Friday, February 27, 2009

Open That Bottle Night 2009

Just for fun, join the 9th annual event with friends and family on Saturday, February 28th.

My contribution to our 4 course meal is a Salad of Mesclun Greens, Crispy Shallots, Figs soaked in Sherry, Toasted Walnuts and Peppercorn Goat Cheese (from Sunset Acres Farm) tossed with a Balsamic Fig Vinaigrette. The wine I've selected to accompany this course is a 2005 Milz Riesling. Enjoy!

Good news for Captain Briggs House Bed and Breakfast listing in Freeport, Maine

$45mil Freeport development underway...from MaineBiz February 24. Also in the works - a premier train station for Freeport to become a Transit Oriented Destination (TOD). Captain Briggs House offers a buyer a great opportunity while interest rates are historically low, while the area, and thus the potential of the area businesses continue to grow. Win-win for all.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Words to live by...

Spotted this hanging at a Maine bed and breakfast recently...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Think you know what type of inn you want to buy? Do you have an open mind?

You think you might have a pretty good idea what type of inn or B&B is ideal for you. However, coming from experience, I can tell you that if you keep an open mind, your options will be much greater and results possibly much more successful.

If there exists the perfect property, it's often rare to find. But don't let that concern you. What you need to focus on is each aspect of innkeeping and its importance to you:
  • Owner's Quarters (size, space, location, privacy)
  • Number of guest rooms (fewer could make for a "hobby" B&B, more rooms greatly affect the business and income) which leads to the next point...
  • Is this a hobby or a required source of income for you? Or somewhere in the middle?
  • Location of the property - do you prefer land and space in a secluded or rural setting? Or in-town? Understand that there are benefits to each, in the right location
  • Is the property in a primary, secondary destination or a pass-through town? Again, there are benefits to all.
  • Does the property offer options to expand into other revenue streams if you so desired? Space for retail, selling tote bags embroidered with the inn's logo, etc.
  • Do you have a crazy desire to run a restaurant (like me) where you could offer guests dinner in your lovely, intimate dining room? What about a beautiful weekend brunch, for guests as well as the public? Does the property have the space to convert to restaurant, a commercial kitchen or space for it? Parking? If open to the public, would the town benefit from it?
  • Can you convert the property to your style? Many times buyers are afraid to do this or don't have the vision, but there are ways of accomplishing this successfully to suit you and your guests
  • Don't let properties without all private baths deter you. Look at it as an opportunity to enhance the property and maybe combine two rooms to create a suite at a higher price. Depending on the setup, modification may not be that difficult or expensive.
  • Seasonal vs. year-round properties: Seasonal meaning you can operate your inn during the 6 month period common to the area, or would you prefer a more steady income stream over 12 months? There are pros and cons to each side (like many, I assumed after leaving the corporate world and not wanting to manage people, I wanted a property small enough for me and my husband to run with only housekeeping staff. So we worked furiously every day without a break, and took 6 months off. It's like a light switch without a dimmer - completely ON or completely OFF! WORK HARD, PLAY HARD. And we loved it. But that's not for everyone. Maybe having a year-round property has the potential to bring in more revenue, allows you to hire employees looking for annual work, not summer work (even if it's not 40 hours per week) and maybe you're able to take a day or two off every week.
  • Enjoyment. Ask yourself: Will I enjoy the use of the property?
When considering the price of listings on the market, talk with the agent about the options of each property. I have several properties at the moment that are well priced, several that have a very realistic potential to increase revenue substantially, some that will immediately provide a good income and some that have fantastic owners quarters (the latter of the two will naturally be higher priced) and even a few with a combination of them all. Some properties in the higher range will have a very strong revenue which affords staff and therefore allows the owner to take more time off than a lower priced property. Weigh what matters to you most. But realize that you might have to compromise here or there.

When considering price range, just be concerned with having the cash down payment. If a property is performing, the banks will often be willing to lend more and risk more since the revenue is there from the start.

An experienced agent should be able to help you understand the benefits and the potential of each property, with eyes wide open.

Fabulous Waterfront Inn on Deer Isle...

This is Inn on the Harbor in the idyllic Maine fishing village of Stonington. Built on a pier foundation, this is a true waterfront property where the tide rises beneath your feet. The property is comprised of four buildings, New England style clapboard on the village side and shingle style on the water side. There are 13 very spacious rooms with comfortable seating areas and private baths. 10 of the rooms either have water views from their picture windows or from their private decks.

The inn has a very large (2,500 sf) common deck for all guests to enjoy, whether during breakfast or lounging in the sun all afternoon if they choose.

and THIS is the view...Stonington's harbor is one of the most picturesque, working fishing villages on the coast of Maine. The shops, restaurants, art galleries and businesses line the harbor. The only time you need your car is to venture out and explore the rest of the island.

THIS is the view from one of the guest rooms...

Rooms are beautifully decorated in a mix of Maine cottage with a nautical accent, blending seamlessly into the surroundings. No froo-froo, just simple, comfortable and very well thought out. Some have wood burning fireplaces, all have overstuffed seating to enjoy the view, the quiet or a much needed nap.

One of the things that makes this an easy to operate inn is the limited common space - just the breakfast room (which is also the espresso bar open to the public during certain hours) which opens up onto the deck. What this means to the innkeeper is that the interaction with guests flows easily in a centrally located area enabling the innkeeper to be available for guests and to enjoy the view as well. And this is very important since innkeeping is very much about the lifestyle. The inn enjoys very strong year round income and offers the possibility of expanding the food service and retail shop for additional revenue streams.

View Property Photos Virtual Tour
Offered at $2,200,000

Thursday, February 19, 2009

How much time do you spend online looking to buy an inn or bed and breakfast?

I think there are a lot of people out there (myself included) who did a lot of surfing and dreaming but were scared to actually take that leap. Our webstats show a lot of traffic, especially on Mondays, since chances are, life changing decisions often happen on weekends!

So, here's the loaded question - what are you waiting for? Maybe you're uncertain about how to invest your money? Or about the future of your money? Or about the future of your job? Let me preface this by saying that I am not an economist. But historically and generally speaking, real estate has been a more stable long term investment...domestic tourism in general doesn't drastically change, particularly in popular tourist's certainly a buyer's market at the're tired of the corporate want to be in control of your own enjoy various degrees of entertaining...of course, in Maine, where you're surrounded by natural who wouldn't want a job where every day is gratifying? Okay, do you see where I am going with this? Innkeeping is a job, investment, home and lifestyle wrapped in one...

What are your thoughts? I'd love your comments...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A NEW LISTING on Mount Desert Island!

This is The Lindenwood Inn.
A successful Southwest Harbor inn for nearly 30 years, now offered at $1,795,000

Built as a sea captain's home in 1904, this is a fabulous 9 room Inn located on a quiet residential side street, Clark Point Road, just a 15 minute walk to shops and restaurants in town. Just beyond the inn is the coast guard station and popular lobster pier. The inn has some of the best harbor views around; many rooms have a private deck to enjoy the view. The penthouse suite has a spectacular private deck with its own hot tub as well as a view that cannot be beat. Beautiful slate surrounds the outdoor pool and hot tub area where guests can lounge in the sun. Guest rooms are spacious with private baths, beautiful furniture and bedding. Collectibles from the owner’s travels are scattered throughout, many of which will remain with the inn since they’ve contributed to the inn’s popular style. The lower level of the inn offers common guest lounges and game room. Alternatively, it’s a spacious owner’s apartment with master bedroom suite with large Jacuzzi, small office, large living and dining area, full kitchen, storage space, small spare bedroom/den, laundry. Interior perimeter walls are beautiful granite block, floors are terra cotta, very European. The style of this inn is contemporary meets traditional where global influence is evident; everything about The Lindenwood Inn is unique.

The property enjoys substantial gross room revenue during its 6 month operation but could easily do much higher numbers from an extended season. The inn used to offer full restaurant services and could once again. Poolside service would be a fantastic addition to the inn's amenities, or even casual room service or bistro style dining. The beauty of this property is the ability to personalize it to your own taste. There's enough space and options for expanding to suit many needs, including catering, events and weddings. The location of this inn benefits from the volume of visitors Acadia National Park brings to the island. The options are limited only to your imagination.

Virtual Tour Property Photos

Monday, February 16, 2009

A unique Bed and Breakfast on the market...

This is Mountain Village Farm Inn Bed and Breakfast in Kingfield, Maine, the gateway to SKI Sugarloaf. A wonderful, fully renovated 1850's farmhouse/cape on 7 rolling acres, separate "Gallery" building and huge L-shaped barn in very good shape with no evidence of sagging ridges. There are 6 guest rooms with private baths, a living room with fireplace, a large cafe/great room with picture windows that's open to the spacious kitchen. New 8 zone heating system, energy star replacement windows, newly enclosed front porch, various garden beds and other wonderful details. Currently the inn raises chickens offering guests fresh eggs used for breakfast. At times there are several pigs and other farm animals, making for a very unique B&B experience. There's also an option to purchase an additional 10 acres of land (the entire parcel is 17 acres) for an additional $75k. This is a fabulous turn key property with a good business in place for buyers to continue to grow.

The Swan Agency's Lodging Division's new website...

A Lifestyle, Investment and Home.

This is something we at The Swan Agency have known about for quite some time, but it seems others are now catching on. People are giving serious consideration where to put their money and realizing that the investment in a lodging property, whether a hotel, motel, inn or bed and breakfast, provides a paying job and an enjoyable way of life.

We are in the process making changes to our website. Stay tuned...

LEFTOVER LOBSTER? IF there is such a thing...

Make Lobster Bisque and a classic Lobster Roll!

We used a recipe adapted from the White Barn Inn, Kennebunkport, Maine. We started with our own homemade lobster stock (shells from our grilled lobster Valentine's dinner), adding cream, Cognac, Muscat, fresh tomatoes, onions and seasonings, let them simmer for a while, strain and add pieces of lobster meat just before serving. The lobster roll is a toasted, buttered bun and the lobster meat is simply tossed with just a touch of mayonnaise, salt, pepper and parsley. Like grilled cheese and tomato soup for dinner, Maine style!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Another Price Reduction...

Lakeshore Inn B&B in Rockland, Maine.
Now offered at $429,000 (near appraised value) and the sellers are motivated.

5 bedroom, 5 1/2 bath private residence detached 2 car garage, huge eat-in kitchen and fantastic views of Lake Chickawaukie. Perfect as a 4 guest room B&B for new innkeepers just starting out or for experienced innkeepers looking to downsize, or a wonderful private residence or family vacation home. A turnkey business and a great opportunity perfectly situated just minutes between the year round mid-coast villages of Camden and Rockland...

Now here's a Valentine's Day dinner!

Lined up like little soldiers...Fresh grilled Maine lobster!

If you haven't had grilled lobster, you need to try it. I can't explain how it changes the texture of the meat, just that it does. We boiled them for about 5 minutes, then when cool enough to handle, slice them down the center on the underside and baste with melted butter. Then put them cut side down on a medium grill until lightly charred, all the while basting with butter. Total grill time is maybe 10-12 minutes, depending on how hot the grill is. The result is a softer, more tender texture and less water remains in the meat. They're absolutely fantastic! We dipped in melted butter and enjoyed some crusty bread and Caesar salad and a crisp Sauvignon Blanc. And at $7 per pound, they're cheaper than steak, chicken and most other shellfish. But you have to come to Maine to get them!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Kennebunkport Beach...

February in the looks of the people and dogs walking along the beach you'd probably assume this was Spring or Fall? It was February 8th, cold and windy and I had a showing at the 1802 House Bed & Breakfast (which has amongst the most fantastic owner's quarters of any inn I've seen). Naturally I combined business with pleasure (why not, it's part of my job!) and my husband came with me. He dropped me off at the inn and headed off to the beach to take some photos. This was taken just around from the famous Dock Square, home of two of my favorite galleries, Abacus and Compliments. We ate a late lunch at Alisson's and enjoyed a heaping plate of fried clams and local micro brews (for me, Riptide Red, my husband, Shipyard Export). Kennebunkport has really become a year round destination, with shops and restaurants open throughout the winter, giving bed and breakfasts true reason to stay open in the off season.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ahhhh, Winter in Maine on an Arctic Cat...

Yes, that's me! On the stylish two-up sled from North Country Rivers in Bingham, Maine (love the animal print seat). It was approaching 40 degrees, the sun was out and the trails were fantastic (or wicked good as the locals say). Even in the 20's, there are hand warmers in the grips, and your feet get enough engine warmth, though I use foot warmers in my boots when I'm the passenger enjoying the views (I don't think my husband trusts my lead foot).

Below is the fully equipped and reasonably priced cabin we rented - they offer accommodations for 2 people up to large groups. Each cabin has a spacious living room, TV, DVD player, full kitchen, bedrooms and full bath with linens.

And this is the dam that controls the Kennebec River just down from the property (great for white water rafting trips)

Did you know there are more than 13,500 miles of groomed snowmobile trails in Maine? Our day trip began in Bingham on ITS 87 and headed for The Forks Resort Center and the Kennebec River Pub & Brewery where I enjoyed a juicy burger and a fantastic "Red Head Sled" brew. Limiting the intake to just one, we headed back down the Bald Mountain Trail and encountered some of the best trail conditions we've seen over the years. Outdoor enthusiasts, Maine is the place for you, in all seasons!

Fun in the great outdoors of Maine...Pure white snow, pine scented forests and unspoiled beauty. Maine...the way life should be...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Just announced...

The New England Press Association awarded the Mount Desert Islander newspaper first place once again for General Excellence and best weekly newspaper website.

The Swan Agency Sotheby's International Realty was awarded
best weekly newspaper real estate ad in all of New England!

Kim Swan says that in a time of unprecedented struggles, things like this are what set us apart. Our commitment to marketing is admirable but hard and we are not taking the easy way out.

In Kim's words,
"Our Clients Deserve It".

Aspiring Innkeeping Seminars...

Presented by The Swan Agency Sotheby's International Realty,
Maine's Premier Lodging Brokers

As a leader in the lodging brokerage industry, we've gathered a group of specialists (myself included) to provide you with the tools to help you to decide if Innkeeping in Maine is right for you. Our team is well versed in today's innkeeping experience and the necessary marketing in today's internet age. We'll discuss the business and financial side as well as the lifestyle and entertainment side. We won't just lecture, we'll have interactive sessions and cooking demonstrations. And all meals (catered and restaurant) are included in the rate, which is not typical. The first seminar will be held at The Pomegranate Inn, in Portland (photos below).
I am thrilled to be a part of it...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Guilford Bed & Breakfast, just listed!

Grandeur in the Maine Highlands
The Guilford Bed & Breakfast, circa 1904-1918

This incredible grand mansion in Guilford, Maine has been through meticulous restoration. Currently, two sides of the home (color photo above) have been hand scraped, sanded and repainted in the classic tri-color palette, chimneys restored, dormers have been restored to their original splendor with copper details and hand turned spindles. The remaining two sides (the front, as shown in the old photo above) will be completed this Summer. The Monson slate roof is in beautiful shape, there is original stained glass, a huge wrap around porch, incredibly maintained interior woodwork on the walls as well as hardwood floors. Wet bar, formal dining room with very large windows, a formal living room with fireplace, large den with a design stamped metal box wood burning fireplace with incredible mahogany wood walls, yet the room remains light and airy, with plenty of windows and high ceilings. There are 4 spacious guestrooms on the 2nd floor, 3 bedrooms and 1 bath on the 3rd floor for owners, with a private access stairway down to the kitchen. The kitchen is a wonderful space to cook, entertain, or as the prior owner, catering (a restaurant would be great here). The space is quite large, bright, with dual ovens & dishwashers; a private sitting room & powder room off the kitchen. Currently a B&B, but this would make an incredible private residence and historic property to be proud of. Just 1 hour from Bangor, 40 minutes to Moosehead Lake, 2 1/2 hours from Portland, it's a great midway point to many destinations.

This turn of the century Queen Anne is an absolute must see. Offered at $650,000

Sunday, February 1, 2009

$40k PRICE REDUCTION - a great buy

Now offered at $450,000
Lakeshore Inn Bed & Breakfast

Very spacious, 5 bedrooms, 5 1/2 baths, detached 2 car garage, huge eat-in kitchen and fantastic views of Lake Chickawaukie pictured below. Perfect as a B&B, a private residence or family vacation home. Sellers are motivated. A very good opportunity perfectly situated just minutes between the year round mid-coast villages of Camden and Rockland...