Tuesday, March 09, 2010

When An Innkeeper Makes Exception to the Rule

What an amazing day! We spent many hours outside, cleaning our Studio so Sven can move over as soon as the weather improves substantially. I am afraid the warmth is just a tease, that winter will soon return. Ho-hum. Reservations certainly started off slow this year. We have a real sense that people are feeling the recession. Lots of requests for one night, which we don't do.

A woman called up Saturday from the Left Bank Gallery.

“I hear such nice things about your B&B from Martha,” she said in a friendly voice, very mellow and focused. “I would love to stay a night or two.”

Martha is the manager at Left Bank. I imagined her talking up Chez Sven from behind the counter, surrounded by incredible works of art, her deft fingers slipping a Visa card into the credit card machine, or putting the final touches on a wrapped gift. (Left Bank now has an annex, a smaller gallery at the corner of Main and Holbrook, which specializes in small works and affordable pretty things.)

In this business, one has to make split-second decisions. Should I accept this person, or say no? Was there reason enough to make exception to the rule? Often you only have a few words and the tone of voice, if the request comes via telephone. I imagined a patron of the arts, with money to spare, hair permed or neatly frizzy, Vuitton bag, sunglasses, flowing skirts, elegant scarf draped over one shoulder, size 14 to 16, using an iPhone to make the call. I explained what we had available: everything!

“Unfortunately, I’m on a tight budget,” the woman said.

Whoops! Wrong stereotype. Think thirty years younger, a real artist perhaps, in jeans and black turtleneck, with a black and white scarf coiled around her neck, more a size 4 to 6, who had borrowed Martha's cell.

I cleared my throat. “Meaning?”

“I found a place to stay in Provincetown for $59 a night.”

“Grab it, then!” I said.

There’s no way we can offer a room for $59.

If she decided to remain a second night, I hope beachcombing, while on the Cape, was part of her agenda. The ocean has calmed down and lapped at the shore yesterday afternoon. We saw more evidence of erosion at LeCount Hollow. Check out this pipe, which used to be buried in the dune.

Over the past few days, I booked every remaining week in July for Seagull Cottage, so there is only one August week left for our busiest two-month period.

As Sven and I walked along and experienced all the beige and blue, I thought back to the young artist. Wherever I looked, there was beauty, created by the tide, or by the wind ...

If you had been the innkeeper and your lowest off-season rate was $130, would you have made an exception?