As vaccinations continue throughout the country, travelers are emboldened and feeling the urge to hit the road. For many, a drive-to getaway to one of the Distinctive Inns of New England fits the criteria for what feels safe and doable. Travel is ramping up again for the spring, summer and fall and the ten Distinctive Inns of New England (DINE) are hearing from guests that they can’t wait to get out into DINE country for romantic getaways and outdoor fun. DINE innkeepers have honed in on the ideal safety, cleanliness, and social distancing protocols. Guest comfort and wellness remain a priority for DINE innkeepers, who are following all state guidelines, AHLA advice and their own conventional wisdom. To keep everyone safe, including inn staff and innkeepers, there are a few requests that DINE must make of guests. While you may read this and think “I’d never do that,” surprisingly all of these situations have happened at DINE inns multiple times. Here are a few “no-no’s” and some “yes-yes’s” to help guide your next trip.
Please wear the mask if asked by the inn, even if the state doesn’t mandate it
While some New England governors have dropped their state-wide mask mandate, they’ve also stipulated that individual towns, cities and businesses are permitted to require them. In an effort to keep guests and staff safe, at this time all DINE inns are mandating mask wearing while in public areas. While this may change as more and more people are vaccinated, if you are asked to wear a mask, please respect the request without argument. Once in your room you may remove it. Believe us, we’d love to see that smile beneath your mask, and as soon as it’s safe, we won’t ask you to wear it. We hate to insist even more than our guests who argue with us don’t like to wear them. But we’ve worked so hard for the past year to keep everyone safe, and we just cant let our guard down until the pandemic is over. For now, though, we hope you’ll understand the need to wear a mask.
Check-in time is between 2:00-4:00 at DINE inns
All DINE inns stipulate a designated check-in time – generally between 2:00-4:00pm. The check-in time is specified at the time of booking and in all official confirmations. Since check-out time is by 11:00am, housekeeping staff need the time to thoroughly clean and sanitize rooms before the next guest can check in. This is especially true with updated rigorous cleaning procedures during the pandemic. If you need an earlier check-in time, be sure to ask the innkeeper PRIOR to arrival. DINE innkeepers will do everything they can to accommodate guests to check in an hour or two prior to the official time. However, if you arrive hours early without prior notice, please don’t expect your room to be ready. Your innkeeper will be happy to hold your luggage while you enjoy lunch on the town or a hike nearby, but until your room is ready, please don’t expect to check-in. Yes, we hate to say it, but guests arrive before noon expecting to check in far more often than you’d believe. The same rule holds for check-out. Simply ask if you need an extended check-in or check-out time. Your DINE innkeepers will do the best they can to accommodate your request.
Find a pet sitter unless the inn is pet-friendly
A few of the Distinctive Inns of New England are pet-friendly. The Chesterfield Inn and the Grafton Inn both offer pet-friendly rooms with private entrances. A number of the Distinctive Inns of New England have in-house “mascats” and “mascots” that guests love, but their rooms are not designed for pets. Please be sure to ask for a pet-friendly room if you plan to bring your dog or cat with you. While all DINE inns accommodate licensed service animals, they are unable to allow all pets. Whether it’s service animal or your four-legged best friend, it’s crucial to ask prior to arrival whether the inn can accept your pet. You’d be surprised to know how many people arrive with a pet without prior arrangements.
You’ve heard us ask over and over again to “book direct” with the inn, but what does that mean? If you book your reservation through a third party booking engine, like Expedia or Booking.com, that company will “own” your reservation. The inn you booked with will also pay a commission to the booking engine and won’t be able to upgrade your room or help if there needs to be a cancellation. We wrote a blog that explains this process. So many people don’t realize when they click on that link in Google for their favorite DINE inn and then make a reservation that they’re usually actually NOT making that reservation directly with the inn. Best bet: Simply go to the inn’s website directly and click on the availability or booking button from within that website. You’ll find the best price and get the best choice of rooms, by working directly with the inn.
Should we tip? Yes!
While some inns collect staff gratuities at check-out, most encourage tipping. Unless otherwise mentioned at check-in or in room manuals, tips are welcomed by housekeepers and serving staff. While tipping is entirely up to the guest, a general rule of thumb for tipping at the end of a stay is 10% of the daily rate for each day. We leave tips entirely up to the guest though, as gratuities reflect the service received.
Hopefully, these guidelines will help to answer questions before your next trip to a DINE inn. Please book directly with the inn, avoiding third party booking engines for the best rates and service for your upcoming DINE getaway.
In Connecticut: Inn at Harbor Hill Marina in Niantic