The Innkeeper Chronicles… Part One

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So I’m starting something new on here… since I’ve got this Airbnb adventure going and it’s doing pretty well I thought I’d start answering some questions that have been thrown at me through messages and such and give some of you who are considering this an idea as to how I make this work and the realities of having strangers in your home on a regular basis.

Okay, the short answer? It’s going well but it’s definitely a learning process. With each new guest I’m getting better at the process, and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. My beginning? I stocked the Refrigerator with soda and water, actually scrubbed the entire house top-to-bottom, and hoped for the best. There were some hiccups… like me losing my own housekey and the guest having to leave me his until I could get another one… but all in all it went pretty well. The second guest was great – one night, no real needs other than internet, and bonus! He left me a fantastic review. The third set of guests was my first time with both rooms in use. Grandparents and mom of FSC student. Nice people but very much morning people and everybody knows I don’t do mornings until around 11 or so. Also they’d never stayed via Airbnb before and didn’t know what to expect. I was much relieved to disabuse them of the idea that I would be making up the room every morning after they went out for the day. Um, well, no. Not to say that I don’t check everything over in the bathroom and replenish what needs replenishment but I leave the guest rooms alone. I don’t want to invade people’s privacy and unless I hear sounds of ritual sacrifice or ongoing demolition you can be sure I will not. My longest guest thus far (4 nights) just departed yesterday and she was absolutely wonderful. Very nice, brought a hostess gift, very low maintenance, and she’s the first where I started experimenting with offering breakfast as well. I’m happy to report that I’ve finally started getting used to a revolving door and people coming and going… at least I’ve stopped waking up with a start when I smell coffee in my house and taking 5 minutes to reason through knowing that people who rob your house likely won’t make coffee first and then finally remembering that there’s people staying with me. And with that now I’ve got a month-long guest arriving tomorrow and weekend guests arriving 3 of the next 4 weekends so things are getting busy and I’m starting to wonder if I’ve lost my mind. I’m sure this is going to get even more entertaining for me, especially with the holidays and all that coming up, so I’ll keep sharing the fun on here and giving you guys the back view on my new gig by default.

After that recap of my adventures, based on questions I’ve gotten and things that have been said, here’s the things I recommend if you’re considering this gig:
1) The basics – Invest in good high thread count sheets, good all cotton white towels (bleachable, more sanitary, and if they stain you throw them out), and good pillows. Don’t eye-roll me or say you can’t afford it… just shut up and do it dammit. Rue Lala has 500tc Egyptian Cotton sheets for $39.99… Sam’s has Serta Pillows for $9.95 a 2 pack… Macy’s runs Ralph Lauren towels on sale several times a year. Trust me when I tell you it will pay off in the end. And don’t argue about the white towels… things happen… bleach solves it… can’t do that with cornflower blue or brick red… argument over.
2) Upgrade your guest room so it looks like a place people want to stay. So here it is, if you’re still holding onto that Hello Kitty bedroom stuff from your daughter’s teen years it’s time to make like Elsa and let that ish go. My decorating rule is to make your guest room and your guest bath inviting and comfortable. There’s no need to get House Beautiful to come in and redo the rooms and you probably want to lay off the more esoteric and complicated Pinterest stuff, but definitely choose things that are comfortable and cozy, and also make sure those things are sturdy and can take frequent cleaning. No need for Louis XIV antiques, but a well-placed reading light, a soft throw, a luggage rack, and a chair to sit in will never be out of place. Throw in a drawer or two available in the dresser, some decent closet space, and extra hangers and you’ve got it done. It’s not hard… just look at the room and envision where you would want to stay. Create that.
3) Put a power strip near the bed for plugging in multiple electronic devices. Not sure about you but that’s something I bitch about in every hotel room I stay in… no matter how cheap or expensive. So with my rooms whatever I’ve missed in a hotel room? I’ve made sure it’s in mine. Electronics recharging is a part of life today… get with the program.
4) Go sleep in your guest room… make sure it’s a bed you would sleep in, make sure the room is comfortable for you, and if you’re not comfy there then fix it!
5) Get fast internet. Everyone I’ve had here has used serious bandwidth their entire stay. Everyone. I’ve got streaming devices on both televisions in those rooms and they use the heck out of them. So plan for that… the demographic that is adopting Airbnb the fastest is the millennial generation. That’s their MO… you need to make it yours if you want them back. They might enjoy the novelty of your in-room Keurig but they’ll demand fast internet. So do I… so make that happen.
6) Don’t waste money on things that will likely not pay off. An in-room refrigerator is nice, an in-room coffee pot is convenient but offering use of the kitchen and extra space in the refrigerator if there’s things they need to cook or chill is just as good. These people are guests in your home. If they wanted to stay at the Holiday Inn they’d be there. Make them a part of your home to the degree that they’re comfortable with but know upfront that if they’re renting a room in a private home they already expect that they will become a part of a home dynamic. I tell all of my guests that they are welcome to enjoy all common areas of my home. If they want to sit in the Living Room and watch the big TV they’re welcome to do so. If they want to use the pool then come on out. They aren’t expected to just stay in their room and out of my hair. Part of the adventure in this kind of travel is meeting new people and experiencing new things. If you’re not into that, don’t sign up and choose to rent your room. Seriously. This takes peopling. You have to be good at it. At least sometimes. So keep that in mind.
7) Don’t stress out and remember to have fun. I schedule the day after departure for cleaning and restoring the room(s) back to clean and ready. I also schedule the day before arrival for cleaning of the entire house to make sure I’m ready. When I go back to work I may look into a cleaning service to assist me with this part. But outside of those two days of effort I’m a neat person and my house stays pretty well put together so it’s not something I focus on. When guests are here I run the sweeper every morning because of the additional foot traffic and I also wipe down the bathroom and kitchen counters, just because I’m OCD like that. But that’s about it. I would much rather spend a few minutes chatting with the guests about restaurants I love and things to do in my beautiful little town than worrying about whether the bathmat is hung up properly. Perspective… it’s important… get some.

Okay… there you go… that’s my innkeeping manifesto… now go figure it out for you. We’re all different and our spaces are different too. If you’re leaning toward trying this out this just starts your conversation about it. And if you have any other questions ask away. I’ll do my best to help. It’s fun… I’m enjoying it… good luck! Oh… and for a bit of shameless self-promotion, here’s my listings from Airbnb… share amongst yourselves!

Casa de Bruce-Weiner Room 1

Casa de Bruce-Weiner Room 2

 

The Weekend Update

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So far we’ve slept a little, eaten a little, and I’ve worked on homework.  Can I screw up a vacation or what?  Yeah, that’s me.  Funsucker extraordinaire!  Yeah, I know, there are worse things.  Far worse.  But still, I’m studying.  No matter how nice the jail is, you’re still in it, right?  My thoughts anyway.  But doing what I must, when I must apparently has become my new mantra… WTF?  Who am I, what have I become, and where is the pod?

As for the food consumed so far?  And you know there’s food, we’re in Asheville after all.  And, of course, like all good Asheville trips, this one started at the North Asheville Tailgate Market.  If you really want to fall in love with organic?  This is the place.  A bag of homemade Rosemary Herb Crackers from some crunchy hippie girl… they’re delish! Tomme Cheese made from  Goat & Sheep’s milk from Three Graces Dairy – and yes, another older crunchy hippie woman, equally as delicious.  And a grand finale of Salami from Hickory Nut Gap Farms – no crunchy hippies there but it is organic meat and cruelty-free so there’s that.  I can honestly state that if I lived here full-time my shopping would be mostly done there, every week.  I really wanted to get Garlic Scapes… just to experiment with, but I didn’t think they’d survive the trip.  Likewise I wanted to buy two of every herb there was there… I didn’t.

Restraint.  I haz it.

After all that joy, and a side trip to Old World Bakery the next obvious step was to… go out to dinner.  Of course.  I know that’s what seems logical, right?  And, as usual, we went to Vinnie’s, where I had a Cuba Libre Martini with homemade Cola Syrup no less.  Yum.  Should have had two, or three.  Note to self – do this next time, especially if the whole famdamily is with us.  Especially then.  Pre-medicate with wine too.  It will be easier.

But back to Dinner which, as always, was amazing.  Ribeye topped with Gorgonzola, grilled Vidalia, and Arugula dressed in a lemon vinaigrette. Plus I had the grilled Caesar… nomnomnom.  And today there’s more food on the horizon… more food.  Wow.  Imagine.  Shocking.  Brunch at Avenue M, then grilling hotdogs here at the house.  Hoping to sneak in a visit to French Broad Chocolate Lounge… that’s my plan anyway.  And I’m also planning on not doing any more homework.  That seems like a good thing as well.

With all that, did I mention yet that I love it here?  Did I forget?  I’ll try to take more pictures and do less homework today… but I can’t guarantee that.  Wish me luck.  Right now though I’m going to find a cup of coffee and some eye makeup remover.  Then I’ll be ready to face the day.  This vacation is hard work, yo? Enjoy.

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The sights, sounds, and smells of Asheville…

The tang of Goat cheese as it oozes out of an Omelet and slides into the salty sweetness of the Sea Scallops sitting quivery and golden, and the peppery sharpness of the Chipotle Hollandaise that is pooled under them like creamy yellow sunshine poured straight from the summer sky.

The tang of applewood smoke that you only taste in the very first bite of Bacon, and the salty richness that is the fat released from it’s crusty bonds as you bite into the very best gift a Pig could give us, along with his life.

The toothachy sweetness of the first bit of Sugar crust on Creme Brûlée, and the decadent smoothness, combined with the sharp bite of the dark chocolate filling in that same creamy treat.

Opening the door to the smell of knowledge, mixed with crisp, sun-bleached paper and old ink, and walking through the stacks of used books that you haven’t yet read, and the sharp smell of excitement, peppery and fast, as you choose a selection from the shelf and start to open the cover of a different place.

The sticky, different-tasting sweetness of Agave, melded with the tangy zest of citrus, mixed with the crisp bite of soda water in a homemade soda concoction like nothing Coca-Cola will ever be able to bottle and sell.

The slightly acrid smell of patchouli and young bodies that are likely not as clean as their parents would prefer wafting from a darkened shop that makes you pause at the door and simultaneously wonder whether you are too old to shop there and hope you are not.

The screechy sound that fiddle strings make as a bow saws across them.  When you hear that sound you can also smell the pangs of hunger mixed with slight desperation as a street musician attempts to earn enough change to get him a good meal and a few beers in a town with far too many musicians and not enough paying customers.

The stinging scent of hairspray and cigarettes, mixed with the soulful smell of longing to belong to someone emanating from the group of young hipster girls posing like 1950′s pinups on the sidewalk outside of a darkened club.

The smell of contentment, which resembles vanilla, but with a tiny pinch of cinnamon and a splash of nutmeg, wafting over us as we walk together, where we are still in love.

The sharp stinging salty scent of sadness, like Methiolate, staining my heart pink, as I remember why I love this beautiful place and remember the many people I’ve shared it in the past who can’t share it with me anymore.

The crisp green and swirly blueness of Summer – like apples, and sun dried sheets, and the sweet trickle of sugary water from the first popsicle of May.

Find your sights, your sounds, and your smells – such are the stuff of memories, the stuff of life.  Hold onto them.  And when you smell them again, remember.

Again.

Going to (Asheville) Carolina – and not just in my mind…

So, if you’re reading this then you’re alone.  I’m not here, because I wrote this on Tuesday, right before I left town on Friday, because we ran away for a couple of days.

We’re irresponsible like that.  If you’d like to dust I’d be fine with that… and maybe wipe down the countertops?  Bob’s allergic to the sponge, says it doesn’t fit his hand or some such bullish*%.  Yeah, so, since you’re here please tidy the place up… fluff the couch pillows… oh, and thanks!

But while you’re doing all that, keep in mind that for our Memorial Day Weekend we’re hanging in Asheville.  For the first time this year.  Because it’s way past time to go soak up some mountain cool.  Hey! Woah! Don’t throw stuff at me!

Sorry… okay, not, but it sounds legit, right?

PS – seriously?  You’d get mad?  Are you reading this thing regularly?  If so then you should have at least a small idea of how ready I am to be here  Yeah, really, that ready.  Actually ready doesn’t begin to describe how ready I am.  Lusting.  Yeah, that describes it better.  And there’s so much to lust for up here.  Hell, the whole place is Temptation – on a Cracker – with homemade Pimento Cheese and Country Ham Slivers.  Yep, that about sums it up.

Just so y’all know, French Broad Chocolate Lounge better have a Pots de Creme with my name on it… or two.  Hell, I might splurge and go for the truffles, and you can bet I’ll have at least one scoop of Maple Bacon Ice Cream.  And you can also bet that I’m hitting the North Asheville Tailgate Market Saturday morning… hoping against hope for a Proscuitto score from Hickory Nut Gap, and Goat Cheese from Spinning Spider.  I could go on, but then I’d have to stop writing and go fix breakfast, and there’s no time for that!

I really do miss my little haven in the mountains.  I just wish socks weren’t required in order to live there.  My relo list doesn’t include anywhere that involves socks.  Yes, it does.  Really.  Make a note Recruiters.

But anyway, enough scribbling.  I’m on vacation.  Enjoy your weekend too.  I’ll post pics and checkins so you can be jealous from a distance.  I’m kind like that.

Vacation.  In the mountains of NC.  For this Florida girl that sounds just a little bit like heaven.  See ya there?