Friday, August 28, 2009

People visit Narragansett in February??

Many of our peak season (summer) guests are surprised to find out that we're open year-round and ask who stays here in the wintertime. Because they have come for sun, surf and sand, they can't imagine why anyone would be here for anything else.

Rhode Island stopped rolling up the sidewalks after Columbus Day. The beaches are open (free) and are completely different than what you see in the summer. Non-beach activities could take up an entire blog. Most of the local restaurants stay open and are happy to see you.

For a start, there can be weddings here at any time since it's easier to get a church in December than in June. Because we have whirlpool tubs and electric fireplaces in some rooms we are an easy (and affordable) weekend get-away for the romantically inclined. But, if you want the wood burning fireplace in front of the whirlpool in the Hideaway Suite you'd better book well in advance.

One of our most popular winter events is our Chocolate Weekend which is held the weekend after Valentine's Day. Lots of chocolate and snuggles with your sweetie are good reasons to visit but there are always things to do during the day like museums, mansions, festivals, beach walking, and seal watching.

The holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's) usually bring folks to town for big family gatherings where the host house may be a few bedrooms short. And sometimes (don't tell grandma) an aunt or an uncle just needs a few hours away from all the noise and stress that a large celebration with relatives can generate.

The most reliable source of off-season business for us is the University of Rhode Island, located about eight miles from the inn. We take student boarders on the third floor from Sept. to May, and the six rooms that stay open to nightly visitors are often used by parents making a quick visit to see if they're getting their money's worth for their offspring's education. Our Rhodey Ram Special is an added incentive to visit often.

We also get customers coming in for university events (concerts, athletic contests, lectures) and once in a while a visiting professor will stay with us until his term or project is completed. The NOAA research station at the URI Bay Campus frequently brings in coastal management consultants who stay at the inn.

We have enough guests to keep us occupied on the weekends, but not so many that we can't sneak out for a winter getaway of our own when our batteries need recharging. We are never idle though as we tackle big messy renovations when we aren't enjoying guests. There's no rest for the wicked or for innkeepers.

So book early and book often to see what winter at the beach is all about.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Guest room amenities

The Blueberry Cove Inn has eight guest rooms. Over the years we have tweaked the decor, the linens, the menus and the amenities. Some of our amenities are easily copied for your own guest rooms.

Most B&Bs offer some kind of hand soap, body soap, shampoo and such. We also have shower caps (which are much more popular in the winter), hair dryers, and sewing kits. Facial tissues and an extra roll of TP are pretty standard too. I like to put the items on a pressed glass tray or bowl of some kind as they are dressy, inexpensive and very easy to keep clean.

By far, our most popular bathroom amenity is a stash of Q-tips! We offer them in modified sugar shakers to help keep them clean and to discourage people from mindlessly putting a dirty one back in with the clean. (Just pull out the metal shaker part from the top of the container.)

Our second most popular bath amenity is a magnified mirror. One of our frequent guests moaned about forgetting her traveling mirror. A gentleman said that he had trouble seeing the mirror when he shaved. The two comments in one week prompted us to install the mirrors in all of the bathrooms. (This is why we love to hear how we can make the place better. Seely doesn't wear make up and Dave has a beard so it would never have occurred to us that guests would like magnifying mirrors.)

Those are the things that Works for me Wednesdays (and the rest of the week) around here.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Honest, Officer: I paid for the sheetrock

For Thanksgiving of 1998 Dave came back to Narragansett from Houston, where he was working to help finance the remodeling. In addition to some quality time together, he got to help out with some construction. This was our second episode of having a "commuter marriage" (the first was when Seely was in grad school).

Our biggest task was to move 20 sheets of wall board from the front porch to the third floor. It was a tricky job, as 8-foot long rectangles aren't the easiest thing to maneuver up two flights of steps and around corners in the hall.

About the time we got to the sixth board we stopped on the second floor landing to take a break. Glancing out the front window, Seely noticed police cars in the road. A few officers were going around toward the back of the house. Two others were headed up the front walk. All had their weapons drawn.

It turns out that one of the tenants we inherited from the previous management had been knocking over ATM machines and Narragansett's finest wanted to relocate him to a new place of residence. We should have suspected something was up when he gave us two weeks rent in advance. (Demonstrating a keen sense of priorities, Seely's first question was whether we got to keep the advance rent he'd paid us.) We never saw him again, though the police did let us know after they picked him up. He would get his lodging from the state for the next 2-7 years.

We attract a much better quality of guest these days.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Why does Narragansett have such good waves?

Narragansett, RI has long been a beach and surf town. It has some of the best surfing in New England because of its unique location.

The shoreline of the Narragansett Town Beach south to the Point Judith Lighthouse faces the open ocean. The shore north of the Town Beach faces Narragansett Bay. Beaches to the west of Point Judith face either the Block Island Sound or the Long Island Sound. Rodger Wheeler State Beach which faces the Sound is also protected by the Galilee break water which protects the boats coming in and out of the port.

Since Narragansett is on the ocean at the mouth of the bay there is a wicked potential for cross currents and undertows which in turn creates beautiful waves. When an off shore storm is brewing, say Hurricane Bill, surfers from far and wide show up to catch the waves.

So watch for our beach to be on TV as it is a favorite spot for the local news stations to catch the waves and the wave seekers alike.

Monday, August 17, 2009

You know it is August when....

the innkeeper didn't notice this until after breakfast:

We all need a good laugh in the morning. Have a fun day.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday FAQ: How do I get out on the water?

Narragansett, RI is a beach town that offers more than the beach for your amusement. Many people would like to get out on the water but neglected to bring their personal yachts from their land locked home towns. No worries, we have more options than just taking a long walk off of a short pier.

If you are the have-to-be-in-charge type, you can rent your own jet ski or kayak. We have had guests circumnavigate Jamestown Island by jet ski. They slept very well that night. Bring lots of water and sun screen if you plan to duplicate that feat. For the more natural trip, kayaks can travel either in the ocean or through the many beautiful ponds and rivers in the area.

Surfing and SCUBA diving are popular activities in the area so of course there are several shops willing to hook you up with the waves or undersea world. Bring a wet suit if you have one (or plan on renting one) as the water is a bit more chilly than tropical reefs.

One of the easiest ways to get onto the water is to take a ferry to Block Island. The regular and the high speed ferry both leave Galilee frequently and offer different types of experiences. If you are very ambitious you can take a high speed ferry to Martha's Vineyard for the day. (That would be a very long day though.)

If you are more into sightseeing while cruising hands down one of the best bets is the Rhode Island Light House Cruise based out of Quonset Point (about 20 min. north of the inn.) Make reservations on line as they frequently sell out.

More locally the Southland has been cruising Narragansett waters for many years. Smaller, comfortable boats take you out on the ocean to see the Point Judith Light House and then back up into the Great Salt Pond. It is a delightfully relaxing trip and gives you a glimpse into areas you would never find by car.

Mix a bit of history with your cruise on the Bandarias based in the historic village of Wickford (just seven miles north of the inn.)

Are you more interested in fishing? The Narragansett village of Galilee hosts the third largest commercial fishing fleet in New England. You can join day trips or overnight trips with a little advance planning. Surf fishing is popular too. You can store your catch in our guest fridges (after the boat crew has gutted it for you) or your B&B hosts will be happy to take it off of your hands if you don't want to drag it home

Although the Frances Fleet offers whale watching trips as well as fishing, we haven't had a guest yet that actually saw a whale. They had fun on the water anyway.

Yep, that's Narragansett, something for everyone, rain or shine. Come join the fun!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Friday FAQs: What do Innkeepers fear?

What do Innkeepers fear? Some consumers would immediately say "a bad Trip Advisor review." That would be regrettable, of course, but it is not our biggest fear.

The loss of your phone service for 24 hours is pretty horrible. We survived that last Monday by forwarding to our cell phones so it certainly can't be the worst thing.

Experiencing cable and Internet outages for three days? Well, that certainly bothered both the guests and the Innkeeper. Dragging off to an Internet hot spot to check email and reservations is a big drain on time.

No, the piece de resistance has to be electrical problems. Brief outages are bad enough but when the cable repair person tells you to kill the power to the whole building because the electical lines from the pole are sending uncontrolled power surges that could cause a fire (and seriously hurt him as he worked on the cable line) you have met your greatest fear. The smell of electrical circuits shorting in the kitchen speeded my feet toward the power panel.

Something totally out of our control that can harm humans and our livelihood.

Especially when it happens on the busiest Friday of the year when I would need to relocate a whole houseful of guests if the power can't be fixed pronto. And there isn't a B&B, inn or motel in the county with an open room because of a perfect storm of Newport Music Festival, weddings and great beach weather.

I must applaud the National Grid for responding within 15 min. to my panicked request for emergency service. I don't know who the workman was, but he ran a new line from the pole to the house in less than an hour.

Thanks to John the Cable Guy for giving me his cell number so I could call him back as soon as the power issue was settled. (I was too rattled to take his photo. He looks like a teddy bear though.)

Our guests were very understanding about the situation. Most people will accept some inconvenience if you can show them you are doing everything possible to fix the problem. And seeing three workers scurrying around, pulling cables and climbing poles gave me credibility when I told them I thought we'd have everything working within hours.

The crisis is over except for repairing the handicapped lift and replacing a few appliances that fried from the power surges.

And that is my excuse for posting Friday FAQs on a Monday. Monday Memories should be out tomorrow.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Let the destruction begin!

After purchasing this wreck in September 1998 the work began. Dave had returned to Houston to continue earning while I started the demolition, lining up plumbers, and rebuilding. Narragansett, RI, is beautiful in September but I saw it only through safety glasses and a massive hepa filter mask. The first of our eight huge dumpsters arrived with a very loud thunk.

Most of the first dumpster was filled with trash, broken furniture, and all manner of abandoned things found tucked away in the basement and garage. That was the easy dumpster.
A few walls were destined to be removed to make way for much needed bathrooms. Taking down horsehair plaster is not a difficult job. In fact, it can be down right fun. Moving all of that plaster from the third floor to the dumpster? not so fun. And so the "Debris Slide" was invented.

The "slide" was a huge tarp that I secured to 2x4s that were lifted by rope to the third floor windows. The bottom of the tarp was weighted down inside of the dumpster. My plan was to toss everything out of the windows and have it gracefully float to its final resting place. Plaster with angel wings so to speak.

Reality check: when you toss heavy plaster down a slide it tends to catch in a pouch outside the dumpster. You then get a great treat because you can pretend it is a giant pinata as you poke the mess from underneath with a broom to try and flip it into the dumpster. If you poke just so you can wind up with all the plaster on your head. If you add a plank to get the plaster farther out on the tarp it works much better. Eventually I learned how to secure the tarp so the junk actually slid the way I hoped. Just a few tips if you ever try this job. First lower the tarp to the ground at the end of every work day so a drunken tenant doesn't try to slide down it. At the very least, take in the plank lest someone try to walk it. Second, don't plan on working if a Nor'easter is starting to blow in from the North Atlantic. Third, be prepared to be the talk of the town.