes in September or October depending on how quickly the winter weather strikes in the Northeast. 
I am impressed at how well you blend antiques with modern day technology such as flat screen televisions in all the bedrooms.
Since you mentioned blending the old with new, our mission has been to tastefully merge the historic, Victorian culture of the Inn with modern technology and luxuries. We would like to preserve the history of the Inn and the antique decor while advancing into the modern century.  For example, we have purchased a GE Wattstation 240V electric vehicle charging station in order to provide an electric vehicle parking spot in our private parking lot. Guests can charge their vehicle in 4-6 hours while they enjoy a luxurious and comfortable night in Saratoga Springs.  We are now the only bed and breakfast in the state of New York with a 240V electric vehicle charging station.  Saratoga Springs is halfway between the major cities of Ottawa, Montreal, New York City and Boston so Union Gables is now part of the network supporting sustainable travel between those cities.
breakfast1
Since you are a bed and breakfast, I have to ask, what is your most popular breakfast dish?

We judge the most popular dish ordered for breakfast by how often it is ordered and how clean the plate is after the guests have finished. The chef’s Cinnamon Baguette French Toast guarantees a spotless plate returned every time. Everything we serve is cook to order and the freshness makes a difference. Bruce, the chef, drenches the baguette in the cinnamon egg mixture and browns it on the griddle, then it is baked in the oven until the center becomes a delicious custard. It is served topped with powdered sugar and the guest’s choice of blueberries, strawberries, or bananas and paired with pure Vermont maple syrup.

How many innkeepers and members of the staff are there?

There are the owners, Tom and Barbara Fox; the Innkeeper and Manager, Jane; the Chef, Bruce; and Me, the Assistant Innkeeper and Head of Marketing. We also have various cleaning and maintenance staff. Tom and Barbara have a close connection to the Union Gables Inn, as this was where they met and married. Because Saratoga Springs was the place for horse lovers to show art and Barbara is an equine artist, it brought her to the area and this is where she met Tom. The Inn has a few paintings in the main foyer that she has painted. Tom and Barbara both take pride in maintaining the beauty of Union Gables as a historic icon to Saratoga Springs, and hope that it will bring enjoyment to those that stay here.

Carla, what do you enjoy most about what you do at Union Gables?

When after a stay at Union Gables, a guest tells me that their experience at the Inn and of Saratoga could not have been more perfect. I get the most joy out of personalizing someone’s stay to make sure their individual needs and goals for their trip are met. I was born and raised in Saratoga, so the greatest pleasure is welcoming visitors to the city I am proud to call home and providing local tips and recommendations that allows them to enjoy Saratoga just as much as the locals do. 

There is so much that Union Gables Inn and Suites offers their guests.  They are located in the heart of Saratoga’s Historic district known as the ‘Magic Rectangle’, one and a half blocks from the Saratoga Race Course on Union Avenue and two blocks to the Historic Congress Park.   Check out their photo gallery and make a reservation to be the guests at another bed and breakfast!

Your Website Needs Pictures

your-website-needs-pictures

Your website needs pictures.  If this web page had no pictures, would it have caught your attention as well?  You need to wow your potential guests with amazing professional photographs showing them the experience they will have if they stay at your bed and breakfast.  Your website needs pictures:

  • Outdoor pictures
  • Gardening & Landscaping
  • Breathtaking Views
  • Guest Bedrooms
  • Guest Bathrooms
  • Gourmet Kitchen
  • Your Breakfasts & other Delights
  • Common Areas
  • Grand Staircases & Fireplaces
  • Porch, Balcony & Deck
  • Your Antiques & Collections
  • Your Events such as Weddings & Concerts
  • Innkeepers/Owners
  • Area Attractions and Area Events

The old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words” is right!  For search engine optimization purposes, be sure to label your images with the relevant keywords. Capture their love of what your inn and local community has to offer with awesome photos!

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Is Your B&B Green?

is-your-b-and-b-green

Is your B&B green? Would you like to know a way to possibly reduce your costs and be environmentally friendly? A “green” bed and breakfast has the goal of promoting the sustainability of the earth’s natural resources.

There are four main areas of green initiatives:

  • energy efficiency
  • conservation of water and other natural resources
  • waste reduction
  • education

Some practical applications of this include:

  • encouraging guests to re-use their towels and linens
  • using soap dispensers instead of individually wrapped bars of soap
  • low-flow shower heads and toilets
  • using green cleaning supplies with safe cleaning agents
  • replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact flourescent light bulbs
  • re-insulating your bed and breakfast
  • installing solar panels on the roof
  • having an energy efficient furnace
  • installing a rainwater collection system to redirect the water to your inn’s garden
  • composting everything possible
  • recycling and purchasing recycled products

You can proclaim your inn’s commitment to protecting the environment by implementing these practices.  In the long run, this could save you money with lower energy bills.  If you belong to a state bed and breakfast association, they may be able to endorse you as a green bed and breakfast if someone evaluates your green practices.  You can promote to your guests that you are a green bed and breakfast.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Bed and Breakfast Gazebos

bed-and-breakfast-gazebos

As bed and breakfast owners, you know it is the little things that make a big difference.  Did you know that just by adding a gazebo to your property, you are making it more appealing to potential guests?  Attractive landscaping, including bed and breakfast gazebos, enhances the look for your bed and breakfast.

A gazebo is sometimes octagonal or tent shaped and can be free standing or attached to a garden wall.  It is typically built with wood and has standard roofing materials.  It can be open on all sides or have netting to keep out bugs.

Gazebos have a variety of styles and serve a variety of purposes:

  • A quiet place to enjoy the view outdoors
  • Provides shade
  • Shelter from rain
  • Ornamental feature in landscaping lawns
  • In weddings, it is used for exchanging vows and cutting the cake

If you have a gazebo, do you feature it by landscaping around it and by using it for outdoor events?  If you do not have a gazebo, is there room for one and do you know your reasons for adding one?

You don’t have to be a professional builder in order to build one yourself. They can also be purchased from home improvement stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot.  It would be great to feature pictures of your gazebo on your website. You can also talk about its construction in a new blog post.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

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