Sunday, May 31, 2009

What do you get when you combine green, eco-friendly, sustainable, natural foods and a business with a mission?

I'm excited to share this website since it's local to my community and their mission is so incredibly admirable. The website is still a work in progress but they offer enough to see what they're all about.

"Background and History

(A modern day fable that happens to be true.)

Once there was a young man named Bill Morris...When our story begins young Bill was working as a chef in a bastion of high cuisine in Boston, USA...."read on

Saturday, May 30, 2009

New listing on Mount Desert Island in Southwest Harbor, Maine - Kingsleigh Inn

The Kingsleigh Inn was built in 1904 and offers eight guest rooms in the heart of Southwest Harbor, just minutes from Acadia National Park. With its village location, walking to dinner, the shop and marina are a simple stroll out the inn's front door. Four of the rooms offer harbor views and private decks. There are two wood burning fireplaces and one woodstove. All rooms are queen or king beds and are furnished with a bit of Waverley and Laura Ashley without being overly frilly or over the top. The inn has been in business for nearly 25 years and is one of the first inns in Southwest Harbor. A great business, reputation and repeat clientele; the room revenue affords a buyer a comfortable six month business and lifestyle in one of the most beautiful areas in Maine. With Acadia National Park at the back door, this is a nature lovers paradise.

The owners quarters is a two bedroom one bath apartment with hardwood floors, a living room, full kitchen, storage/mechanical room, laundry room with two washers and two dryers, full sized windows allowing plenty of daylight, a private driveway, private entrance and private porch.

Offered at $1,200,000, contact me for more information.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Innkeeping and Social Media...are you keeping up?

There are numerous Social Media sites out there today...some are industry specific, some for personal use. So many today are wonderful business marketing tools, regardless of the nature of your business. If you have a product or a service to offer, you should have some presence on a social media site. Turn on the TV at any given time and news media will be talking about Twitter or Facebook. Giving someone your Twitter account name is almost as common as your email or website.

The focus used to be on one's website. Then it was a link to a blog page on that website. And now, external blogs, forums and Social Media networking. So how do innkeepers have the time to keep up with this in addition to their busy job as an innkeeper? There's no simple answer. It's something you have to commit to regularly. It's like going to the gym. You know you don't always have the time but it's the best thing for you. Once you get going, you see the benefits and won't want to give it up. It should just become part of your routine. Maybe in the morning while you're having your first cup of coffee is when you sit down at the computer and start Tweeting. I will often see some of my innkeeper friends on Twitter in the morning, at breakfast time, yet they've found time to tweet (I know Karen at Timbercliffe Cottage in Camden is pretty good about this, her laptop is in her kitchen...pretty smart). But today's social media applications come in mobile form as well. Download mobile Facebook for your Blackberry or iphone. Download Tweetie for your iphone - these allow you to post your tweets anywere you are, very simple and fast.

So what do you tweet about? From a marketing standpoint, make your tweets ENTICING. You want people to read your tweets. Post a beautiful photo of your inn, a photo of breakfast or a blazing fire in the parlor on Twitpic (which posts them to Twitter automatically). You want to entice people to visit your website. Maybe talk about breakfast that morning...or a new recipe for your afternoon baked goods...or a new food vendor you came about the bed and breakfast market in your area...or travel statistics...or any positive travel industry news which ultimately affects your business. Some of your tweets will be geared toward guests, others toward fellow innkeepers. All should show your personality and individual style. After all, that's what innkeeping is all about.
Very important: keep one thing in mind, when you tweet, it's out there for all to see, forever. Don't post negative comments about other innkeepers, vendors, guests or your industry in general; it's not a forum to air complaints. It should be a positive networking and marketing platform to help you persevere and succeed.

Global success helps us all...

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Just got back from Vegas...

Since my blog is about MAINE, not VEGAS, I just wanted to let you know I've been out of touch for a while since I was in Vegas for 5 days and am trying to catch up. I will say, Vegas is a great place to visit, but I am happy to be back in Maine. I love Maine's weather - it was 102 degrees when I was thank you! And by the photo above, it was TIME to leave...

A lot is happening (in Maine) and I'll be posting soon. Have a great Memorial Day weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Beautiful May in Maine...

There's really nothing like a nice springtime in Maine (well, other than a beautiful summer with 80 degree weather and low humidity) with the flowers and trees in bloom and just the right amount of rain to do its magic. I had to drive down the coast a couple days ago and stopped along the way to take some pictures (I've finally learned how to use the manual settings on my DSLR - not easy when it's not the same setting as my old Canon AE-1 35mm!). I love taking macro shots, but I am limited to the macro setting on my camera since I haven't yet purchased the macro lens.

This was a lovely downtown area of Bath, just steps from the shipyard and the brick-clad commercial shops and restaurants. Quite charming. I stopped for an iced latte at Cafe Creme before heading back to MDI. It was a nice day in the car with the top down...I love our Maine weather...

Monday, May 11, 2009

Inn on the Harbor, a wonderful waterfront inn for sale on Deer Isle, Maine

I recently showed Inn on the Harbor in the quaint fishing village of Stonington to an aspiring innkeeper. The immediate, common reaction was "WOW, this is an absolutely amazing spot". Indeed. Stonington is idyllic, postcard Maine. Many of the islands off the coast of Maine are incredibly beautiful and secluded if you're looking to escape. But Deer Isle (the furthest island south of the Blue Hill peninsula) is one of the few islands, accessible by bridge, that really feels like an island without being at the mercy of a ferry.

Having come from the tourism/bed and breakfast business myself, I understand something about this property very well - tourists know about the Blue Hill Peninsula and of the artists who flourish there. Deer Isle has become a destination, not a stop over. When I took reservations for people coming to visit the Acadia area, often we'd talk about their itinerary. Countless times I heard that they were spending a third of their trip in the Kennebunkport area, a third on the Blue Hill peninsula and the rest in the Acadia area. This gave them a nicely balanced Maine vacation. Each area offers a unique experience. And Stonington is my favorite of the working fishing villages in Maine. Tourism helps to support the area but the local economy keeps it real. If I was able to do lodging brokerage AND innkeeping, Inn on the Harbor is one I'd seriously consider buying.

Inn on the Harbor offers guests an opportunity to be surrounded by quintessential Maine while enjoying a bit of casual luxury. It's a beautifully appointed property with 13 very spacious rooms, overstuffed lounge furniture situated in front of the picture windows to enjoy the spectacular view (and I use the word "spectacular" sparingly), some rooms have private decks to enjoy the outdoor space. But there's a huge outdoor deck where at high tide the water comes up under the deck (part of the inn is built on a pier foundation) for all guests to enjoy. You can't get any closer to the water than this!

This is a property you just need to see.

Offered at $2.2m with a substantial business income. Contact me for more details.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Another beautiful Maine sunrise...

A beautifully dark and mysterious sunrise here in Southwest Harbor looking directly out at Sutton Island with Cranberry Island to the far my Canon D40!

some posts are just for fun...

My Father in-law brought this back from Ireland. It's printed on a beautiful piece of Irish Linen so we framed it! Only fitting because we live on the coast (of Maine, not Ireland) but it's by no means an accurate description of me! :-)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mountain Village Farm Bed and Breakfast...a very unique experience...

I recently had a conversation with one of my buyer clients regarding a listing they had seen a month or so ago - Mountain Village Farm Bed and Breakfast in Kingfield, near SKI Sugarloaf. They really liked the property, but told me that the way it was advertised was really understated, that it really felt like a very unique, experiential lodging hybrid. Fine furnishings and bedding in a casual historic farmhouse amongst farm animals. It really lends itself to a whole experience, not just a bed and breakfast overnight with a wonderful meal at breakfast. It was the type of property where the visitor could really escape their everyday life and soak in the atmosphere, particularly for those coming from the urban and suburban areas! Just another reason this offering is so unique. It's something you have to see and feel to understand. I couldn't agree with them more.

I get to play guest chef for a day...or a week!

Two months after my husband and I bought Kingsleigh Inn in 2004, we attended an innkeeping seminar and met the now innkeepers at Timbercliffe Cottage Bed and Breakfast in Camden, Maine. From the start we just hit it off with Dave and Karen (from Chicago) - they were looking to buy an inn, and we just bought ours and moved from the DC area. We kept in touch over the years and have since sold our inn. But Karen knows how much I love to cook for people. So I'm heading down to Camden to offer my culinary services to Karen! I knew after selling the inn that I'd miss it, particularly the food aspect. Karen and I are of the same mind when it comes to the kitchen. We often talk about what great fun it would be to have a bakery or a fancy foods store somewhere...creative minds are dangerous together!

So in June I will get to play Bed and Breakfast chef at the wonderful Timbercliffe Cottage. Thanks so much, Karen. I'll try and keep Dave focused...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Epitome of Grand Belfast, Maine

This beautiful historic mansion was just added to The Swan Agency Sotheby's International Realty's repertoire of beautiful Maine properties. I drove by on Sunday and what a presence this stately home commands. It's situated along one of the most beautiful residential neighborhoods lined with historic architecture. A wonderful opportunity to start up a Bed and Breakfast, your own style! Contact me if you are interested in a showing.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Truth About Innkeeping...

With regard to my previous post about the ideal day in the life of an innkeeper, I thought I would take a minute to address aspiring innkeepers, potential buyers and innkeepers in general.

I read a comment that it's the "hardest job you will ever love" and this is probably true. I am not denying that. What I fully believe is that it's easy on the mind, harder on the body. It's a physically demanding job in a non-demanding, easy going atmosphere. The fact is, for the most part, innkeepers are dealing with happy people every day, who are on vacation and enjoying what you've provided for them. Innkeepers aren't dealing with typical job problems and a desk full of unresolved issues. Each day is a completed to-do list and that, for me, was key to my lifestyle change. What kind of problems do we deal with? Spots on towels, spots on sheets, wine spills on the carpet, trails of cookie crumbs, an occasional double booking (the kind where you have pay for them stay elsewhere), a malfunctioning washing machine, a clogged toilet from a bar of soap someone dropped in, a torn duvet cover from the luggage wheels, the strawberries at the store look awful...essentially the issues are all easily resolved. You chalk it up to business that you will have to buy new towels or new sheets and call someone to come fix the appliance (unless your partner is handy, which is very important).

Your financial ability to handle these situations and how you handle them depends on several factors:
  • your occupancy rate
  • the number of rooms at your inn
  • your ADR (average daily rate)
  • are you in a busy destination location?
  • are you seasonal or do you operate year round?
  • are you running this as a hobby or as an income producing job? Or a combination of both?
  • do you have another source of income?
  • are you working alone or do you have a partner sharing responsibilities?
  • do you market adequately or is it feasible to do so? Keep in mind it takes money to make money.
This is why it is imperative when you begin to look for a property to buy, that you hire an agent who has innkeeping experience. It will make the difference of reality vs. disillusion. Quite often you can use this rule of thumb:

Higher priced properties:
  • higher income
  • higher potential income
  • possibly 6 month seasonal thus extending the season provides for much greater potential
  • more than 6-8 rooms
  • affords housekeeping
  • location, location, location
  • amenities such as water views or spa tubs
  • can support owner's living expenses (not extravagant)
Lower priced properties:
  • lower income
  • often priced based on residential value if business value is not there
  • fewer than 6 rooms
  • often there is room for potential, but it might be limited because the property is already year round
  • lower advertising budget, though it takes advertising to grow the business
  • until the income grows, innkeepers are the housekeepers
Something very important to keep in mind: you'll need to come up with 20% down payment (sometimes more, on occasion less) regardless of the performance of the property. So here are two scenarios:

Property A, priced at $1,000,000 makes $170,000 in gross room revenue - GRM of 5.88; affords a housekeeper, supports the innkeeper's living expenses (not extravagant).

Property B, priced at $695,000 makes $70,000 - GRM of 9.93

The difference in initial cash output (down payment) is $61,000. However, the GRM (which is a gross multiple of the room revenue used to help place value on a business) is much different between the two properties. Banks look at this number when reviewing a loan. If the business value isn't there, they may only consider the residential value, or a combination of both. Often this is the case with smaller properties. But if the buyer has the additional $61,000 initial output, right away they might be able to walk into a turnkey property and make money from day one. Property B might take much longer to get to the desired level of income, in which case, there is still an output of cash by the owner, to support the business while growing it. Either way, the under-performing property will need the cash, just not at settlement. Just keep this in mind when you're looking at properties and pricing.

When my husband and I left the corporate world of comfortable salaries, we didn't do it without risk, but we did make sure we bought a property that would support our lifestyle. And for us that meant working very hard for 6 months (with a near 100% occupancy) and having housekeeping on payroll. You have to decide for yourself, what will work for you.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

So your guests have learned that your inn is on the what?

A question I am so often asked is how to market a listing for sale, while still trying to market your inn to guests? The answer is not simple. However, when you decide to list your property for sale, you should accept the fact that you must now focus on marketing to your buyer than to your guest, yet still devote your efforts of running the business to your guests. And if you maintain that level of service to your guests, your business should not suffer while on the market. Selling an inn is not a negative thing, though it's often perceived that way. It's simply time to pass on the proud tradition to another, to allow a new innkeeper to experience both the gratification and hard work. Your efforts and reputation matter to you from the day you purchased the inn and extend beyond the settlement table, and your guests will understand.

Your focus--->your guests
Your Realtor's focus--->marketing your inn

Don't feel the need to hide the fact that your inn is on the market; some of your guests might possibly be your best suited purchasers! How many times have guests told you they would love to buy a B&B? Countless, probably. What you do not hide will not be perceived as negative. What you do hide, will.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Nothing to do with innkeeping, just a great photo!

Captured this image a few days ago, the sky was perfectly clear and it was late afternoon. In fact, it was right after we saw the biggest Eagle we've ever seen, land with talons up, just 50 yards from the house! Didn't see him fly off, however, so now we'll be watching for Eagles!