At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn
Will Vacationing Together Teach You About Each Other 31 Jul 2015, 1:18 pm
We’ve owned At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn for 17 years now. We’ve hosted many vacations of every type imaginable. Serving as a romantic destination and also a small wedding venue we have a very large couple base. Many of those couples have very high stress jobs and their time away is vitally important both personally and also to the relationship.
Vacation is unlike real life in a myriad of ways. It almost always occurs in a location other than the one the couple lives in. Hence, directions, navigation, finding a drug store or grocery usually completely easy in one’s normal environment can be a stress producing event. Even a lovely dining reservation can get off to a uneven start when finding said restaurant proves challenging. It’s time to be at the restaurant, it’s dark, you’ve circled the same block 5 times looking for a place to park and anxiety is on the rise.
How the two people involved deal with unfamiliar environments, unusual occurrences, things that don’t go as planned many of which could prove stress producing. Sometimes, these couples become a well oiled machine. Each of the partners discover and bring to the forefront their best, most sterling qualities both working to the best resolve of the presented challenge. Sometimes, well, it doesn’t exactly go like that.
He misses a parking space due to the unfamiliar environment and his efforts to watch the road. She, already concerned that the reservation time is nearing and they have not even parked the car, becomes a bit impatient regarding his failure to note the only parking place in the downtown area. In response to her irritation, he reminds her that they began the trip to the restaurant later than the agreed upon departure time because she did not have her dress ready and had to iron it. She does not reply but begins to think that he is not impressed with her efforts to go to this very important dinner looking her best. He interprets her silence as anger and retreats into silence himself. I think we all get the picture.
In answer to the question of whether traveling together can offer opportunities into learning about each other I offer a resounding “YES.” Let’s do the scenario again.
In noticing that a bit more time might be needed than she planned for, he offers to iron the dress or failing that he possesses that skill, he thoughtfully calls the restaurant alerting them they might be 15 mins late. They leave on time. He drives past the premium and only parking place. She, aware that it’s dark and not his usual territory calmly suggests they circle the block . Regretfully, the spot is taken. He’s stressed about missing it and she is reassuring, even throwing in that sometimes she is so preoccupied with being careful she neglects to spot a parking place in time too. Together they decide on a close parking garage and park there. There were all kinds of impediments in place. Each party of the couple was dedicated to a good outcome. Each responded both behaviorally and verbally to bring that to fruition.
Clearly, qualities that might make for a good vacation partner would serve no less well in navigating a successful life partnership. All of these character traits and personalities would eventually be revealed as the relationship rolled along but we have noted that this can happen at “warp speed” in vacation land. Let’s face it. All of us would rather be living in Scenario B than in Scenario A. Choose your vacation partner carefully! Your vacation could depend upon it.
How to Book Lodging Directly that will help you Save 24 Jul 2015, 1:19 pm
It’s time to book your vacation. This job is pleasant for sure but it is also a big responsibility requiring the ability to really break it down uncovering all the components necessary to create a nirvana land experience-rather than the Death Valley scary kind we all have heard about from friends.
This blog is not designed to help you decide on a destination, nor an accommodation type. This blog is designed exclusively to help you keep as much of the money you have budgeted available to do some very cool, memorable and highly fun things. To accomplish this is no mean feat.
This blog is going to concern itself with saving on the biggest ticket item any vacation has in common. Accommodations. Now, on to all the OTA,s and GDS. Ok, wait now, don’t get nervous. I know all of you are not in the lodging industry so I will offer a brief explanation of these terms.
GDS- Global Distribution System Primarily, we will concern ourselves with what this does. It attempts to gather information about all aspects of vacationing. Accommodations, airlines, cars and more. This system offers this data minute by minute to OTA’s. and others interested parties.
OTA- Online Travel Agents. While you may not know what this is, they have been relentlessly marketing to consumers for some time now. Once I reveal what some of their names are, you will realize that though you did not know their fancy name- you do know them.
Booking.com, Hotels.com, Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity, Priceline are to name just a few. These companies offer consumers a way to access thousands of travel options from cars to flights to accommodations at the click of a mouse.
Now, I promised earlier in this blog that I would tell you a way to save money on accommodations. Here is it. Contact the lodging property of your choice directly. Call them up and tell them you prefer to book their property through them. Tell them you’d like to hear about their property from the people who know it inside and out. Tell them really important personal criteria in lodging that will make the difference between your having an ok time or a really awesome time. Tell them you’d really appreciate a bit of a cost break for having contacted them outside of an OTA.
OTA’s can serve a huge business concerns well. They have thousands upon thousands of rooms to book. With that many rooms, the exposure these systems offer is key to booking as many of those rooms as possible keeping everyone in the black. It can be a win-win. These huge concerns have so many rooms that it is a far better economy for them to pay a company 20-35 % of their room revenue to gain the booking than to have that vast sea of rooms remain unbooked for lack of exposure to sufficient numbers to accomplish that.
As you might imagine, a smaller property takes a much larger hit. Take bed and breakfasts or a small boutique property. These properties really specialize in personal contact, delivering excellence and truthfully, time consuming, labor of love, customer service. Their entire operation, due to the smaller numbers involved, is run entirely differently from the sheets to the furnishings to the breakfast offerings. The average number of rooms is generally six. To have to cough up 20-35% of room revenue can mean the difference between economic solvency and a struggling business.
Give it a shot. Book locally. You clearly like the locale enough to schedule a vacation there to explore it. You’ve chosen this place out of all the others. Don’t start with an OTA. Start with someone who lives there, works their property and has as much a vested interest in your best vacation as you do. They are not anonymous and they don’t want you to be either. They don’t just hope to see you at their property one time. They hope you’ll return again and again. Call ’em up and you’ll see what I’ve told you is spot on!
Bug Life 13 Jul 2015, 8:40 am
Some people find bugs interesting. Some find them to be total pests-no pun intended. Some feel actual fear at their very presence. I fall into the latter category. Though my conscious mind is in complete understanding of the fact that largely insects are an annoyance factor and their level of engagement in our lives constitute irritation not death, I would still run a country mile rather than face a roach or some flying bug that catches me unaware.
Two weekends ago we had a young, newly married couple staying at our inn. They were up bright and early leaving right after breakfast their burgeoning excitement clear on their young faces at the prospect of their unfolding day. They were planning a trip to Mt. Mitchell. They were ebullient at taking this hike and so full of hopeful expectation that the view at the top was all it is purported to be. It was a vision. For this couple however, the vision was short. Why, you ask? The weevils had come 6,684 ft. to the summit of Mt. Mitchell just to welcome the newlyweds properly. They took a 5 second selfie and rapidly made it back to their car leaving the vista of all that beautiful scenery for someone else to enjoy exclaiming, “They fly right at you…Good thing there are guard rails up there or someone could freak out with those things flying at you and just run over the side.”
All sorts of movie for television plots began to dance deliciously through my mind when she said that but, Hey, they’re newlyweds so I kept them to myself.
How to Hard Boil Eggs & Perfect the Peel 1 Jul 2015, 7:55 am
When my husband and I first became bed and breakfast owners having only had 3 members in our little family the idea of buying eggs by the case was a bit daunting to wrap our heads around. Never before had I seen so very many eggs in my refrigerator.
Some of the gourmet savory collection of egg dishes we create at the inn call for boiled eggs in the recipe. Now, the care and tending of the perfect boiled egg and peeling of same may sound like nothing. That said, as they say in the computer world….Garbage in….Garbage out. Lest we end up with egg dishes not up to our requirements we delved into how to hard boil and peel eggs in the best and easiest way.
* Assemble eggs.
* Choose pot that will allow the number of eggs you are cooking to lay single file. The pot should have a lid that fits.
* Add only enough cold water to cover eggs by one inch.
* Heat over high just to boiling.
* Remove pan from heat source and secure fitted cover for you pan.
* Leave eggs standing in water: X-large: 15 mins. Large: 12 mins. Med: 9 mins
* Drain and Refrigerate if you don’t need them right now. If you do plan to use them right now. Proceed to Peeling Instructions. You are just going to love it.
The Peeling: AKA: There’s More than one way to Skin a Cat
* Place the egg in a shallow highball glass. Place egg in glass and fill glass 2/3 full. Cover with your hand or a saucer. Vigorously shake for about 30-45 seconds. When you stop, remove the egg and the shell will already have begun the separation process. The rest will readily come off almost like magic.
Voila, the perfect boiled egg with peeling that could not be easier.
Reasons for Booking an Asheville Bed and Breakfast Part 3 15 Jun 2015, 11:38 am
Part of having a vacation is finding oneself in an environment that appeals to our sensibilities. By definition, sensibilities is defined as “the ability to appreciate and respond to complex emotional or aesthetic influences; sensitivity.”
Bed and breakfasts are as variant in decorative taste, architectural style and the environment the inn seeks to project to its guests as the inn owners that purchase them.
As in most business models….competition is a big driver in the market. The differences in this competition is numbers. For 2013 stats, according to American and Hotel Lodging Association, there are approximately 53,000 hotels. In the US. there are approximately 17,000 inns according to Professional Association of Innkeepers International.
In hotel land, guests trying to choose a place to stay often do so based on hotel brand, many are seeking favorable price points. In choosing a bed and breakfast, a guest is already in search of a more personal, intimate environment. When competition is intense, everyone must bring their A game if they hope to thrive in business. We really can’t compete in numbers, but clearly excel in experiential.
We have owned our inn for 17 years this June. In that time, there have been several recurrent themes floated for choosing bed and breakfast properties over a hotel. The most recurrent of those themes is cleanliness. I am not saying hotels properties are not cleaned to be completely clear. Based on their number of rooms, rate of turn over and occupancy, it would be completely impossible to clean them to the degree bed and breakfasts are cleaned. Even frequent hotel stayers often report taking the bedspread off the bed as soon as they enter the room in the knowledge that they are likely not changed unless there is a incident of significance or they are overtly soiled.
In 2015, I am of the opinion that the trend in general is toward a more minimalist decor but minimalist is not necessarily devoid of personality. In hotels, each and every room in the establishment is, save size variations, the same. Repetition is rampant. The carpet, the spreads, the sheets, the linens, the mirrors and the lamps in 301 also exist in 315. You won’t find that in anyone’s bed and breakfast. The rooms have been decorated with care and your inn owner picked every single piece in your room. It was chosen personally and only for your specific room not a collection of rooms all across the country.
Another theme is connection vs. anonymity. Now, lest I scare you. Connection does not mean that your innkeeper is going to stalk your every movement and repeatedly engage you in unwanted conversation leaving you bleary with the onslaught of it all. Connection does mean that your innkeeper knows if you are a solo traveler or with a companion, also if there is a special occasion, or if there is anything awesome you wanted to do while in town she knows and has planned for that. Enquiries have been made as to whether you have any special requirements or allergens needing to be either removed from your room or not put on your plate in the morning at breakfast. This innkeeper is connected to the value of your stay and will work diligently toward achieving your best experience while in her home. An innkeeper is mindful of you. You are not one of 300. Our properties are not that large and the reduction in number becomes meaningful in guest experience.
Give a bed and breakfast a try. Give your vacation a value added bonus. You deserve it.
Reasons for Booking An Asheville Bed and Breakfast, Part 2 27 May 2015, 5:41 am
There are so many reasons why choosing to stay at a bed and breakfast can help you create your very best vacation. In our last blog, we dealt with the parking issue. In this blog, we are moving into an area that can have great impact on the quality of your vacation-Time and how you spend it.
In the U.S., the average worker all year long, including holidays, gets 16 days vacation. This lags very far behind most advanced economies. French citizens (30 days). UK (28 days) Sweden, Denmark, Norway (25). Only Japan lags behind the United States. To add insult to injury, according to a 2913 study, we let 3.2 of those days go unused. All this equates to one clear thing. Time off is premium time and the expectation surrounding it can be disproportionately weighted with expectation.
Generally, vacations occur in places the visitor is not familiar with. New territory, new opportunities for fun. Less familiarity with an area can create a waste of time engaged in research and deciding on what might bring the best experiences for the time available but it doesn’t have to. Coming to the ” vacation rescue”, none other than your innkeeper. They live in the area you’ve chosen to visit. They know the area you’re visiting in a way that will not be found in guidebooks or even online sources- Even if you choose to spend hours of your time researching the best things to do rather than living your vacation. They know the easiest way to get there saving you traffic snags and hours of precious time that could regretfully be spent getting lost.
Your innkeeper understands vacation is short and that it can be better spent than doing research and trying to figure out how to navigate your way to the place finally chosen. Your innkeeper is also fully vested in helping you to create your best vacation. Folks tend to return to places they really enjoyed so in helping you find your vacation zen, she may get to see you again.
Many of our guests make early communication with us before their arrival letting us know the kinds of activities they enjoy. Upon Check-In, we have already done all the leg work and provide them with all the information they’ll need to access places of interest we know they’ll like and spot on directions to get there. It’s a win-win! Then, it’s as simple as enjoying a piece of freshly made cake, compliments of your innkeeper, along with a great cup of coffee as you decide which part of the LIST you’ll undertake tomorrow. Now, that’s a vacation.
Reasons for Booking an Asheville Bed & Breakfast 14 May 2015, 7:15 am
This blog series is dedicated to exploring the varied and very valid reasons for making an Asheville Bed and Breakfast Inn your lodging choice for maximizing summertime fun while minimizing the cost of vacation.
Many of my guests on a bit of a budget appreciate the “all inclusive nature” of a bed and breakfast stay. As those of you having booked a hotel stay recently could attest to, the fee of the room is just one of many fees associated with a typical hotel overnight stay.
Parking is generally a charge item and can be made even more pricey if one forgets something in the car and it has to be re-accessed once parked. Each time the car is “brought around” there is the customary gratuity associated with its appearance. Further, there is the actual parking cost. Depending upon location, this could range from a low of $20 per day to the cosmopolitan rate of $70 per night depending on location. When added to the top of accommodations daily, this can exponentially increase the cost of a nightly lodging.
No one doesn’t think about cost these days. Further, as anyone who has watched the secret videos, usually compliments of 60 minutes of some other “reveal” kind of programming, of valets creating a carnival rides out of their parking duties while performing wheelies or recklessly conducting real life studies of how long it really takes the owners car to get from 0-60 know that handing your car keys over comes complete with some risk. All this is to say nothing of losses incurred by unsuspecting car owners of personal belongings that go missing, loose change and cash or entire identities compromised by errant slips of paper, wallets or credit cards left in the car.
Parking is completely free at our bed and breakfast. It is off street and securely situated in the back gardens of our property. We do recommend locking of all vehicles as is recommended by law enforcement in general terms. The only person accessing your car each and every time you need to get to it~is safely, securely only you. We may love your car, think its both its color and styling have no compare, even have genuine avarice for it and wish we owned it….but despite all this…. we promise NO WHEELIES!
Annual Spring Plant Sale at Asheville’s Botanical Garden 1 May 2015, 1:29 pm
There are few things I look forward to more than a plant sale. Mid Spring is dotted with more than a few opportunities but none with more local growers than this one. This year’s dates are Friday, May 1 2015 noon to six and Saturday, May 2 2015 8:30 a.m.-3:00.
The Botanical Gardens in Asheville is an independent not for profit organization offering wonderful, right in the middle of town opportunities for walking and exploring local plant specimens. Likewise, all the vendors participating in this sale are regional growers. Gardeners know how much importance this is relevant plant growth and health. Plants that are regionally grown enjoy a head start as they are already accustomed to the soil, ph and climate conditions in their areas.
Yearly, all of the annuals we put out for the vibrant garden color our guests love and the robustly lovely Japanese Maples that dot our landscape here At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn have come from this sale in years past. The Men’s Garden Club is our mother lode ship for annuals from marigolds to geraniums. Caladiums in all colors, sweet potato vine and healthy and beautifully hued begonias are just a few of the many things these gentleman specialize in.
For those who much prefer more bang for the buck and less pain in your back perennials are also on tap. Azaleas, Rhodi’s, unique and rare Japanese Maples, hostas, ferns, viburnum, and a host of trees from Fringe to Ginko. This offers a rare opportunity for shoppers to actually experience face time opportunities with people who really know their plants and whose knowledge base has been honed and perfected from years of experience in the field.
Just in case you are not able to attend this years sale…put a mark on your calendar to start checking online to look for this sale’s date at the first weekend of each May. That is generally when it is held. Convenient because of Asheville’s frost date of May 10.
It marks the real pot planting at our inn and frankly, after this winter season, I am chomping at the bit.
Carolina Mountain Cheese Festival Asheville NC 20 Apr 2015, 12:47 pm
Cheese by definition is a food rendering created from pressed curds of milk. To say only this is not to understand cheese in all its very tasty glory.
There is aged cheese, practically an art form and more simplistic versions of cheese like cottage and goat cheese. There is an entire history of cheese and the manner in which it was made food dating back approximately 4,000 years. According to legend, an arabian tradesman starting out across the dessert, put his traveling supply of milk in the container pouch of the day “AKA- a sheep’s stomach” and began his journey. As the heat of the day increased, the temperature in the pouch did too. That coupled with the rennet, an enzyme noted in the stomachs of ruminate animals, created a separation of the whey solution from the curd of the milk and cheese was born.
The love of cheese and interest in the making of it continued to flourish. In Asheville, everything is local. So began the idea for the First Annual Carolina Mountain Cheese Fest. Highland Brewery in Asheville will host this event on Sunday April 26, 2015 from 12-4 p.m. Tickets are available for purchase @ MountainCheeseFest.com and are $12 Address is 12 Old Charlotte Highway.
Beer and Cheese pairings, wine and cheese pairings, opportunities to purchase cheese and meat, cheese aging, opportunities to sample various local cheeses and even mozzarella stretching will be on the docket. 19 of the best regional cheese makers will have brought their wares available for tasting. The first 500 guests through the door will be offered a complimentary insulated bag to house their purchases but if planning to arrive later for the event bring a means to keep your purchases cold and also some cold, hard cash. Some vendors accept credit cards but some don’t.
If your love of cheese is an obsession, stay tuned for my next Blog. Asheville now has a cheese trail. From Bakersville, to Marion to Asheville and beyond cheese is making its whey through WNC. Forgive me, I couldn’t help the way I spelled whey. The cheese made me do it.
Spring Flowering Bushes in Asheville B&B 2 7 Apr 2015, 11:49 am
Winter seems vanquished for now. We are expecting 75 degrees in our back garden today with 77 to follow tomorrow. If Asheville stays true to form however, there will be one last gasp before winter 2015 takes it’s final curtain call. Gary and I have been living in Asheville now starting our 17th year in June and we no longer fall for these winter weather tricks beguiling you with temperate winds and warm sunshine only to ruin all the lovely annuals carefully planted only weeks before the all clear on May 10.
Pieris: AKA Andromeda. One of last years favorite editions ~ Long, pink floral tendrils, ever so fragrant accompanied by very pretty foliage known for it’s reliability. We lined the far side of the pond along the guest path with a few of these in 2014.
Flowering Quince: When I think of quince it calls to mind the pupa stage of the butterfly. They go without notice of any kind throughout the year. In the spring they are breathtaking. The flowering quince At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn is located at the back property where the guests park. It is mature and a glorious dark, dark pink color. It is called Double Storm and though it, like other flowering quince counterparts, lives a life of quietude save the spring bloom~that alone makes it worth the price of admission. It is my vision to try and place some Forsythia in close proximity to it next year seeking to create a riot of color for Spring 2016.
Flowering Tulip Bush: A reasonably compact plant about 5’X5″ it’s fragile pale pink beauty is one of the first signs of spring in the back garden. It is a relative, genus speaking, of the Magnolia tree.
Azalea: The staple flowering bush of the southern garden. Much of the garden at our inn is at least partially shaded so it should come as no great surprise that we have made azalea a star performer. Pre-dating our arrival, a breathtakingly red, mature and robust sized bush on the left as you ascend the front marble stairs and a mature. low lying entire bank of pink on the right. In 2014, fall, we planted 2 Gibraltar bushes lining the path to the house and this year we added 3 Orange Frost Monrovia spring-fall bloomers to this same path. Under our majestic, towering 60 feet Ohio Buckeye tree in front of the inn, the beginnings of a brand new azalea garden begun in 2013 are taking shape. Simply gardener whimsy, I began a collection of what I call “dead dog” plants. Found in various garden centers across Asheville with no specific color in mind at all & fully prepared to go along where the fates of color took me I began my collection of miscreant plants. Most of these plants were in such dire shape upon their purchase that their very survival was in question. Of the 10 I purchased, only 3 lost their battle and the others have flourished. We added those 3 back this year plus one more to grow on. In my mind’s eye, at some point yet to be determined an azalea garden of whimsy, strength and simple will to live will take place under that fine old tree creating a splash of color so fine the guests will never know they began as poor bets.
Camillia: The front garden on the left is home to April Rose. My Mom grew a Camillia when I was a young girl. I was always struck by the utter perfection of their petal formation. April Rose displays a vibrant, nearly electric, deep rose color of such beauty all guests approaching the front door have little choice but to pay homage to her beauty.
As I was composing these last two posts it read like a history of the garden at our inn. Even when there was virtually no garden- the minute I saw the land expanse the wheels of color begin their inevitable churnings in my mind and the dreams of what was yet to come projected into focus. Our guests love this garden and their enjoyment of all the magic we’ve woven here makes it all worth while.