What do DINE innkeepers do during quarantine – Part I

Coffee cake at Inn at English Meadows

New recipes mean delicious snacks during the shut-down at Inn at English Meadows

The Covid-19 pandemic has shuttered lodging in the six New England states.  Since early April, lodging properties and restaurants have been closed per state orders.  While the mandates have varied from state to state, all of the Distinctive Inns of New England (DINE) have been restricted from taking or making any reservations now and into the future.  At the same time, cancellations have poured in.  DINE inns have generously returned deposits when requested, and are grateful to most guests who’ve simply re-scheduled their getaways or accepted gift certificates for future travel.  When you ask, what can we do for our favorite DINE innkeeper?  Our answer is to simply re-schedule that dream getaway for a future time when it’s deemed safe to travel.

Meanwhile, while the guests are away the innkeepers are still not at play.  For some DINE inns, the forced closures coincided with their spring-cleaning shutdowns.  For others not planning to close for spring cleaning, it allowed time to go deep into corners and delve into projects, updates and fix-its.  For all DINE innkeepers, it’s been a very difficult time facing lack of revenues, uncertainty on when they can open, and most importantly missing their guests.

We checked in and heard back from many of the DINE innkeepers on what they’ve been doing during the pandemic shutdown.  Their activities range from home-schooling grandchildren to testing new recipes, gardening, fixing, painting, and clean-clean-cleaning. New protocols for food service, social distancing, housekeeping, cleaning, and guest safety are being put into place in anticipation of opening as soon as allowable.

Hear it first-hand from your favorite DINE innkeepers.  Here’s what they’ve been up to while missing guests at the inns.

Elizabeth from Inn at English Meadows tells us….

“After voluntarily closing the inn to guests the last week of March, it’s been very quiet here. No staff, so the balance of the deep winter cleaning has been put on hold for a bit.  My daughter came up from Boston to “stay home” with me, and she’s been great company. We’ve been self-quarantining here for nearly a month now, each of us doing a lot of work on our laptops and breaking that up with some beautiful walks along Ocean Avenue, cooking together, watching a favorite Netflix series in the evening, and doing on-line workouts here and there — we probably should be doing more of those!  One of my goals during this quiet time has been to get some of our guests’ favorite recipes up on the website. Those should start appearing soon! 

Rocking chairs at Inn at English MeadowsOne morning last week as I was looking out from the kitchen at our lonely patio, I found myself wondering why I don’t sit out there every morning with my coffee. The morning air here in Kennebunk is still cold, but the sunshine on that patio is warm! This simple peaceful activity has now become part of my morning ritual. Until we can reopen, I’ll enjoy my coffee in that rocking chair, feeling the warm sunshine on my face, listening to the birds chirping, and looking forward to the day (hopefully soon) when that lovely brick patio will once again be filled with our guests, happily chatting, enjoying their breakfast and excited about their plans for the day ahead.”  

Brian and Mary Ellen at the Manor on Golden Pond checked in and shared…

The most personally encouraging news is that our immediate family is well and so far, not directly affected from a health standpoint.  We are thankful for that and we hope your family is well too. Things are very quiet at the inn as lodging is closed until at least May 4th.  Cancellations have been high but we appreciate the obvious concern of our guests; only about 1 in 4 of the cancellations have requested a refund; the others have carried over deposits for a future stay – a rainbow of hope in a sea of concern – we thank you for that support. 

Grandchildren help clean pool at Manor on Golden Pond

Grandchildren help with pool clean-up at the Manor on Golden Pond.

Our days are busy with helping home school two of our four grandchildren – Kaiden (8) and Taylor (5)- whose parents are both essential workers in Boston (the other two grandchildren – Jake (8) and Josh(6) are delighted their parents can work from home!); Kaiden and Taylor’s teachers are great and support up to 5 half-hour zoom classes each day from Monday to Friday; homework assignments are in addition each day… Mary Ellen and I can mostly keep up with the test questions!  We try to find something else for the kids to do each day…… outdoor activities like roller blading in the inn parking lot, hiking to waterfalls in Plymouth, chores like picking up pine cones and sticks (for a profit the kids negotiate each day!), making smores in a fire pit, or, teaching them life skills like baking and using a fire extinguisher. 

Given there are virtually no staff on property, Brian has been poking away cleaning up the property from winter and making it ready for summer; he does projects that require little capital; painting is a popular one.  He is 4 years delinquent on making dressers for Josh (6) and Taylor and he has just renewed that mission this week (he bought all the materials in 2015 for goodness sake!).  Mary Ellen stays fully challenged keeping up with the kids, ensuring we are on top of the various government support programs, responding to guest inquiries and maintaining contact with staff.  We hope all of you who are reading this are safe and we look forward to returning to doing what we love to do…. help guests have wonderful visits to the Lakes Region.  Be well and thank you for your support of the Manor and DINE.”

Photo of Bi Bim Bap soup

Bi Bim Bap, made at Chesterfield Inn

Judy from the Chesterfield Inn shared…

“I’ve been taking online yoga classes, hiking in Chesterfield, and on Saturdays our eldest son visits, and we do “project cooking” after he helps us do whatever work needs to be done on the yard. He’s taught us how to make Bi Bim Bap, which we made last Saturday.” 

Angela at the Grafton Inn told us…

“We’ve been in deep cleaning and project mode for 4 weeks now.   I do feel like we’re accomplishing a lot and will be ready for when guests start to come back.  We have gutted behind our front desk and are improving the look and feel.  Lots of projects are now getting checked off the list!

In addition, we’ve shifted the weddings scheduled in May and June to new dates. We realize future weddings may be smaller, so we have gone ahead and built a micro-wedding package and added to our elopement packages.

We’re offering our ever so popular Burger & Brew to go on Thursdays, limited take out menu on Friday and Saturday nights and it has been a huge hit for our small community.  The tips that people donate I send along to Grafton Cares.   We’re navigating around what we think will be new guidelines and getting ourselves ready to have many more hand sanitizer stations around the property for guests to have. “

And there’s more!  Tune in next week for Part II of this series on what DINE innkeepers are doing during the Covid-19 pandemic.  Next week you’ll hear from Peter at the Harbor Light Inn and Leslie and Brian at the Rabbit Hill Inn, plus perhaps a few more.

Stay in touch with your favorite DINE inn, then make reservations for your next getaway as soon as it’s safe to travel. Remember, DINE inns offer the perfect personalized, private and drivable setting for dipping your toe back into travel. When you reserve, don’t forget to book directly with the inn.

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

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

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

In Connecticut: Inn at Harbor Hill Marina in Niantic

In Maine:  Camden Maine Stay Inn in Camden and Inn at English Meadows in Kennebunkport.