Friday, November 8, 2013

Hospitality, Geneva Style

Guest: a person entertained in one's house; a person to whom hospitality is extended. -Merriam-Webster's Dictionary
A guest never forgets the host who treated him kindly  -Homer

Our anniversary trip to Florence required a 4-hour layover in Switzerland. I do not care for sitting in an airport any longer than necessary, so I proposed extending the four hours to four days in Geneva. I've never seen Switzerland, and the extra days on the ground would help relieve the jet lag from an 8-hour flight.

 That decision afforded my wife and I the opportunity to experience hospitality, Geneva-style.

It was our first time booking with, a booking site where travelers stay in a person's home instead of a hotel room. After verifying your identity and requesting (not booking) a reservation a person is "invited" to stay in an entire apartment (or private room, or shared room).

 We were invited by Kathy, the owner of a cozy 1-bedroom apartment, complete with kitchen, 1.5 baths and living room, located in the countryside just five minutes from Geneva International Airport.

 Kathy had only known me from my Airbnb profile and photograph, but she treated us as if we were special guests. The kitchen was stocked with food because she did not want us to be hunting down a grocery store as soon as we arrived. A bottle of wine was waiting for us because she knew this was our anniversary trip.

 And she made available maps, travel brochures, information on Geneva attractions and two complimentary transportation passes for the duration of our stay.

 We enjoyed long walks to a local village (Le Grand Saconnex) a short 15-minute walk from our apartment, as well as beautiful views just outside our door of the Swiss Alps.

 Our decompression after a long flight was made easier by our extended layover in Geneva: the Hospitality Hound recommends more than a few hours to anyone flying a great distance.

A highlight of our trip was the extra special care and consideration shown by Kathy, our friend and host, that truly made us feel like more than a reservation on a hotel database. We have kept in touch with her since our return home nearly two months ago...something I have not done with the manager of a Marriott Hotel one or two trips previous.

The English essayist Max Beerbohm said people are either born hosts or born guests.

 Our new friend in Geneva is a born host, one who truly exemplifies the meaning of hospitality.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Doesn't Get More Peaceful Than This...

Antietam Overlook Farm does just that: overlooks the Antietam National Battlefield. The view is spectacular, even if you are looking down at the site of a bloody skirmish that took place 150 years ago.

But the inn was a marked contrast to what transpired a century-and-a-half ago. Once we got off the main highway it took us about half an hour to reach our accomodations. The ride through farm and horse country was beautiful but not easily traversed. Once we arrived we were a little tired, very surprised and extremely pleased.

Our innkeepers made us feel quite at home, and our room was well-appointed, and the only thing missing from "civilization" was a television (which we didn't miss). In fact, none of the rooms had televisions; only WiFi. There was a parlor with games, books, magazines, coffee and complementary water, soda, beer, wine and hard liquor (brandy, scotch, etc.; house brands in decanters).

Yes, that's correct. It was the first time any bed and breakfast I’ve stayed in offered something beyond sherry and crumpets between 4 and 5 pm. We had a variety of beverages at our disposal…anytime of day or night.

Our first morning’s breakfast consisted of hot fudge sundaes! We said we were full and couldn’t eat anymore, and our server Linda offered to put them in the refrigerator for consumption later in the afternoon. The breakfasts were delicious, and we could eat them in the main dining room, on the rear porch, or even our room's patio.  

That's one thing I appreciated about the inn: you did not have to eat "family style" if that was your preference. One morning we ate with the other guests, and that was enjoyable in itself.

        Our innkeeper Michelle was always helpful with local information, and pretty much gave us run of the house. We were made to feel comfortable right from the time we crossed their threshold until it was time to cross it the other way. They truly were hospitable innkeepers, ones we’ll never forget.

Oh, one other thing: there's also a resident cat called "Mr. Meowsers," who has a really throaty “ME-E-OW!” No one is sure where he came from, and we were warned not to let him in the door or our rooms, as he would take advantage of your own hospitality and never leave your side!

In fact he would let you know just how comfortable he was with your company from time to time.

If you want to stay someplace with a lot to do, go to Baltimore. If you want to do some introspective musing with Mr. Meowsers, I heartily recommend Antietam Overlook Farm, where you will be made to feel at home. 

Click below for a link to their website.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Four Chimneys Inn

 For our first trip to Vermont, as we did not want to travel the length of the state, we chose the closest town from the Massachusetts border: Bennington. This was an anniversary trip, so we wanted it to be special. 

A search in Trip Advisor brought up The Four Chimneys Inn.

During our internet browsing we thought the rooms pictured in the main house were attractive and inviting, and the prices were reasonable, but we were intrigued by The Ice House. It was located in back of the main house and it was an accommodation all to itself. We did not have pictures of the inside to view, but we took a chance and promptly booked it anyway. 

The house was more than we could imagine.

This two-story loft was more than enough room for two, and was adjacent to a beautiful pond pictured below.

The lower level had our bed and bath; the upper level, connected by a wooden spiral staircase, contained two couches, a television and a writing desk. Skylights all around made the area very bright, and the views from the second floor were wonderful.

We ordered breakfast the night before on a ticket provided every morning after room service, where we were able to check off our selections, as well as our seating time (anytime from 7:30 to 9:00 am), and leave it at the main house. When seated the next morning, our food was brought piping hot within a few minutes. The two-seater near the windows offered a tranquil view of the front lawn.

One evening we had a formal dinner to celebrate our anniversary, and it was well worth the price. The Lobster Ravioli and Grilled Salmon were cooked perfectly, and the wait staff attentive to our needs.

From room service to food to accommodations to our hosts, everything was perfect. Upon arrival we asked if we could have a refreshing beer and, even though the bartender was not on duty, our host graciously accommodated our request.

The grounds of the inn provided a nice, after-dinner or pre-breakfast stroll, and you walked in the footsteps of Walt Disney, Elizabeth Taylor and Norman Rockwell.

Oh, I neglected to mention the Bennington moose...

Four Chimneys was a great value for a great old inn presided over with a true sense of hospitality by its owners, Peter and Lynn Green. The were gracious without being formal, available without needing to hover, and put us at ease immediately upon arrival. They knew to leave us in peace, but if we had a question it was addressed promptly.

The Hospitality Hound knew it had found a true hospitality inn. 

Please find more information in the link below. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

About the Hospitality Hound

The word hospitable means "promising or suggesting generous and cordial welcome; offering a pleasant or sustaining environment; readily receptive." Weary travelers, looking for a good night's sleep or a pleasant vacation, will look to the hospitality business, and the business could be comprised of a hotel, motel, inn or a bed and breakfast. Hospitality means much more than just offering a place to sleep: we feel it involves giving attention to small details during the course of a stay that truly makes it a generous and pleasant environment.

This site will devote itself to reviews of bed and breakfasts we have found to be truly pleasant, generous with their attention and a home away from home. While this is not meant to be a negative, fault-finding and harshly critical source of information, we may make mention of an amenity we would have appreciated during the time spent away from our homes.

In the weeks to come we would love to hear from fellow travelers and your experiences of those places that truly went the extra mile to be hospitable. Thank you for your kind attention.