Recipe Corner – Lemon Pancakes 28 Oct 2014, 2:12 pm
Sometimes it’s a challenge to come up with new breakfast selections that will be pleasing to the majority of guests. A particular guest favorite and frequently on the menu, are lemon pancakes. Made with sour cream one would think they’d be heavy, but in fact, they are feather light.
Whisk together in a large bowl:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 3 T melted butter
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
Enjoy Authentic Italian Food at Fanucci’s 3 Oct 2014, 5:01 pm
Eating in local restaurants is part of the fun of being on vacation, and guests staying at the Whistling Swan Inn are always asking me to recommend nearby eateries. This week Tom and I popped into Fanucci’s in Netcong to have a quick dinner, and we were not disappointed.
Family owned, the restaurant is homey and casual, serving authentic Italian food. By authentic I mean food cooked the way they prepare it in Europe, not the Americanized version of Italian food. We had the eggplant parmigiana, and it was exactly how my mother made it.
In addition to a full menu, they also offer homemade gelato, which is exquisitely creamy.
Fanucci’s Cafe and Gelato Bar
134 Ledgewood Ave.
Netcong, NJ 07857
What is the Advantage of Booking a Hotel Directly vs Through an OTA? 28 Aug 2014, 4:55 am
Today I read an interesting article in Travel and Leisure magazine about the advantages of using a travel consultant vs. online booking, and I couldn’t help but relate it to my own experience of owning/operating a bed and breakfast inn.
It’s true that the proliferation of the Internet and rise of
online booking intermediaries have made it easier to compare
prices, see guest photos and book a room on the fly. When booking a
room at one of the chain properties, this may be the best way to
go, because pretty much all the rooms are the same regardless of
whether you’re in Boston or Bangkok. However when
looking for a bed and breakfast inn – an experience, not just a bed – it’s better to book directly, and here are the reasons why:
Broader Choice of Rooms
All hotels pay a substantial commission to the booking intermediaries. Consequently, smaller hotels, such as bed and breakfasts, may not put their premium rooms on the block for sale, particularly during high or holiday seasons. By booking through the property’s own web site or reserving on the phone, you will get your choice of available rooms.
Ability to Change a Reservation Easily
It’s easy to sort out a reservation change with the property owner with one phone call. Changing a reservation made through an online travel agency may require several phone calls before you get a live person, and even then it can be a difficult process requiring communication with the innkeeper through a “middleman”.
It’s a fallacy that you will get the lowest rate by booking online. To preserve “rate integrity”, the rates are the same on all channels. Bed and breakfasts frequently have discounted deals, such as a military discount, last-minute booking discount or a “stay six nights and get the seventh night free” discount. However, these are only applicable to direct bookings.
Better Customer Service
Innkeepers have a vested interest in keeping their guests happy. We will spend as much time on the phone with you as necessary to ensure all your questions are answered thoroughly. Want the room with the best view? We’ll spend the time describing it so you can make an informed choice. Never been to the area before? We’ll be able to recommend the best restaurants, shopping and sightseeing attractions. There won’t be any unpleasant surprises when you arrive.
Everyone likes to be unexpectedly delighted. Perks such as a free upgrade to a more luxurious class of room or a complimentary bottle of champagne, are sometimes available, but only on non-commissioned bookings.
In summary – the Internet has definitely transformed the way we live, but sometimes it’s better to do business the old-fashioned way.
What Can I Read this Summer? 2 Jul 2014, 12:54 pm
Finally summer is here. The days are longer, the flowers are in bloom and I’m wearing short sleeves at last. Growing up in rural central New Jersey, summertime meant kicking up our heels after a long school year. It meant biking around the neighborhood with friends, learning to dive backward and waiting with eager anticipation for the ice cream truck.
|Sweet days of summer, doing what I love best|
As a voracious reader then, and now, one of my fondest memories was hunkering down in the hammock under the old oak tree with a good book. Remember, this was before central air conditioning. In fact, we had no air conditioning at all, so midday we ran for the nearest shade and moved as little as possible.
I still plan my summer reading each year. Here are some of my favorites, old and new, in no particular order of preference – just books that have made a lasting impact.
Bonfire of the Vanities – Tom Wolfe, 1987
Wolfe’s first novel captures the essence of Wall Street greed and the excesses that defined New York City in the 1980’s.
Making Time: A Life Beyond ‘Cheaper by the
Dozen’ – Jane Lancaster – 2004. This is a biography of
Lillian Gilbreth, the founder of ergonomics. Most of us recognize
her as the mother in Cheaper by the Dozen, however she
was a world-renowned engineer and psychologist in her own right who
developed modern conveniences such as the foot pedal
garbage can and efficiency designed kitchen, all while raising 11
The Help – Kathryn Stockett – 2009
Set in the Civil Rights South, The Help examines the relationship between a privileged southern belle and two African American maids, and her quest to write an expose about racism and the disparities between the haves and have nots.
The Bucolic Plague – Josh Kilmer-Purcell –
Written by one half of the Fabulous Beekman Boys, this memoir recounts how the author and his partner purchased and restored an historic mansion and goat farm in Sharon Springs, NY. Over the last five years, they’ve launched a lifestyle brand that has revitalized the town.
A Hundred Summers – Beatriz Williams – 2014
This is a story of friendship, love and betrayal among Rhode Island’s glitterati in the 30’s. It’s good beach reading.
These are some of my favorites. What’s on your bookshelf this summer?
Where Can I Buy Comphy Sheets? 13 Jun 2014, 2:39 pm
In my previous corporate life, earning a living depended upon my
ability to meet deadlines and exceed customer expectations. As the
owner of the Whistling Swan Inn, my deadlines are largely
self-imposed, but exceeding customer expectations definitely ranks
#1 on my priority list.
Never in a million years did I dream I’d be writing about bed linens. After all, sheets are sheets, right? I used to think so, but now that earning my living is somewhat dependent upon my guests having a restful night’s sleep, my brand loyalty is with the Comphy Co. Located on the west coast, they sell fine bed linens exclusively to bed and breakfasts, spas and fine hotels.
So what makes them so great? Although they feel like luxury high-count cotton, they are actually made from a breathable micro-fiber, which means they dry quickly and you don’t have to iron them. They are also pre-treated to resist stains and are non-allergenic.
I’m thrilled when guests tell me they’ve never slept so well. When they want to know where they can buy the sheets, I’m even more thrilled, because that means they want replicate their Whistling Swan Inn experience at home.
The sheets come in a come in a variety of colors. As an FYI, the silver blue is more of a blue/green/grey tone. Sizes are California king, King, Queen, Full, Twin and Twin XL.
Comphy sheets are not available for retail purchase, so if you would like a set of these exquisite linens, please give me a call or drop me an email. As an added bonus, there is no sales tax and shipping is free.
So why not pamper yourself? After all, we spend 1/3 of our lives in bed, so isn’t worth it?
What Can I Do for Mother’s Day? 28 Apr 2014, 1:53 pm
Traditionally celebrated on the second Sunday of May, Mother’s Day was established as an official holiday by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914. It was originally meant to honor mothers whose sons had died in war. Today, we typically celebrate mothers by dishing up breakfast in bed, showering them with flowers and sending sentimental cards meant to elicit a tear or two.
Now it’s time to be more creative. Show the favorite mom in your life how much she means to you with a relaxing getaway in one of our exquisitely decorated rooms. She’ll enjoy a delicious breakfast in our dining room … and here’s the best part … she won’t have to clean up.
The Whistling Swan Inn is devoting the entire month of May to the celebration of mothers … our own, the mothers of our children and/or other female relatives who have been like mothers to us.
|The wraparound veranda is perfect for relaxing|
When you book a mid-week (Sunday through Thursday) stay for two or more nights in May, you will receive a complimentary bouquet of flowers and a bottle of wine in your room upon arrival. Prices range from $139 to $279 per night, depending upon the room selected.
Go on, spoil your mom. Doesn’t she deserve it?
Where Can I Tour a Country Estate? 3 Apr 2014, 2:43 pm
Every two years the Women’s Association of Morristown (NJ) Medical Center conducts its signature fundraiser, “Mansion in May”, which raises thousands of dollars to support the hospital’s programs. The group selects a country estate in either Morris or Somerset County and invites renowned area interior and landscape designers to turn it into a spectacular showcase, which attracts thousands of visitors.
This year’s mansion, located in the tony burg of Peapack-Gladstone, is Blairsden, the 500-acre, 62,000 square foot mansion built by New York financier, C Ledyard Blair. Designed by the firm of Carrere and Hastings who also built the New York Public Library and the Frick Museum, the house is one of the best examples of Beaux-Arts architecture in the United States.
A mile-long driveway leads up to the house. The estate also features twenty acres of formally landscaped gardens, tennis courts, plunge pools and pavilions. …and the Newport glitterati thought THEY had the monopoly on luxurious living!
The tour is open from May 1st through May 31st. Tickets can be purchased either online or at the door. Advance tickets cost $40 per person, but after April 30th, the price goes up to $50.
Offsite parking is available at:
USET Fowler Road Field
576 Fowler Rd.
Gladstone, NJ 07934
A free shuttle will take you from the parking lot to the mansion. There is no parking at the estate, and it cannot be accessed on foot.
Regardless of how luxurious the fabrics are or how glossy the furnishings, do not touch anything. The tour is conducted by volunteer docents, and they take their job very seriously. Two years ago when I toured Glynallyn, I got reprimanded three times in 10 minutes.
Where Can I Bicycle Near Stanhope, NJ? 10 Mar 2014, 2:44 pm
Okay, so there’s still snow on the ground. However, I’m optimistic that warm weather is just around the corner. We’ve turned our clocks ahead, which has always been the harbinger of Spring for me.
The Whistling Swan Inn is running a special during April and May for all you cycling enthusiasts. We are very close to the Sussex Branch Trail, which is an old preserved rail bed. Let it be said that I have not ridden this trail, nor do I intend to, but Tom is an avid cyclist, and I have it on his authority that this is one of the best in the state of New Jersey.
The trail takes you through 21 miles of changing scenery. You’ll go through forests, farmland and small towns in this bucolic corner of the New Jersey Skylands. You’ll pass through rock cuts, woods, fields and past the pristine Cranberry Lake. There’s wildlife along the way; keep on the lookout for beaver, mink, deer, muskrat, fox and otter. There’s nothing more interesting than seeing animals frolicking in their natural habitats.
Now for the special … with any two-night stay in April or May, we will provide you with a complimentary loaner bike (or you can bring your own if you want), a customized bike trail map and a delectable picnic lunch.
Got cabin fever after this horrible winter? Oil up your bike, get out that helmet and come to the Whistling Swan Inn this Spring for some fun and exercise.
What Can I Expect from a Bed and Breakfast? 3 Mar 2014, 5:44 pm
|Welcome to the
Whistling Swan Inn
Over the past 25 years, more people are choosing to stay in bed and breakfast inns over the large hotels. One of the best things about a B and B is that each one is unique and offers the type of personalized hospitality that chain properties simply cannot provide. And yet, some misperceptions about the B and B experience still exist. That being said, here’s what you can expect when you visit the Whistling Swan Inn.
Privacy is a concept so dear it’s guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, and you’ll get it here. We’ll be around and available, but never intrusive. If you want to know about the history of the house, things to do in the area or why I decided to become an innkeeper, I’m delighted to tell you. But there is no mandatory socialization with either the innkeepers or other guests. No one will summon you to tea in the drawing room at precisely 4:00 pm like on Downtown Abbey.
2. Scrumptious food
Our breakfasts have been touted consistently by our guests. It’s served buffet style with two hot entrees and all the accompaniments, so you can stroll down anytime during the breakfast hours to help yourself. Enjoy it at an intimate table for two or on the veranda in nice weather. Read the morning paper if that’s your Sunday routine. No one will hold you captive at a communal dining table. You can even take a breakfast tray up to your room if you wish. Hungry or thirsty before or after breakfast? There’s a 24-hour hospitality bar with my signature chocolate chip cookies and other snacks and beverages available.
3. Your own bathroom
One of the more popular myths about B and B’s is that guests have to share a hall bathroom. Another popular interpretation of a private bath is that while it’s private for your room, you have to step across the hall to use it. Not here. Not ever. Each room has its own private bath en suite, which loosely translated from the French means “part of your room”. So, you don’t have to worry about being seen in your jammies.
4. Five-star amenities
You don’t have to sacrifice luxury when you come to my inn. Each room is elegantly appointed with exquisite bed linens, cushy robes and fluffy towels. Toss some bath salts into the Jacuzzi tub and relax. Forgot your shampoo, body lotion or hair dryer? Don’t fret – we’ve got them.
5. Modern conveniences
While it’s true that the Whistling Swan Inn is a restored Victorian mansion, the architecture is the only thing that predates the 21st century. There are ample power strips for your electronic devices. Yes, I did say electronic devices. Each room is equipped with a flat-panel TV, DVD player and expanded cable, so you don’t have to miss that college basketball game. Some even have I-pod docking stations. If you must stay connected with your office or Facebook friends, we have WiFi, and it’s free. Best of all, there’s not a doily or antimacassar in sight.
6. Personalized service
At the Whistling Swan Inn, it’s all about the guest. You can expect warm hospitality from the moment you enter the door. You’ll get shown to your room, not pointed toward it. The entire staff is here to ensure you have everything you need. You have but to ask.
All these features stack up to a one-of-a-kind getaway experience. Why not come see us and experience it for yourself?
How Can I Have a Stress-free Party? 5 Feb 2014, 12:56 pm
How can I have a stress-free party? I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve fretted about that. It’s great fun to celebrate life’s big and little milestones, but sometimes just the thought of the food, the decorations, the set-up, the clean-up, is enough to send one into a vapor lock.
Well, stress no more. The Whistling Swan Inn is a perfect venue for an intimate, elegant, yet affordable party – and best of all – no stress. Booking your party begins with a consultation at the Inn. You’ll have a chance to see the site as well as photos of past gatherings to get a sense of how your event could be executed.
Customization is the theme of my party planning. One size definitely does not fit all, and I like to spend ample time discussing ideas with the party host to ensure that what they envision for their special day is translated into an event that is memorable not only for the guest of honor, but attendees as well.
|The delightful Alberto ladies
choose the cake for a baby shower.
The Inn is a popular spot for baby and bridal showers. Indoors, we can accommodate 35 people, and outdoors on our wraparound veranda – 60. Guests can elect to have a Victorian tea, or for those who wish to have something more substantial (my family), a luncheon can be served.
Typical menu for the Victorian tea:
- Mimosas served in crystal champagne flutes
- Cranberry oat scones
- Baby spinach salad with honey mustard dressing
- Shrimp, cucumber and dill tea sandwiches
- Chicken salad sandwiches on mini rolls
- Chocolate covered strawberries and English toffee bars
- Celebration cake custom-made by my pastry chef
- Gourmet hot teas/iced tea/cucumber mint lemonade
For your next event, let us take care of all the details. My staff and I stand ready to help you make your celebration one to remember.