Posts Tagged ‘A Better Way to Stay’

A Beautiful Plantation for a Better Way to Stay on our Wedding Anniversary

July 2nd, 2011 by carriagehouse

At the insistence of our BFFs, Joe and Vickie, we booked a room at the beautiful Monmouth Plantation in Natchez, Mississippi for our wedding anniversary trip.  We knew we were in for something special when we drove up and saw the impressive Greek Revival Mansion sitting on the hill overlooking the town surrounded by huge old trees draped in Spanish Moss. 

We checked in and were immediately greeted by Hal who went to great lengths to make sure we knew how to use the TV remotes and where the best places to eat in town were.  To be honest, Hal was one of the reason this place is great.  Every time I saw him, he was smiling.  Hal always went out of his way to say Hi and greet us.  At one point we were loading up the car for the day and he offered to get us a bag of ice for our cooler.  Score one for the BnB.  That is not something you ever see at a hotel.

The Inn’s property is just amazing with incredible gardens that go on forever.  That is one of my musts for a B&B …beautiful gardens.  I think when people come to stay at a Bed & Breakfast or in this case an Inn, they expect to be surrounded by beauty.  It doesn’t matter whether the BnB is a an old historic house or a trendy bungalow, people want amazing gardens.  Monmouth Plantation did not disappoint.  Both Tom and I wandered for hours through rose gardens with angels keeping watch, and over walking bridges that provided safe passage from fountained duck ponds.  The walking paths seemed to lead to every part of the property… even an old cemetery.

Hotels often talk about service with a smile but let’s be honest, that is just marketing speak to try and get you to book a room with them.  A BnB or an Inn lives customer service.  It is what we do every day for every one.  We don’t just talk customer service, we live and breath it every moment just like our friend Hal does in Natchez.

Hotels are sometimes beautiful stately properties but just as often dingy buildings along the side of the highway.  B&Bs are almost never anything but amazing properties with the owners taking great pride in every detail of your stay all the way down to the flowers out your window.

These are the things that distinguish us from them or a Bed & Breakfast from a hotel.

That is why we say that we are a Better Way to Stay.  The hospitality industry should be about providing gracious, courteous service to every guest that walks through the door.  At a B&B or an Inn every person is treated special and with personalized attention.  When was the last time you can say that about the big chain hotel on the highway?

So next time you are looking for someplace to stay, chose a Better Way to Stay.  Choose a B&B or an Inn.

Water Fountain

Walking Bridge

Carriage House is Awarded TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence 2 Years in a Row

May 27th, 2011 by carriagehouse

Tom and I were humbled this morning when we were notified that we were awarded for the 2nd year in a row with TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence.   It is such an honor for us and we are always flattered when we receive a 5 out of 5 stars on a TripAdvisor review.  Our guests are the reason we do this each and every day.  We LOVE what we do and we LOVE the people we do this with.  Thank you to each and every one of you that helped make this award a reality for us!!

A Better Way to Stay With Your Pets

April 20th, 2011 by carriagehouse

Dixie and Alien  

A few weeks ago, Tom and I broke away for a few days and went up to Hot Springs, AR.  Hot Springs is one of my favorite places to visit and it is just a quick 2.5 hour drive away from here.  How can you not love a place that calls itself Spa City?  And yes, I do take one of their famous baths every time I go there.

Like so many people, I love to travel with my two dogs (Dixie and her sidekick, The Bug).  Our first Golden Retriever, Samantha, hated riding in the car.  Dixie tolerates it and The Bug hangs out the window giddy with excitement the whole time (she can tolerate speeds up to 40 mph).  In fact, The Bug goes everywhere with me.  She loves a trip to Walmart.  She thinks hanging out in the Lowes parking lot is a blast and I will save the incident at the bank yesterday for another day.  Hint: they were out of dog biscuits.

No matter where we stay, I try and learn something new about this crazy profession of  innkeeping.  There are lessons to be learned at every type of lodging establishment.  Just because I run a B&B, doesn’t mean that hotels don’t have a few hints and tricks to show me. 

This trip, we stayed at a famous hotel in downtown Hot Springs that claimed to be pet friendly.  I say they claimed to be pet friendly because they were not that pet “friendly”.  What I learned is that  just because you accept your guest’s pets doesn’t mean you are pet friendly. 

When we checked in, we received a list of dog rules that we had to sign and agree to for our visit.  Some made sense such as you have to pick up after your pet.  We have this very same rule here at the Carriage House Bed & Breakfast and try and help our guests by providing complimentary waste bags.  I left Dixie’s and The Bug’s poop bags at home by mistake. It was like pulling teeth at the hotel to get them to let me have some trash bags to use. We ended up at a pet store and buying some to use during our stay.

Others seemed a little strict like you can not leave your pet  in their room unattended for any amount of time.  I understand this rule.  We struggle with this at our B&B but feel our guests know their dogs better then we do.  Our guests know what there dogs can endure and would not let their dogs or another guest get uncomfortable.  In our case, we brought Dixie’s nest and The Bugs crate so that they had their beds with them in the room.  We wanted the girls to be comfortable and feel secure in this strange place.  This rule made it very hard for us to enjoy our vacation.  How do we go out to dinner if we can not leave the girls alone in our hotel room?

In case you are not aware, our innkeeping trade organization, the Professional Association of Innkeepers or PAII (pronounced pie -how can you not love a group whose name is a dessert) has been running a marketing campaign this year called A Better Way to Stay.  This campaign’s focus is to show the traveling public that there are places better than a hotel.  That a Bed & Breakfast or Inn is often times the Better Way to Stay.  One of the things that makes the Carriage House B&B a Better Way to Stay is that we don’t just accept pets.  We are pet friendly.

Here at the Carriage House Bed & Breakfast, we want ALL of our guests to feel welcome.  We have room packages that are designed to help our two legged guests unwind and get romantic such as the Naughty and Nice package and the Love and Devotion package.  These two people packages help our two legged guests enhance their Carriage House B&B experience and make their visit at our Bed & Breakfast a Better Way to  Stay.  We also have a Pampered Pooch package to help our cold wet nose and four legged friends feel comfortable and have a Better Way to Stay.  You love a massage.  They love a massage.  You love a day at the spa.  They love a day at the spa.  You unwind and decompress.  They unwind and decompress.  Like I said, it is a Better Way to  Stay.

By the way, we did have a blast in Hot Springs!  Dixie, The Bug, and I went hiking back in the National Park every day we were there.  It was awesome.  I have no idea how many miles we went each day but the girls were no problem in the evening.  They were exhausted!  Dixie, the Golden Retriever, is a bit like an over loaded 18 wheeler.  She would have to kick it in low gear to get up the mountains but went into free fall on the way down.  The Bug is more like a sports car.  She only had one speed…90 mph.

Do You Have a Pain in the Gas?

April 18th, 2011 by carriagehouse

Do you have a pain in the gas?  I do!

This morning on the news, one of the TV reporters for the morning show stated that gas had topped $4 a gallon now in 6 different states.  With gas prices so high, we thought we would do our part to help.

So how about this for a swift kick in the gas.  Our 2nd Quarter promotion is all about helping you pay for the gas out here to the Carriage House Bed & Breakfast.  Here is the deal.  The Carriage House B&B is offering a $25 gas card for a group of four adults traveling in one car and staying a minimum of two weekday nights in two rooms.

Because the Carriage House Bed & Breakfast is so close to all the downtown shops and attractions, you will be able to reduce your carbon footprint even further by being able to walk wherever you want to go. It doesn’t get any better than that!

Enjoy your “Kick in the Gas”

A Better Way to Stay for a Photography Weekend

March 22nd, 2011 by carriagehouse

The 2011 Spring Photography Weekend has come and it has gone.  It is a little bittersweet to tell the truth.  I made some new friends and enjoyed the company of some old acquaintances (thinking of you Craig).  I also had the opportunity to visit with just some of the most amazing photographers. We broke bread together, drank wine together, and plied the waters of Caddo Lake together.  Now I feel a little like Dixie and The Bug standing and whimpering at the gate.  Where have all of my friends and the weekend gone?

The air Friday afternoon was super charged with excitement while we waited for the photographers and their grips (think significant others) to arrive.  One by one, cars began to pull into our parking lot, and the weekend participants began to arrive.  The weather was perfect and no sooner then people got here and dumped their bags, then they scattered to go and explore the sights of Jefferson Texas.  I don’t blame them.  The town was blooming with brightly colored Redbuds, Dogwoods and Wisteria.  It is safe to say  that Mother Nature was showing off for our folks.

The Photography Weekend kicked off with a wine tasting sponsored by Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards at the Museum of Time and Measurement.  It feels very appropriate to have this group of intrepid explorer’s social hour in a place that is full of maps.  Gerald Jones from Los Pinos always does a nice job talking about the Texas wine industry and everyone got a giggle out of some of the names of the wine.  One of our gentleman kept confusing the name of the wine called All My Exes with All My Ex Wives.  Hmmm.  Inquiring minds want to know the story there.  Another one of the gentleman kept licking the glass.  Sam, We would have gotten you seconds.

This weekend was the Super Moon.  The moon was the closest and the biggest that it has been in 18 years.  That was the reason why we picked this weekend out of all of the weekends of March.  Tom took everyone out after the wine tasting and demonstrated a type of night photography called Painting with Light.  The photographers lit up the historic steam train and the city of Jefferson had turned the lights on the old railroad trestle for our group.  I can’t wait to see some of these pictures!

Saturday morning, we got the photographers up for a sunrise photo walk of the Historic Riverfront District.  Jefferson is so beautiful when the morning sun kisses the old historic structures.  The spring light is so soft and it falls lightly as dappled sun rays through our East Texas canopy of trees.

After breakfast, the day belongs to the photographers and their traveling companions to do as they please.  We had several people who took the old steam train, and others went shopping.  We had a couple of romantics that took the horse drawn carriage ride through the Historic Riverfront District, and of course several went out to shoot more pictures.

The climax of any trip to Jefferson is a boat ride on Caddo Lake to see all of the critters and birds.  Unfortunately, the lake (swamps) had been full of bass boats and spring breakers all weekend and they had scared many of the animals and birds back into the woods.  It is a shame!  Many of the gators, turtles and other critters are up from the winter nap and are both hungry and frisky.  In other words, they are busy and active.  I was so hopeful that we were going to get some great action shots of the lake.  A few of our folks did get some nice shots of Egrets and Herons in flight.  You can always count on those birds being out there no matter how busy the lake gets.

We closed out the weekend with another big social event.  Glory Dayz restaurant held over the play “Gangster Apparel” for one performance for us.  It was a funny, funny play.  Several of our guests the prior weekends went to see it and had given the play rave reviews.  I was very anxious to see it and was not disappointed!

As an industry, we talk a lot about the differences between hotels, motels and B&Bs.  In fact, our industry trade group has a campaign going on right now called a Better Way to Stay.  The hope is to educate the public about the differences between all these different types of lodging and accommodations.  The truth is at a Bed & Breakfast, it is about the experience.  Most innkeepers go out of their way to create amazing experiences for their guests.  Each person that walks through our door comes to us with a different need.  Maybe it is a new bride and groom celebrating their honeymoon.  We will try and make their stay as comfortable and romantic as possible.  It could be that a couple of girlfriends or sisters have come to stay with us.  We will make sure they have plenty of places to sit and visit and help them plan fun activities that they can do as a group (Paraffin Wax Foot Massage Party anyone?).  No matter why you travel, we will do what we can to make sure that you find that a Bed & Breakfast is a Better Way to Stay.

These Photography Weekends that we put on are an example of this.  Here at the Carriage House Bed and Breakfast, we try and create a perfect environment for photographers to learn, network and explore East Texas.  The Photography Weekends are all about building an amazing experience not only for our photographers but for their traveling companions.  Believe you me when I tell you that this is not something you would ever find at a hotel.  Frankly, a hotel provides you with a room.  That is it.  At a B&B, you get a room but also an incredible breakfast and an experience that you won’t forget.

As for our photographers that came to Jefferson this weekend to experience spring in East Texas. Well if you will excuse the cliche, a good time was had by all.

The Diamond Bessie Room gets a Facelift

March 9th, 2011 by carriagehouse

One of the challenges to owning an old house is that there is ALWAYS maintenance to be done…and oh by the way, the warranty was up over a century ago.  Some of the work can be challenging such as old plumbing but other work can be fun such as picking out a new paint color or new curtains for the room.

I always hated the color of the Diamond Bessie Room.  It was this yellow buttery color that never went with the theme of the room.  We didn’t paint it that color.  It was that color when we bought the place.  The room badly needed a fresh coat of paint since it probably hasn’t been updated in 10 years or better.  However, other projects always took priority to this room getting repainted.  Finally, the Diamond Bessie’s number came up this week and the room is getting a fresh and new color of  paint.  I have chosen a darker, richer color of brown for this room.  I am hoping that this new paint color really amps up the elegance of the Diamond Bessie Room.

This is one of the benefits of staying at a Bed & Breakfast versus a hotel or motel.  We are always looking for new ways to improve our guest experience.  We are always looking at our rooms, our service, our breakfasts, and our packages to determine if it is the best that we can deliver.   Tom and I are always tweaking things so that we can make a stay at the Carriage House Bed and Breakfast the most romantic, the most adventurous, or the most relaxing place it can be for our guests.  That is why we say that staying at a B&B is a Better Way To Stay!

Breakfast and a Show at the Carriage House Bed and Breakfast in Jefferson Texas

February 14th, 2011 by carriagehouse

So the Carriage House Bed and Breakfast’s crazy Italian chef has been at it once again.  It is Valentine’s Day and the big guy is making some very romantic Strawberry Mascarpone Crepes for our guests.  Watch while he shows us his amazing technique for flipping crepes.  Only a true pro could show such mastery!

A Better Way to Stay in Jefferson Texas

February 8th, 2011 by carriagehouse

Do you know the number one reason people don’t stay at a bed and breakfast when they travel is they don’t think of them?  Hotels and motels dominate the market and when travelers look for a place to stay, they unfortunately think of a hotel or a motel.  However, there is a better way to stay!! 

When was the last time you went to a hotel and were treated like family?  Bed & Breakfasts are small family owned businesses where the owners/ families are involved in every facet and every detail of the business.  Do we care about you and your comfort?  You bet we do!  Owning a B&B is a lifestyle and most innkeepers are living out their dreams every day.  The most important thing to us is you having an enjoyable stay and we will do just about anything to ensure you have a memorable experience.  Pick a B&B and read their reviews.  Inn-goers rave about the fabulous hospitality and friendship that innkeepers offer during their stay.  In fact, for many B&B travelers, the innkeeper was what made the stay special.  We love what we do and it shows!

Many of the myths that people think of when they think of a Bed & Breakfast are just not true anymore. 

Myth #1- I will have to share a bathroom. You will NOT have to share a bathroom with your neighbor.  Trust me, we don’t want to share a bathroom with a stranger and we won’t ask you to either.  Most B&Bs including the Carriage House Bed & Breakfast have private bathrooms in each room. 

Myth #2Old houses equals no amenities.  Many travelers assume that because many bed & breakfasts are in old historic homes that they will not have the amenities that they are used to at home.  Not true at all.  Hey we live and work here too!  Most bed and breakfasts offer everything that you would have in a hotel such as Internet and cable TV.  In fact, at the Carriage House B&B, we have replaced all of our old box TVs with brand new flat panel TVs.  So now you can be as comfortable in your room here as you would be at home watching your favorite shows or game.

Myth #3Bed and Breakfasts are only for couples.  Don’t get me wrong, Bed & Breakfasts can be very romantic places.  That is how Tom and I got hooked on B&Bs, but Bed & Breakfasts can be many things to many people.  In fact, bed and breakfasts can be a perfect place for a girl’s weekend or a single guy or girl just trying away from the hustle and bustle of their lives.  I would go so far to say that we can make your stay be whatever you need it to be.  Just let us know and we will do our best to make it happen.

So next time you are looking for a place to stay on your travels.  Remember, there is a better way to stay!  Skip the hotels and motels and stay at a bed and breakfast.  I promise, you will be glad that you did.

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