Leaving guests alone in the building

38 replies [Last post]
Madeleine's picture
Offline
Joined:
09/29/2011

Other than where prohibited by law... do you leave the guests alone in the building? For how long? An hour tops? Long enough for dinner out? Dinner & a movie? Overnight?

Just curious because we have friends who own a B&B who are gone all day to work. They leave at 9 AM and come back around dinner time. This seems very casual to me and I always wonder when they get stuff done! How can the kitchen even be cleaned from breakfast! When do they prep rooms? It's all a mystery.

I know we all have to go out and shop and attend to life. I'm lucky there are 2 of us here so someone is always around if a guest needs something. We'd adapt if only one of us were here. But how do you feel about doing that?

(And, we've been left alone on several occasions while at a B&B where guests were checking themselves in for 2 days while the innkeepers were away. It felt odd to me.)

 

__________________

Everyday, for good or ill, we intersect with some else's story and become a part of it.

 

seashanty's picture
Offline
Joined:
06/02/2008

i totally understand other work for pay obligations and the need to have a life.

but as a guest i am concerned with safety.  not just about possible problems with the building, but behavior of other guests (or non guests) which you cannot predict or regulate. 

__________________

Wear cute PJ’s to bed; you never know who you may meet in your dreams.

 

Madeleine's picture
Offline
Joined:
09/29/2011

Well, the innkeepers went out for dinner with friends in another town. We were gone for 4 hours and the place is still here. Seems the guest figured out how to check in. Lights on in the room. No panicked phone calls.

It felt like playing hooky from school.

Breakfast Diva's picture
Offline
Joined:
05/26/2009

Madeleine wrote:

Well, the innkeepers went out for dinner with friends in another town. We were gone for 4 hours and the place is still here. Seems the guest figured out how to check in. Lights on in the room. No panicked phone calls.

It felt like playing hooky from school.

GOOD FOR YOU!!!! All of us need to try it more often (she says wishfully). I've been stuck here because guests have ordered dinners, so I can't really complain, but you know me, I'll complain anyway!  LOL

Country Girl's picture
Offline
Joined:
02/20/2009

While we would never leave guests alone overnight (I think it's illegal here) we are often out and about during the afternoon and sometimes we go out to dinner. I'll leave guests a note with my cell phone number. So far (me knocking on wood as I write this) there have been no problems.

__________________

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou

 

Tom
Tom's picture
Offline
Joined:
10/11/2009

Same,

I have a wooden sign I can hang on front door: "if no answer, call ..."  Inn phone is a mobile.  Deals with new guest arrivals earlier than expected.  We give them a door code over the phone. 

We prefer to be around, but we do have other things to do and guests come and go at odd hours.  Often back mid afternoon to freshen up for the evening and we would most likely be away then.

Offline
Joined:
04/03/2011

Because of our unique setup, guests here are left alone in the b&b for most of their stay, including overnight.  We live in a cottage right behind the inn though so we're not far away.  That said I work 40 hours outside of the Inn and my dh works about 80 at our restaurant so we are often not on the property. It's not ideal but we aren't busy enough yet for me to quit my job. All guests have the Inn number which forwards to my cell. 

The nice thing about our set up is that guests only have access to their own rooms.  So I don't have to worry about them getting into our things or other guests things. 

 

Joey Camb's picture
Offline
Joined:
04/02/2010

A cottage right behind is one thing - my neighbour lives about 30 minutes drive away that is a completely different kettle of fish.

__________________

Don't mess with me today or I will kill you!!!!

 

Offline
Joined:
05/30/2008

We only left to go several blocks away to shows at our performing arts center or to our farmers market - less than 5 mins by car.  Otherwise, I shopped or ran errands between check-out/check-in when no guests were in house.  My dh would stop on his way home from work at the store other times.  We only went farther afield when there were no guests. 

Guests had my cell phone number 24/7.

Yes, it's confining but I got freaked out when a B&B in our State had a devastating fire. 

The remaining B&B here is largely unattended and this is really not a change for them and they've been in business for quite awhile.  They have had their share of interesting things happen. 

__________________

People don't notice whether it's winter or summer when they're happy.
~ Anton Chekhov

 

Offline
Joined:
04/03/2011

 Having our cottages separate from the main house, we haven't had any problems....so far.  Still, we don't usually have anyplace to go anyway!  We are usually at home. We usually only have weekend guests.  So we usually can do what ever we want during the week if we have to be away long.

seashanty's picture
Offline
Joined:
06/02/2008

i rarely left the b&b without having someone standing in for me.  and never overnight without someone working. 

i often felt like i had no life and couldn't get away, that's not a good thing.  in the middle of the day, usually between check out and check in, i would go out the door ... take a walk, go to the general store, anything!

i am pretty sure i posted here about staying in a place that did not have an onsite innkeeper and i didn't know it when i booked. i didn't see the little tent card that said 'in case of emergency, call xxx-xxxx'

in the middle of the night, the power went out. no flashlight in my room, room phone was dead.  it quickly got cold (it was early winter in new england), and no one came around to check on me. 

i wandered out into the hall in my pj's, followed the emergency lighting to the desk, found the number to call and used my cell phone.  there didn't seem to be anyone else in the place.

i cannot tell you how alone and frightened i felt!  i will never stay there again. 

now i always ask when i book a room if someone is on the premises most of the time, but always at night.  if the answer is no, it's not the place for me.  not after having gone through that. 

 

 

Joey Camb's picture
Offline
Joined:
04/02/2010

we had a similar situation ie just after 10 at night power went off so I was in a bit of a quandry ie im not waking people up in their rooms to tell them its a power cut. We have emergency lighting in all the hallways so that clicked on and I nipped round to check all the bulbs were working!

Figured I would stand in the hall so that if anyone was awake and was worried i would hear them moving about and could let them know what was going on and they could easily see me etc. One couple noticed and came out but that was it - had been reading in bed when the lights went out.

Offline
Joined:
05/30/2008

 We live semi-country. When there are lightning/wind storms, I advise our guests to keep close to the flashlights, which we always provide.

I do work overnights and hubby's health is unpredictable. I cannot always rely on him to be hands on. Guests are aware of this in advance. On rare occasions, hubby does want us to be away overnight and we advise the guests of this, who are fine with it. I do go to town as needed for shopping and/or movies. We have keyless entry and if we will not be here, for any reason, guests can let themselves in.

gillumhouse's picture
Offline
Joined:
05/22/2008

We have plug-in (hard-wired is required) emergency lights in each room at the exit window, in each bathroom, and in the hallway upstairs. If the power goes off, they come on and can then be pulled out and used as a flashlight. the problem I have had is guests either removing them and turning them off or  just turning them off. IDIOTS!! We are now required to have hard-wired carbon monoxide detectors - there goes another outlet! (A hotel had an incorrectly connected vent pipe from their pool area and one man died (a construction worker living there) so now everyone must have detectors)

Offline
Joined:
06/24/2008

seashanty wrote:

i am pretty sure i posted here about staying in a place that did not have an onsite innkeeper and i didn't know it when i booked. i didn't see the little tent card that said 'in case of emergency, call xxx-xxxx'

in the middle of the night, the power went out. no flashlight in my room, room phone was dead.  it quickly got cold (it was early winter in new england), and no one came around to check on me. 

i wandered out into the hall in my pj's, followed the emergency lighting to the desk, found the number to call and used my cell phone.  there didn't seem to be anyone else in the place.

i cannot tell you how alone and frightened i felt! 

I can relate SS.  Years ago, we booked a place in my home town.  Checked in and headed to parents for the day.  It was late when we arrived back, the place was in the dark with just the side porch lite on, the door we were to use.  As we opened the door with the key, the alarm sounded.  Then the phone inside rang.  DH went to answer, it was the security co. stating the police would be their momentarily.   Great! 

As the police apeared he knew he didn't need back up... We were all standing outside the door, me holding our very tired son of 5-6 and DD who was clinging to her dad in fright worried we were going to be taken away.  As the policeman walked up recongized him as an old family friend.  He started to laugh...   Not funny to me with 2 tired yet terrified kids.  Two sisters ran the B&B, neither lived there.  One sister was there when we arrived & paid but she failed to tell the other that there were guests in the house so the other turned on the alarm.  Needless to say this B&B didn't last long!

Madeleine's picture
Offline
Joined:
09/29/2011

The ONE time I went out late at night for a long walk with the dog when it was only me as innkeeper was the time the power went out and the guests were frantic because all of the fire safety alarms were going off and they were all pounding on my door trying to wake me.

What a mess.

And I waited until it seemed like everyone was tucked up nicely for the night so it was 10 PM or so when I went out.

gillumhouse's picture
Offline
Joined:
05/22/2008

I do not do an overnight without at least one of us here. We do go away for the day if it is a stayover in-house - on the keyring in the room is key to their door and a key to our kitchen door.

We have had situations where a check-in HAD to come in early and we HAD to be elsewhere - so the guest was instructed to call City Hall and someone in the office came over and let them in for us (half a block away and one of the perks of small town and involved). I have one coming up in Sept - the student arrives for her 2-week rotation on the day WE will be in Pittsburgh at a baseball game with our Chicago daughter. I will e-mail her directions to her room and the location of the key to the kitchen door. Not my norm - but I am not cancelling a baseball game that had tickets already ordered before I got the rez. I could have a friend come over, but who knows what time the guest will get around to arriving.....

Generic's picture
Offline
Joined:
02/24/2011

From time to time for dinner, for movies, to see friends, to avoid committing suicide, for shopping, etc. We have done day trips for shopping south-of-the-border with guests in the house. We keep the phone on, but we realize we need a life as well.

__________________

Permission to quote in whole or in part, other than usage on this forum, is entirely forbidden.

 

Madeleine's picture
Offline
Joined:
09/29/2011

I'd have trouble leaving the country with guests in the house. Mostly because of security lines getting back home and feeling I was really far away.. And also because of how it would read in the paper: Innkeepers out of country as guests burn down inn. (Or something.)

We generally don't leave town. Or drive somewhere. If we can walk we probably would go out for dinner.

I understand needing to get away. We usually do that in shifts. That also gets us away from each other for a couple of hours. There's something to be said for that alone time as well as together time.

I think we decided to not have a life in season. Off season, no problem. But, we're not as busy as you are.

And, we are going to leave town next week and go out with friends for dinner. They talked us into it. They do it all the time. It seems to work for them in a way I have yet to figure out.

gillumhouse's picture
Offline
Joined:
05/22/2008

One of the beauties of what I do with the City is being the driver for the City Manager and going to Conferences - I get time off for good behavior from DH. She and I are great friends and work very well together so it works for both of us. I am currently looking forward to a one-night getaway. I get to drive the managermobile (drug confiscated Caddy) to the Capital, get taken out to dinner, and go to the Conference the next day to bring her home. Life is good!

Generic's picture
Offline
Joined:
02/24/2011

Well, the hard part is leaving. On the way back, they have to let me back into the country, they can't refuse. We've done it once or twice on days with no arrivals, midweek. Our neighbour can step in for us in an emergency. We do the same for them. It's not something we would do if we had arrivals.

But since we tell guests after 6PM it's self check-in, they seem to understand that at 6:15 we may not be here and they call if they are running late. And we have cameras in place if they do do self-check-in so that we get emailed photos when they get in Smiling

Madeleine's picture
Offline
Joined:
09/29/2011

Eric Arthur Blair wrote:

 On the way back, they have to let me back into the country, they can't refuse.

Can I get you to explain that to my MIL? In French, so maybe she'll understand??? She is so afraid to cross the border because she thinks they won't let her back in again.

Altho, in her case it would be going in reverse. She thinks if she goes home to Canada, even for a funeral, she won't get back in here because she's an 'alien'. Her family would love to see her at weddings and funerals but she is adamant. She'll be stopped at the border and will never see her house again.

Generic's picture
Offline
Joined:
02/24/2011

Sure, but is she a resident or a citizen? Neither will be refused entry as long as they have their passport. I assume she has her passport and he resident/citizenship papers, no?

Madeleine's picture
Offline
Joined:
09/29/2011

No passport from either country. All she has is a green card. Maybe she really can't travel any more between countries.

Generic's picture
Offline
Joined:
02/24/2011

She is correct in that case. She needs her American passport to get back into the US. Or if she is simply a resident, her Canadian passport alonger with her green card. This is requires by the US government (Canadian government assumes you have your passport to get back into the US, but it is not a legal requirement to have it or present it.)

Once she has this documentation, she can travel between the two countries freely. She can be stopped for duty items, but they can't bar her from entry in either direction.

Madeleine's picture
Offline
Joined:
09/29/2011

Well, this brought up a discussion of how she would GET a Canadian passport so I looked it up on the Customs website and she doesn't need a passport to go between Canada & the US. She would need it if she went anywhere else. So, she can go to funerals (mostly her older siblings) and not worry about coming back to NY.

Convincing her to go is something else altogether!

Generic's picture
Offline
Joined:
02/24/2011

I'm not sure you are correct. Canada doesn't have much in requirements, but the WHTI in the US does. But this might apply "U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents: Document requirements for Lawful Permanent Residents will not change under WHTI. U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents can continue to use their permanent resident card (Form I-551) or other valid evidence of permanent residence status."

I would still check http://www.getyouhome.gov/html/eng_map.html and call the US side of the border to make sure.

Madeleine's picture
Offline
Joined:
09/29/2011

If we can convince her to go we will definitely call first!

Baygirl's picture
Offline
Joined:
05/26/2009

 After guests have checked in and we have a good feeling about them, we will leave for a few hours to go out to dinner or movies.  We leave a note with our cell phone on it saying we're out running errands.  It's worked out fine for us and no issues have occured.  Most guests are self sufficient after they arrive.   We don't do this when we have a full house, but with only a few rooms it works. 

Offline
Joined:
10/07/2008

I have to side track this thread, it is along the same lines of guest safety. I can be HERE and someone could be up to no good, or worse. The other day I had a guest who I was concerned about, they did not show up for breakfast and I thought, as we do "Should we go knock on the door? Are they engaged? Or have they fallen or had a heart attack? Or did they sneak out?"  Have you ever thought this way?

I have had too many people tell me of late of their relative who died while on the pot, so this is why this was on my mind that day. and...there is an innmate here who has an inn on her street where a business guest didn't show for his business meeting and the housekeeper found him on the pot, gone.  I actually had a guest stay with us tell us this story from her town.

 

__________________

Gluten free is never free. - Joey Bloggs

 

Madeleine's picture
Offline
Joined:
09/29/2011

Yes, I worry, too. I'll stand in the basement and listen for water running. Are they in the shower? What? Did they go out really early for a run?

We've had them bolt out the door at 10:59, unshowered, unfed and in a rush to get wherever. And we never heard a peep until they ran by.

Sometimes they're sitting quietly on the porch and I don't see them.

But, yeah, I worry.

Silverspoon's picture
Offline
Joined:
10/16/2011

 LIke many of you, there are times of the year (like NOW) when we always have guests.  Although DH and I are usually both here together, there are times when we just want to go out for the evening or to do a big shopping. (I shop, he shleps)  So it is not unusual for us to leave the house unmanned for 2 hours.   Very rarely, we have a family event that calls us away for 4 hours or so.  We do tell our guests that we will be out, and stress that they need to take their key since we will not be available if they should lock themselves out.

We have only had one heart-stopping incident while we were away from the B+B in.  We went to a movie in the late fall with returning guests in the house.  Nice folks, we knew (or thought we knew) that they would be OK for a couple of hours without us, so off we went.  When we pulled back into the driveway, every door and window in the place was open.  It was about 40 degrees out so we knew they were not just warm. The smell of smoke was strong.

 Apparently, he was upstairs, she was in the guest living room reading and sitting by the fire that he had lit for her, in spite of the note on the mantle requesting that they ask us if they want a fire.  She never noticed the smoke pouring from the fireplace because he forgot to open the damper.  By the time the smoke reached the second floor the smoke alarm was blaring.  We got home in time to see the clean-up effort.  No apology given..just a small shrug of "oh well, guess what happened while you were out."  

So now, we remove all logs, starters etc and lock them away from guests.  But we still need to get out every now and then!

__________________

Gardens are not made by singing "Oh, how beautiful" and sitting in the shade.
Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

 

Kay Nein's picture
Offline
Joined:
02/13/2012

 We do not live on site, but are only 4 miles away.  However, someone is always there during the day unless a quick errand needs to be run.  This is a very small town, so any errand is only 15 minutes away if we needed to come back.  The phone is always forwarded to our cel when were not there, so the guests know they can call our main # and get us no matter where we are or what time it is.  So far we've not had any problems and hopefully it stays that way.  Our guests mainly consist of the 50+ age bracket and so far they've all been well behaved.  

Joey Camb's picture
Offline
Joined:
04/02/2010

I am pretty much in the same boat as Joey - there are always guests here - however I really don't like them to know we are out and this is why

some BB owners I know from another forum told customer they were going out for dinner would be back about 8pm - came back he'd done the place over as he knew they were going to be gone - credit card numbers, computers, tv's the lot (ie all the empty bedrooms) and so on. Its partly why I have the phone system it means they always get me and are told to use it all the time. If we are going out I do put out a tray of extra coffee, tea milk etc so if thats the request can just say they are on the desk by you help yourself and they never need to know im not there.

Plus my nextdoor neighbour's place is unmaned and the customers who have stayed there and tell me stories of how they were terrified! Ie couple who stayed with me last week - they were like "you are here? you do live here and are here all the time?" (i thought here we go weirdos!" then they explained that they had stayed next door and were terrified now of unmanned properties! I said we do have to pop out for the shopping and so on, but you are never left alone at night or for long periods of time and they were fine with that.

Breakfast Diva's picture
Offline
Joined:
05/26/2009

If guests are all checked-in and we don't get a gut feeling that they are 'needy', we'll both leave to go shopping or just out and about. Typically, 1 of us is at the inn, but it's because of the check-in/out schedule.

Over the years, we've figured out most of what the guests would ask for and made sure it's available to them without contacting us, i.e., ice maker, snacks, beverage table, extension cord/strip, directions to places of interest, etc.  We'll forward the inn's phone to our cell phone, but we typically don't tell guests we're gone.

There is a b&b in our region where the innkeepers live off site (very nearby), but that would make me uncomfortable as an innkeeper. As a guest, I wouldn't really care they were not sleeping there overnight if I knew how to contact them in case of an emergency and they were close by.

Offline
Joined:
06/24/2008

After finishing the prevous comment, I was reminded of one such time we were away for several hours...  WHY it isn't the BEST idea sometimes!

This last December our son was graduating with his MBA and was participating in the graduation services.  WE would not miss this for the world!!!  We had told our guest when booking that we would be gone part of the day.  We made sure each one had all the info etc. they wanted at breakfast. 

Our daughter who was unable to go to the graduation due to work, stopped by the B&B to check on the dog and do some laundry.  When she opened the door, there was a party going on!  People eating and exchanging packages etc.  Kids running around - you got the pic!

Seems one of the rooms had taken this as an opportunity to invite family (or friends) over to have a Christmas party. 

They did leave it neat but not everything was where it had been, and we were very put off that this had occured.  One other couple was not overjoyed about it either and mentioned it at the breakfast table.  We apologized and said we had been made aware of it only through our daughter when it was happening.  ---  We know the responsible parties heard the conversation but nothing was said to or from them. 

As the saying goes - you give an inch.....

 

Breakfast Diva's picture
Offline
Joined:
05/26/2009

Ahhhh...one of the reasons why we don't tell them we're leaving! When the mouse is away...type thinking on their part.

Offline
Joined:
06/24/2008

In most cases one of us is here at all times but there are times we opt for an afternoon or evening meal out.  We are open all year except for an occasional vacation during slower times so we NEED the time every once and a while. 

An hour to hour & 1/2 away usually is ok.  We try to plan it after seeing that guest have either gone out themselves or are settled comfortably in their rooms.  We always leave a way for them to contact us as well as our estimated return. 

When we first opened we still worked full time in neighboring big city.  Most of our business was on weekends, DH and I each worked every other Fri, so we had apposing Fridays off.  Close to the time we made this our full time jobs, we had started taking an occasional business traveler.  They were aware that it was continental breakfast & no real room service.  We usually were home before they returned and were able to change out towels & a quick fluff, it was not expected so highly apreciated when possible.

Offline
Joined:
10/07/2008

Often.

I am about to leave right now for a few hours, and guests are here. There are always guests here. If I can't leave I will die. I feel like it sometimes, so I just leave to get away and get some fresh air and a change of scenery.

Self checkins are sometimes necessary when you cannot be there. 

I wonder myself how people can work somewhere else and own and operate an inn, I guess it is owning mostly, vs operating. Someone asked about running a weekend only B&B, and I thought, gee half of my guests are midweek, I get checkins on Sundays almost every week, so we go with the flow...

There are a few inns we know where innkeepers do not live on site, so the guests are always alone overnight. Seems a bit risky, but you do what you have to do.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.