Thursday, April 22, 2010
Love is in the air
April 17 and 18 we had two wonderful and totally different weddings here at the Inn. One traditional with all the bells and whistles, and one free-flowing, more like a party than a wedding. Both were thoroughly enjoyed by the guests, and the innkeeper! We have a break, about 30 days, until the next wedding, but you never know, one could pop up at the last minute.
For every wedding day, there are thousands of Anniversaries on that same day. That is where B&B’s and particularly the Walnut Street Inn, serve the most need. Every weekend this time of year we are full of couples celebrating Anniversaries from year one up to year 50 or 60. I love Anniversary guests. They come expecting to have a good time, are in a good mood, and are (for the most part) happy to be with their spouse. And strangely enough, you can often tell the stages in the marriage by the requests they make.
Anniversary couples, from 1-10 years, want privacy; a room in the Cottage or Carriage House, breakfast in bed. Or they may choose our little hide-away, the Wilder Room, on the third floor of the main house because of the private balcony and the lower price. We see them at check-in, when we deliver breakfast (late as possible, 10 am for us), and again at check out. They are often getting some time away from their little kids, and every moment away is dear to them. It may be the first night Mom is away from the new baby. In those cases, she not only has a cell phone, she carries the phone in her hand, like holding a connection to the baby. They often want Champagne or wine in there room if she is not pregnant, and don’t want the TV tuned to the cartoon network for any reason. As they get closer to the 10th anniversary, they usually order our Romance Package (Champagne, chocolate truffles, turndown service with rose petals across the bed, 15 candles around the room, romantic CD playing.) They want and need to rekindle their relationship in 24 hours, then it is back to work and the kids!
Anniversary couples from 11 to 20 years often want to be more social. It seems by this time, they have had many special nights with their spouse and the fun of the breakfast table conversation may be a bigger draw than breakfast in bed. They may even come with other couples, bring an older child, or dine with friends or family on their special night. They will stay in the Main House, Carriage House or Cottage Inn. The room location is not important to their night. They order our Romance Package or Anniversary Package for the evening to make it memorable, but most come down for breakfast (at 9 am) in the dining room with the other guests.
After 20 years, Anniversaries are a family celebration and a reason to party. Children are often part of the event. The kids may even make the reservation and plan the evening and help “Mom and Dad” get away from other commitments. They usually want to stay in the main house so they can conveniently sit in the parlors or porches and talk to other guests or the innkeepers. Or they may move from room to room, trying out all 12 rooms through the years, before settling on their favorite room. They often have local family or friends join them for breakfast (at 8 or 9 am) in the dining room. They order Champagne or our Anniversary Package on “the big ones,’ 20, 25, 30, but usually not after 30 years. Some couples will bring their own favorite beverage (think scotch) and ask for ice.
The 50th Anniversary stay is a very special time and is almost always booked for them by their adult children. The stay may include a family party that night in our parlors. The couple may have never been to a B&B before and they are anxious about the stay and may call ahead to learn all the details and arrange special needs. They are more concerned with which floor the room is on; the higher the room, the more resistant the guests. They always come to the dining room for breakfast as early as possible and often arrive early. Family will join them for breakfast and the conversation often last throughout the morning, spilling into the parlors and porches.
These are all stereotypes, but based on 15 years of experience. There are exceptions to the pattern and that keeps us on our toes, making sure we give them the experience they wish. Any time the Walnut Street Inn can be part of this special night, on any year, we are excited to do so. This is the reason we are in the “hospitality” business, to serve folks like our Anniversary couples. If you don’t get excited about Anniversary stays, you are in the wrong industry.
Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away. ~Dinah Craik
Gary at Walnut Street Inn
900 E Walnut Street
Springfield, MO 65806