We had just recently finished the final touches on our B&B. Everything was in place and my daughter and I were anticipating our very first guests. This was so exciting. We nervously lit the candles and tidied the kitchen. The knock on the door signaled their arrival! Alexa and I stared at each other, silently saying, “Here we go!”
I swung open the door and beamed at the couple who would be Castle Rock Bed and Breakfast’s very first guests. They were not smiling. In fact, you might even describe their expressions as frowns. No worries, I was confident we would easily win them over with our delightful charm and wonderful accommodations. I offered to show them to their room so they could get settled. Their eyes darted around and instead of taking in all of our hard work and smiling, they continued to look displeased.
Based on the few terse comments made, I quickly realized they had anticipated the former B&B in Colstrip. The grand three story house with ivy cascading off the front. That home sat perched on the edge of picturesque Castle Rock Lake. We, on the other hand, were located across the street. Our curb appeal was greatly lacking. The front of our home was a simple brown ranch style with the front yard paved for parking for our guests.
I explained that the website they had visited was for the previous B&B, Lakeview B&B. We were operating Castle Rock B&B. Lakeview was now the beautiful home of Lakeview Assisted Living and, obviously, not accepting B&B reservations.
I was confident that once I showed them to their room, they would come around. They were staying in the Montana Room. Tastefully decorated with chocolate browns and dark forest greens. The bed was covered in a fluffy down comforter. The walls held Charles Russel paintings and a vintage pair of snowshoes. In the private bathroom the shower curtain looks like you have entered a sun dappled forest and a vintage fishing pole hangs on the wall. Fluffy towels hang on the racks and high end toiletries are nestled on the sink.
There is even a sitting area with a flat screen TV mounted so that it can swivel toward the bed or the Futon. Andes mints sat on the small antique desk and the fridge was stocked with beer, water and soda, all complimentary. On top of the microwave a small basket overflowed with complimentary snacks including biscotti and microwave popcorn.
Alexa and I waited in uncomfortable silence in the kitchen. Occasionally exchanging whispers.
“What are they doing?” She stared at me with big eyes.
“Deciding if they are staying.” I answered. I had offered to cancel their reservation with no penalty because of the confusion. They were free to stay somewhere else if they wanted. We waited for what felt like hours, but was more like 15 minutes. We heard the door to their room open and I stood uncomfortably on the other side of the stainless steel island in our newly remodeled kitchen.
“We’ve decided to stay.” They did not seem especially happy, but almost resigned to the idea. This was not how I had imagined our first guests responding. My heart was broken, but I am stubborn and I wouldn’t give up until I won them over.
I discounted their room to compensate for the confusion. We did have the same phone number as the previous B&B which had attributed to the misunderstanding. This couple was from Michigan and they would be staying for three nights. Their twenty-year old daughter was moving to Lame Deer, the Cheyenne Reservation thirty minutes South of us. She would be working with a local church for the next year and they were here to get her settled. Throughout their stay it became clear they were not excited about leaving their daughter behind, so far from home.
For the next three mornings we astounded them with delicious breakfast menus. Each morning began with a small bowl of fresh berries, followed by a hearty meal served with OJ and freshly ground coffee. Waking up refreshed they mentioned that they loved our comfortable bed with bamboo sheets and down pillows.
Our last breakfast together, she cried as she prepared to say goodbye to her daughter. We encouraged them that we would be here for her if she needed us. We said goodbye to our first guests and as they left they thanked us for the wonderful accommodations. We had won them over! The icing on the cake was the very thoughtful email we received a few weeks later, thanking us for the wonderful stay and letting us know they were still talking about the food they ate while with us.
I am happy to boast that after over three years of operating the Bed and Breakfast we have not had a single unsatisfied customer. In fact, we have many guests who had never stayed at a B&B and are now converted to B&B fans. If you don’t believe me, book a room and I’ll prove it to you!
This is the email we received on Sep 11, 2014:
Good morning Andy and Mindy,
I hope you are doing well. It looked like you may be getting some snow in your region. It’s become quite chilly here with some drizzle as well.
We made it safely back home to Lawton, MI on Saturday night after spending a few days in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. That was a refreshing time for us with beauty all around us.
We just wanted to again thank you for your hospitality. It was so nice to have such a nice home to return to after our busy days on the reservation. We also were so thankful for the delicious and satisfying breakfasts that sustained us. You did a wonderful job with the meals. We still comment on the coffee cake, breakfast pizza, crepe’s, etc.
Thank you so much! We hope that you have a great fall.