Once upon a time there was a man by the name of Norman T. Simpson. He travelled the roads of our vast country and wrote of the unique country inns he visited. He talked with the innkeepers and the guests and quoted their words of wisdom and advice. His comments were light hearted and full of witty truisms and local country lore. Each entry in his travel books are a joy to read. If you can get a hold of an old edition it is worth the find. I picked up one in a used book store a few years back for $1. My first thought when rereading some of the entries was what a great blogger he would have been! As many of you may know he was the father of Select Registry. Mr. Simpson died in 1988 at age 69 but what a legacy he left behind. He helped what was then known as a ‘cottage industry’ grow, today the bed and breakfasts and country inns he introduced to the travelling public have flourished under the leadership of Select Registry and PAII, our national organization. The rest as they say is history and the 400 inns he originally recommended have grown into thousands.
I found a wonderful article written in 1982 entitled “America turns ‘in-ward’ and Norman T. Simpson is showing the way”. Simpson was quoted in the article about when he first started his travels and writings in the mid-60’s.
“Finding real inns – as opposed to hotels or motels that call themselves inns – was a problem. Although definitions of inns vary, Simpson and other experts agree there are several common ingredients. Besides a certain distinct ”atmosphere,” derived in part from its antiquity, an inn must ”draw people together” in camaraderie and friendship.”
”You tend to find friendship replacing many of the amenities of a large hotel,” says Wayne Berens, president of Revere Travel Inc. ”The people who like to stay at country inns are also really looking for a kind of tranquility that they may not find in a large glass and steel hotel.”
Thirty-one years ago and many of these quotations could be written about today’s bed and breakfasts and country inns. I am not one to recommend living in the past. The B&B Team is a huge supporter of ‘A Better Way to Stay’ campaign. Evolving and adhering to today’s traveler’s changing needs and staying in tune with current travel trends is very important and much needed for the health and growth of our industry but… understanding the origins of our small lodging industry is also very important. Phrases like; ‘distinct atmosphere’ and ‘drawing people together in camaraderie and friendship’ and travelers seeking ‘a kind of tranquility’. Those distinctions are timeless and should never be forgotten.
Later in the article Mr. Simpson was asked which inn was his favorite. Being a gentleman and smart businessman he answered brilliantly and diplomatically.
”I refrain from choosing favorites,” he says. ”Aside from the fact it is not a very good idea, it is also a very difficult question to answer. It depends on your mood and I find in almost every case that where I am is the place I like best – whether it’s up in the Vermont woods or on the California coast.”
For him, finding the ideal country inn is ”a state of mind”. If you bring that state of mind with you, you’re going to find the perfect inn.”
Taking Norman T. Simpson’s lead and inspiration I plan to post some future blogs about some of the back road country inns The B&B Team is representing for sale. Many of which were in the original travel books by Simpson.
First posting will be about Chester Vermont. Stay tuned.
Thanks for listening,