Heading into the holidays, DINE innkeepers give thanks

Thankful signIt’s been a year like no other in every innkeepers mind, especially among the Distinctive Inns of New England (DINE) members. The Covid-19 pandemic shut down inns across the country, and the 10 DINE inns spent months developing new safety, food service, housekeeping, and cleaning protocols.  Innkeeping as they once knew it has now been reinvented and hospitality 2.0 is not the norm.  For many inns, state-wide travel restrictions continue to confine full opening, offering enormous constraints for their businesses.  It might be easy for anyone to become bitter after a year like this, yet the DINE innkeepers are a resilient bunch.

Following up from last week’s blog about 3 reasons we’re grateful, we recently, we asked DINE innkeepers to explain lessons they learned and reasons they were thankful as we move into the holidays and start looking toward a new year.  Here’s how a few answered, explaining why they were better, not bitter.

From Judy at Chesterfield Inn…

Judy HueberHere are a few things that I’m grateful for…

  • My team at the inn who have worked tirelessly through Covid with all of the new protocols. They’ve done whatever needed to be done with a smile and a positive attitude.
  • The amount of time that I was able to spend with my family during the months that the inn was closed.
  • Finding renewed energy for work in a time that we’ve had to discover new ways to do everything because of social distancing.
  • Serving dinner outside on the terrace has made me notice and appreciate the beauty just outside the door.

From Brian Shields at Manor on Golden Pond

(Note: Both his daughters are essential workers, so when the pandemic first hit in March, all of his grandchildren came  to homeschool and live with Brian and Mary Ellen at the Manor on Golden Pond)

  • Brian and grandchildren at Manor on Golden PondI have learned I can live without sports on TV….sports for my grandkids – that’s a different matter.
  • I am thankful for the time our grandkids were forced to spend at our house in the spring….although it came with an unfortunate price, we bonded in an amazing way.
  • While our grandkids were at the house in the spring I was reminded of how wonderful teachers are as they led zoom classes…..I grew up in a family of teachers ….my parents, two aunts and an uncle….this year teachers really rose to the occasion.
  • I am grateful my grandkids accept my Facetime calls each evening and always say enthusiastically….”hi, papa”.
  • I am thankful our family has been healthy through this entire ordeal, but sad for those who didn’t have the same experience so far.
  • I am hopeful that the upcoming change in leadership will lead to a more balanced partnership between political parties.  No judgement implied.  Please, let us just rise above this.
  • I am glad I can get AARP discounts as of 9/2020!
  • I am thrilled to have learned that two folks I have known for many years are fond of my morning smiles as silly as they are….case in point….what did the zero say to the eight…..nice belt.   These weak jokes kept us smiling for the past few months of the threat.
  • I am glad I got to witness the arrival of four robins who were nested in a tree outside our bedroom window….I actually saw 3 of 4 break their shells….it was a source of meditation, wonder and balance this spring.

From Peter and Janis Kesser at Camden Maine Stay Inn

Janis wrote…”This year has been incredibly difficult and trying but we really do have many things to be grateful for, way beyond the fact that we live in a beautiful and warm house where we can watch the snow fall gently on our garden.  So, with that being said, here are things that Peter and I are grateful for (in no particular order and with no regard as to business and personal)”:

  • Peter and Janis KesserHaving our college daughters home with us for a few extra precious months of family time.
  • The companionship of our dog and two cats.
  • The fresh air, the clear night skies filled with twinkling stars, the sound of the ocean lapping the shore and the mountains that surround us.
  • The local farmers that provide us with quality meat, fruit, vegetables and flowers.
  • The employees of our local grocery store who show up for work every day so that we can have food on our tables
  • Our governor who has provided unwavering leadership in her quest to keep Mainers safe and healthy during the Pandemic
  • That we have the incredible opportunity to live in the beautiful state of Maine
  • Our wonderful guests– those who have stayed with us during the pandemic trusting us to keep them safe and healthy, those who have contacted us just to see if we were all right and those who have booked future reservations with us—all of them.

From Leslie & Brian Mulcahy at Rabbit Hill Inn…

In spite of this tumultuous year, we certainly have countless things to be truly grateful for.  These are just a few…

  • smiling couple with woman's arms around man's neckWe must begin by being thankful for our continued good health, and that of our family and friends. Today marked the day that Leslie is cancer free for eight years (that alone calls for the “happy dance”).
  • Our resilience and humor – both are in our DNA. But these days, we call upon them more frequently.
  • Our amazingly dedicated, unwavering staff who stay strong and by our side throughout this turbulent time, providing for our guests with an abundance of genuine care every day.
  • Our wonderful guests – those who are able to be with us and trust us with their well-being; those who long to walk through our door as soon as possible; and those who, since day one, continue to stay in touch with us expressing love, concern, and support in their own unique ways.
  • Good press at time when we needed it most.  This blessing gave us the wherewithal to make it through the early days of the pandemic. A true gift from above.
  • The serenity of our peaceful little village in this beautiful mountain setting.
  • Our fellow Vermont innkeepers and hoteliers who have banded together, share resources, and support each other to make positive things happen during the most challenging time our industry has known.
  • Mostly, we are thankful that Brian has Leslie and Leslie has Brian.  Each of us could not imagine being in this business, especially at this time without one another.

From Elizabeth Arruda at Inn at English Meadows…

  • Elizabeth-Inn at English MeadowsI’m grateful for my daughter to came to visit for a couple of weeks in March to get out of the city and ended up staying the whole summer – an unplanned but much needed and fabulous addition to our staff!
  • I’m grateful to my other half who, in addition to having a regular job, stepped up as weekend kitchen helper, dishwasher and landscape /groundsworker.
  • I’m grateful for loyal staff members who found more efficient ways of doing the work that needed to be done while we were short-handed – these efficiencies will continue to reduce our costs going forward, even when things return to normal!
  • I’m grateful for the opportunity to enjoy early morning beach walks and the beautiful town of Kennebunkport while business was non-existent last spring and early summer.
  • I’m grateful for the exceptionally beautiful weather we had through the summer and fall, and the gorgeous sunrises and sunsets that were a constant reminder of God’s beauty all around us.
  • I’m grateful to be part of a wonderful business community where everyone, rather than competing, came together to share ideas and resources to help each other get through an unprecedented disaster of a year.
  • I’m grateful to our local Chamber of Commerce, Hospitality Maine and Maine Tourism Association for tirelessly advocating on behalf of the hospitality industry with the Governor’s office.
  • I’m grateful for guests who had to cancel reservations but instead rescheduled or requested Gift Certificates for future stays in lieu of refunds of their deposits.
  • I’m grateful for guests who called or emailed just to express their support and ask how we were doing here.
  • I’m grateful for friends old and new who remain always there to listen, laugh and commiserate!

As we move into the holiday season, remember that DINE innkeepers all offer gift certificates for wonderful inn experiences.  DINE inn gift certificates make the ideal gift for that  hard-to-shop-for person who has everything but a great reason to relax and unwind. This holiday season, give the gift of a romantic getaway to a DINE inn, and you’ll also be helping your favorite innkeepers too.  Be sure to call or email your favorite DINE inn to request a gift certificate this holiday season.

Connecticut: Inn at Harbor Hill Marina in Niantic

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

In Massachusetts:  Harbor Light Inn in Marblehead, 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.