Practical Advice About The Art of Innkeeping
I highly recommend Owner & Innkeeper Steven Allen’s book, Sugar Hill Inn the Art of Innkeeping based on his experiences of transforming Sugar Hill Inn to a completely remodeled, smooth running place of hospitality with luxurious amenities.
Author Steven Allen tells readers the best way for a prospective buyer to see an inn is to stay the night and experience it from the guest’s point of view. Allen explains that looking for an inn is very different from finding a new home in that there are only a handful of interesting properties available at any one time.
Every establishment has its own character and personality. The personality comes from its history, its location, and most importantly, the owner.
After purchasing Sugar Hill Inn, Allen had to prioritize the order of the improvements he made on the property. Decorating the inn is about pleasing the guests and helping them feel immediately at home. Some of the projects took longer than planned and all of them cost more than anticipated. The new structure had to be authentic and timeless in its appeal.
According to Steven, the hardest part of being a business owner is knowing when to follow your own instincts and when to listen to others that may know more. Allen states that the challenge is that if you don’t follow the crowd and you do succeed, you are a genius for thinking outside the box, but if you fail, you are a dope for not following the tried and true.
If they had done the ordinary, they would not have the opportunity to be “lucky.” Year after year, they selected the two to three rooms in the most need of renovation or where a face-lift would have the most impact. Other projects were done for safety’s sake. Seeing the transformation was very rewarding. Over the last ten years, their renovations have touched all fourteen rooms.
With so many everyday details to run an inn, Allen states that it is helps to take a step back and see the big picture. This stimulates creative thinking. Keeping an inn relevant and fresh is a never-ending responsibility. Innkeeping is a very demanding lifestyle with long hours.
Sugar Hill Inn strives to share the good life with its guests by creating experiences that will be remembered. Part of that involves surrounding guests with beauty. Allen is a lover of art and has the unique distinction of having several pieces of original art displayed throughout the inn. When the painting adds to the beauty of the room and the room enhances the painting, you have found the perfect location.
Steven Allen points out that he has intently focused on what people want. He’s analyzed what people order, listened to feedback, studied comment cards and reviews, and stayed at other inns. To him, “hospitality is doing what is best for the guest.”
Being an innkeeper is more a lifestyle than it is a job. Allen asserts that seeing the inn transform from average to what many of his guests describe as a gem has been very satisfying. The real challenge is implementation and consistently following through every day. While there are many factors that determine an inn’s value, of course the underlying real estate is a major factor.
Innkeeping is 24-7. For the right person, Allen explains that this profession can be exciting, fun, and challenging. Every lodging property is different. Look for an opportunity to build upon the best of the past and bring new energy, ideas, and money to assure continued success. Steven Allen, and his wife Karen, own the Sugar Hill Inn located in the secluded White Mountains of New Hampshire where together they practice the art of innkeeping.
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