DINE innkeepers offer 150 years of innkeeping wisdom

DINE innkeepers gather at Rabbit Hill InnWe knew that the 12 Distinctive Inns of New England (DINE) were owned and managed by an savvy bunch, but until we added up all their years of innkeeping experience, we didn’t realize the collective wisdom there was.  No wonder this association leads the way for small regional inn consortiums. Together, the DINE innkeepers offer 150 years of innkeeping experience!

Come to one of the semi-annual DINE meetings, and you’ll understand just how professional and talented this group is.  At each meeting, someone comments how they all learn from one another.

From a guests’ point of view, this collective treasure trove of innkeepers gain knowledge, ideas and innkeeping skills from one another, which are then put to work to benefit their guests.  Ask any of the DINE innkeepers what they love best about the job, and we hear one common response…it’s the guests, and providing the best romantic getaway in New England for them.

Judy and Phil Hueber, owners and innkeepers at the Chesterfield Inn lead the count with 31 years of innkeeping experience, starting July 7, 1987.  When asked about what she loves best about innkeeping, Judy answered, “I love the fact that every day is different as an innkeeper, because every day brings us different guests. I love talking to our guests, hearing their stories, trying to figure out how to make them happy.  I like to be able to cook, decorate, arrange flowers, manage our team, design menus, and make whatever decision needs to be made without asking anyone. And , having all of that being part of an ever varying job. It’s been a wonderful 31 years here!”

Brian and Leslie Mulcahy, owners and innkeepers at the Rabbit Hill Inn come in second having just celebrated their 25th anniversary of Rabbit Hill Inn ownership.  During a recent get-together, both Leslie and Brian reminisced about all the amazing people they’ve met at the inn, making each day filled with new wonderful relationships.

Mary Ellen Shields, who owns the Manor on Golden Pond with her husband, Brian, told us “We will be starting our 20th year of owning the Inn this November.   This became our love back 20 years ago and continues to offer excitement and pride when guest walk thru the door and fall in love with the Manor.  The property offers such soothing qualities to everyone who walks thru our doors.  We have to pinch our selves every day that we live in such a beautiful part of the country.  It is fun to share with everyone.”

Sarah Lindblom, Erik Lindblom, Dave Labrie at a DINE meetingDave and Sue Labrie, owners and innkeepers at the Inn at Harbor Hill Marina bought their inn in September, 2002.  After 16 years as an innkeeper, Dave shared, “We really didn’t go into innkeeping with any long term goals or expectations.  While we went into inn ownership with intention, business plans and thought, we always figured if it just wasn’t for us, we’d simply re-set our sails.  Well, 16+ years later, we can honestly say it’s been a most wonderful experience.  For where we do business and live, to our staff and guests who visit, and to the host of fellow innkeeping professionals we have met along the journey, it’s all been an incredibly awesome experience.”

Between ownership of two inns, Jill and James Meyer of the Captain’s House Inn have 15 years of innkeeping experience.  “We started out as very young innkeepers,” shared Jill. “I was 25 and James was 27.  We started with a small property to see if we enjoyed the business and could achieve success. After 2.5 years at a six guestroom B&B, we grew the annual occupancy rate from 19% to 62% and we were ready for a larger property.  We have managed to juggle our innkeeping careers with raising five kids and starting two side businesses.” (Jill is a Justice of the Peace, and they also operate chathamlinencloset.com). She went on to say, “We love providing concierge services and help plan itineraries, book dinner reservations, and find activities to do in the area, especially things most tourists may not know about.  The best part is testing all the restaurants to make sure we are recommending only the best! “

Bill and Nancy Bagwill at the Cliffside Inn are 7.5 years into their careers as innkeepers and owners of the Cliffside Inn.  Nancy told us “We have often felt like innkeepers, in every house we have lived in, around the holidays. Now we understand why so many of our neighbors come stay with us for a couple of days while they have large family gatherings at home!”.  She went on to explain that for both she and Bill, it’s the pleasure of meeting new guests and helping them enjoy Newport that keeps them energized and loving what they do.

Innkeepers from Grafton Inn and Harbor Light InnAngela Comstock, Innkeeper at the Grafton Inn in Grafton, VT for four years, tells us that the best part of innkeeping is the people. “The best part of innkeeping is the relationships you develop with your guests.  I have met some of the most wonderful people in my life running this inn.  We have long time loyal guests that have been coming here for 35-40 years and they feel like family,” she explained.

After 150 years of collective experience, you can imagine that there are too many stories and too many quotes from DINE innkeepers to include in just one blog.  Trust us, however, when we added up all their years, we were all surprised at the fact that there’s a century and a half of innkeeping experience among the whole group.

Next time you visit a DINE inn, ask your innkeepers what they love about their job.  Chances are, they’ll tell you it’s you – the guests – that keep them invigorated.

Plan your next romantic New England getaway at the 12 Distinctive Inns of New England by clicking below on links that will take you directly to each of their websites.

In Rhode Island: Cliffside Inn in Newport

In Connecticut: Inn at Harbor Hill Marina in Niantic

In New Hampshire:  Manor on Golden Pond in Holderness & Chesterfield Inn in West Chesterfield

In Vermont:  Rabbit Hill Inn in Lower Waterford & Grafton Inn in Grafton

In Massachusetts:  Harbor Light Inn in Marblehead, Gateways Inn & Restaurant in Lenox, Deerfield Inn in Historic Deerfield and Captain’s House Inn in Chatham on Cape Cod.

In Maine:  Captain Jefferds Inn in Kennebunkport & Camden Maine Stay Inn in Camden.