Category Archives: Gardening and Lawns

How To Have Amazing Bed and Breakfast Curb Appeal

bed and breakfast curb appeal

 

Have you seen that HGTV Channel show called Curb Appeal?  That informative show is full of tips on how to attract people to want to come inside your home.  It is about becoming the best looking house in your neighborhood.  As a bed and breakfast owner, your goal is to look so appealing from the curb, that those passing by will want to book a stay.

 

The last thing you want is for people to visit your website that shows your bed and breakfast looking at its best, only for them be sadly disappointed when they visit and see that it has not been well maintained.  As you may already know, this is why first impressions are very important.

 

Useful Curb Appeal Questions

 

  • Do I have an attractive sign displaying the name of my bed and breakfast?  Well made signs can attract the attention of others from the road.

 

  • Does my home look inviting?  You want it to look loved and cared for, just as you will do for your guests in showing them hospitality.

 

  • Is there a clear path to my front door?  Guests should not be confused about the main entrance to your bed and breakfast.

 

  • Does my front door look welcoming?  You may need to refinish it and add a coat of fresh paint.  You may want to feature seasonal wreaths on it. Some even inns have front doors with stained glass.

 

  • Is there an outdoor focal point that tells guests where to look first?  This could be a fountain, bench, walkway, tree, or anything else attractive.

 

  • Do I have an attractive way to distinguish the boundaries of my property from that of my neighbors?  This could be fencing with landscaping inside your yard.  Or it could be trimmed hedges that add an attractive border.

 

  • Is my lawn well-manicured?  The key is to consistently mow and fertilize so that it is easy to maintain and you have the greenest turf on your street.  If your yard needs to be revitalized, talk to some local lawn care companies.

 

  • Do my windows sparkle and shine?  Make sure that windows are clean.  If they need replacing, go green with energy efficient windows.

 

  • Do I need to have anything repaired? This means looking at things like your roofing, gutters, decks, and siding.  Make sure that nothing is rotted.  Have regular pest inspections performed.

 

  • Are my driveways and walkways safe, clean, and attractive?  This could mean power-washing, repairing brick as well as repairing stonework and concrete.

 

  • Do I have any dead or diseased plants or trees that need removing?    Trim shrubs, prune overgrown plants, and remove dead trees and their stumps.

 

  • Do I have a variety of evergreens and flowering shrubs?  Group plants by height and layer the groups for visual interest.  You can also vary the colors and textures.

 

  • Is there something that sets my yard apart from others?  This could be a gazebo, a pond, a fountain, statues, porches, and swings.

 

  • Do I have plants in pots or urns in eye-catching places like near steps and walkways?  Some people prefer a symmetrical look at the front door with the same thing on each side of the front door.

 

  • Do I have a garden of some kind for guests to enjoy?  This could be a flower garden, rock garden, or a vegetable garden. You can even grow your own spices to flavor your meals.

 

  • Do I have a plan for irrigation?  Depending upon your climate, ideally you have sprinklers for hot and dry times of the year.

 

  • Is everything that is painted on my property look clean and bright?  You never want guests to see cracked or peeling paint.  It is amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do to revive the look of something.

 

  • At night, will my guests be able to see when they return to my bed and breakfast?  There should be enough outdoor lighting that it is safe and attractive for guests to come back to your inn.  Any paths they should walk should be well lit.

 

It is important that your property gives them a great first impression and sets your guests at ease that they made the right choice to stay at your bed and breakfast.  Help them feel sure of their decision from the very moment they see your property and love your bed and breakfast curb appeal.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

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Why Bed and Breakfast Gazebos Are So Popular

bed and breakfast gazebos

 

As bed and breakfast owners, you know it is the little things that make a big difference.  Did you know that just by adding a gazebo to your property, you are making it more appealing to potential guests? Attractive landscaping, including bed and breakfast gazebos, enhances the look for your bed and breakfast.

 

 

A gazebo is sometimes octagonal (or tent shaped) and can be free standing or attached to a garden wall.  It is typically built with wood and has standard roofing materials.  It can be open on all sides or have netting to keep out bugs. Bed and breakfast gazebos are popular because they have a variety of styles and can serve a variety of purposes:

  • A quiet place to enjoy the view outdoors
  • Host meals, parties, and small musical performances
  • Meditation, prayer, or spiritual place
  • Ornamental feature in landscaped lawns
  • Provides shade (even for a hot tub)
  • Shelter from rain
  • In weddings, it is used for exchanging vows and cutting the cake

If you have one, do you feature your gazebo with landscaping around it? Do you use it for outdoor events?  If you do not have a gazebo, is there room for one and, if so, do you know how you would like for it to be used?

You do not have to be a professional builder in order to build a gazebo yourself. They can also be purchased from home improvement stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot.  

However, before constructing or adding a gazebo to your property, you need to make sure you are abiding by zoning laws and community regulations. There could be height restrictions, allowable lot coverage (rules about the percentage of your property with a building on it), and restricted areas (used for utilities, emergency access, and your property line).

Furthermore, if you must abide by the rules of a homeowners association, you will need to understand their guidelines concerning things like style, height, and material used. In this case, it is much better to seek permission before adding a gazebo than to find out that you are in violation of a law or rule and you will need to make (what could be expensive) changes.

You can feature pictures of your gazebo on your website. You can also talk about its addition and/or construction in a new blog post and in social media.

Bed and breakfast readers, if you have a gazebo, please comment below about how you and your guests use it. If you are considering adding a gazebo, please tell us your reasons for doing so. 

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

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The Beautiful Bounty of Bed and Breakfast Gardens

bed and breakfast gardens

 

 

Some bed and breakfasts gardens have been very creatively designed and developed.  There are so many terrific ideas to make it a breathtaking, peaceful, and romantic place for your guests.  Bed and breakfast gardens may have or can include:

 

 

  • benches
  • bird baths
  • bicycle or boot used as a planter
  • conifers
  • curving paths
  • fish ponds
  • hosta plants
  • magnolia bushes
  • ornamental grasses
  • perennials
  • pines
  • planters
  • pottery
  • reflecting pond
  • rock garden
  • roses
  • shrubs
  • terraced wall garden
  • tulips
  • waterfall
  • water lilies
  • woods

Did you know that there are hundreds of B&B accommodations with the word “garden” or “gardens” in their name? This shows you how popular it is for places of hospitality to feature flower gardens and to grow their own produce and spices. 

The flowers you grow can be displayed in vases throughout your inn. The fruits, vegetables, and herbs you grow will be a fresh (as well as economical) way to help feed your guests. 

The farm-to-table concept has fairly recently become a mainstream culinary philosophy, however, innkeepers have been sourcing and serving local food for generations. You may offer your guests your own fresh produce, organic eggs, and/or free-range meat. Your inn may be located on a farm and/or have its own restaurant. There are so many options for innkeepers to provide. 

Bed and breakfast gardens attract the beauty of gorgeous butterflies and hopping bunnies as well as the pleasant chirping of birds and sound of babbling brooks.  You can make it informative by placing little signs throughout to label what you planted.  

You can make it as personal as you want by naming your garden and inscribing its benches.  If it is a historical bed and breakfast, for example, you can use the names of former residents.

There is no limit to the joyous possibilities of your ever changing and growing garden.   By planting things that bloom at different times in the year, it can look great all year round.  You may attract guests who are fellow green thumbs looking for more inspiration.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

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The Esmeralda Inn of Chimney Rock

Esmeralda Inn

Don and Kim Cason are no strangers to hospitality and innkeeping.  Before becoming the current innkeepers of The Esmeralda Inn and Restaurant of Chimney Rock, North Carolina, they were innkeepers (for over ten years) at Eight Gables Inn of Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  The couple thoroughly searched twenty-two different properties and kept coming back to The Esmeralda.  Now they call it home and welcome guests from all over the world to visit.  They revealed some of The Esmeralda Inn’s fascinating history.

The Esmeralda Inn built originally by Colonel Tom Turner in 1891 and opened for business in 1892.  Turner named the Inn for the book Esmeralda by Frances Hodges Burnett (author of The Secret Garden), written while she was staying at a nearby inn. A play, based on the book, enjoyed a year’s run on Broadway.

Tragically, a fire burned down The Esmeralda Inn in 1917.  Rebuilt on the original foundation, the location of the Inn was Esmeralda, North Carolina since a post office was at the Inn in 1917 and where Thomas Turner, son of Colonel Turner, served as postmaster. The post office discontinued in 1926.  Later, the town’s name changed to Chimney Rock (after one of its most popular tourist attractions).

Esmeralda Inn

When Hurricane Fran (along with a 200-year flood) hit North Carolina in 1996, the people who lost their homes stayed at The Esmeralda Inn.  The Esmeralda Inn was higher ground than the land of most local flood victims, so the Inn took those people in and provided water, showers, and lodging for several months.

After the flood, lumberjacks salvaged huge wooden logs floating down the river, separating the good ones from the bad.  Unfortunately, a second fire to The Esmeralda Inn occurred in 1997.  This was just a year after Hurricane Fran and, remembering the inn’s generosity, the local community pulled together to help rebuild the inn.

They used about seven hundred of the best logs to rebuild the inn.  The logs were split (and partially hollowed out) to fit around new steel beams.   The steel-girded new structure appears to be made entirely of wood, but owners Don and Kim Cason are confident that this steel reinforced structure, along with added sprinklers, will prevent The Esmeralda Inn from ever burning down again.

A local Asheville artist volunteered his time to work on the stunning staircase.  He wove Laurel Vine throughout the banisters.  Two stones from its former structure cap the bottom sides of the rugged stairs.

Esmeralda Inn

The hardwood floorboards in the Lobby were from the original dance floor, constructed by Hollywood in nearby Lake Lure, North Carolina, for the famous movie, “Dirty Dancing.”  Hollywood has filmed other movies such as “The Last of The Mohicans” and “Firestarters” in this local area as well.  In fact, the inn became a favorite hideaway for famous film stars, including Clark Gable.  Speaking of films, the script for the movie Ben Hur was finished in Room #9 of The Esmeralda Inn.

A more recent addition, the historic mantel (not pictured above) came from Indiana.  Since it matched the right time in history, it shipped to The Esmeralda Inn.  Part of their chandelier comes from a wagon wheel of an old stagecoach.  The Esmeralda Inn was formerly the first stagecoach stop in the area.

A historic photo in the Esmeralda Inn Lobby depicts a car driving up the massive front steps of the Inn to allow President Franklin D. Roosevelt to enter in his wheelchair.  This was before the convenience of handicap ramps.  The Esmeralda Inn now provides wheelchair access.

Many modern day notables also stay at the Inn, but out of respect for their privacy, Don and Kim Cason do not disclose their names.  However, given its consistently high reviews and previous well-known visitors, there is always the possibility of meeting a famous guest at The Esmeralda Inn.

Owners Don and Kim Cason (and the whole Esmeralda Inn team) have a deep desire to serve every guest that walks through their doors.  Along with their attentive staff, they anticipate needs ahead of time.  The Casons enjoy their family-run bed and breakfast inn.  Kim’s sister is the talented pastry chef, her sister’s husband is the executive chef, and her nephew is the Sous chef.

Esmeralda Inn

Each morning guests delight in a gourmet full hot homemade breakfast.  The Esmeralda Restaurant is open to the public for lunch and dinner and offers exclusive wines and local craft beer.  Don Cason said that The Esmeralda Inn sold out of tickets for the last Thanksgiving Dinner.  They served about two-hundred people at three different times that holiday: noon, 2 pm, and 4 pm.

Esmeralda Inn

The bistro lights on the deck of the restaurant are romantic when they shine at night.  We highly recommend their juicy steak as well as their fresh caught grilled salmon.  From our outdoor table, we could see the famous Chimney Rock.  In view, a gorgeous little waterfall trickles down the huge stones.  The lush landscaping is evident everywhere the eye can see.

Exiting the restaurant and taking the elevator leads to the open second floor.  It boasts a high ceiling with view of the main level below.  In addition to two guest bedrooms (each with private balconies), this floor has a huge game room.  Kim Cason, not only has a background in hospitality, she also has a talent for interior decorating.  This is especially evident in her selection of décor throughout the inn.

Kim’s choice of pictures hanging on the walls in the game room gives the room a classy look.

  • Dice framed
  • Pool ball painting
  • Royal cards framed
  • Poker hand rankings
  • Albert Dawson clocks

The game room features:

  • Wrap around couch with ottoman in view of a huge flat screen television
  • Round Scrabble high table with dictionary with two high-back chairs
  • Telescope for viewing the night sky or the pool and landscaping by day
  • Checkers and chess set on a round table with two high-back chairs
  • Red Billiard table with balls, triangle, sticks, chalk
  • Poker table with poker chips and cards—it even has cup holders
  • Foosball table
  • Air hockey table

Connected to the game room is a little kitchen with a dumbwaiter to receive food from the kitchen on the main level.  The Esmeralda Inn often hosts events such as corporate groups (companies will rent the whole inn), local fundraisers, and elegant weddings (with up to 75 people).

The room just past the game room on the second level is a multipurpose room.  A large roundtable, with leather executive chairs around it, is useful for companies who book the entire inn.  This area also has a privacy screen and fits up to two spa tables for couples’ massages.  Their spa is ideal for anniversaries and marriage retreats.

Esmeralda Inn

We recommend going outside at night.  There is a stone patio with an outdoor fireplace for roasting marshmallows and making S’mores. Next to the outdoor fountain, there is a fifteen-person hot tub with jets and lights. There are towels available outside for your convenience.

Speaking of towels, it may seem like a little thing, but I just loved the little black washcloth with the word “makeup” stitched on it.  I am sure this has saved their white towels from cosmetic stains.  The bathroom even had an adorable black bag hanging up labeled “hairdryer.”  It worked well to dry my hair after it got wet from using their relaxing hot tub.

Esmeralda Inn

All Esmeralda Inn rooms come with:

In addition to enjoying the amenities at The Esmeralda Inn, the greater Chimney Rock area offers many activities and attractions for guests to experience.

Area Activities:

  • Championship Golf
  • Fly Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Rock Climbing
  • Water Sports
  • White Water Rafting
  • Zip Lining

Area Attractions:

  • Asheville: art, Biltmore Estate (with its great architecture, gardens, history, winery, shops, and tours), lively music, shopping
  • Bat Cave: local jams and crafts, nature conservancy, old cider mill, working cider mill
  • Black Mountain: historic downtown with great galleries, majestic mountain views, and elegant shops
  • Blue Ridge Parkway: access in Asheville (about 30 minutes from The Esmeralda Inn)
  • Chimney Rock State Park: hiking, family activities, rock climbing, scenic views
  • Dupont State Forest: hiking, breathtaking views, waterfalls
  • Flatrock: home of late poet and writer Carl Sandburg, Playhouse State Theatre of NC, rainbow row
  • Hendersonville: annual NC Apple Festival every Labor Day Weekend, dining, main street shopping, summertime music and events
  • Lake Lure: boat tours, canoe and kayak rentals, swimming
  • Mount Mitchell State Forest: highest point east of the Mississippi with gorgeous views of the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Pisgah National Forest: cradle of forestry

The Esmeralda Inn is a proud member of the North Carolina Bed and Breakfast Inns (NCBBI) Association as well as an elite Select Registry member inn.

Esmeralda Inn

Nestled in the rocky woodland setting, The Esmeralda Inn stands out as the jewel of Chimney Rock.  Guests will continue to visit The Esmeralda Inn for its unique amenities, beautiful scenery, and welcoming hospitality.  In their restaurant, the wall has a saying written on it, “May all who enter as guests, leave as friends.”  Thank you, Don and Kim Cason as well as the entire Esmeralda Inn team, for a wonderful experience.  As many have written in your guest book, “we will return and next time our visit will be longer!”

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Is Your B&B Green?

is your B&B green?

 

 

Is your B&B green? Would you like to know a way to possibly reduce your costs and be environmentally friendly? A “green” bed and breakfast has the goal of promoting the sustainability of the earth’s natural resources.

 

There are four main areas of green initiatives:

  • energy efficiency
  • conservation of water and other natural resources
  • waste reduction
  • education

Some practical applications of this include:

  • encouraging guests to re-use their towels and linens
  • using soap dispensers instead of individually wrapped bars of soap
  • low-flow shower heads and toilets
  • using green cleaning supplies with safe cleaning agents
  • replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact flourescent light bulbs
  • re-insulating your bed and breakfast
  • installing solar panels on the roof
  • having an energy efficient furnace
  • installing a rainwater collection system to redirect the water to your inn’s garden
  • composting everything possible
  • recycling and purchasing recycled products

You can proclaim your inn’s commitment to protecting the environment by implementing these practices.  In the long run, this could save you money with lower energy bills.  If you belong to a state bed and breakfast association, they may be able to endorse you as a green bed and breakfast if someone evaluates your green practices.  You can promote to your guests that you are a green bed and breakfast.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

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