Saturday, February 13, 2010
My wife, Anita, and I own and operate South Court Inn, a bed and breakfast in Luray, VA. We bought the house in 1997 and spent 3 years refurbishing it, opening as a B&B in late May 2000.
Anita did the decorating, making all the drapes and bed hangings, selecting the color schemes and painting most of the trim and moldings while I was working in DC. I did the carpentry, floor refinishing, landscape and general maintenance work.
We've pretty much found our niches in the business. I cook the breakfasts, do maintenance, bookkeeping and special projects. She keeps things lively in the dining room, does guest relations and boosts my ego daily.
We both do the housework, but neither smiles much during that time. It is a long way from the basement to the 2nd floor carrying a load of robes, towels or sheets, but that’s work too.
Four years ago, I spent the spring and summer overhauling the bathrooms to put in whirlpool tubs where possible. Two years, we refurbished the 1875 laundry, converting it into a neat French country cottage. We are both about at our max on projects, so we are starting to plan what we will do when we go into a 4th career in a post-B&B phase of our lives. We've also decided that we need to start taking some time for ourselves and are taking action on that realization.
As it turns out, this past year we discovered that the cycle of life in owning and operating a B&B matches closely the cycle we know from our daily lives. When you first open, you are the anxious and eager novice...all the more if you have poured yourselves and your resources into converting a vacant house into what you see as a dream getaway destination for the public. You're eager to please and especially accommodating of adapting to every expectation and demand. You strive to attract more guests, offer more amenities, set a grander table, develop signature dishes and characteristics that will make a stay at your place even more memorable, but above all things you seek to provide an atmosphere and welcome that will keep guests coming back.
Then one day you wake up and find that you have no personal life...the business owns you. In striving to make the business a success, you've allowed the personal things and times of your life to slide away unnoticed. Or at least that is what we found we had done. So, beginning 1 January 2010, we decided we need to claim back some time for ourselves.
Effective that date, we decided that we would be closed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays to give us one day a week for ourselves. That means we use Tuesdays to finish taking care of work from our four business-day weekend. Then on Wednesdays, we can get out of the house and away from focusing on the business and into the realm of focusing on ourselves. We try to get out the door by 9 in the morning and not return until 9 at night! Half the time we have no idea what we will do.
We try to go to a movie, travel to NOVA or elsewhere to enjoy a great gardens, museums, dining experiences or whatever. We crave ethnic meals...searing hot Thai chili curries, pho with so much cilantro it looks like split-peas soup, fantastic spring rolls with chili paste and fish sauce, chopped North Carolina barbeque, freshly made, tart with just enough vinegar and biting with just enough red pepper flakes to let you know that you that it is the real thing, a luscious fig compote Patrick O'Connell matches with seared foie gras, a roasted duck with port reduction Montmorency sauce, Peking duck with warm pancakes and lots of plum sauce and threaded scallions, or even a burn-your-fingers-fresh-from-boiling-oil tray of Popeye's fried chicken, with red beans and rice and larger order of onion rings!
We return to the house refreshed from a day of focusing on ourselves. Then on Thursday morning, it is time to check the house and cottage for whatever is needed for the coming 4 nights of guests, and the whole cycle starts all over again.
So, the bottom line is....Hey folks! Yes, indeed, we are open for business. It may be a shorter schedule each week, but it is as welcoming and focused on providing you a great experience as it ever was. We look forward to meeting you here at South Court when you need that special break in your lives that allows you to return to the next cycle of the wheel with new enthusiasm and even greater appreciation for your partner.
See what previous guests have had to say about their stays at South Court Inn.