by Maxine Pinson
After discovering the inviting cottage in the woods, Goldilocks tiptoes inside. She is tired and hungry from her morning outing. Brightly colored names decorate three comfortable-looking chairs: Papa Bear, Mama Bear, Baby Bear. The lassie strolls over to Papa’s chair; but it is too hard. So, she tries Mama’s chair; it is too soft. When she sits down in Baby’s chair, she whoops with delight. Baby Bear’s chair is just right for Goldilocks.
We all know the next part of the fairy tale. After gobbling down the just-right porridge, Goldilocks finds the perfect bed and drifts into a restful slumber. Little Miss Goldilocks has found a bed and breakfast that suits her to a tee. It might not appeal to Snow White or Cinderella, but Goldilocks considers it Shangri-la. The Three Bears B & B will never be everyone’s top-rated inn, but it certainly has Goldilock’s endorsement. The Bear family may now consider their bed and breakfast a success.
During the past twenty-nine years, I have experienced bed and breakfast inns of all types—big, cozy, fancy, small. Greetings have varied from “Bonjour, Madame” to “Howdy, Y’all.” I would gladly return to 80% of the ones I have stayed in and confidently recommend them to others.
My introduction to B & B’s came in the early seventies during a holiday in Dublin, Ireland. Our modest accommodations included a little chair (too hard) and a middle-sized bed (too soft). But the big bowl of steaming porridge, served at breakfast, was just right. And, especially if you have met me, I bet you can guess the next chapter of this story. Yep, I ate it all up. Compliments to the chef!
Last year I discovered a marvelous B & B in Georgia’s Dublin. A substantial home, in a small Georgia town, I consider the accommodations and amenities just right. But, I am not sure Goldilocks would feel at ease there, in spite of the exemplary hospitality. I suspect she would consider it too elaborate. The little cabin in the woods better fits her comfort-zone and the lifestyle to which Goldi is accustomed.
The holiday season is once again upon us. During the past four years, I have spent two Christmases at bed and breakfasts in small villages. My first B & B Christmas was spent in an awesome twelfth century castle in northern England. From my castle perch, I could see a snow-covered pasture with wooly sheep. While my husband and I were there, Father Christmas, cloaked in emerald green velvet, stopped by to wish us “Season’s Greetings.” I experienced my second B & B Christmas in a small cabin of an inn nestled in the mountains of western NC. The cabin was luxurious in comparison to our accommodations in the Castle, and the innkeeper reminded me of the Santa whose lap I sat upon as a child. We never saw flying reindeer, but we could see resident llamas roaming about whenever we looked out our window. The two inns are completely different. However, I consider each a favorite and would return to either in a heartbeat.
There is no such thing as a “just right” inn for everyone. Preferences vary, and so do B & B’s. Fortunately, there is a just right B & B for everyone somewhere. The distinct and varied personalities of bed and breakfast inns contribute to their uniqueness and mystique. Personally, I prefer staying in a variety of inn types. As long as the innkeepers are amiable, the inn marketing is congruent with the reality I find, and I perceive conscientious efforts to make my stay a pleasant one, I am content. I appreciate and savor good taste and attention-to-detail. But, in the end, the people connectivity is what I value most.
Pleasing everyone is impossible. Friends of mine have frequented a magnificent inn for the past decade. I could not convince them to try anywhere else. However, on a recent visit, they left the inn after the first night of a four-night scheduled stay. They were disturbed by noisy, unruly children on the floor above them. My friends declare they will never stay at the inn again and will refrain from recommending it to others. Two days later, I received an e-mail from an innkeeper telling me how several would-be guests had berated her for not accepting children at her inn. I shared the aforementioned story with her. First and foremost, innkeepers must do what they feel comfortable doing–keeping the best interest of all guests in mind–and then sticking by their decision.
An inn esteemed by one guest as ne plus ultra might be a dire disappointment to someone else. We all have a right to our opinion, whatever it might be. What is seen is interpreted in the eyes of the beholder–whether it is actuality or mere perception.
As you share the gift of yourself with others this holiday season, may the joy you give return multi-fold to you.
Maxine Pinson is publisher/editor of The INNside Scoop, a bi-annual B & B newsletter. The on-line edition of the newsletter may be accessed at www.the-innside-scoop.com/marketguide.html. A resident of Savannah, Georgia, Maxine may be contacted at email@example.com.
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