Posts Tagged ‘Seattle’
So, yesterday morning I thought it happened. I thought that some innkeeper got to Joyce and convinced her to play a practical joke on me. It might have been her interim innkeeper, who suggested that I experience an electrical blackout at some inopportune time, like just before fifteen guests are coming downstairs for breakfast. I was ironing my shirt around 6:30 a.m., when the electricity in my room went out. I’m thinking there is no way we’re going to be able to fire up the oven and serve a hot breakfast. Here is the curveball innkeepers around the country were hoping Joyce would throw. Did she really get up early and kill the electricity, just so I’d face a real challenge? Would she do that to the guests in her house? No way, I thought.
And I thought correctly. When I looked outside my quarters, I noticed the rest of the house was well lit. Something in my room must have tripped the breaker. Thank goodness! But, the effect worked well on me – thoughts raced through my mind about how we would have to improvise to take care of the guests. What was the lesson? Have a back-up plan for breakfast. Had the electricity REALLY been out, we would have scrambled to get something on the table. Possibly fruit salad, granola, etc.
Breakfast went smoothly. For our guests we served a tropical fruit salad, homemade granola and stuffed French toast with orange syrup. One guest requested to come a bit early at 7:45 a.m. to grab her meal for an early departure. She showed up a bit earlier than the appointed time, and we’d forgotten she was coming early. So we had to break our momentum to make sure one of the hot breakfast entrees was ready in a few minutes. It worked out fine. Just another example of the frenetic flow of things.
Tags: Allied Associations, Ideas, Seattle
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The day began early again. Now that I had learned the breakfast set up routine, I was able to jump right in at 7 a.m. and contribute. We were expecting thirteen guests for the meal, again spread over three different rooms. I lucked out this week, because we had no crazy or mean guests to serve. Everyone was quite affable. The only one who stuck out a bit was a widow who personified the word “loquacious.” We had quite an eclectic group, including a young couple seeking a little romance, young parents and their 5-month old baby, a widow on her way to a spiritual retreat, an Australian visiting the University of Washington on some official academic business, a gay couple, a non-descript baby boomer couple and a mother and daughter checking out the campus. We served yummy ginger spice pancakes, dusted with powder sugar, with an apple salad. It was my good fortune that the mother and daughter in the Sunrise Chamber didn’t show for breakfast, if you get my drift.
The calm after the storm didn’t last long, as Kristen and I were off to the large suites for some room turning. I cleaned the kitchen top-to-bottom, dusted, vacuumed, put new linens on the bed, and inflated an Aero bed for the incoming guests. I was then given the go-ahead to turn a room by myself. Joyce gave me the Scallop Chamber, which is the largest room in the main house. Here was my opportunity to show Joyce that I was coachable and could take on the monumental task of a thorough cleaning.Lesson number one that I learned: gather and organize what you’re going to need, so you don’t have to make too many trips. The Scallop Chamber is on the third floor, and I discovered that what I needed (if it wasn’t stocked in the housekeeping cabinet and linen closet) could have been on floor two, floor one or the basement. There is definitely a method to the madness of housekeeping. You have to anticipate all that you’re going to need. Working a three-floor house can be exhausting, which motivates you to think wisely about how you approach these kinds of projects. Three or four trips up and down the stairs will have you thinking about efficiency! And, what an appreciation I now have for the laundry chute! Open the little door in the wall…drop the dirty linens…voila! They magically appear in the basement, right where you want it all! Unbelievable. Everyone should be so lucky.
I also learned from Kristen that there are lint rollers, and then there are lint rollers. She uses them on the floor in the bathrooms to pick up hair that the naked eye will usually miss. I asked her, “But how do you deal with a wet floor? Won’t the tape just get wet and stop picking up stuff?” Kristen proceeded to take the next three minutes to explain that not all lint rollers are created equal, and that some will actually continue to pick up hair even when wet! Yes it is true ladies and gentlemen – the perfect lint roller exists (according to Kristen), and I intend to contact the company directly to discuss a formal endorsement with PAII.
Tags: Housekeeping, Seattle
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A good second day at the Chambered Nautlius B&B in Seattle, Washington. I was able to cover more territory with my mentor innkeeper, Joyce Schulte. It was a nice mixture of getting my hands dirty and discussing strategic issues Joyce gets to contemplate in her “free time.” Click here to read about the “Hire PAII’s CEO” contest and here to read about Day One.
The day started for me with a 6:15 a.m. rise, phone call to my wife and daughter on the east coast, quick shower and shave and then walking ten feet to the inn’s kitchen to get ready for the 8:00 a.m. breakfast. Since Joyce tells guests that breakfast is served between 8 and 9, we get some folks downstairs at 7:55 a.m. and others roll up to the table at 8:50 a.m. I find that it’s not that bad, if you do a good job prepping and picking the right menu items. In addition to a choice of coffees, teas and orange/banana juice, we served “Heavenly Bananas” (fresh bananas covered in an orange sour cream sauce), homemade granola and a “crab, artichoke heart egg puff” with Hollandaise sauce and asparagus tips on top. Oh, and some roasted rosemary pototoes. We served sixteen guests, spread out over three different rooms. Joyce did the cooking, and Rhea and I served all the guests, poured the beverages and made sure all the guests were happy. Since we prepped the potatoes and sour cream sauce the night before, as well as set the dining room table, we were able to roll pretty well in the morning. It was amazing to watch how quickly the dirty dishes piled up in the kitchen.
I really enjoyed chatting with the guests, and I found myself trying to figure out where the line was between being engaging and being a pest. I discovered one of the guests has a daughter that actually graduated from my high school back in Georgia – the same year as me! Another guest lived in Collingswood, New Jersey, which is three miles away from the PAII headquarters. It was a fun morning. I enjoyed interacting with the guests. To see how much they were enjoying themselves, and knowing that I was playing a part in that experience was very satisfying. I had an “ah-ha” moment. THIS is why innkeepers love innkeeping! Oh, and because of the food too. Joyce made a few extra crab dishes, and it was delectable. So was her granola and coffee. I’m somewhat of a foodie – like most innkeepers – so that is definitely a plus to being in this industry. Seeing and being part of all the preparation and work that goes into serving a wonderful meal in a handsome setting made me feel sorry for the guests who don’t take advantage of the meal. One of the business travelers had to miss the breakfast (like I sometimes do when staying at inns while traveling for PAII), and I felt she didn’t really get the experience.
Tags: Allied Associations, Hazing, Labor of Love, Problem Solving, Seattle
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Day one is over. For all those innkeepers who wanted to see me wiped out – mission accomplished. My day started with a 4:30 a.m. EST departure from my house in Haddon Heights, NJ. Grabbed some early breakfast a local diner, so I could review all of the training materials, checklists and polices Joyce Schulte (owner/innkeeper of the Chambered Nautilus) sent me. Caught a 7:40 a.m. flight out of Philly…short layover in Chicago and touched down in Seattle around 12:30 p.m. PST. Grabbed a cab for the 20 mile ride to the B&B. This is my first visit to Seattle, and I have a feeling I will not be seeing much of the city.Joyce greeted me with a hug, and we b-lined for my temporary living quarters. On the bed, I encountered a couple of the CN’s signature teddy bears awaiting my arrival. The note reads “Welcome to the CN — where only the bears sit around all day drinking coffee!!” My dark blue apron fit naturally over my head, and from my formative years working in a family restaurant, my hands instinctively tied the straps behind my back. Something about putting an apron on that makes you feel that it’s time to go to work and get your hands dirty.
I’m a bit tired right now (still on East coast time), so forgive me if I leave out some details of my afternoon and evening. I met two of the housekeepers – a couple of young ladies who seemed to really enjoy what they do and being in the inn, Kristin and Rhea. I think that’s a testament to Joyce’s virtues as a boss and co-worker. Joyce gave me a quick tour of the place and gave me a stream-of-consciousness, on-site training. When I arrived, she was expecting a fairly full house. In less than an hour, more reservations came in and the house was to be full this evening. Sixteen people for breakfast. One dog and one five-month old little girl to get ready for.
Joyce and I thoroughly reviewed her daily check list of duties, check-in/check-out lists, responded to reservation requests via Webervation emails, discussed rationale behind her policies and procedures, planned the next day’s housekeeping responsibilities (in which I will take part), emptied the dishwasher, interacted with guests as they came in and out of the inn, straightened up the living room, set the dining room table for tomorrow morning, chatted about the guests past and present, and got down to some quick ironing when we realized the linen napkins had not been pressed. See below for the awesome machine I was able to use. I had no idea what this was when I first saw it.
Tags: Ironing, Reservations, Seattle
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