As we were getting ready to open our bed and breakfast in the fall of 2007 we were doing some market research on what type of guest would stay at bed and breakfast. We posed the question to my brother-in-law who, at the time, traveled quite a bit for his job, “What would a business traveler look for when staying at a bed and breakfast?” His response was simple and direct, “I would never stay at a bed and breakfast!” I wasn’t prepared for that answer but I continued asking him why he wouldn’t stay at a bed and breakfast and he proceeded to tell me his reasons.
First, he didn’t want to be in a stranger’s house. He thought it would be like visiting his mother or aunt but only worse because they were a stranger and when he was traveling he wanted some peace and quiet. He didn’t want to be in someone’s guest room, you know, that room in the house with the old uncomfortable furniture. Obviously if you made the bed too comfortable house guests might never leave. Or, perhaps he would be staying in the kid’s room that is away at school or has moved out, but mom and dad kept the room the way it was in high school. Even worse than staying in a stranger’s house would be the requirement to eat breakfast and speak with strangers. Out of all his excuses I found this one to be the strangest comment he made because Jeff is not afraid to talk to strangers, is quite intelligent and can carry on a conversation.
Ok, maybe he isn’t our target market. I assumed our target market was someone traveling away from home needing a safe and comfortable place to stay while away from his/her family. A place that isn’t as sterile or impersonal as a hotel. A place where you are fed a great breakfast before you head off to work or meeting, then it hit me. Before we decided to open a bed and breakfast, I too would have never stayed at a bed and breakfast either. It just wasn’t on my radar. When I traveled to a conference or convention I stayed at a hotel, preferably a Marriott because I wanted to get those loyalty points, much the same way as I tried to fly on United. The thing about Marriott, the rooms in Washington, DC weren’t much different than the rooms in San Francisco, same bed, same decor. You knew before you got there what to expect. It’s kind of like flying. You know the lines are long, getting through security is always a pain, the seats are small the food…well, no one flies for the food and so on. I chose Marriott and United out of some sort of loyalty and since I had never stayed at a bed and breakfast there was no loyalty, They just weren’t on my radar.
After stepping back and thinking about it from Jeff’s point of view I understood the challenge that was ahead of me. If very few people have ever stayed at a bed and breakfast then how am I going to get them to change their thinking so that they will consider a stay at a bed and breakfast? Our rooms are much nicer than a hotel, our food is much better than the breakfast buffet at the hotel; our amenities are much nicer… I know, I sound like a parent; my kid is smarter, faster, prettier than…
Well, it’s been six years since we opened and Jeff still hasn’t stayed at a bed and breakfast while traveling for business but I have stayed in lots of them since we decided to become innkeepers. There have been some really great ones and then there have been some that…..let’s just say that will be a future blog post. We do have some very loyal business travelers that wouldn’t consider staying any place but here, but still the vast majority of business travelers don’t stay at a bed and breakfast. Having said that, I will be publishing more posts about our industry so that the next time you are traveling you will at least consider a stay at a bed and breakfast and if your travels ever bring you to Lynchburg, Virginia you will want to stay at The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast.
This blog is the start of a new approach to marketing. Before I would stand up and tell you how great we (I mean my bed and breakfast) are, all the awards we have won, all the wonderful experiences our guests have had…and because you are polite you would listen and then go about your day and the next time you traveled you guessed it, you wouldn’t think about staying in a bed and breakfast, you would just go online and book your hotel room. My new marketing approach is trying to get people to start thinking about bed and breakfasts, hopefully mine, but if not mine than someone else’s.
I know change is hard and the fear of the unknown may be what’s holding you back or probably, you like me 6+ years ago it wasn’t on your radar.
Before I close, I would love to know your thoughts. Would you consider a stay at a bed and breakfast? Have you stayed at a bed and breakfast? When you travel, does it even cross your mind about staying at one?
Hey, they aren’t (most of the time) scary places. Here is a link to a video (its less than one minute) of our bed and breakfast. I just wanted those who have never stayed at one or even knows about them to be able to peek inside one of one of them. It’s like going to the beach and dipping your toe in the water before you take the plunge. After watching the video is a bed and breakfast option on your radar? Please be brutally honest…I think getting the word out about bed and breakfasts is going to be a big job…I just want to know how big of a job I am undertaking.
Please shoot me an email with your thoughts and comments: mike@TheCarriageHouseInnBandB.com
These lemon ricotta pancakes are light and airy with a little tang from the lemon. Normally I would use buttermilk to make pancakes, but when you mix lemon juice with milk you end up with buttermilk so for this recipe, skip the buttermilk and use whole milk. It is always a good idea to have your ingredients at room temperature so that everything mixes together and the batter doesn’t break. Remove the eggs, ricotta and milk out of the refrigerator about an hour before you start making the pancakes. I would suggest putting the ricotta in a strainer, to allow it to drain, while it is warming up.
- 2 cup All-Purpose Flour
- 2 teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 4 tablespoons Granulated Sugar
- Pinch of Salt
- 2 Eggs
- 1 cup fresh Ricotta (strained)
- 1 1/2 cup whole milk (you could substitute skim or 1-2% if that is all you have on hand)
- 6 tablespoons Butter (melted plus more for greasing pan)
- 6 tablespoons Lemon Oil (see recipe below)
- 2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- Powdered sugar for garnish
For the Lemon Oil:
- 1 cup Olive Oil
- 1 Lemon (washed and cut into small pieces)
- Pinch of Salt
Directions for making the Lemon Oil:
Place ingredients in a blender (the whole lemon that has been cut into about 8 small pieces, skin and fruit but make sure the lemons were washed before you sliced it into pieces) and puree. Strain into a bowl, reserving pulp.
Directions for making the lemon ricotta pancakes:
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt.
- In a second bowl, whisk together all of the wet ingredients (milk, eggs, ricotta, melted butter, lemon oil and vanilla).
- Whisk the wet into the dry mix until fully incorporated. The batter is very light so you don’t have to whip it too much. There should be a few lumps.
- Let the batter sit for about 8-10 minutes while griddle is preheating.
- Add some butter to grease the preheated griddle. Pour a few tablespoons of batter (for silver dollar sized pancakes) or ladle about 1/4 cup (for regular sized pancakes) onto the hot griddle and cook until bubbles appear and a few pop.
- Flip with a spatula and continue to cook on the second side until golden. You can keep these pancakes warm by placing them on the rack in the oven that has been preheated to 200 degrees or serve immediately.
- Serve with maple syrup or a fruit syrup such as raspberry, strawberry or blueberry. If you have fresh blueberries on hand you can add cup of them to the batter. They will provide a burst of sweetness that works well with the tang of the lemon.
- You can use the remaining pulp from the strained lemon oil is on chicken or fish so you won’t want to throw it out.
We hope you enjoy this recipe for lemon Ricotta Pancakes as much as the guests of The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast in historic Lynchburg, Virginia. Of course it is much easier to have us do the cooking so feel free to call us at 434.846.1388 and book your next visit. We look forward to seeing you in the near future.
Lynchburg, Virginia is one of the newest locations, in the United States, of the Little Free Library project.
In 2009, Todd Bol, a resident of Hudson, Wisconsin started the movement. He built a model of a one room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a former teacher and avid reader. He filled it with books, put it on a post in his front yard with a sign FREE BOOKS and his friends and neighbors loved it. He and his friends set a goal of 2,510 Little Free Libraries throughout the United States by January 2014. They estimate that by year’s end there will be over 10,000 small structures promoting the slogan take a book, return a book, far surpassing their goal.
Lynchburg has debuted four little libraries throughout the city. They are located at the Community Market, Riverside Park, the Ed Page Entrance of the Blackwater Creek Trail and at WordWorks located on the roundabout on Fifth Street. Books are selected by a “Steward.” Depending on the Steward and little library location the books may follow a theme, for instance the Blackwater Creek library has several bird watching books.
The structures are also an interesting part of the Little Free Library project. They are not just a utilitarian box but are built by hand in all shapes and sizes. The structure at the Community Market looks like a barn, the Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club modeled the structure at after an Appalachian Trail shelter. And the structure at WordWorks resembles a
The goal of the Little Free Library project is to share favorite books and to grant access to people who don’t have books, allowing them to stop and take a book. For more information stop by and take a book or visit the website www.littlefreelibrary.org.
Estate and Consignments is always looking for a good home for one of their many treasures. Let’s face it, we are all going to die and when we do, what happens to all our stuff. When the children leave the nest and it is time to downsize we also have that same problem, what are we going to do with all the stuff that won’t fit into the new place. Estate and Consignments is one of two companies in downtown Lynchburg that purchases these estates and then they try to find kind loving homes for these items.
You need to frequent Estate and Consignments regularly since they bring in one or two estates each week so you will never know what you will find there from week to week. Prices are much lower that you would find if buying the stuff new and part of the fun is finding that treasure that you can’t live without. If you are looking for a junk shop this isn’t the place. Most items are in really great shape or gently worn. From time to time you will find antiques. There is usually a dozen sets of china and dining room suites as well as bedroom suites.
A number of our guests have visited Estate and Consignments and have walked away with some great pieces. If you happen to be visiting Lynchburg and are staying with us (The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast), we have been known to store some large pieces until transportation can be arranged. We happened to be there after the first of the year and fell in love with this antique sleigh (below), but unfortunately we don’t have a place to display it….Do you?
Estate and Consignments is located in a huge warehouse located at 139 12th Street in downtown Lynchburg between Main Street and Commerce Street. Their phone number is: (434) 528-3667. They are open seven days a week! Below is a photo of their warehouse (interior) and a couple of other pieces that caught my eye.
We will be featuring a different downtown merchant on our blog every 6-8 weeks so keep reading as we have some fantastic shops with more and more opening all the time. It is very exciting to be in Lynchburg as the downtown area is becoming a destination, much as it was from the 1800’s through the 1960’s.
The Virginia Center for Creative Arts (VCCA) is located off RT 29 on property owned by Sweet Briar College, known as Mt. San Angelo Estate. It is a sanctuary where artists can find serenity, light, space and privacy to work for hours, days or weeks on their creative works in private studios cradled on 400 acres of rolling farmland. If you have ever tired to write that great American novel, or paint a masterpiece or sculpt a piece of clay, marble or wood into art or compose a song or opera you know the distractions of life often get in the way and that project gets delayed or remains unfinished.
The VCCA offers its artist residents, Fellows, a comfortable, private bedroom, three meals a day, and a private studio. While there the artist has a quiet light filled studio to work in but has the ability to share thoughts and ideas with over 20 other artists. The results speak for themselves, VCCA residents have won a Pulitzer Prize, written many NY Times best sellers, had movies made and have had their art shown at top galleries around the world.
During the Civil War, estate owner Elizabeth Mosby traveled to Europe and brought back architect Thomas Eastlock from England to create the original 1870 Italianate villa. Upon her death the estate then known as Mount Saint Angelo went to her brother and upon his death the estate was transferred to Elizabeth Mosby’s Sister, Indiana Fletcher Williams, the founder of Sweet Briar College (founded in 1901). In 1909 the house was remodeled into a Georgian Revival mansion. In the 1920s a 13,000 square foot Normandy-style barn complex was built which now houses the artist studios. The name was changed to Mount San Angelo in the 1930’s. In 1968 Sweet Briar College purchased the property and in the fall of 1977 Sweet Briar College agreed to lease the facility to VCCA. On July 17th 1979 the mansion was destroyed by fire. At the time there were fifty six VCCA Fellows in residence. Over the next two years Fellows lived and worked in the barn complex.
Today the residence hall, completed in 1981, can house up to 22 Fellows. The Studio Barn complex (built in 1932) is just a short walk from the residence hall and houses 22 studios, 3 kitchens an exhibition hall and sculpture gardens.
From time to time VCCU has an open house where the public is invited to visit the property and grounds and mingle with the artists. Last October during their open house I met several interesting artists that were from Europe and the United States. The VCCA is a creative space for writers, artists and composers from across the nation and around the world. It is also a great place to visit when they host their annual open house!
If you are looking for a quiet place to relax and get creative and you aren’t accepted as a Fellow at VCCA then we invite you to check into The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast and take advantage of our quiet 1878 mansion or 1910 carriage house. It may be the place that inspires your creative energies.
VCCA is having an open house Sunday January 19th, 2014 from 2:00-4:00PM. Tour open studios and visit with working writers, composers and artists. If you are interested in the arts this is a must see.
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