We are proud to announce that both the Harrison House and Tucker House Inns have joined the BedandBreakfast.com Diamond Collection, a distinction reserved for premier inns offering extensive amenities and top-rated guest reviews. To qualify as Diamond Collection properties, we had to pass a comprehensive professional two day on-site inspection that measured everything from the quality of our sheets (the inspector stayed overnight to test them first hand), how we answered the phones and interacted with guests, to the quality of our breakfast service, and yes he tasted everything! The evaluation criteria were 13 pages long and included every aspect of running our Inn from the condition and quality of our buildings, safety requirements and much more.
This distinction was certainly a team effort and a culmination of many years of hard work. Everything had to come together, the physical plant, our customer service and hospitality, the amenities and our food service. Stephanie Prima-Sarantopulos, our Director of Internal Operations, spearheaded many customer initiatives that helped ratchet us to this level. Throughout the years, our guests have provided valuable feedback and given us many suggestions that we have incorporated into our service. Now with the addition of Beth Fricke, our Guest Services Department will grow to three providing even more capacity for personalized service to our guests.
I had to admit, we all had a few butterflies as Jim, the inspector, sat down for breakfast his first morning. He arrived, like many of our guests, tired and fatigued from a long day’s journey from coast to coast. After our morning greetings, his first words were, “I love your sheets.” We exhaled just a bit and thought, we have started off on the right foot.
Next I needed to cook breakfast. Chef Molly was on vacation. It is something that we do and I have done for upwards of 45 guests on busy summer days, sometimes admittedly half asleep. This morning I was only cooking for 6. What could be easier? We prepared eggs benedict with a zucchini pancake layered with Canadian Bacon, wilted spinach and a poached egg, garnished with pesto and grated Parmesan. Mother Nature had even saved a few calendula petals for garnish. I chatted with him as he ate, trying to gauge his reaction. At one point he put his fork down and I held my breath. At first I didn’t think I heard him correctly. He went on to say that this was one of the more imaginative and delicious breakfasts he had enjoyed doing these inspections. We hit the ball out of the park. Another exhale, and we all slowly began to relax.
After a tour of the property, we spent the evening debriefing and getting his suggestions on how we can move our service and property to the next level. We also had the opportunity to ask Jim questions about areas where we were struggling and wanted some perspective and suggestions. Since he visits so many other properties and sees many different types of operations, it was valuable for us to learn how others do things.
So this winter, in addition to working on many of our guests’ suggestions from the feedback forms we received last summer and fall (some of the larger projects have to wait for the quiet season), we are incorporating many of Jim’s suggestions as well. This was such a valuable experience. Not only was it validating for our team to know we are on the right path, and we have come a long way since we stepped foot on these properties almost 9 years ago, Jim helped us chart a course for the future.