Thursday, February 28, 2013

Romancing Our Guests: May Our House Always Be Too Small To Hold All Of Our Friends. – Irish Blessing

(c) Whitaker-Huntingdon Inn.
SAVANNAH Georgia (February 24, 2013) -- Recently we asked our Romantic Inns of Savannah innkeepers to share ways that each inn romances its guests.

We've omitted names in this post to share how Bill Saxman from Whitaker-Huntingdon Inn’s translates ‘romancing our guests’. His is a heartfelt example of extraordinary hospitality that began in 1995 and continues in 2013.   

“I don’t look at it as romancing. I just look at it as a way to treat guests staying in our home,” Bill begins.

“We try to make them feel at home and welcome them as we would a good friend or even as an extended family member, to the degree possible. In so doing we want to do our best to help them enjoy and experience Savannah. We do that by assisting them find or do what they express that they want to see and do during their visit. We also try to introduce them to something unique that they may not know about, something we feel that they may enjoy.

“For example, last week we received an e-mail for a previous guest and his wife wanting to know if we had three dates in March 2013 for a return visit with us. He stated that he thought that they were one of the first guests to stay with us when we opened the Whitaker-Huntingdon Inn in March of 1995. I had remembered that a third couple flew in from California (where he was working) and she flew in from Washington State (where they lived). He was coming to a convention and she was flying in to meet him in Savannah. The first two couples were from the northeastern and southeastern parts of the USA, respectfully.

“Debbie and I took that week's bookings as a positive "outlook" for our small new business, especially since the first three couples came from all four corners of the United States. I looked up our first guest book and he was correct about their first stay. So I was able to know which room they had stayed in during that visit by their nice note in the guestbook. 

“I replied back to him that we did have the same unit he stayed in before available during the nights he requested and that if he could stay a fourth night, we had it available, between our other bookings. He responded that they would like to stay the extra night and asked if I knew a 'Polly' [the lady’s name is changed for this blog], that he went to college with in the 1970's. He understood she had moved to Savannah and gotten married to a city planner, but that he did not know the man's name.

“Since I was an urban planner for the local planning commission for almost 40 years and he remembered that fact, he thought that I may have an idea who the man may be. I wrote back that I did not know of anyone at that time who could be that couple; but, I would try to find out who he was, since I had worked with or knew most of the planners that had worked in the city over the past few decades.

 “I then called a good friend that I had worked with and we compared notes and came up with a possible candidate. He was not employed as a planner, but we knew he had a degree in planning and could be the one she married since his wife was also named 'Polly'. Upon contacting our guest again with a name and some information about this person's work background he wrote back the following note:

"Yes, yes, yes! That's him & her!!!! Is there any way to get a phone number or an email?  Thanks a bunch!"

I checked the phone book and found their address and phone number and sent them off to him and he wrote back:  “I've already composed a letter to [Savannah area couple] that will go out on Monday. Thanks for the zip code verification."

I replied: "Glad we could find out who 'Polly' married and come up with an address and phone number for you. Let us know if we can do anything else and we will be glad to comply, if possible. It is 66 degrees and sunny here and the park is full of people. The local Saturday morning farmers produce market has started up again on the south end of the park, after being closed for over a month. They sell a lot of organic foods and are very popular with the local citizens and chefs. - Bill and Debbie"

He replied: “Your weather sounds great. Here it's currently 28 and our snow pack has reduced to 15. It is clearing and should be a fine day. Our local farmer's markets, which we also patronize, are months in the offing. We wonder if, while we're in Savannah, we could take you two out to dinner? Pick somewhere nice, eh? Maybe somewhere off the beaten tourist path with local cuisine.  I meant to mention that, in general, we eat anything for breakfast. No dietary restrictions."

Debbie and I are currently trying to suggest a good local restaurant that we think they will enjoy. We're eager to catch up on each other’s retirements and general interest over the past 16 years.”

May our house always be too small to hold all of our friends. – Irish Blessing
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Copyright © 2013 Romantic Inns of Savannah / Bill Saxman

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Introducing Savannah Romantic Inns’ Unique Points of View: National Savannah Landmark District

SAVANNAH, Georgia (February 10, 2013) – The wonder and romance of Savannah are legendary. Travel writers, guidebooks, and news often tout Savannah’s charm and point to the southern hospitality found in the historic city’s bed and breakfasts.

“It was the wise Helen Keller who stated, ‘The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart’. Savannah’s beauty is love at first sight. When travelers want more than a drive by tour, plus a bed and shower, we are here!” states Jackie Heinz, spokesperson for Romantic Inns of Savannah, and owner of Zeigler House Inn.

St. Patrick's Day Parade Savannah GA | Photo (c) Bruce Tuten.
St. Patrick's Day. Photo (c) Bruce Tuten
"To revel in the heart of this historic city – to fully discover Savannah by heart -- travelers should and can get beyond the outside views of historic homes, into the heart of city life and into our lovable old inns,” Jackie adds.

The Association of Romantic Inns of Savannah wants more city visitors to discover the quiet small inns nestled in the National Landmark Historic District. “Our bed and breakfast guests become the extended marketers for the Savannah experience,” the sweet-tempered innkeeper insists.

The Romantic Inns are lovingly restored vintage homes nestled into picture-perfect residential neighborhoods downtown. Soft adventure travelers meet up in the inns’ home-like settings while they learn and explore more of Savannah’s secrets. Couples choose Savannah for a romantic weekend, eager to learn from the friendly insiders. Executives wanting a break from glass and steel love a home cooked meal.

From the noble cottages and stately homes, collectively, the innkeepers’ live up to the organization’s tag line -- Let Savannah Romance You. TM

These brief introductions only scratch the surface of 'let me count the ways'. They just may win over even the naysayer for a first-time bed and breakfast stay in Savannah.

Whitaker Huntington Inn and Forsyth Park Inn overlook downtown Savannah’s grand park, Forsyth Park.  Imagine strolling in the crossing sidewalks and stepping right into big events, like the greening of the fountain for St. Patrick’s Day festivities in March, and Savannah Jazz Festival in October.

Located on tree-canopied and mannerly Jones Street, Zeigler House Inn signals guests how to be first in line for Mrs. Wilkes boarding house lunch (4 houses from the inn). “Movie fans can visit film locations nearby, including Something to Talk About, and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” she adds.

The 1895 Inn on Oglethorpe Avenue (originally South Broad Street) is consistently rated #1 among Savannah B&Bs on  Ideally located, the inn is steps away from the homes of Pulitzer Prize winning poet Conrad Aiken, the in-town Colonial Cemetery, and historic theatres.

Just east of Forsyth Park, two inns open their private pools in early spring -- McMillan Inn and Amethyst Inn at Sarah’s Garden (family friendly). The city’s central park was Mercer’s playground, and still the spot for bandstand events, Savannah Jazz Festival, and movies on the green. From Olde Savannah Inn
Catherine Ward House  you’ll be within a block or two stroll from the picturesque park for beautiful photos under the Live Oak tree canopies and at Savannah’s iconic French fountain. Hum one of Johnny Mercer’s lyrics while you roam -- Moon River, Days of Wine and Roses, and Ac-cent-chu-ate the Positive 

More iconic images of Savannah are the garden squares. Balconies overlook the namesake square of Georgia’s founder at Presidents’ Quarters Inn, voted “Best Savannah Inn” by Savannah Magazine readers for five years.  On Oglethorpe Square the inn’s neighbor is Owens-Thomas House considered by architectural historians to be one of the finest examples of English Regency architecture in America, plus and authentic slave quarters.  

Once seamen cottages, the cozy Green Palm Inn is just off Greene Square in a village-like setting, popular for small weddings on the green.  Of all the Romantic Inns it is nearest the Savannah River front -- considered the best kept secret for a sunrise run and great spot for a sunset walk downtown.

For the best of self-contained lodging, Savannah Villas bring travelers to beautiful lodging places on time-honored streets – Liberty and Broughton -- near Leopold’s Ice Cream (named among top-ten in the world). A catered breakfast and fresh baked treats from local artisans are delivered daily to the much-sought-after historic homes of Armstrong Cottages 

"I live here. I work here. This summary makes me want to stay at each inn,” adds Diane McCray, co-owner of Green Palm Inn.  It is Whitaker-Huntingdon innkeeper, Bill Saxman who extends a heartfelt invitation so well. “On your next visit, stay in one of the historic Romantic Inns of Savannah homes, and enjoy Savannah's true ambiance when you are not exploring Savannah's historic sites and districts.”

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Copyright © Romantic Inns of Savannah / Sandy Traub