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We love our pets.  We don’t just walk them, we exercise them.  We feed them a special blend of food created just for the breed, size and age.  They visit the vet, get immunized, tested and x-rayed.  We have them fluffed, buffed and poofed: nails trimmed, teeth cleaned and nary a flea or tick to be found.  Some of our pets have wardrobes, appropriate for the season, a special chair in the sunroom and their very own space in our bed.  So why can’t we travel with our pets?  Why do so many places say no to mans best friend?  Statistically, 39 % of Americans have a dog.  More than 50% of dog owners consider their pet a family member.   Many of those people would like to travel with their pet.  So, what can we as pet owners do to be “good guests” and encourage more innkeepers to allow pets.

I have been an innkeeper/owner and I understand the issues innkeepers face, but  I would love to travel with my pet, so I asked a few innkeepers what we could do to make our dogs more welcome.

First, research the inn and see if they are listed as pet friendly.  If they accept pets, they should list this on their website or in their brochure.

1.        Be honest.  If you want to bring your dog, tell the innkeeper.  Please do not describe your 80 lb. golden retriever as a small, ball of fur that no one will even notice.  There is a big difference between a Labrador retriever and a Chihuahua.  Believe me, people notice. Also, many innkeepers have pets of their own, and those furry friends are definitely “Top Dog” at the property.

2.       Keep your pet well groomed.  Consider a trip to the groomer before you leave to insure that Fido is clean and well brushed. Most dogs shed, but a well groomed dog is less likely to leave fur balls under the bed.  Also, flea and tick treatment is a must.

3.       Do not leave you dog unattended in the room.  No matter how well mannered he is at home, he is much more likely to bark or whine when you leave him in a strange place.  Barking and whining bother other guests and innkeepers are then left to deal with the complaints

4.       Keep your dog leashed and be sensitive to others.  Not everyone likes dogs. In fact, some are either highly allergic or very afraid of dogs.  Keeping your dog with you and leashed is the polite thing to do.

5.       If you dog is not securely and completely house trained, then leave him home with a friend or board him at a reputable kennel.  Cleaning up soiled carpet is not a job anyone wants, especially your innkeeper.

6.       Have Bags on Board.  Carry bags with you at all times and clean up after your pet promptly  Everyone appreciates this.

7.       Please Please Please do not allow Fido to sleep on the beds, sit in the chairs or bath in the jetted tub.  Innkeepers spend a considerable amount of money to insure that everything is neat, clean and in impeccable shape.  Be considerate of the next person who will enjoy  the room.

8.   Always notify the property that you are bringing a pet when you make your reservation.  Confirm the pet policy of the inn.  Not all inns take, large dogs, some charge a pet fee while others limit the number of pets you can bring.

So, that being said, are there any bed and breakfasts in Washington that will welcome you and your very best friend!  Of course there are.

The Miller Tree Inn, located in Forks, WA and just a short drive from the Olympic National Park and the Hoh Rain Forest accepts pets in their Orchard Suite for a minimal charge. Take your dog for a quiet night of solitude amidst towering pine trees at Manitou Lodge outside Forks.

Four properties in the Seattle Metro area will welcome your pet.    Although, Three Tree Point is located within easy driving distance of SeaTac Airport, it is a quiet, restful getaway that  offers you a beautiful view of the sound, as well as a place for your dog.    The Chambered Nautilus welcomes pets in their University Suites and is within easy walking distance of the University of Washington as well as great dining and shopping.  You and your dog can take long walks in the Capital Hill neighborhood and enjoy Volunteer Park, all surrounding the beautiful Bacon Mansion Bed and Breakfast. Finally, the Inn of Twin Gables, has the 2 bedroom Garden Suite complete with kitchen that will accommodate your family and your pet.

Carson Ridge Luxury Cabins located in Carson, along the Columbia River Gorge offers individual cabins and has one set aside as pet friendly.   Enjoy natural beauty, a great breakfast and luxurious surroundings.

If you are in the San Juans visit Argyle House, a beautiful craftsman style bed and breakfast, conveniently located in downtown Friday Harbor and very very short walk from the ferry or visit the serene Trumpeter Inn located on a five acre country estate.

Charles Nelson House, located on the Long Beach Peninsula enjoy a breakfast featuring fresh local ingredients and take your pet on long walks along Willapa Bay.

So now that you know that your favorite four legged friend is welcome, open that laptop or pick up the phone and reserve a getaway at one of these great inns.  It is time for you to discover Washington, one pet friendly inn at a time!

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Innkeepers, generally are happy people.  Innkeepers in Washington state are happy and thankful people!  Below are 8 reasons why.  (listed in no particular order)

1.  Washington state is a diverse, beautiful place.  From mountain to sound, farmland to islands, vineyards to forest, Seattle to Spokane…Washington is just a beautiful place to live and visit.  Lots of people from all over the world choose to vacation here.  We are just plain thankful that we get to live here….and share it with you.

2. Salmon.  No whimpy  Atlantic East coast salmon here…This is rich, beautiful salmon country.  With names like Chinook, Sockeye and Coho, the salmon here is some of the best in the world.  Guests love it and innkeepers can find it year around.  Thinking about salmon makes us thankful….and hungry.

3.  Seattle.  People from all over the world visit Seattle.  With Pike Place Market, trendy restaurants and a vibrant music scene, Seattle offers something for everyone and we have inns to satisfy the needs of any traveler.  Thank you to all who make up the fabric of this fascinating city.

4.  Cruise Ships.  We especially like cruise ships.  Don’t be surprised.  Innkeepers do not consider those floating hotels competition.  People come from all over the U.S. to cruise from Seattle to Alaska.  Wise travelers spend 2 or 3 days before and after their Alaskan cruise exploring Seattle and the surrounding area.  We like cruise ships and are thankful for all those people who stop by to visit us.

5.  The Washington State Ferry System.  Yes, the ferry system offers a dependable affordable way to travel from urban Seattle to the islands in the sound, but really, innkeepers are also thankful just because riding on a ferry is just so cool…and everyone wants to do it.

6.  Bill Gates and Microsoft  That’s it, Bill Gates and Microsoft.  We are thankful.  Enough said…

7.  Starbucks.  People who live in Seattle  like to think that the coffee culture started here.  This could be true.  The climate and coffee compliment each other.   Generally, innkeepers are thankful for Starbucks.  Starbucks made coffee cool…from Seattle to Miami, people need their daily fix.  With the expansion of a coffee culture, competition ensued.  In Washington state you can find some of the finest purveyors of coffee in the world, and our innkeepers take advantage of that every morning…and so can you.

8.  Lewis and Clark  Seriously, these guys took quite a trip!  Thanks to them, we have an appreciation for the discovery of the Columbia River Gorge.  You can trace their steps all the way to Illwaco and learn about their incredible journey at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. We are thankful not only for their willingness to journey across the country, but also for the wonderful written history they left behind. ( Travel in Washington is infinitely easier now, and thanks to our innkeepers, no tents, bed rolls or sleeping in the rain for you!)

These are just some of the reasons our Washington innkeepers are happy.  Watch for another Thanksgiving blog this month and discover more things that make us thankful.

Do you really need more reasons to visit a BnB today?  Reserve a room in a local Washington bed and breakfast and meet some of the nicest and most thankful people around!

Discover Washington and some very thankful innkeepers….one inn at a time.

Without a strategy, Twitter is just typing.  Does anyone really care that you are leaving for Costco or planting geraniums in the flower beds?  Probably not.

The key to Twitter is “tweeting” things that people enjoy reading.  An innkeeper has a wide variety of subjects to tweet about.  Below are just a few suggestions:

  1. Create a mood.  Some of the best tweets describe the inn experience for the guest.  These can include a description of your gourmet breakfast, a well worded glimpse into the scenery in your area or a carefully crafted word picture describing your best suite complete with fireplace, soaking tub and king bed.  Tweeting about the guest’s experience reminds them why they need to return.
  2. Offer deals. Twitter is a great way to offer last minute specials to loyal guests or followers.  If you have an available room on a Friday night, offer it on Twitter with a discount for followers.  This is not only a great way to target your marketing, but it makes those people who make the effort to follow you on Twitter feel special.
  3. Ask for an opinion. Tweets don’t always need to promote your business. Are you considering remodeling a suite?  Is a king bed necessary?  Do guests prefer soaking tubs in room or does the hot tub on the deck suffice?  Tweet your followers and ask their opinion.  This is a great way to gain guest input, create the inn your  guests want and make your Twitter followers feel  like a part of your inn family.
  4. Tweet  to show your expertise. Describe your breakfasts.  Let guests know you attended  the PAII conference.  Tell them about the newest trends in innkeeping.   Take this opportunity to remind guests that you are the expert innkeeper.
  5. Share links about your area. Share local information with guests.  This could include upcoming events,  local attractions, restaurant/shopping specials or even a great weather forecast for the upcoming week.  Use Twitter to tell your guests not only why they should choose you, but also why they should choose your locale.

Although there are a number of ways to use twitter to your advantage, poor tweets can quickly irritate guests and even cause them to avoid you…and your business.

Just a few warnings:

  1. Be Creative. People don’t want to read about your trip to the hardware store .  Tweets need to be original.
  2. Timing is everything. Continual tweets quickly irritate guests.  First they simply quit reading.  Eventually they quit following.  More tweets is not necessarily better.
  3. Respond. Most of your followers will tweet wonderful things about your BnB and their experience, but when they don’t, address the complaint or suggestion promptly.
  4. 140 Characters. Yep, that’s it.  Don’t try to communicate one message over numerous tweets.  That is not a tweet, that is a blog.   You can tweet about your blog, but you cannot tweet your blog.

The new generation of guests are already using Twitter.  Join the trend and make Twitter work for you.

Innkeepers know lots of numbers.  They know how many guests they served last year.  They know how many eggs are required for the Spinach Gruyere Quiche that serves four.  They know how much they charge for their best suite , with tax, in season with  a 10% discount!  How many innkeepers  know the contact number of their favorite interim innkeeper?    Knowing how to contact someone in a moment’s notice  who you trust with your most valuable asset is an important part of managing your business. Below are just four  reasons why you need to include the name of a trusted interim innkeeper in your list of important contacts.

Closing your doors and going dark, whether planned or sudden, means loss of revenue.  A last minute emergency can mean cancelled reservations.  No matter how well you handle this situation, you still turn guests  away and although they may seem understanding, many will never forget.  Cancelling a reservation or closing your inn forces guests or potential guests to look elsewhere.  In turn, you lose the opportunity to gain a loyal repeat guest.

Consider innkeeper “burnout”. Much is written on this subject, but few innkeepers heed the advice.  Taking time for yourself, whether it is a short two day visit with another innkeeper or a ten day Mediterranean cruise, is necessary  not only for your health and well being, but also for the health and well being of your business.  Combine frayed nerves, a short temper and exhaustion with just one demanding guest and you have the recipe for disaster.  In today’s high tech world, your guest can tweet their dissatisfaction faster than you can apologize. What was once word of mouth “PR”  is now tweet and retweet, and it can happen in seconds.  Consider online reviews, most notably Trip Advisor.    Innkeepers are all too familiar with how immediate and damaging poor online reviews can be.   Today, more than ever, it is important that innkeepers are fresh, enthusiastic and ready to serve their guests. Innkeepers work very hard to create   comfortable well appointed suites, sumptuous breakfasts and  the right atmosphere.  It is equally important that they offer their guests gracious attentive and considerate innkeepers.  Leaving your inn with a trusted inn sitter can give you time to refresh and recharge.

A “working” vacation can inject some much needed life into your business. Consider attending a regional or national innkeeping conference. Take the time to listen to national experts speak on those issues most critical to innkeepers.  Network  and learn what other innkeepers are doing to keep their business current.     Another great way to combine work and relaxation is visiting another BnB.  Consider taking a road trip, staying in several different BnBs  along the way.  See what others are doing.  This will not only give you ideas for change in your business, , but it will also confirm what you are doing right.  Visiting another bed and breakfast can give you a new appreciation of your skills, your guests and your business.

Life happens and it is not always convenient. Being called away on urgent family business is difficult.   Deciding who is going to manage your inn while you are away should not be left as a last minute consideration.  Knowing a professional inn sitter can relieve considerable stress in a very stressful situation.   A good inn sitter can manage your business so you are free to manage your life.

Developing a relationship with an experienced interim inn sitter who knows and understands the importance of managing your business your way is one important key to business success.  Want some tips on how to choose the best interim innkeeper for your inn?    More later!

Everyday in America, thousands of hotels discard millions of pounds of soap and shampoo. These products often end up in already overflowing landfills and contaminate fragile groundwater systems.

Impoverished people around the world die every day from acute respiratory infection and diarrheal disease because they have no soap. The death toll is staggering. Each year more than five million lives are lost to these diseases with the majority of deaths being among children less than five years old. Studies have shown that simple hand washing substantially reduces the spread of these diseases. Unfortunately, the essential items for proper hand washing are unobtainable for millions of people worldwide.                             ( from the Clean The World website.)

There is a non-profit organization that takes these two, separate statements and connects them to offer a solution to a global problem.  Clean the World Inc. is a non-profit, charitable organization that recycles leftover soaps and shampoos and then puts them in the hands of people who need them here in the United States and across the world.

The process is simple.  Soaps delivered to their Soap Processing Plant are either Rebatched or Sterilized and repackaged  into 2 ounce bars of soap. Although CTW does their own safety testing, the soap process has been independently evaluated to prove that the sterilization process removes known dangerous pathogens.   Clean The World offers the lodging industry a way to make a lasting difference in people’s lives by using a product we discard daily, but the benefit does not stop there.  CTW employes men who are part of a long term residential treatment program, Central Care Mission, in their recycling plant in Orlando, FL.  By providing jobs they are assisting men as they walk through recovery and helping the homeless  step off the streets and receive meaningful work.  CTW is committed to a long term partnership with Central Care Mission, so as Clean The World grows they are able to expand their influence in the lives of these men in the Orlando area.

When I read about this program, I immediately thought of all of the innkeepers and guests who want to not only be “green” but also want to make a difference to people around the world.  As an innkeeper I would have gained much satisfaction from thinking that all those soaps and shampoos I  tossed everyday were actually being used to change peoples lives!

To learn more about this organization and to be inspired by them, follow this link to their website.                    http://cleantheworld.org/

1. Scenery The drive is truly breathtaking.  From Seattle, climb over the majestic, snow capped Cascade Mountains and then cut through the heart of farm country on I-82.  Your trip takes you through farmland and orchards, but  views of Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier are an added bonus.

2.  Wine The number of wineries, good wineries is growing rapidly in Walla Walla.  Those who truly know and love wine fly into Walla Walla from all over the United States for premier wine weekends.      L’Ecole N 41, Pepper Bridge, Cayuse, Three Rivers, Leonetti, Woodward Canyon…The number of wineries dotting the region seems endless.  If you love reds, you will love Walla Walla.

3.  Food Where there is good wine there is good food…really good food.  Enough said!

4.  Higher Education Whitman College, a selective liberal arts institution located in the heart of town is a truly wonderful place to send your son or daughter for a top notch education.  It is also a great excuse to visit Walla Walla again and again.

5.  Accomodations Walla Walla offers a number of places to relax, unwind and be pampered.  A bed and breakfast is the perfect choice.  Innkeepers know the area and can suggest the very best restaurants, wineries and local events.  Let them highlight your map, create the perfect driving tour of the area or suggest the most romantic walking route through town.  Comfy beds, fluffy pillows, gourmet breakfasts and friendly innkeepers are all part of the bed and breakfast experience.  Some offer spa services, gourmet dinners, hot tubs and swimming pools.  Let them do the work while you simply eat, drink and be merry!

Since I began traveling to Walla Walla in 2005, alot has changed, yet a lot has stayed the same.  The explosion of good wineries has brought with it excellant restaurants, unique cultural events and first class accomodations.  Still much has stayed the same.  Walla Walla still retains its small town college feel.  It has a charming downtown area with good shopping, great coffee and fun eateries.  The people are friendly, the streets feel safe and people still smile as you pass on the sidewalk.  Walla Walla is a good getaway any time of the year, but be prepared to return again and again.  So much fun, food, wine and relaxation and so little time.

Click here to find a great place to stay in Washington Wine Country.

Winter is a great time to explore Washington State, one inn at a time.

Resolve to do something for yourself this year.     Resolve to do something for your neighbor.
Six reasons why you should stay in a bed and breakfast in 2010

1. Have you always wanted to stay in a home on the water? How about on the islands? Maybe you want to wake up and take a walk in the snow or a stroll thru downtown Seattle. Staying in a bed and breakfast gives you the chance to live like a local and wake up with views you have only dreamed about.
2. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Wake up to steaming hot coffee, fluffy pancakes, omelets made from fresh eggs. Do you prefer all organic? How about vegetarian? Innkeepers DO think that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so sit back, relax and let them create the perfect morning meal. Yes, that is why it is called a bed and breakfast!
3. Be pampered. Many inns and bed and breakfasts include spa services, breakfast in your room, romantic candlelight dinners. Call and let the innkeeper help you plan the perfect getaway.
4. Support your local economy. Innkeepers are your neighbors….small businessman. They live local, buy local and support the local economy. They choose products grown in Washington. Get tips from them on where to buy fresh local cheeses, the best organic produce or soaps, chocolates….any number of things made just down the street!
5. Have your own personal concierge. No need to stay in a pricey, impersonal downtown hotel to receive help with reservations or tips on what to see and do. Ask your innkeeper. They will be happy to help you plan the perfect afternoon drive, direct you to the very best shopping or suggest their favorite restaurant. They live local and know local. You can’t find a better concierge.

6. Everyone deserves a vacation, even while watching their budget. There is no need to purchase expensive plane tickets, book rental cars or waste precious time in airports. Take a long weekend and hop in your car. The water, the mountains, wine country or Pike Place market are all just a short drive away.

2010 is the year to resolve to stay within your budget, take a vacation and support your local economy. 2010 is the year to travel through Washington State, one inn at a time!