For five full years, we have kept journals in the guest rooms. They are there as an option for guests to share their likes and dislikes about their stay in our B & B. It is hard to read them on a day-to-day basis, so after five years of guest journal notes, I decided to put my qualitative analysis skills to the test and see if there were trends in the open-ended comments.
There were 210 journal entries representing approximately 654 people. Most (163 entries) came from the journal in the Fourth Room, which is our largest and most expensive room. The second greatest numbers of comments were found in the Fishing Room journal, which is considered our smallest (but often referred to as “cozy) room. We have had visitors from China, Canada, France, Italy, England and points far and near. Some are here for vacations while others are just passing through as they travel north or south.
Most of the comments were simply saying “thank-you for opening your home.” The words used to describe their experience at Bedford Landing were positive and varied but the most used word was “beautiful” (55 times). Many indicated that they wish their stay would have been longer (17) and nearly everyone said they would refer others to stay with and that certainly they would return for a visit in the future.
• Delightful, charming, great ambience, unique exceptional, 5-star (29)
• Relaxing, quiet, peaceful, a respite, great get-away, felt pampered, I am recharged, great escape (27)
• Comfortable, feel at home, comfy beds (24)
• Amazing, remarkable (21)
• Romantic, breathtaking, wonderful, magnificent, fabulous, superb, (18)
• Great attention to detail and room décor (12)
Aspects of the house that were mentioned in a positive light included the hot tub (8), the theatre room and movie selection (4), the comfy beds and sheets (4). It was interesting how many people mentioned our previous dog Kramer (RIP) and current dog, Bella (16). One person said the house was “clean and fresh” and at least four people mentioned our fortunate we are to have a housekeeper like Patty.
Regarding the breakfast, all comments were positive with the exception of one person who had stayed a full week for a family reunion close by. The comment was “there was a little too much food but we love that there is a cookie platter out all day long!” We were a bit perplexed by this comment!
• A delicious, divine, yummy, or incredible breakfast (48)
• The bacon was out of this world (7)
• The French toast was scrumptious (6)
• Loved the truffles in the room (5)
• Awesome biscuits (3)
• Very filling breakfast, plenty to eat (2)
• Memorable, an adventure (10)
• Perfect, would not change a thing, lovely stay (6)
• Appreciated the extra attention, appreciate the attention to my dietary needs (4)
• Gracious and warm hosts, wonderful hospitality, felt welcome, perfect hosts, kindness, thanks for the maps and local information (67)
• So enjoyed the conversation with Karen & Jack (22)
• Made new friends (2)
• Enjoyed the hangar tour, loved flying over the lake (15)
• Exceeded our expectations
• I slept like a log
• Your house is an oasis
• This is truly a gem
• This is a slice of heaven
• You and Jack have boiled inn keeping down to a perfect science
• The breakfast was fit for a king and queen
What should we make of all of these delightful comments? Jack and I enjoy pampering people who appreciate it! Through trip advisor, we have a 5-star review track record and many of the comments in the journals are also reflected in the Trip Advisor, Google Business and Facebook reviews. We strive to maintain all five stars! Our motto is “comfort better than you will find at home.” Our job is to make our guests feel welcomed and pampered. We do have few additional insights into what this data seems to tell us.
First, it seems that the dog is a therapeutic touch, especially for those who have left their pet at home. We are not dog friendly in that we know that people who love their pets enough to want to travel with them want also to sleep with them so that policy will not change. Bella does not go to the guest room level on the second floor so there is no dog odor, nor dander on that level. She is a small non-shedding dog and that helps us keep our home pet odor-free.
Secondly, we often just “click” with our guests in terms of personality and tastes. Their overwhelmingly positive comments about the warmth and friendliness of Bedford Landings may come about because we enjoy what we are doing. We live on site and can be helpful if needed but we “read” our guests to try to determine the extent to which they want or need interaction and attention. We offer personal touches to attend to dietary needs as long as we know in advance. We find that people are grateful for attempting to meet their needs.
We work well together in the kitchen making this a team effort and people seem to appreciate that we both are present and interact with them asking about their lives and answering questions about our lives and our home. We have implemented many unique aspects to our business including a mouse hole, a bedtime story book, local artisans, a giant chessboard, sight seeing flights and more. People find these things charming and they add to their “get away” experience.
We have met many people who were just visiting the lake area who in time decided to buy a house and settle here. We often feel very must like ambassadors to the lake as we respond to questions about things to do, Internet, golf communities, how to rent property, distance from attractions, realtors to use, how to get a boating license, and more.
All in all we will continue to be innkeepers until we don’t want to do it any longer. As long as we enjoy sharing our home and have gracious guests, we will be here!
I was so excited to join Jamison’s first grade class in Raleigh, NC at the number one Magnet School in the country (or so I was told) – AB Combs Elementary. I was equally impressed with the children in their classroom’s attentiveness. But, (not that I am biased) I adored spending time with my grandson Jamison who is a main character in my new children’s book entitled “Taking Flight.” Illustrated by Julia Phillips, a local artist to Smith Mountain Lake, this story (as in all of my books) has an underlying message and this one is about eating well and fitness in children. Head elf, Gordy grows too large to ft into his elf suit so Jamison has to help deliver the Christmas gifts with Santa. Julia did a remarkable job of capturing the story with her renditions. Jack took some video footage of the day at the school that I edited together into a little story about the day. Each of our family members received a copy at Thanksgiving and there will be two book signings this weekend.
My other two books have a message as well. Cloudy with a Chance of Dreams features Jaxon (our oldest grand son). The story is about having trouble paying attention in school and the way his mother managed this including some reinforcements flying in an airplane. The book featuring Destiny Jayda (our grand daughter) is entitled Fly me Home and is about a girl who is having trouble making friends at school. She is being raised by a single (pilot) father who determines one way to manage her feelings about change and school is home schooling while she travels with him in the airplane.
As a retired child development facility member, it’s just hard for me to NOT educate. Books are a great way to entertain and spend close time with a child. Through the story, the child can imagine themselves in the role. That in turn leads to conversations between parents or grandparents and children which can lead to solutions in their own lives. And airplanes? Jack is a pilot and we live on an airport. We sell these books in our Bed & Breakfast which is situated adjacent to the W91 airport. We need more young pilots in training of course so there is some airplane terminology also appearing in the books.
Lastly, this is our I have enjoyed not only honoring my grand children but to spend some of my retirement time. This year, we are being blessed with so many new babies, however that I am considering the next book to be about a GROUP of children including all of those precious ones who have been born (and will be born) the last 2 years…Lyla, RJ, Zahra, Emma Grace, Eliana, and (due in February), Gabe. And just maybe nieces Kendall, Jaylyn, and Charlotte will have starring roles as well as our family continues to grow! Wow!
Ho, ho ho and Merry Christmas!!!
When folks at our breakfast table at Bedford Landings enter into a political discussion, we divert and redirect them the best we can so no one walks away with indigestion. Instead we want people to feel relaxed and not defensive, on edge, or challenged in a negative way while they are here. I am just glad we are getting an election break!
It has already been a beautiful fall!. The colors are brilliant and the sunsets are amazing!
We enjoyed the chili fest last weekend along with the fall festival at the Booker T. Washington National Park. We got not even one trick-or-treater at our door. But enjoyed dressing up nonetheless as Chick magnet (I know they are ducks but there were no chicks available!) and Fork-in-the-Road to make an appearance at a wonderful fall meal at my sister’s house.
He won’t get as much work done the rest of this week as he has gone to help our church mission team muck out houses in Beaufort, NC. Bella was none too happy to see him leave, marking her man with her paw in the photo!
In the meantime, I have completed my third children’s book. Jamison is the featured grand child and he will be the first to get a copy when I go to his first grade classroom in Raleigh on November 20 to present it to him and read to his class. I am so excited. If you want a sneak peek, my amazon page is ready! This one is a Christmas story.
We hope you will come visit Bedford Landings for a quick get away and enjoy a fire pit S’more’s package, a nice glass or full bodied wine and unwind!
As Thanksgiving approaches, think back on the last year. Think of the trials and issues that presented themselves and also the wondrous gifts of life, love, jobs, a warm home, kind friends and loving family. Giving thanks on this end!!
Summer was busy at Bedford Landings Bed & Breakfast, but summer is over and we are moving into fall. Many of our summer guests have indicated that they wanted to come back as the leaves were changing. I am not sure when the leaves actually change. It’s all a nature-driven formula where trees adjust their chlorophyll. The length of the day, the changes in temperature, and the rainfall all come into play. Higher elevations change first but according to the Virginia Department of Forestry, our peak season for central Virginia will be October 10-20. Some other sources push this out 5 days since we have still held to warmer temperatures.
At Smith Mountain Lake, the season is extended with special events scheduled into the fall. Make your reservation as soon as you can plan it out! But also consider a Flightseeing airplane ride with Jack over the lake or the Peaks of Otter!
Some of the events include such fun as:
• Harvest Festival at Booker T. Washington National Monument
• SML Fall Chili and Craft Fest – at Bridgewater Plaza
Veteran’s Day Ceremony – D-Day Memorial, Bedford, Va
Thomas Jefferson’s Wine Festival- Poplar Forest
Christmas Around Bridgewater– Santa Arrives
For additional events, check out the SML Chamber of Commerce Calendar.
When I was a senior in high school, I received an Instamatic camera from my parents for Christmas. I loved taking snap shots and getting the film results back! Yes, it would take about 2 weeks for developing the film, but I checked the mailbox every day until the prints were returned. I don’t know what happened to that little camera.
Later, in my professional (working) years, I was always the one to be an early adapter with new technology. I learned how to use the digital camera in the office and was the one who remembered to bring the camera to the meetings and conferences. At first these cameras actually held a 3.5-inch floppy disk and only about 4 or 5 photos would fit on that disk! But you could insert it right into the computer much like today’s microchips.
I joined a local photo club sponsored by the Smith Mountain Arts Council and quickly learned that my technology was out of date. I needed a new camera!
At Christmas, my husband proudly handed me a gift to unwrap and there it was…a new camera. He got a good laugh giving me the original camera I had started with but then gave me the REAL gift of an Olympus OM-D.
I will never be a professional photographer although I enjoy dabbling! Each month, I go to the photo club meeting and listen to the experienced photographers speak photo-ease; shooting in the raw, using presets, bracketing, stitching, etc. Some of this I am clearly not ready for yet! I am still learning the basics and must admit to often checking my settings with the AUTO button before guessing the best shutter and aperture settings. Apparently learning to know what settings to use should be a quick and automatic response and one that signifies that I have “control” over my camera and don’t just let the camera decide the appropriate settings.
What I really enjoy about photography is capturing a unique shot, using light and shadows for drama and emphasis, and capturing memories so I can revisit the photos later (when I am old and senile!!) or to use to market our Bed & Breakfast.
When I was an early childhood professor, we often would take photos of the children at work/play then show the pictures back to the children to ask them what they were thinking about at that time or what they were doing. It is a great technique understanding their thought processes.
I find that I am less interested in understanding technology of what makes it happen and even less able to manipulate the photo with post processing software. I want to capture the “perfect” shot by what I see with the lens not rely on knowing that I can adjust and make a good shot even better by spending hours with post photo processing software. I have even wondered, is photo processing cheating?
If I have captured a photo that I think is worthy to enter into a photo show and it competes against one that has been highly processed, which one is more genuine? Which one has been entered fairly?
I was trying to think of a parallel where technology allows the job to be easier and get a better result. When I moved to Raleigh, NC, I carried a map with me. It was before GPS and I had to learn my way around. My children used to say, “Mom, all you do is look at that map then turn around.” Indeed I did but I learned the north-south streets and the east west streets and all of the short cuts to get around by the time GPS emerged! So is relying on a GPS cheating? It sure makes the job easier, doesn’t it.. and saves time.
Maybe I am cheating a little. I do crop and adjust exposure from time to time. I don’t do a lot of other adjustments. In understanding myself and this issue, I did some reading and found that there are two schools of thought. Apparently Ansel Adams spent hours editing his work, albeit with film. Some feel that post processing is not genuine and others think it allows more control over one’s work.
In writing (to work through my feelings) about photo adjusting, I determined that I am at just at an early stage of learning. I need to understand the basics before I can trust and believe in the added techno-enhancements. Maybe first in learning the basics of photography, then later the added technology in this newfound hobby will come easier to me. In the meantime, I really like some of what I have captured, without much knowledge of how to make it even better! But I am still learning though! And it is all in the eye of the beholder — as well as the camera!