Inn Consultants and Brokers Since 1993

The B&B Team

Rick Wolf and Peter Scherman (that’s Rick on the left and Peter on the right) are both experienced speakers who have presented on a range of innkeeping related topics at the state, regional, and national level. They gather and analyze research for the Innkeeping industry and welcome the opportunity to share it with others. Contact Us

Posts Tagged ‘Kennebunk Maine’

Bed and Breakfast First Impressions Count

April 9th, 2014 by Janet Wolf

Sit, relax and connect

First Impression at The Inn at English Meadows. Sit, relax and connect.

“The lobby sets the tone for the overall guest experience, whether it is tone color, décor or ambience. It is the first impression that guests pick up upon entering a property.”From an article in Global Traveler, April 2014 entitled, ‘Form, Function and Finesse’.

Over the years The B&B Team has heard comments from innkeepers saying that not very many of their guests use their common living room/parlors.  Well…there may be a reason. Hotels have seen the same thing. Guests were not ‘hanging out’ in their lobbies. They were in the bars and lounges, but what if a guest wanted to just sit with friends or plug in their devices to ‘work ‘n play’, or have a casual business meeting without the bar buzz?  Many of the large successful hotel chains have been transforming their lobbies into spaces to relax, connect, meet, think, a place guests can make their own.


Westin Hotels & Resorts creates a modern day oasis in lobbies.

Westin Hotels & Resorts creates a modern day oasis in lobbies.

Bed and Breakfast successful design at The Inn at English Meadows

Entree… the Carriage House at The Inn at English Meadows

“Setting the tone for an overall experience” is also important for bed and breakfasts/Inns. Maybe even more important! Many small lodging properties are in historic buildings. They  have an advantage of a distinct sense of place. The aim is to emphasize the unique historical architectural details of the building, the entry and other common shared spaces. Create eye popping design while creating a comfortable and functional space.  It has been done very successfully in many bed and breakfasts. If you have been thinking about transforming your common areas and make your bed and breakfast first impressions a WOW then read on.

A great example is the Inn at English Meadows in Kennebunk Maine. Current innkeepers took a Victorian era farmhouse and transformed the exterior and interior with a contemporary design that is truly eye popping. The results were spectacular. This Inn was not only transformed but re-branded. Now not everyone has the need to tackle a total Inn transformation.  The Inn at English Meadows illustrates what can be done and the successful results. And their guests respond very positively. “It was lovely. The Inn is newly remodeled and tastefully appointed. The decor transfers seamlessly from the living room to the dining room and to the sleeping rooms.”

Traditional comfort at the Inn at Maury Place, Richmond Virginia

Traditional comfort at Maury Place at Monument, Richmond Virginia Bed & Breakfast

A more contemporary look may be trending but traditional is a style that is always in style.  And it may be your preferred style. The Maury Place at Monument, a Richmond Virginia Bed and Breakfast has created comfortable traditional style seating areas in their common rooms. The colors, contemporary hints blend well here and make the architectural details of the room pop.  “As soon as we stepped foot in the historic home, we understood why it had received an overwhelming amount of “excellent” reviews on Trip Advisor. The place is absolutely gorgeous, decorated in warm, masculine colors (chocolate, burgundy) with feminine touches of detail (crystal chandeliers, intricate ceiling medallions and crown molding).”

Beyond design there has to be function. Easy access to USB outlets is also a function guests are looking for in common rooms, not just their guest room. And good lighting everywhere, this should be your mantra! Creating multiple conversation areas is key if you have the space. This is both thoughtful and functional for guests.

Bed and Breakfast first impressions at the Birchwood Inn, Lenox, MA

Multiple seating areas. Room for more? Birchwood Inn Lenox, Massachusetts has an extended living room with enough space for three conversational areas.

Transform, re-brand, re-fresh or renew. Impress your guests with a bed and breakfast first impression. It counts.

Thanks for Listening,

Janet Wolf



Is Fine Dining Dead?

March 5th, 2013 by Janet Wolf


Executive Chef Jonathan Cartwright
The White Barn Inn

The fine dining experience, is it dead, should it die? This question comes up often when we talk to innkeepers, chefs and restaurateurs. An article written in 2009 by food and travel writer Anya von Bremza asked a similar question, Should Fine Dining Die? This article is five years old but the question is still relevant and worth the debate. Are the white tablecloth restaurants an endangered species? In the past number of years we have seen many fine dining restaurants diversify. Take the example of The White Barn Inn Restaurant in Kennebunk, Maine, AAA Five Diamond, Forbes 5 Star Dining, the list goes on. Described on their website as;”candle lit crisp white linen tables and classic views, your romantic gourmet retreat for that special celebration.” They are the ultimate in a fine dining experience, jackets for men required. But just this winter they started offering their ‘Winter Bistro’. They describe the experience as follows: ‘The Winter Bistro features the culinary excellence experienced time and again by our guests, but provides them with a lovely alternative to our legendary prix fixe menu.  Guests can choose to dine from our al a carte bistro menu, in our picturesque Bistro dining room.”


The White Barn Inn Restaurant

And guess what, jackets not required! They have set aside an area in their dining room that is less formal yet still creates the same ambiance and the same great service. They are not  devaluing their brand in any way, they are offering a choice. The trend towards  less formality and lets’ face it, lower pricing has created a demand. According to author Anya many people today …”would rather go to their local gastro pub and order heritage pork belly.” I recently talked with Executive Chef of The White Barn Inn, Jonathan Cartwright. He says the Winter Bistro has been well received by locals as well as inn guests. I asked him if he sees an increased demand for simpler food in a more relaxed atmosphere. He says that the dining public has evolved and we are now a nation of true foodies. He pointed out that The White Barn will always keep the tradition of a special occasion dining choice. He also pointed out that it is always a challenge to keep current, even in our small towns of Kennebunk/Kennebunkport the choices for dining have increased tremendously just in the last few years. Locals and visitors have more choices now.  I agree, even if we choose the less formal restaurant in town or the Winter Bistro alternative we still want great food, great service, great atmosphere, in short, that total dining experience without the ‘fine’ attached to it.


Luke Iannuzzi’s Dinnerware


The Comman Man Restaurant, Sugarbush Vermont

Recently Rick and I had a really great dining experience with incredible food and service at The Common Man Restaurant in Sugerbush Vermont. The dinnerware they use is unique, custom hand thrown pottery made by a local potter and innkeeper Luke Iannuzzi at the Wilder Farm Inn. Everything else offered at the restaurant is also locally sourced. Chef-owner Adam Longworth stopped by our table and talked with us and the other guests about their dining experience and answered questions about his background and vision for the restaurant. If delivering that crucial sense of emotional authenticity is the haute cuisine and fine dining experience of the future, Chef Longworth has perfected it .

I have quoted restaurateur Danny Meyer in past blogs because he is at the top when it comes to high standards in hospitality. In a recent article in Business Insider by Max Nisen, the author spoke with Danny about his view on the fine dining experience. Danny Meyer “built his empire by focusing intensely on the diner’s experience and hospitality. For example, stiff formality is not particularly enjoyable, Meyer found. So even his fine dining restaurants are about the food and being hospitable, not decor or grandiosity. That friendly experience is just as intensely managed and thought out as a stiff and choreographed classic service might be.”

I will end with another example from a personal experience Rick and I recently had. We visited a full service country inn that has offered fine dining successfully for the past 20 plus years, but recently their dining room business has been declining, especially mid week. We made a suggestion that they may want to consider offering  alternate menu choices in a more relaxed atmosphere in one of their dining rooms. We suggested that this may bring in more locals, especially midweek. This is exactly what the White Barn is trying in their ‘Winter Bistro’. Remember I said that the White Barn Restaurant was not devaluing their brand by offering an alternative dining choice. But one way of devaluing your brand is letting your business get behind the times, not keeping up with the trends. Change is a scary thing sometimes but may be necessary to keep up with the demand of today’s fickle foodie. Oh I like that…great name for a restaurant?


North Carolina Coastal Inn with Gourmet Restaurant

The B&B Team has a number of full service inns for sale. If you are an aspiring innkeeper who is considering a career in innkeeping with a full service dining component we have some great properties. Check them out.

Is fine dining dead? Those restaurants of old with flaming desserts and tuxedoed waiters may be decreasing but they are not dead or should they die!  The new fine dining is more about choice. Yes we do want to dress up occasionally for that  special occasion with the linen, crystal and silverware for every course…or not. Give us the choice. So whether it is white cloth or white butcher paper, we want great, innovative and authentic food. And make it fresh, local, visually appealing and presented with style and service extraordinaire. All that is ‘fine’ with me.

Thanks for Listening

Janet Wolf


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