Wednesday, August 29, 2007


My husband and a helper took care of the inn today, including breakfast. I slept late, had a bite to eat and went to the beach where I took a quick swim (the water was pretty cold for this late in the summer, although it was beautiful) and read for a couple of hours. The humidity is gone, crowds noticeably smaller, traffic much lighter. I didn't answer the phone or the doorbell, or even see any of our guests today. Tonight we're hosting a bonfire on the beach for some of our local friends.

I realize I've been sounding a bit cranky lately. That's pretty normal for August. I think the toughest part of the summer is over. We now return you to your regularly scheduled cheerful innkeeper.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Update on Smokers

The smoke smell was gone before the smoking guest and I didn't need to borrow the ozone machine after all. Just as well, because I don't think the owner found it. The current occupants of that room are a lovely Italian couple. They're also smokers, although they say they would never consider smoking indoors at a B&B. The good thing is that if any odor had lingered they wouldn't notice it. Anyway, I'm breathing a big sigh of relief.

By the way, fabric freshener spray rocks!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Another First

In eight years we've never had a guest smoke in one of our rooms. It happened last night. She didn't read the sign stating "we are a no-smoking establishment". She told me she assumed it was alright because of the ashtray in the room. It's not an ashtray, it's a candy dish. And it had candy in it. I guess people see what they want to see.

I had two big fans running in there all day and I sprayed the curtains with fabric freshener. When they check out in a few days I'll strip out all the linens and change the pillows. I think I can borrow an ozone machine from one of the motels. She's agreed to smoke outside for the rest of her stay, so with luck I'll be able to clear the smell out of there.

Surprisingly few of our guests have been smokers. Usually I can smell it when they are and am able to mention our policy when I check them in. In this case, I wasn't here when she arrived. She's from a southern state, where smoking is still permitted in a lot of public places. Guests from New York and most of New England pretty much assume smoking isn't permitted indoors. I'm sure it wasn't malicious, it's just aggravating.

Friday, August 17, 2007

It's just a little thing...

A few days ago I managed to make a woman angry. No, it was not a guest and yes, perhaps I could have handled the situation a little better, but perhaps she also over-reacted a bit.

Here's how it happened:
There's a knock at the door and I go to answer it. Two women are standing in the vestibule. I said "I see you missed the doorbell" and proceeded to point it out to them. A lot of people miss it, which is why we installed a knocker. With guests it's actually important that they know where it is, it's one of the ways to get a hold of us if they need us. We can't hear the knocker from the third floor where we live but there is a chime for the doorbell up there. Since I had never seen these ladies before I guess I could have skipped the doorbell lecture, but I actually thought at the time one of them might be checking in that day.

Anyway, one of the two ladies informs me that friends of hers will be staying with us beginning in two days and she has something she wants to drop off for us to put in the room for them. She then pulls a wrapped package out of her bag. I told her that I really didn't have any place to store it and could she please come back on the morning of the friends' arrival to drop it off. I thought I was fairly polite, but it's possible I was a bit short with her. She was clearly not happy at my lack of cooperation. She grumbled something about being on her way to the market to buy lettuce and not wanting to put wet lettuce in a bag with the wrapped gift. I got her a plastic bag in which to place the gift so it would stay dry and sent her on her way. I could see she wasn't happy when she left.

When she returned on the appointed day my husband answered the bell. I happened to walk by as she told him she was quite angry at the way she'd been treated by me and I did apologize to her, although I was in a hurry at that moment so I really don't know how well my apology was received.

After she left it was clear that my husband was furious with me. He saw no reason why I couldn't have taken the package and since we're in the "hospitality" business it is our job to go out of our way to be nice to people. He's not entirely wrong, but to what extent do we have to accommodate requests from non-guests? We really do bend over backwards to honor special requests from our guests; reheating leftovers for them, loaning a jacket for a whale-watch, providing a cutting board & knife to dress a fish they caught - all sorts of things that are unusual and out of our routine. But this woman was not our guest, nor were her friends currently staying with us.

My husband's point was that this lady is a local and she will probably not refer her friends to us in the future because I had refused her request and she had thought me rude.

Unfortunately, this lady was largely a victim of circumstance:
- I had no help on the day she dropped by, so I was busy;
- I was/am hot and overtired;
- I really did not want the responsibility for this package;
- I was concerned that I'd forget to put it in the room;
- the previous week we had received three fairly large boxes in advance of a guest's arrival and had stored those. In that case, the guest had contacted me in advance to ask if it was okay to have something shipped to her at our address and I had told her it was but please try to have the delivery timed for as close to her arrival as possible. The box arrived two days before she did, which isn't bad. I was, however, somewhat irked when the second two boxes showed up - from another store and via a different delivery method - later that day. I felt somewhat taken advantage of and clearly that was part of my reaction to this new request.

In my own defense, I typically do not allow the drop-off of items days before a guest arrives. We frequently have guests who are coming for weddings and often the bride drops by with bags of goodies for them; a few times they've tried to do so a day or two before arrival. I have always requested that they return on the day of arrival. We really do have very limited storage space. I made the exception for the above guest because she was arriving from Canada and wanted to have a birthday gift for her niece, who is living in town, delivered.

I could and should have handled this differently, but in what other business do people just assume you'll do this sort of thing? For example, if her friends had made a restaurant reservation for one night of their stay, do you suppose she would have thought it was okay to bring a package to the restaurant two days before the reservation and ask them to present it to the couple when they arrived for dinner? I doubt it.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


I guess it's been a while since my last post. I have a couple brewing, I'll try to be a bit more diligent this week.

It's August. The weather is hot & sticky and so am I. I'm also tired. I'm having a difficult time getting into bed before midnight because the only quiet waking hours are after 10:30 or 11 at night and I need that time. Of course someone called at 2:30 a.m. last night to see if we had a room next week. When I asked him if he had any idea what time it was he said "Oh, don't you have a 24 hour desk?" Sir, if you're reading this, I do not apologize if I was a tad short with you last night.

Local traffic is heavy, beaches are crowded, it's difficult to park on Main Street and there are long waits at restaurants. This is all normal. So are my fraying nerves. Thank goodness my guests are all really, really nice.

Although September is on track to be our busiest September ever, the lower humidity, cooler nights and lighter traffic will go a long way towards calming my soul. Meanwhile, I just keep exercising those smile muscles!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Middle of the Busy Season

It's full-on summer here in Wellfleet. People everywhere, restaurants mobbed, tons of kids at the beach and all the business owners hunkered down in summer mode. We have a number of friends who own restaurants, we see them only when we go eat at their establishments. Other friends we sometimes bump into when we go to the local theaters (movie or live), which is about once a month. We make noises about getting together for dinner or something, it doesn't always happen. Everyone understands. Winter is for socializing with our friends.

The population difference in our town between winter, when only the year-round residents are here, and summer, when all the 2nd home-owners are here is approximately 3,000 vs. 17,000. Add to that the transient visitors - those who are staying at motels, B&B's or renting cottages - and there are probably 20 - 24,000 people in Wellfleet on any given day in July and August. It's kinda crazy and certainly it's easy to loose sight of things and start grousing about all the extra people in town, but let's face it, the summer tourists are the only reason this town still exists. Nearly every year-round resident who is not retired owes their ability to make a living in some way to tourism. We all know this, but sometimes the sheer number of people and the unrelenting sameness of the days (no such thing as a "weekend" for us in the summer) can make us a bit grumpy. It becomes an art to keep that to ourselves - part of the skill set one must develop as an innkeeper.

Thankfully all our guests since the "incident" have been lovely and interacting with them has been a pleasure, but August does tend to bring a certain type of vacationer to our town. There is an undercurrent of tension in this type, and they seem to be in a hurry - for what I'm not sure. It puzzles me when I see people who are on vacation leave a restaurant in a huff because their food isn't coming fast enough. What's the rush? And where do they think they're going to go and not have to wait to be seated?

Occasionally we do get guests here who seem to try to pack a week's worth of vacation activities into two or three days. Usually they're mid-twenties and either live or work in large cities. If they seem open to it, I'll suggest they pare down their to-do list somewhat and try to relax. After all, who wants to get home from a vacation needing a vacation?