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What is an Innkeeper?

Summer 2017, my father, Nick Haan, passed away. He had run Haan's 1830 Inn (alongside my mom until their divorce in 2013) for 30 years as a school-teacher's summer job. When Dad died one of the immediate questions was "What will happen to the Inn?" I was in Montana, working at my own hospitality job in a little ski town, and my younger brother Jake was in Florida working at a law firm. Jake and I met in a flurry to get to the island where Dad passed away and plan a funeral. Maybe our second conversation in the blur was - "What will happen to the Inn?" The answer for both of us was easy. Running Haan's 1830 Inn was my dream. Jake will tell you right off the bat "I don't really like people." We agreed. I would take over. Jake would help if needed. Settled then, right?

Haan's 1830 Inn's beautiful front yard

I still get homesick for this beautiful place

There are an amazing amount of complications in this situation that we won't get into. As well as a lot of grieving, contemplating, and personal journey-ing that I would love to share with you on non-social-media format any time. But this blog post is about the journey of an innkeeper - the journey of a daughter is for more intimate settings.

We got wonderfully lucky when all of this happened and our normal spring/fall-season innkeepers, Larry and Ruth, jetted right up to the island weeks earlier than they planned to in order to run things until I could straighten things out on my end. An unseen gift we could never have expected or thanked enough. So now, how do I straighten things out?

First, I have my own job in Montana. I love the people at the River Rock Lodge / Resort Property Management (look them up if you need a ski vacation!). They have been so good to me in the four years I have been with them, I couldn't possibly abandon them immediately - so December 31st, two days before Haan's 1830 starts taking reservations - will officially be my last day. In addition, I also have a husband (Lucas) with his own job (Young Life Area Director), and a son (Gideon) to think about. We made it work - I would be on the island all summer, with Lucas joining me most of the time, we would hire people to help fill in. Done!

The more interesting part of this journey is an identity piece - what does it mean to be an innkeeper of a bed and breakfast on Mackinac Island?

This question surrounds me as I make even minuscule decisions. What clothes do I buy? What font do I use? The reality of the identity really started to unfold while picking out business cards. I started with something simple, classic, and professional. Something I would pass out if I were running a business in Big Sky, Montana. No frills, just good, professional, business. It had Haan's logo, and the information needed, and thats about it. After pondering what I had chosen I realized it was all wrong. While the card may have been right for a woman who owns a business in the real world and has a sense of professionalism and maybe might wear a pantsuit - this was not right for my business card.

I needed a business card that was coherent with Haan's 1830 Inn and Mackinac Island and me. I needed something that portrayed the kind of warmth you get from a cup of hot tea on a drizzly day. I needed a card that told you that I knew all of the best kept secrets on an island lost in time. I needed a business card that told you that I would probably be dressed like Zooey Deschanel on "New Girl" and bake you the best scone you've ever had and tell you Haan's story of the Indian woman under the kitchen like I was tucking you into bed.

Shannon's Business Card

Here it is, what do you think?

What is an innkeeper? In some parts of the world, an innkeeper may wear a pantsuit, and that is totally fine and wonderful. But on Mackinac Island, much like the island itself, an innkeeper is something out of a fairy-tale. With victorian touches and the aroma of homemade fudge. This doesn't mean I need to loose my sense of professionalism - understanding the ins and outs of running a business is still vital for our success. It does mean I take on a special sort of role in the world. One I am so excited to share with you, and all of our guests, this summer season.

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