I don’t often spend much time watching the Food Network, but Marilyn does. And a show with an interesting topic came on that got us talking. “What is the best food you ever ate?”
We pondered on that and then started reminiscing about some great meals we had. One with friends of ours in Santa Barbara two years ago before the PAII convention. Outdoors on the restaurant’s patio… propane heaters overhead in the branches to take the chill off the evening… great wine from one of the vineyards we had visited that day… laughing… upscale fare with a flavorful Spanish creativity.
And the time we were in downtown Baltimore, at Tio Pepe’s (one of Marilyn’s favorites), an underground bistro with great Sangria, and a pine nut roll dessert. Did I mention the Sangria? A birthday favorite for her.
Even a great pizza at John’s in Manhattan, at lunch time before we dashed off to see Mamma Mia (I must admit I was an ABBA fan before it was chic) on Broadway. Crisp crust, served in an old church complete with stained glass and murals…a New York City landmark and favorite for us. Took the kids there one time.
Then it struck me that while trying to recall “the best food we ever ate”, it wasn’t really the food we were remembering, but the memory of the whole experience. The food was made even better by the excitement of the location, the folks we were with, the intriguing atmosphere, the other delicacies we tried, the laughing, the holding hands …not just the food.
Isn’t that what all us innkeepers mean when we want to give our guests the full experience? And if we can deliver, it creates memories. We are not just beds, not just nice looking buildings. The warmth of the welcome, the busy day out in the vineyards or at the historical site, the sincere smile when they sneak a second brownie, the breakfast… aahhh…breakfasts! We had a guest stand on his chair one time to take a photo of his pumpkin waffle with the toasted almonds and roasted fruit.
Cheryl Grono, innkeeper at Pennsbury Inn in Chadds Ford, PA., responded to a recent post about making a small cake with a balloon for a 90 year old guest, surprising him on his return from dinner, who then hugged her because he had never had a balloon before. He will remember that moment…and so will Cheryl.
We innkeepers are the creators of memories. And those guest memories will last forever and result in repeat guests. And repeat guests are the lifeblood of our industry.
Any favorite memories? I’ll bet it’s the whole experience that creates that memory. Scott