After months of rest and anticipation for the next season - here it is, reflections and confessions from a new innkeeper:
I thought I would be quite frank with you, the reader, about what it is actually like to run a bed and breakfast. There is a certain magic that surrounds the business, and I want to clear up the mystery. The truth is,... yes, it actually is quite magical to own and run your own bed and breakfast.
It is not surprising how many people I have talked to in my year-long inn-owning journey who have said phrases like "Oh I've always dreamed about running my own B&B," or "Hey if you ever need an innkeeper,..." or "Wow you've really hit the jackpot." Yes, yes I did hit the jackpot in the world of inherited businesses. What is interesting is that I also often heard "Oh wow, that must be a lot of work," and yes, yes it is a lot of work.
"Innkeeping" is not a difficult line of work. Most people know how to bake, do laundry, and keep the landscaping and the grounds looking neat. Most people even have the basic people skills required for the job, and the administrative tasks of book-keeping and making reservations are also not very challenging. The challenge behind it all is just that it is a lot. My day typically started at 6:30am, and isn't over until I go to bed at 9pm - my husband taking the night shift and staying alert and available until 11pm or so. It's not that I was necessarily working the whole time - we often took breaks or switched off who was at the Inn and who was parent to our two year old - but we could be at the inn the whole time, working the whole time. There will and always will be more to do: laundry, baking, gardening, helping housekeeping, ordering, answering the phone, reservations, the bank, the post office, the grocery store, bills; not to mention all that comes with raising a two-year-old.
Luckily he is the easiest two-year old ever
The joy and magic of innkeeping comes to me from deep down in my soul. I find deep, wonderful, beautiful, soul-lifting satisfaction in creating a bed and breakfast. To be the host for the place you briefly call home while you explore one of the most magical places in the world. To be a guide and a comfort. To create peace and connection.
My favorite and most satisfying part of the day is that moment when I open the door for breakfast. In a true mom reference - I feel like Elsa, in Frozen, when she opens the doors to the castle and sings "And tell the guards to open up the gates!" (Except without the whole fearing-that-she-would-accidentally-freeze-everyone thing).
Opening the doors and welcoming you to the dining room table - the heart of our Inn - where I've crafted some creative baked good, and set the morning mood gently with our 19th century oil lanterns for lighting.
What happens at the table is truly my favorite part of the business. To sit with you, the guest, to hear your stories, and share my own. I've met the most interesting people there over the last year, and from my childhood time of sitting in the corner with my dad, chatting with guests about where they come from, where they are going. As a kid it was an amazing opportunity to hear about different people, places, lives. Even now I find my heart lifted at the conversations that happen at that table. People meet there, become friends there, we even had a family reunion have their morning devotional there. It brought life to my soul to see one family gather at the table every morning and be connected with each other and with God.
While innkeeping is indeed so life-giving for me, I will admit it can also be quite draining. By the end of the season, I wanted nothing more than to binge watch Netflix for a week. If you stayed with us this summer and you caught me on one of those days, trust me, I remember feeling terrible about how I may have let you, the guest, see that side of me and the business. I hope you can forgive me, and know that we have taken steps for this upcoming, 2019 season to be the best it can be.
I learned so much this summer, and have so many people to thank for their patience and love to teach me. And to you - the guest - thank you. Thank you for choosing something a little different than the typical hotel accommodation for your stay on Mackinac Island. Thank you for choosing something with history, something with heart, something like home.