The alarm clock goes off for the innkeeper at our Bed & Breakfast. Guests are having breakfast at 8 o’clock so time to get up, get dressed, put your face on and head to the kitchen. Fabulous breakfasts are always included at a real B&B. While we do as much preparation as possible the night before, this morning’s menu is a green fruit salad of honeydew, kiwi and green grapes, and our frittata with turkey, so there’s fruit to be sliced, ground turkey to cook and mix with the eggs, cheese and previously prepared vegetable mix. Squeeze in some time for your own breakfast and a first look at your e-mail. Coffee and tea needs to be ready to go for 8 o’clock, followed by a trip to the garden to gather some garnish and flowers to decorate the fruit serving and main course, for that finishing touch that brings that “wow” moment when you bring it out.
The guests are arriving for breakfast, all at the same time, although that can vary as we serve breakfast anytime between 7 and 9 am. So we make one large frittata for them to share, instead of individual ones if people come for breakfast at different times. Coffee and tea are poured, fruit is served following by a choice of four juices. When we serve the main course we also put out the basket with croissants we baked the night before. As an innkeeper you hope to hear lots of conversation and laughter around the dining table while you’re in the kitchen preparing the meal and cleaning up after. Often you join in the conversation or provide suggestions for the day. We are ambassadors for our communities and our regions, and we want our guests to have a wonderful stay in our area.
Cleaned off the table and loaded the dishwasher, probably for the first of two loads. Hopefully there’s time for a short coffee break before the real work starts. If guests are staying over, you’ll have a relatively easy day of cleaning rooms, but if guests are checking out obviously there are beds to be changed and a complete cleaning of the room to be done. The start time will depend on when they leave and you can get into the rooms. Laundry is involved too, and later ironing! Don’t forget to check your e-mail in between and maybe there are phone calls to answer or sometimes people show up at your door asking about your B&B, or even directions to somewhere in the neighborhood! It’s all part of the job!
If there’s time for lunch, you’re having a good day, as with 3 rooms at our B&B, and primarily a one-person operation, and that person not being a fast cleaner, a large part of your day is dealing with the cleaning of rooms and kitchen and obviously at times other parts of your home that are open to your guests. Carry on with laundry if needed and hopefully grab a quick shower to be ready to welcome new guests starting at 3:00 pm check-in time. You show them to their room, do a tour of all the public areas, talk about breakfast times and any food allergies they may have, give them a key and find out a little about them and what they may want to do while they’re staying with you. Some guests have specific events they’re attending, we see lots of wedding guests as we have a popular wedding venue around the corner, others ask for lots of information. Often European travelers don’t realize our distances in Canada are so much longer than what they are used to in Europe and maybe plan to see and do more than they can realistically do in the few days they are staying with you.
Hopefully new guests have checked in by now, although sometimes they arrive much later. As long as you’ve had some communications with them so that you know they’ll be late it’s ok, and you don’t have to worry that something has happened to them or they’re not going to show up. You’ve cleaned up all your dishes from breakfast and have done the first of your prep for the next morning. It’s your dinner time, and someone arrives just as you sit down for it! That too is all part of the business. Time for more kitchen clean-up after dinner, more prep for the next morning’s breakfast, set the table. Now it’s time for ironing of napkins, pillow cases and top sheets. In between you may be chatting with your guests, booking a whale watching trip for them or checking if the restaurant down the road has a table for them.
If things went well, you’ve done most of your work for today, other than dealing with the guest registration system to check in your new guests and check out any guests that left that day. Have you remembered to book off the rooms for any new reservations, entered them into your system and marked them on the calendar as well? We have our reservations marked in three different places, just in case we forget something! Maybe there are some thank you notes to send to guests who left a few days ago (as long as they’ve given you permission to contact them). Then it’s finally time for a little me-time, to unwind and see what’s happened in the world outside of your B&B bubble, or read a chapter in your book, before heading off to bed at around 11:00. Only to do it all over again the next day!
This is the life of an innkeeper, except that every day is different and a time schedule like this often doesn’t work. During busy season, you go, go, go, all day long. If you’re a larger property or are in an extremely busy location, you can hire help to take over some of these chores and give you more of a breather in between crazy times. It’s a unique lifestyle; it’s rewarding, it’s exhausting, it’s exciting and it can be difficult, but it’s a choice you make if you want to be an innkeeper. All we hope is that guests savor their stay while with us!