B&B Critique

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Arks's picture
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I went with extended family to a B&B in a nearby town this weekend for a 2-night getaway. And it was relaxing and nice. But I've got to fuss a bit, and since I don't have the spine to complain to the owners*, and I'm not about to post a negative TA review, I'll just post it here.

First the nice:

  • This B&B also houses a restaurant and the food and service were excellent.
  • The inn is on the edge of a "cliff" above a river valley. These are some views from my bedroom window: view1, view2, view3. What you can't get from the photos is the view of the rapids in the river, and accompanying roar of white water. Wonderful!

Now for the only things I could focus on...the negatives:

  • Could not find a side of either pillow of my bed that didn't have a stain.
  • There was also a stain right in middle of the wrinkled sheet. I'm sorry, but if you refuse to use microfiber sheets, you need to iron or get them out of the dryer sooner!
  • There were only 3 hangers in the closet!
  • Glass glasses in the bathroom. Bathrooms should not have breakable glasses. The glasses had plastic wrap over the top, but were not clean. I had to wash them myself.
  • MULTIPLE nails in the walls that used to hold pictures. Really, if you decide to remove a picture from the wall, at least remove the nail even if you won't take the time to patch the little hole and place a little touch-up paint.
  • They had bathroom rugs. The thick furry kind. Anybody would assume they are not often washed. I pitched them aside, along with the flowery bedspread.
  • The only "welcome booklet" in the room was a single page that didn't contain the word welcome, but did list 11 "do not" commands.
  • Every single electrical outlet in the room was behind a piece of furniture. The desk was already pulled out from the wall and at a 30 degree angle from the wall because the last guest had to pull it out to plug in their computer, and the staff just left it that way. Is a powerstrip THAT expensive?
  • No corkage fee in the restaurant. We invited friends to join us in their restaurant while we were there, and the friends brought a special bottle of wine to share. The owners told them to get it out of there, and didn't smile about it. You buy THEIR wine or you don't have any. It's an expensive restaurant...about $50/person for appetizer, meal, dessert & drinks. They could at least accommodate by having a corkage fee so people could bring their own on special occasions. Our friends got even by ordering free tap water with their meal.
  • No in-room temp control. There was an in-wall AC unit, but no heat at all. None! All the room gets is what filters up from downstairs. It got down below freezing both nights we were there. I was OK under the covers, but I know some people would have been cold, and it's only early November! This place is open all winter!
  • Regarding the worn, discolored TV channel lineup guide, with half the channel numbers cut off when they photocopied it: I tried 15 channels from the guide, and not a SINGLE ONE matched the channel on the TV. The guide was completely useless. Could only flip channels to find what you want to see.
  • Sign by toilet: "Please put all paper products in the trash can." Does this include the toilet paper?? A bit more explanation would be nice, such as "put nothing in the toilet except toilet paper" or "put no paper in the toilet, including toilet paper". I realize some older places on septic systems can't flush toilet paper, but I don't think that was the case here. Just inadequate signage.
  • A 2-foot section of rope light is not a porch light! Some in my family were in a room accessed via an outside door, and all they had for a porch light was a short string of rope light that was about equivalent to lighting a match to see. Totally inadequate.

I'm not fussing about the 1918 house being very cheaply remodeled about 1970 with no improvements since. I won't fuss about all the furniture and wall hangings obviously being from yard sales. But the bullet points above result from just not caring. All but the lack of heating could be solved by caring, and about $200. If they have electricity there for rope lights over the outside door, they could easily install a real porch light!

Thanks for putting up with my vent. They charged about $100 for a room, so not overpriced, but really, this was not a great experience. They could easily close for a week, fix most of these issues, and raise their rates with no problems. Everybody would win!

_______________________

*And let me say about these owners, they had owned the place since 2002, sold it a couple of years ago, and after 15 months had to take it back due to the buyers not being able to make the payments. So they are tired but still "pluggin' away at it" with a smile. They just need to care a little more!

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I go by the "Do No Harm" theory as an Innkeeper-Guest. Mention these things as a courtesy to the innkeepers, vs trip advisor.  We see much much more than a regular guest would see.

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Arks's picture
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I think the thing about glass in the bathroom is just a safety thing....worrying about cut feet if they break a glass and you don't get every single bit of broken glass up. Granted, it's not a frequent or insurmountable problem.

I go with disposable paper cups in a nice counter top dispenser and I think it looks acceptable.

Breakfast Diva's picture
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Ours guests over the years have broken probably 100 glasses in their rooms. It's always wine glasses! We use real glasses in our bathroom sitting upside down on paper doilies. I can't remember a single bathroom glass that's been broken. What's the difference whether the glass is in the bedroom or the bathroom? They're barefoot in both areas.

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Breakfast Diva wrote:

Ours guests over the years have broken probably 100 glasses in their rooms. It's always wine glasses! We use real glasses in our bathroom sitting upside down on paper doilies. I can't remember a single bathroom glass that's been broken. What's the difference whether the glass is in the bedroom or the bathroom? They're barefoot in both areas.

That is so strange - we have sparkling wine in each room and wine glasses available, and glass water glasses, and small port glasses put in the rooms at night. We have had in 6 years possibly 3 wine glasses broken, no water glasses (they are pretty heavy) but probably 12 port glasses broken.

Riki

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egoodell's picture
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We don't have rugs in the bath as we have the heated tiled flooring. But I have clean glass glasses in the bathroom. I don't like plastic and refuse to use it. They are clean and on ***gasp** doilies. The Association wants us to put them on doilies and I refuse to use the paper kinds.

Riki

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Do you wash them after each guests? I am sure you do Smiling Nothing wrong with the paper ones, you can get some nice ones.

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EmptyNest wrote:

Do you wash them after each guests? I am sure you do Smiling Nothing wrong with the paper ones, you can get some nice ones.

Paper makes me think of a motel. Cheap. Just don't like them. I have gazillion lovely cloth ones and hand soak them clean. Doesn't take much time. I like to reuse the old rather than support wasting paper. Our garbage people still don't know why we have so little garbage for a B&B. But when DH drives to the recycle place he fills a 7 seater van.

RIki

Breakfast Diva's picture
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Here you go JB. These are what I consider 'fuzzy bathmats'. We don't use all the other stuff, but just the bathmat.

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Can someone show us a photo of a fuzzy bathmat?

Breakfast Diva's picture
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I have 'fuzzy bath mats' on the floor in front of the tub. It's because our floors are hardwood...yes, even in the bathrooms. And not the standard hardwood with a protective coating, but the old, beautiful fir that has been stained and just a layer of floor wax (which I have to keep doing). They are not glossy at all. The water is a killer for those floors! If I had just the towel kind of bathmat, it would sit on that hardwood, soaking into the wood.

The bathmats are laundered between each guest. It's only been a couple of times where someone has placed a hand towel over the mat and stepped on that instead of our mat. I think that if a guest sees that our cleaning standards are high, they're at no risk that our mat is anything but clean.

 

Arks's picture
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Good to get rid of the rugs, BeachHouse. People will assume hundreds of bare feet have stood on them since the last washing, leading to a certain "ick" factor. People these days expect the washable bath mats like hotels use. Glad you have those available.

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I have the 'fuzzy' rugs in the bathroom as well as the towel style bath mat which is folded over the tub.  Some bathrooms have 2 such fuzzy rugs while others have one.  Our tile floors get cold in the winter.  We use the non skid bottom kind and I shy away from the others... The bathroom is the most dangerous room of the house [according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention] with over 250k ER visits per yr [US] from injuries sustained while in the bathroom.

Personally when I am in a hotel and they only have those towel style bath mats, I am always wondering if I will become one of the statistics.  And I certainly don't want one of our guests becoming one either.   
 

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I have the fuzzy rugs, non skid backed rugs, but then also put the washable bath mats folded over the edge of the tub or shower rod.  The tile floors get cold and I worry about someone slipping on just the washable type.  I guess I don't think about that when I've stayed at a hotel, so why I'm worrying about it here, I don't know.  Get rid of them, huh?

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BananaE29 wrote:

I have the fuzzy rugs, non skid backed rugs, but then also put the washable bath mats folded over the edge of the tub or shower rod. 

I furnish a single washable hotel-style bath mat, folded over the tub rim. I think I'll start furnishing 2, one for the tub and one for standing at the lavatory. The important thing, I guess, is to NOT have them already on the floor, but hung and folded when the guest arrives so they know they have been cleaned.

I have heated floors in the lavatory area, but still think people would prefer to stand with bare feet on a clean mat rather than directly on the tile.

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I am guilty of not ironing the sheets.   BUT they are brand new sheets.  The ones that came with the Inn were obviously old and tired.

And we have rugs in some of the bathrooms and I've wondered if they would be perceived as dirty.  (they also came with the Inn, so I figured they were a standard.)   I will remove them.  We do have washable/replaced bath mats in every room also.

And every room has a space heater - so we ahead on that one.  (Three rooms have electric fireplaces, the others have brand new, good looking efficient space heaters.) 

And we removed the countless thumbtacks that were in the walls.   Smiling

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Madeleine's picture
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TheBeachHouse wrote:

And we have rugs in some of the bathrooms and I've wondered if they would be perceived as dirty.  (they also came with the Inn, so I figured they were a standard.)   I will remove them.  We do have washable/replaced bath mats in every room also.

We put bath rugs in 2 rooms that have really cold floors. We wash them after every guest. In stay we shake them out and flip them over. Yay 2-sided rugs!

Stayed at a place that had rugs that were completely mashed down. My guess was the housekeeping staff didn't even vacuum them much less send them out to be washed. I'm very careful to not even step on the mat once it is on the floor.

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I just removed the line about "if you cannot make breakfast please let us know by..."

Which is one of those annoy those who do make breakfast, as those who no show no show anyway...

I am rearranging the list...I tell guests about the wifi, then they come down to ask about it. The info is on this sheet, which they are told, but it was not the first line.

So I will put them in order from experience...

  1. WIFI
  2. BREAKFAST TIMES and INFO
  3. etc

I have gone virtually NOTE free in this place...I have still not put out directions on how to operate the keurig, I told you it was an experiment, so far so good! (I bought the simplest model though, no cup sizes, nothing to do other than put it in and push a button)

Madeleine's picture
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This is in the plastic frame on the bed. Something you have to move to get in the bed. Doesn't matter. Those who read will find info buried in back of a binder stuffed in a drawer. Those who don't never even see that there are words printed on this card:

Welcome!

We invite you to enjoy your stay with these complimentary amenities:

Breakfast (time)

Fridge & micro

Coffee, tea, etc

WiFi pw (bolded, in red)

How to contact us

Check out is at...

Thank you! Us.

Breakfast Diva's picture
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I don't care where you stay, there is always something you can find wrong. We can't stress out over the tiny things. People overlook a minor flaw, but when it's one thing after another, that's when it becomes a problem with the guest experience.

I love it when guests comment about our attention to details. If you have the thoughtful touches and create an environment where the guest feels cared for, then that tiny bit of dust in the corner or a nick in the wall will be overlooked.

Just do the best you can. Nobody's perfect.

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Breakfast Diva wrote:

I don't care where you stay, there is always something you can find wrong. We can't stress out over the tiny things. People overlook a minor flaw, but when it's one thing after another, that's when it becomes a problem with the guest experience.

I love it when guests comment about our attention to details. If you have the thoughtful touches and create an environment where the guest feels cared for, then that tiny bit of dust in the corner or a nick in the wall will be overlooked.

Just do the best you can. Nobody's perfect.

That is what is so funny about my place. I get told all the time about how wonderfully I pay attention to details and how wonderful everything it. Me? Details?  But that is how the guests see it and I bless them for it.

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I have told this story before but the newbies will not have heard it. 

There is a lady who used to come fairly frequently - life changes have deemed that not so these days although we are frequently in touch via e-mail. She is a very "non-bending" personality, wants everything just so and is very critical of others but for some reason gives me a pass. For some ungodly reason she liked us and this place - even back in the days of the 3 with shared! She considered one of the rooms "her room".

One visit, DH is coming through the hall on his way to his "cave" and he spots Sandy butt up in the corner by the hat rack. "S, what are you doing?" he asked. S looked around and replied, "I'm cleaning this corner. It needs cleaning and Kathleen doesn't give a sh*t." and went back to the cleaning.

She is coming in again on Tuesday.

Sometimes it is just how you make the guest feel. When she is here, she is pampered (in summer she likes breakfast on the porch and that is where I serve her and leave her to her book). She NEEDS to feel needed - so I let her find places I missed so she can help me clean. Her daughter is a lawyer and has helped not only me, but my Association and will not let me pay so I tell Mama (S) to keep her checkbook in her pocket. After she leaves - I find a check on the table. She is at heart a kind and overly generous lady and I consider myself fortunate to have her as a friend.

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That just about brought a tear to my eye.  Seriously. As burned out as I am, I recognize that some people just need to feel that love and attention because they can't get it elsewhere. It's funny how some people will irk me to no end with their grumpy attitudes, but some I just want to embrace. 

I saw this quote the other day.  I know of maybe two people in my life that can do this consistently, day in and day out.  I tried it all day on Saturday and it damn near exhausted me! 

"Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, 'Make me feel important.' Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life."
- Mary Kay_Ash 1918-2001, Founder of Mary_Kay Cosmetics

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Thanks Banana!

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We all know things we can do to make out properties better.
I do think that a property owner or manager should be given a chance to correct issues a guests might have. That said, the guest should speak up and let someone know there is an issue. An owner might look at a complaint or issue and never really noticed it before. Lime the nails in the wall. Or outlets not being available.

I was in a room today working and guys what. I found a nail in the wall that was not doing anything but looking like a nail in the wall.
Sometimes and hopefully I'm not the only one that is like this, but I get tunnel vision. Especially after 100+s days of working without a day off.

I really wish guests sometimes would be a little more compassionate about Innkeepers who will gladly fix or correct any issue that might arise. Give us a chance.
Now...if I ignore you and just say "Oh well!"
Than A review is in order.

Arkansawyer, thank you for posting this. I need to slow down and maybe look at myself and see what the guests might be seeing.

I know I found a nail....still bothering me. Smiling

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Madeleine's picture
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Chipped paint in one room that I keep forgetting to fix. Must make guests think we don't care.

Someone just slammed into the door frame last week with a metal frame back pack and took a big chunk of paint off, haven't had time to fix that either.

It's times like these when I think of every little thing that needs doing that I get really stressed. If I did every little thing that is on my list I still wouldn't ever finish.

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Stuff like this is what my friend, Rebecca, refers to as 'low hanging fruit'. So easy to address and remedy, yet if/when it isn't, people see it as a sign of the innkeeper not caring. 

Your critique is very good. Maybe you should do a TA review. It doesn't appear that the owners are reading them anyway. 

An innkeeper in our area responds to his negative reviews very defensively. The guy is a complete idiot, in my opinion (many other locals agree)...ah, but I digress. Anyway, his responses have probably done more to hurt him than the bad reviews have. For example, in one of his responses, he flat-out says that when the guests put the towels on the bathroom floor, he hangs them back up. See...I told you...the guy's an idiot.

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Arks's picture
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Bob wrote:
Arkansawyer, thank you for posting this. I need to slow down and maybe look at myself and see what the guests might be seeing.

Here's a good place to start: what's the place where guests are most likely to be alone, with time on their hands to look around and find fault? 

I suggest innkeepers occasionally lower a guest room toilet seat and sit down. Take some time to look around from near floor level. I'll bet you spot some things that could be improved upon, or cleaned better!

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I am looking at my WELCOME SHEET to see if it is rules or do nots versus DO's...I have gone over it from time to time, when we don't get lawbreakers I ease back off, when they are here I go full gusto again...in a nice way.

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The more I read about other experiences and reflect on my own, I am wondering how many places are perfect.  I have come to the realization that there are flaws in almost all of our places.  I am reminded of one guest that stays in B&B's exclusively who stated it is the uniqueness and little flaws that she loves. 

Things that we see, notice even more because of our business.  We want the industry to be perfect.  I agree that things like nails in the wall are a bad reflection and the lack of electric outlets available shows lack of needs of guests and prices should be in tune with what you offer.  But all in all it is the uniqueness that brings people to stay at B&B's. 

B&B's are not for everyone and not for all occasions.   I can't believe I am actually saying (writing) this.  I have always thought the opposite.

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I think we've all got a horror show hotel/motel story as well but we don't own those.

Nothing is perfect. But there's a bit of a standard that I think we expect.

Heat. Decent food. Cleanliness. Graciousness.

I know this is what I think when a place is 'similar' to mine but the service or something is just not right - if WE can do this then other people can too.

I'm sure lots of people look at our place and think how much nicer some other places are and vice versa. We've been told by guests who just came from other places that we do so much more. I've also listened to guests regaling the dining room with how wonderful some other place is.

Sigh.

I do know that the coffee bar and fridge definitely are not offered everywhere.

Arks's picture
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copperhead wrote:

The more I read about other experiences and reflect on my own, I am wondering how many places are perfect...B&B's are not for everyone and not for all occasions.   I can't believe I am actually saying (writing) this.  I have always thought the opposite.

Indeed, nobody's perfect. But some are less perfect than they ought to be! The place I stayed would still be unique if they fixed some of their flaws, and people would enjoy it even more!

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I was in a CCC built cabin this past week (checked out this morning) and the one complaint we had from this original log hewn cabin was the toilet was in the bathroom and wedged into a corner cubby area with walls on either side.

On the survey for the park manager I left a comment about it. I know there is nothing they can do other than remodel the original structure (which I am not asking for) but if you are large, or in my husband's case BRAWNY then this baby potty in an enclosed corner cannot meet your needs. DH said he would just have to go in the woods like the old days...

Of course when this was built, there would have been an outhouse. So it was added on inside the structure later.

Which reminded me of how many of our B&B's add toilets/bathrooms later (but we have gone from the quaint - put a toilet/bath in a closet to really requiring small bathrooms now). This has to be the latest trend, imo...from the jacuzzi tubs a few years back to the reg sized bathrooms.

Worst case in this cubby toilet was the tp holder was there and would knock your eye out when you tried to stand up.

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I love this one:

"The only "welcome booklet" in the room was a single page that didn't contain the word welcome, but did list 11 "do not" commands."

11? Sheesh the "good book" only has 10. Who do they think they are!! haha cool

I read an interesting book while on vacation, and in the book there were many one lines of contemplation for me. One was being introduced to someone, where the writer mentioned they were friendly, but not warm.

Another time she mentioned she thought they were sucking on icicles...

Smiling at someone and acting welcoming is not the same thing as actually being welcoming. I think this is the facade that some inns/innkeepers have. The old watch what I do, not what I say conundrum.

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The PO here was a two-handed hand shaker. Annoyed me to no end. Maybe because there was no warmth in the rest of the greeting.

I don't shake hands. It's just not me. Most guests have an armful anyway.

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Before I even read this I am laughing, visiting non Innspiring B&B's is always innlightening and innspires us to not be like them! I know that sounds harsh, but I see a list...so I will now go and read.

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I think what happens a lot is that some innkeepers (not any of us here!) live in a little bubble. I really think they don't know any better a lot of the time. I've seen it a lot in our state. I work with our state association and through recruiting I see it often...they don't interact in a business sense with other innkeepers. They think it's still ok to do things the old way. Why heck, they stay pretty busy they say. They take it personally when given a suggestion that their website needs attention or that guests these days need "xyz". Once you get them interacting with a group of innkeepers, they start to see the light.

 

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Breakfast Diva wrote:

I think what happens a lot is that some innkeepers (not any of us here!) live in a little bubble. I really think they don't know any better a lot of the time. I've seen it a lot in our state. I work with our state association and through recruiting I see it often...they don't interact in a business sense with other innkeepers. They think it's still ok to do things the old way. Why heck, they stay pretty busy they say. They take it personally when given a suggestion that their website needs attention or that guests these days need "xyz". Once you get them interacting with a group of innkeepers, they start to see the light.

 

When I watched the Miami HOTEL IMPOSSIBLE where the bed bugs and roaches were crawling by the gazillions over the room, and Anthony said how he had never in his life...

and the owner stood there and said "Nobody has ever complained" I was laughing my head off!  Every so often here on this forum we hear those same words, it is fine, no one has ever complained... Do we HAVE TO COMPLAIN about this stuff? doh!

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My big complaint from my last B&B was that it should have been clear on the website that it was a 'homestay'. You are in their home completely. They have no private space so you, the guest, are sharing all of their space. The TV was on from the moment they got up until they went to bed. Altho it was muted in the early morning, it was turned up right after breakfast and it was on the whole dang day.

I can't fault them for living in their space but where are the guests supposed to hang out when the owners have their friends over for drinks? We got all the local gossip while trying to enjoy some down time. Sigh.

Otherwise it was gorgeous!

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How disappointing. I'm sure like us you don't often get the chance to stay away, so when you do you want it special. 

If they've had the place for 11 years and still not sorted out things like the sockets and a welcome pack then the failed sale is no excuse.

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Highlands John wrote:

If they've had the place for 11 years and still not sorted out things like the sockets and a welcome pack then the failed sale is no excuse.

They just don't care about the place's shortcomings. Sure they are busy and tired. Everybody is. But if you care, you notice things, put them on the list, and eventually get them done.

The thing is, 68% of their TA reviews are 5 stars (or Owl eyes, I guess). Only 14% rate the place below average. So maybe I'm too picky. But an innkeeper needs to be picky!

One reviewer from a nearby large city said, "i think they are just so far into the Ozarks they don't know what people expect." People like the owners and give them a break on the critiques. I guess there's a lesson there!

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Arkansawyer wrote:

 

The thing is, 68% of their TA reviews are 5 stars (or Owl eyes, I guess). Only 14% rate the place below average. So maybe I'm too picky. But an innkeeper needs to be picky!

 

 

You are NOT too picky.  I cringed when I read your critique.  All very understandable complaints!  Thanks for sharing.  It keeps us on our toes Smiling

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Either that or they figured the low rate compensates for the lack of attention to detail.  That is one reason we do not stay in low priced B+Bs or hotels.  I know that a higher rate does not guarantee that I'll be happy with the level of quality and service, but it sure does mean that I will write a less than perfect review if  I feel like I have been taken advantage of.  

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Silverspoon wrote:

Either that or they figured the low rate compensates for the lack of attention to detail. 

I noticed some of their TA reviews said, "not what I expect for $200/night" or "not worth the $175/night". So I think we paid the off season rate, and in high season people are paying double for the same list of problems.

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Aaaah you had a Happy Hour before you arrived and you were actually  at a Motel 6 ............ : )

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Mary at Bridgewater Inn and Cottage wrote:

Aaaah you had a Happy Hour before you arrived and you were actually  at a Motel 6 ............ : )

Mary, This is the best laugh I've had in a long time.

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Innkeep wrote:

Mary at Bridgewater Inn and Cottage wrote:

Aaaah you had a Happy Hour before you arrived and you were actually  at a Motel 6 ............ : )

Mary, This is the best laugh I've had in a long time.

Yes, a good laugh for me too! I only wish there had been a happy hour!

Joey Camb's picture
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04/02/2010

trouble is what baffles me is when people want to sell and they let things go - that is the time to really pull it out of the bag! you want good turnover and good reviews to make the sale -neither of which they are going to get running it that way!

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Generic's picture
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02/24/2011

Are you sure that the wine wasn't state/country law that prevented outside wine from the restaurant? Around here, if a restaurant has a licence, any bottle lacking the special government label on it, could mean the loss of their licence. No outside alcohol is allowed. They can't even buy at the government stores, they have to buy at special outlets that have this special labels on them.

I'm sure that if you put the TP in the can there would have been a fixed sign... likely they don't get many international visitors, because in some countries, TP is always put in a garbage can, never down the toilet.

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