Tuesday, March 30, 2010

It's about the guests.

Guests frequently ask "Do you enjoy being an innkeeper?"  "Is it what you expected?"  "It's really hard work, isn't it?"   Well, Yes. Yes.  And Yes.  (Tomorrow is my 48th birthday, so forgive me if I get a little philosophical here!).   Of course, there are some mornings when I am not especially excited about getting up at 6:30 a.m. to make breakfast--believe it or not, I am not a "morning person"!  But I must say that when the guests begin coming downstairs and sitting at the breakfast table, it is TOTALLY worth it!  We have had guests who became engaged here.  We have had guests on their honeymoon.  We have had guests who I later learned were trying to decide if they were going to stay married.  We have had guests celebrating their 40th or 50th wedding anniversaries.  We have had grandparents here to meet a new grandchild, and we have had expecting parents here on a "baby moon" before their lives change with the birth of their first child.  We have had families staying with us in celebration of a wedding and families here mourning the loss of a family member.  We have had guests here on business and guests here on job interviews.  We have had guests from as far away as Puerto Rico, Great Britain, Chile, and Austria.  And we have had guests from our own neighborhood or from just across the James River seeking an "in town" getaway.  I have been honored and touched by every one.  Over the course of this year, I have been so gratified that we have created a space in Maury Place that provides peace and respite to those who come here for whatever reason.  So many have commented to me that their time here was so soothing and relaxing.  And that makes it all worthwhile.  The older I get, the more I realize that life is not measured by minutes or hours or cups of coffee, it's measured by the unexpected small moments of grace shared with others.  Those moments have over and over again confirmed for me that I made the right choice.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Palm Sunday Breakfast Table!

As everyone knows, I love to set a pretty table!  I think I must have learned that from my Mom.  Here is a picture of our table for breakfast on Palm Sunday.  I loved how the china popped against the spring green table cloth and the red tulips in the silver pitcher are sort of an unexpected contrast.  The china is a Royal Jackson pattern. I wonder what we will do for Easter Sunday?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Richmond's Monument Avenue 10K Race

A record 30,800 racers finished the 2010 Ukrops Monument Avenue 10k race yesterday amidst cheers, music, and celebration.  This was the 11th running of the Richmond Virginia event, which this year raised $470,000 for the Massey Cancer Center.  The race passes in front of Maury Place at Monument on both its outbound and inbound legs, making our B&B a perfect lodging for the race.

Two of our guests ran the race, and two others were parents of participants.  Guests of Maury Place were able to watch the race from our front porch, where afterwards they enjoyed a post race celebration with mimosas.

The Monument Avenue 10k is known for being a fun event, featuring live bands, cheering spectators, and a costume contest for runners.  The 10k is extremely popular with runners of all kinds, from elite runners to casual athletes.  Crowds of spectators line the streets and fill the broad grass median of Monument Avenue.  "it's the best people-watching opportunity Richmond has," according to Mike McCormick of Richmond Sports Backers, which organizes the 10k.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Springtime Has Arrived at Maury Place!

Today is the first day of Spring, and temperatures here in Richmond are approaching 80 degrees!  Here at Maury Place, blooming daffodils are popping up in waves in the flower beds.  As an Aries born in March, I have always been happy that my "flower" is the daffodil.  Such a hearty, happy flower that even blooms in the snow! This year is the first year that we have fully experienced this spectacular tulip tree in our backyard.  A late March snow prevented full flowering last year, but this year, the tree looks like it is making up for it! The blooms have really burst open over the past two days--urged on by the warmer temperatures.  As you can see from the this photo, the balcony of our Belmont Suite has a bird's eye view of this spectacular tree.  I also noticed today that the blossoms are very fragrant.  Spring is literally "in the air" around here!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Maury Place Green Lodging Partnership

Maury Place is now teaming up with Clean The World, an organization that works with green lodging partners to recycle soaps and shampoos.  Each day millions of pounds of soaps and shampoos are discarded by hotels and bed and breakfast inns after they have been partially used by guests.  Clean the World reconstitutes and recycles these products by sending them to third world countries, where they can be used to save lives.  Millions of deaths occur each year in impoverished nations from infectious diseases, a problem that can be greatly reduced by simple handwashing and hygiene.  Clean the World distributes soap and educational materials among impoverished countries and domestic homeless shelters to help reduce these needless deaths.

This new partnership is one of many things we do to be an eco-friendly B&B.  Maury Place has been certified as a Green Lodging under our state's "Virginia Green" program.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

We're Baaaaaaak!!

After an arduous journey home from Austin after attending the Professional Association of Innkeepers' conference, we are back at Maury Place!  Thunderstorms really worked some mayhem on the Atlanta Airport yesterday!  Mac and I continued to learn a lot on the final day of the conference.  Mac met with two of our website consultants and learned even more about how to improve our website.  Coming soon is a version of our Maury Place website that will be viewable on mobile hand held devices such as i-phones.  I attended some additional cooking classes on "Beyond the Valley of the Muffins" and  handy kitchen tools.  Being the shopper that I am, I of course worked the exhibitors area.   We purchased additional Maury Place coffee mugs, and I am VERY excited about serving our favorite Virginia Wines in our new Maury Place wine tumblers instead of stem wine glasses.  Very simple and elegant.  I also look forward to our Maury Place portable water bottles.  Of course, we are happy to provide bottled water to our guests, but as most of you know, the plastic water bottles are not good for our environment.  While we still will provide bottled water, we look forward to providing a "greener" more eco-friendly option.  Soon guests will have refillable Maury Place water bottles available for use throughout their stay--and they can take them home to use and to keep as a momento of their Maury Place visit.  We hope to have them available in three to four weeks.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

National Innkeepers Conference: Day 2 Takes Our Breath Away!

Mac and I are still attending the conference of the Professional Association of Innkeepers in Austin, Texas.  We have been soaking in a lot of information from fellow innkeepers and hospitality experts--and a little bit of Texas sun!  Mac has primarily been learning about how to update and maintain our website and how to perfect our communications with guests via our website and through other social media. We hope to soon have a version of our website available for hand held media devices! WOW!  Who knew??  I, on the other hand, have been attending sessions involving guest services.  I have been learning about how to modify breakfasts for special diets and allergies and how to create a beautiful plate with spectacular garnishes.
We are also very excited about partnering with an organization called "Clean the World,"  which collects slightly used amenities such as soaps and shampoos and sanitizes and recycles them for use in African countries. Deaths of 3.5 million children under the age of 5 could be prevented by up to 65% through simple hand washing with bar soap.  Once we start participating in this program, our slightly used soaps and shampoos will not end up in a landfill, but will be transformed into something that can save the lives of millions of children!  We cannot wait to begin!  
The leader of the first Super Session yesterday ended with a quote from comedian George Carlin:  "Life is not measured by the number of moments you take a breath but in the number of moments that take your breath away."  It is our goal that each of our guests have such moments at Maury Place!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Jeff and Mac's Adventures at the National B&B Conference

Mac and I are traveling this week to the Professional Innkeepers International conference in Austin, Texas to further our professional skills.  We look forward to networking with the best innkeepers and learning the latest tools, as we further our efforts to provide world class service to Maury Place guests.  We split duties-- I will go to workshops covering topics such as food presentation, running a Green Inn, and a session titled "Take Their Breath Away" about customer service. Mac will go to workshops such as "Taking Control of Your Web Analytic Stats" and "Become a Google Grease Monkey".... I am not sure what all of that has to do with inn keeping, but he seems to enjoy the workshops!

We have left Maury Place in good hands this week, with our assistant innkeeper Donna serving our guests, supported by Chris and Herb. The hardest part of traveling is leaving our pups, Inn Dogs Chico and Lucy, who stayed back in Richmond to stay with Chris, Herb, and Donna.  We miss the dogs very much, and are sure they miss us a little... but we suspect they are getting more than their share of treats and cuddling while we are gone!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Monument Avenue 10k Lodging Specials!

Richmond Virginia's 11th annual Ukrops Monument Avenue 10k is less than a month away-- March 27th-- and a record number of runners has already registered for the race.  Through March 1, over 33,500 participants are signed up for the 10k that USA Today called one of the 10 best races in the U.S.

Maury Place at Monument is the perfect accomodation for both runners and spectators of both the Monument Avenue 10k and the Richmond Marathon in the fall.  As shown in the photo to the right, both races pass right in front of our bed and breakfast.  B&B guests can enjoy the race from our large front porch, and guests reserving the Pathfinder Suite can watch from their private balcony overlooking the race.

We have just posted a 10k Race Special online.  If you reserve two or more nights of either the Pathfinder or Fontaine Suite on race weekend (March 26-28), you will enjoy one complimentary in room massage.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Bed and Breakfast Association of Virginia Conference

Mac and I are currently attending the Bed and Breakfast Association of Virginia (or "BBAV") Conference at the Boar's Head Inn in Charlottesville, Virginia. Mac and I took our first Aspiring Innkeepers seminar right here in Charlottesville several years ago (when we were "pups" in the B&B world!), and it was sponsored by BBAV! We now see fellow innkeepers at our state conferences who helped enlighten us to the hospitality business several years ago. We have enjoyed our stay at the Boar's Head Inn--which we had never been to before--and seeing many fellow innkeepers from across Virginia. We always enjoy taking home new ideas for improving the Maury Place experience for our guests. This year, I particularly enjoyed a class on various breakfast recipes while Mac learned about how to improve our website! Next week, we will be attending the conference of the Professional Association of Innkeepers International (or "PAII") in Austin, Texas. Austin has been on our list of cities to visit for a long time, so we are happy to have a reason to visit there. We look forward to learning new ways to improve the Maury Place experience there as well. Mac and I are proud members of both BBAV and PAII, and we appreciate the support and nuggets of wisdom that we have gained from so many members of those organizations. Innkeepers helping innkeepers ultimately benefits all of our guests. I will be sure to post another blog about what we learned in Austin!