Sunday, April 7, 2019

A Typical B&B Sunday Morning

I have heard so many guests say "I've always wanted to run a B&B!" and tell me "You are so lucky to have this wonderful place!".  I cannot tell you how many times I heard myself say those very words.  Owning a B&B has always been a dream of mine and I know I am very lucky to be here at this point in my life.  But did I really know what would be involved in maintaining an 8,000 square foot Historic Victorian Home and making sure that guests could enjoy my home without a care (complaint) during their stay.

I don't think anyone can really know what it is like to own and manage a B&B until they have experienced it themselves, however, I thought I would tell you about a typical Sunday morning here at The Grand Kerr House.

Before beginning, you need to know that I am not in this alone.  My husband, Bob, is in this with me 100% (maybe even 110%).  Through the past year together we have learned how to share the work and, most times, things run very smoothly.

This weekend we had four houseguests occupying two rooms - they were not traveling together but both groups were here enjoying a mother/daughter weekend.  Dawn & Hannah were  returning guests having been here a year ago and Allison & Lynne were first timers.

Breakfast is normally served from 8:00 to 10:00 am, though we have served breakfast as early as 5:00   am when requested.  This morning Allison & Lynne wanted to eat at 8:00 and Dawn & Hannah requested to eat at 8:30.   No dietary restrictions or special requests so we were serving what has become Bob's signature omelettes made to order.

The alarm went off at 6:00 am but I confess that it was probably closer to 6:30 before I got up.  I took a quick shower, got dressed and was ready to begin work at 7:00.  We live in the "Garden Apartment" of the house with a lot of stairs to climb.  First I climbed up to the second floor to pick up the snack tray that the guests left in the hall last night and then checked out the common bathroom space.  Lots of used towels and full waste baskets in there!  I took the tray downstairs and asked Bob if he had time to empty the trash and bring the linens down before starting breakfast and he immediately headed upstairs.  While Bob was tidying up the bathroom, I headed up to the first floor dining room to set the table for breakfast.  This is my favorite part of the morning, laying out the tablecloth and putting out the good china and silver.  I change out the dishes every day so guests who are staying multiple nights never see the same setting twice.  I like to think it makes walking into the dining room special every day.

While I have been setting the table, Bob has made the coffee and started preparing breakfast.  I always thought I would be the Head Cook at my B&B but I've become the Chief Bottle Washer.  It turns out that Bob is a great cook and he really loves doing it.  I load the towels into the washer and then join Bob in the kitchen.  Bob is preparing the fruit bowls and I fill the water and juice decanters then head back upstairs with them along with the pumpkin bread and butter.  Then I go back downstairs, get the fruit bowls, and take them upstairs to set out for the guests.

Yes, there are a lot of trips up and down the stairs - especially for someone like me who has had both knees replaced - but I tell myself that the exercise is good for me and its nice that the guests can't see our unavoidable kitchen mess.

At 8:00 Allison & Lynne arrive for breakfast.  I grab their made-to-order omelettes, hash browns and bacon and take breakfast up to the dining room.  The ladies and I chat a little about their visit but I sense that they did not come to TGKH for my company so I only stay a few minutes.  Back in the kitchen, Bob has started the second set of omelettes that are done just in time for Dawn & Hannah.

By 9:00 the guests are served and Bob and I sit down with our omelettes (the joy of owning a B&B, we have wonderful breakfasts too!) and play a game of Gin Rummy.

At 10:00 we can hear the guests getting up from the table and I go upstairs to see if they need anything else and collect their final payments.  Allison & Lynne leave.  Dawn & Hannah stay to chat. We once had a houseguest who was a former B&B owner who gave us some great advice:  "When guests want to chat, one of you should stay and talk while the other starts to clean up".  So I talked while Bob cleared the table and started the dishes (lucky me!).

By 11:00 all the guests have checked out, the dishes are dried and put away, and we are ready to strip beds and start laundry.  The rest of the day will be spent doing the bookkeeping and laundry, cleaning the house, working in the yard, and getting ready for the week ahead.

Still thinking the B&B Life is for you?  It may very well be - I know that bob and I love it!  We enjoy the guests, we love the house, and it's nice to have a job where the people you work with just want to relax and be pampered a little - who doesn't want that?

So if you really think this is what you want to do, why not come spend a weekend and walk in our shoes on a Sunday morning.  We would love to share our time with you!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Bob's Bed & Breakfast

Bob and I sometimes joke about changing the name of The Grand Kerr House to Bob's Bed & Breakfast.  Bob has become the face of the B&B and it's amazing how much he does around here!

Bob is the primary breakfast cook - his omelettes, stuffed peppers and breakfast rancheros are becoming house guest favorites and are often requested by guests at check-in (though Cathy still makes a great quiche and her pumpkin bread remains a staple at the breakfast table).

When not in the kitchen, Bob is happy to be working out in the yard.  The landscaping he has completed this season was part of Cathy's three year plan - but give Bob an idea and he runs with it!  There is no stopping Bob until the job is complete and he often goes above and beyond expectation.

Even as I write this note, Bob is sitting with the guests - entertaining them with stories of the history of the house and tales of his great adventures.  So, don't just come to see The Grand Kerr House, come and see Bob - a man who taken ownership of our dream and made it our reality.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Full House at The Grand Kerr House

Today we have a full house which always makes breakfast a lot of fun for both us and our guests.  We are hosting a group of siblings with spouses who have come to town for a Family Memorial Service and Spreading of Ashes.  Surprisingly, we have hosted more than one of these groups this year.  It's nice to hear their stories and, by the time they leave, we often feel like we are part of the family too.

Our morning starts at 6:00 am - we like to be up before the guests to assure that there is a freshly brewed pot of coffee ready and we are not looking like we just rolled out of bed.  This group has some early risers - out to enjoy their morning run or looking forward to relaxing on our sunrise porch with their morning brew (did I mention that Bob grinds the coffee beans fresh every morning - it makes for such a wonderful cup of coffee!).  So we have to start early to assure everything is ready when they are.

Today we are serving Quiche.  I make the pie crust from scratch and guests always recognize and appreciate that.  A friend of my mother's, Ellen from Wisconsin, taught me to make pie crust over 50 years ago and I still use the rolling pin and recipe that she gave me.  The recipe is very simple - it's the technique that makes the difference -


1.5 cups of Flour
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Shortening
4 to 5 tablespoons Cold Water

Sift four and salt together.  Cut in shortening with pastry blender till pieces are the size of small peas. Sprinkle water over mixture and blend together (this is the tricky part - kneading the pastry ball for just the right amount of time and the right feel - it's what separates the pastry chef from the cook!).

The quiche filling is equally simple - combine 4 eggs, 1.5 cups milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 2 cups shredded Swiss cheese.  Add in whatever ingredients you like - broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, bacon, etc. - and bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes.  

Once the quiche is in the oven, it's time to set the table.  I like to have this done before the guests arrive in the Dining Room.  I think it's such a treat to come to a table that is all laid out with the good china and silver.  It makes me think of the magic of Christmas morning (though my own mother never sat the table with china as far as I can recall - her china was kept safely tucked away in the china cabinet).

By the time the guests arrive at 8:00 for breakfast, we have fresh fruit, pumpkin bread, juice, water and coffee all ready for them.  Once they are settled in, we bring in the quiche with a side platter of bacon and sausage.  It's all very impressive and such a wonderful way to start the day. 

Unless invited to join our guests, Bob and I will retreat to our quarters where we can hear the low voices (and sometimes very loud chatter and laughter) of our guests.  This is my favorite time of the day, knowing that the guests have had a good night's sleep and are enjoying their breakfast.  It's nice to know that we have provided them with a good start!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Spa Services at The Grand Kerr House

One of our best kept secrets (up to now) is our Spa Services available for House Guests and the General Public.  Whether you are looking for a relaxing, rejuvenating experience alone or with friends, we can provide a package of services or individual treatments certain to satisfy!  Some of our treatments include -

Relaxation Massage - 60 or 90 minutes - this is all about relaxing. It focuses on giving the client time to recover from the stresses of daily life.

Couples Massage - one hour - each of you will experience a massage together in the same area as individual therapists works on each person.

Signature Facial - one hour - this therapeutic treatment is tailored to the needs of each guest/client.  Facial treatment includes:  facial massage, specialty mask and complimentary foot massage.

Body Scrub and Wrap - 90 minutes - This luxury body treatment is a combination of exfoliation and hydration to leave your skin revitalized and glowing.  Treatment includes dry brushing, aromatherapy scrub and thermal wrap.

Reflexology - 30 or 60 minutes - Reflexology is a therapeutic method of relieving pain by stimulating predefined pressure points on the feet and hands. This controlled pressure alleviates the source of the discomfort. In the absence of any particular malady or abnormality, reflexology may be as effective for promoting good health and for preventing illness as it may be for relieving symptoms of stress, injury, and illness.

Aromatherapy - one hour - Aromatherapy is harnessing the therapeutic power of nature.  People have discovered the many beneficial uses of these wonderful substances. The true art of aromatherapy lies in the interaction of therapist and client. Your preferences, your needs, your goals are all considered in the creation of any customized blend.

Yoga Class - 75 minutes - Gentle and Adaptive Yoga with an approach of ease, comfort, and humor.  Suitable for women and men of all ages.  Saturday mornings and Tuesday evenings.

Private Yoga Instruction - one hour - an individualized session with assessment and therapeutic application of Hatha Yoga including postures, breath work and meditation with awareness of personal concerns and/or medical conditions.

Check out our facebook page for feedback and reviews - and be sure to "Like" us when you are looking-

5 Stars From Kris, February 2018:  Best spa day ever!! I Love this place, I hope to return soon!! The new owners are fabulous. And the therapists that work there are amazing!!

5 Stars from Churee, January 2018:  My friends and I had the most relaxing weekend in this beautiful 1880s Queen Anne- style Victorian home. It has been restored beautifully, has all of the original woodwork, and is decorated with period antiques. The owners wowed us with their warm hospitality. They kept a perfect balance of attentive service and comfortable privacy. We could easily have never left the house and just enjoyed the spa services, but the village's main street shopping was only two blocks away and we couldn't resist. We will be back, often and soon!

Sessions can be scheduled on line through The Grand Kerr House website or by calling us direct.  We can't wait to see you and show you what you have been missing!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Rhythm on the River Concert Series in Grand Rapids, OH

There are so many wonderful things happening throughout the summer in Grand Rapids, OH!  Among our favorite events is The Rhythm on the River Concert Series.  Every show is a different genre so you are certain to find at least one performance (if not all of them) that is sure to please.

At The Grand Kerr House, we love starting Concert Sunday with a leisurely breakfast on the front porch (Bob makes the best omelettes!), walking into town afterwards to do a little window shopping (OK, sometimes I do a lot of real shopping), grabbing a late lunch at one of the many fine Grand Rapids restaurants, meandering along the towpath (with the beautiful river views), then grabbing our chairs and settling in for the show.  What a perfect Summer Sunday!

The event is held by the Wright Pavilion on the towpath along the Maumee River.  Concerts begin at 4:00 p.m. and are FREE and open to the public.  Be sure to bring a chair or blanket, maybe even a picnic snack, then relax and enjoy the show.

In the event of inclement weather, events are moved to the Old Fire Station on Main Street.

This year's schedule is:

June 17th - DC Taylor - 50's through Today's Hits
June 24th - Toraigh - Traditional Irish Folk Music
July 1st - Bliss - Acoustic Rock/Folk
July 16th - Quartet Bernadette - Unique Blend of Jazz, Pop and Gems from the Great American Songbook
July 29th - Buddy Love and the Coconuts - 50's & 60's Rock Band
August 26th - North Coast Big Band - Jazz, Swing Music, Big Band Sound
September 9th - Ol' Creek Road - Folk Band Playing Bluegrass & Gospel
October 7th - Otsego Swing Choir & Marching Band

Hope to see you there!


Monday, January 1, 2018

Welcome to the New Year - 2018 has arrived!

Looking back on 2017 and our first year here as the owners and hosts of The Grand Kerr House, I have to say, it's been an amazing year.

We spent our first year investing a lot of time, money, energy and sweat into this beautiful home.  When I listen to Bob telling people about the improvements and changes we have made, I am constantly amazed at his vision and his ability to make his dreams a reality.

Day of the Auction -                                                                                     And Today -

In the past year we have probably doubled our initial investment in this old house - and thanks to the wonderful craftsman that helped us with the work, the house is grand again.  We started with the rebuilding of the four chimneys and repairing of the mortar (Eagle Masonry), patching and painting of the soffits and exterior surfaces (Black Swamp Exterior Painting), replacing the roof with a steel roof that will long outlast us (Erie Construction), putting on custom gutters and downspouts (Crawford Eaves), replacing the exterior drainage system, and restoring the beautiful porch (OK, that's still a work in process but at least it is in process).  And all that just on the exterior!

Inside we replaced two of the three HVAC's (Kendall Plumbing & Heating), leak proofed the basement, removed the forty-year-old carpet, refinishing the original floors where possible (CJ's Hardwood Floors), and putting in new carpet (Taylor Perz Flooring) in the areas that required it.  We had new wallpaper hung in the first floor bedroom (it needed to be replaced due to water damage), added a walk-in shower on the second floor, and are working on putting the first floor kitchen back in it's original space.

And with all that going on, we still opened our doors to House Guests on Memorial Day Weekend, less than a year after buying the house.  We have had such wonderful guests come through our doors this past year.  As we wrote in our annual Christmas Poem -

Opened up the Bed and Breakfast, lots of work and also, fun
So many guests have stayed with us - we liked them every one!

And that's the truth!

So here it is, the start of 2018 and I am making my New Year's Resolutions -
1.  To Blog at least once a week 
2.  To keep up with the bookkeeping and the paperwork (OK, I admit, I am already behind)
3.  To work on marketing and increase our occupancy rate 50% this year (we were blessed with 15% occupancy our first year - better than expected!)

Who knows, maybe you will stumble across this Blog Site and decide to follow us during this year's adventures.  It's been a crazy ride so far...

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Opening Memorial Day Weekend 2017!  Or Not?

Today begins the countdown to our opening day - 56 days till we welcome our first guests.  Bob and I are putting together what seems like an impossible list of things to do and we realize we need HELP! To be honest, in my opinion, the list would not be so long if Bob could just corral his enthusiasm and complete one job before jumping to the next.

I have a friend at work, Austin, who asks me almost every day "Do you have one room done yet?".  I dream of the day I can say "Yes!  Yes! Yes!" but I wonder if that day will ever come.  I have to admit, I sometimes hide from Austin, the list of things to do is so long.

Let me give you an example of Bob getting carried away with what often starts as a simple fix but quickly turns into a major investment of time and money the moment I turn my back.

The carpeting, which is over 40 years old, was torn at a seam in the upstairs hallway.  We agreed to remove the carpet in just that small section and decide whether to replace or refinish the underlying floor.  Bob removed the carpeting and we were disappointed to find the floor was in poor condition and could not be restored.  We agreed to install new carpeting in the second floor hall and the second floor hall only

The next day, when Bob was home alone, his curiosity got the best of him - he wondered "what condition are the stairs in under the carpet?"

 Bob was very happy with the condition of the stairs and promptly moved into the foyer, the parlor and the sitting room where he found original floors full of potential!

So now we are committed to replacing the carpet throughout the second floor (bedrooms, hall and staircase) and refinishing the first floor rooms.  In the big picture, I know Bob did the right thing and I am very excited about those floors (as I am sure our future guests will be).  But in the short-term (as in 56 days), I wonder if we haven't bitten off more than we can chew.  Only time will tell.  

Be sure to follow us on our blog for updates on the progress we make working towards The Grand Opening of The Grand House!