As we developed the detail for our Bed and Breakfast Inn we found it necessary to continually revisit our initial concept. It was all too easy to be swept up to moving closer to a small hotel. What we wanted was direct personal contact with our guests. A personal touch to the rooms and service, but separate enough for guest to be comfortable and not feel like they were infringing on our personal space. After looking at several models we determined the number of guest rooms we could run that fit with other Inns that we knew and admired and our own vision. Somewhere between four and twelve rooms seemed optimal and although we knew we could only financially start with four, we felt that this could allow room for future growth. Above all else and, I suppose, because we were entering this extremely ‘different’ type of work, we wanted to ensure we would find enjoyment in what we were doing. No more waking up in the morning feeling the day ahead would be a chore..
Our next major challenge was finding a property that would meet our needs. Firstly, through our research, we looked at location. We looked at the most popular locations – Niagara on the Lake, Stratford Ontario but considered them saturated. Eventually we honed in on two locations; Kingston, Ontario and Wolfville, Nova Scotia. Both met our criteria, but Wolfville had the added advantage of being close to where our daughter and her husband were living. However, when I approached our daughter about the possibility there was a distinct silence on the other end of the phone line. “We won’t interfere with your lives, honest” was met with further silence. “We do understand that you want to live your own lives.” “Its not that” My daughter interrupted “We are moving to Ontario and we hoped you would be close by.” So our search began in the Kingston area for a property that would meet our needs.
Eventually we discovered, through the Internet, a red brick Victorian farmhouse, within the city of Kingston, on highway 15, just 1.7Km south of Highway 401 and yet just a five-minute drive to downtown. On the 2nd April 2002 we purchased what is now Green Woods Inn. The old farmhouse was in a sorry state and needed significant TLC. So began our renovations, or as my wife puts it ‘seven weeks from hell’. But that’s another story.
Over the past fourteen years we have gained significant valuable information, learned that some of our preconceptions were wrong, developed alliances, partnerships, marketing strategies, cooked up a storm (over 15,000 breakfasts) and, most importantly, enjoyed meeting and listening to our guests. Nothing gives us greater pleasure than hearing from a guest that they really enjoyed their stay with us at Green Woods Inn. Our only regret is that we didn’t make this change ten years earlier!
We take great pleasure in introducing guests to the B&B experience. By implementing continuous improvement for quality and service we not only build repeat business but also spreads the word through referral. ‘Going the extra mile’ really does make a difference. We have noticed a growth trend for younger guests wanting the B&B experience. We have identified the main components as ‘Comfort’, ‘Cuisine’, and ‘Conversation’. We try, wherever possible, to get our guest together at the breakfast table, where conversation and laughter a key indicator that we are getting it right! On occasion this is so successful that breakfast lingers well into the late morning with guests being reluctant to leave.
I believe the most important achievement is that we both look forward to waking up and relishing the day ahead. I had no idea before we began this journey that I would really enjoy cooking so much. Now Tessa is one to limit my watching the cooking channel….. Nothing give me more pleasure that when guest comment on the breakfasts we provide.
Must go now – more guest arriving………