Monday, February 01, 2010

How Being Chosen Brightens this Innkeeper’s Day

Yesterday Sven and I took a quick walk through the five-pond district. We parked near the sluiceway between Gull and Higgins. It occurred to me how special the area is, and was, no doubt, to the Native Americans who once walked these Wellfleet woods. We did not stay long since a frigid wind was blowing off the ocean, a short distance as the gull flies. To answer a question posed by our cottage guests, the ponds that are not frozen are the deeper ones. Both Higgins and Gull had bands of white around the rim, like a milk-mustache in one of those celebrity ads. Winter here is a whole other experience.

Around this time of the year, our Stat Counter heats up over the weekend. When the noon hour arrives and the hits stream past 100, I imagine strangers snug in bedrooms throughout the world, huddled over laptops, searching for respite from the winter doldrums. As people dream of summer and click through the pages of our Web site, I wonder what thoughts are running through their head. Would Cape Cod be a good destination for a holiday? Is it better to stay in one place and explore, rather than choose to visit a variety of towns, sleeping in motels along the way? Are Chez Sven’s rooms as inviting as they look online? The answer to these questions is a resounding YES! What’s more, our green B&B offers benefits no motel can provide. Sven and I take pride in our reputation for making European guests feel at home. Hospitality may be a given at most B&Bs, but we offer that extra dimension most American innkeepers cannot aspire to: a worldview that comes from our both having lived abroad and Sven’s being the best informed innkeeper around, when it comes to current events. We can guide your local choices in French (me!), German (Sven), or Swedish.

Once, a dozen years ago, we stayed at a small inn near Lago de Garde. We asked the innkeeper to recommend a good place to eat. He pointed at the back of our Volvo, which sported an F, indicating country of origin.

“Most people,” the man said, “I send to the local pizza parlor. But, since you’re from France, you might enjoy …”

We went, of course. The restaurant was located in a hotel beside the lake. Elegant linen tablecloths draped a dozen round tables, set with heavy china. The lights were off, inauspiciously. We sat down and waited. No one showed up for five minutes. Just as I was about to suggest going for pizza, a waiter rushed in and listed the night’s specials. Oh, my! That meal was among the best in my life: wild mushroom ravioli and fresh brook trout with almonds.

My point? At a glance, an innkeeper can tell what local options might please certain guests. After a short conversation I know which pond might be perfect, what adventure to suggest, why one restaurant would be the better choice. And, innkeepers do it with a smile. We know how important being chosen is, that word of mouth is better than any advertising, that happy guests will tell their friends, friends who Googled Chez Sven yesterday …