Monday, April 27, 2009

Negotiating for Bargain Travel and Lodging

Every time I turn on the television or pick up a magazine the media are encouraging the traveler to negotiate for better travel bargains. The following is one innkeeper's perspective on this subject: Mother always told you that "You get what you pay for.". I really believe that this holds true when you travel. In this past year we have had more people try and play "Let's Make a Deal" with lodging prices. From the innkeeper perspective we look at what we offer, what it costs to offer that and what we need to charge for a room to make that happen. The traveler, however, wants a lower price. So, how does the innkeeper make that happen? For example, you have a luxury, Jacuzzi room with a fireplace. You offer luxury bath robes, upscale amenities, chocolates from the local chocolate factory by the bedside, complimentary bottled water & hot beverages, high thread-count sheets that feel like satin, over-sized bath towels and a homemade breakfast made from scratch. The published rate on the room for a weekend is $175 but the traveler wants to bargain you down to $99. What does the traveler want to give up? In order for the innkeeper to knock $76 off the room rate does the traveler want to give up amenities, breakfast, chocolates, have cheap sheets? Probably not. Another expense would be the person to clean that luxury room. It takes a good hour to thoroughly clean that room but if the traveler wants a $99 rate does the innkeeper give the housekeeper 15 minutes to make it look good? We've met a former housekeeper at a hotel that told us that they were given 15 minutes to clean a room. So they clean your toilet, rinse your bath tub and make your bed and maybe vacuum the main walk way in their 15 minutes. Do you really want to sleep in a room that had 15 minutes of housekeeping? We've also heard that there is a major outbreak of bed bugs in the USA right now. In order to get that $99 rate do you think that hotel is going to bring in a pest control guy on a regular basis? Probably not. Smaller B&B's who offer lodging as a means of income are in less of a negotiating position than the big hotels with more rooms, however the traveler needs to decide if they want luxurious amenities and a clean room or sacrifice what they get for a cheaper rate. The next time you make travel arrangements think about the saying "You get what you pay for".
This blog is written by Carol Steffey, Owner at Garden Gate Get-A-Way Bed & Breakfast in Holmes County Ohio Amish Country.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ohio Unique and Unusual Places to Visit

"We've been coming to the area for 20 years and we know about everything" is a common phrase heard by Innkeeper Carol Steffey from Garden Gate Get-A-Way Bed & Breakfast in near Berlin, Ohio. That presented a challenge: Find unique, unusual and new things that will make the people continue to come back. Below is a list of some of Carol's favorite places:

Bowdens Bells: Vince and Jan work as a team making bells, fountains, birdbaths, feeders and other unique garden folk art handcrafted from recycled materials. Jan specializes in original handcrafted jewelry. Nothing like you've ever seen before!

Holmes County Pottery: Handmade pottery fired in Ohio's largest wood-burning kiln. Using traditional techniques, they offer a standard line of pots from functional to dinnerware to garden planters.

Treaty Line Pottery: Functional and sculptural pottery by Carol Ohl. The stoneware and porcelain pieces are wood-fired in a Japanese-style Noboragama kiln. You're sure to find a treasure to take back home!

Swartzentruber Quilts: These old-order Amish sisters have a home business. Hand quilted quilts, wall hangings, pillow covers. Other items include pot holders, hand braided rugs, aprons, etc. You will also have the opportunity to see the inside of an Amish home when you visit their shop!

Care-n-Share: A shop where you can experience the talents of physically challenged plain people. You'll find uniquely handcrafted baskets, quilts, gift items, candles and more. Proceeds go to physically challenged people, widows, and families with huge medical bills. You will even find baskets made in the shape of the entire USA.

Warther's Carvings: See the works of World Master Carver, Mooney Warther in this mesmerizing tour! Even if you don't like trains or carvings, you have to see this place. Words cannot describe this narrated tour. A place for all ages! In April 2009 they have a special Abraham Lincoln exhibit.

These are just a few of Carol's favorites. If you are a guest at Garden Gate Get-A-Way B&B they will map out an itinerary for you to visit these and other unique and unusual places to visit.
This blog was created by Carol Steffey, Owner of Garden Gate Get-A-Way Bed & Breakfast of Millersburg, Ohio.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Travel Saving Lodging During Slow Economy

When most people get ready to travel and they need a place to stay they reach right for the hotel options in the area. The reason? They think that if they look at a bed & breakfast they will have to share a bath, they won't have any privacy, it's not accommodating to a business traveler and/or it will be like going to Grandma's house to sleep. Most of those people also think a hotel will be cheaper. I just returned from a business trip to Atlanta, Georgia and stayed at a Hyatt hotel. I received a conference "special rate" of $159 per night. I started looking around my room and comparing to the Jacuzzi suite at my bed & breakfast that goes for $165 per night on the same days of the week. I cannot understand why travelers flock to the hotels:

Hotel Daily Rate $159 ... Jacuzzi Suite at B&B $165...Comparable room at B and B $135
Hotel bed had a hard mattress ... Bed and Breakfast suite had pillow-top mattress
Breakfast at the hotel dining room ran $16-$25 ... BandB has complimentary breakfast buffet
Bottled water in hotel room $6 per bottle .... BandB has complimentary bottled water
Hotel had NO complimentary snacks ... BandB has homemade evening snack
Hotel charges for hot chocolate/popcorn....BandB has free hot chocolate/popcorn
Hotel offered shampoo, conditioner, lotion, soap & toothpaste...BandB offers shampoo, conditioner, lotion, soap, body scrub, make-up remover, herbal bath grains.
Hotel offered NO bed side chocolates....BandB offers bed side chocolates from local factory
Hotel charges for on site parking...BandB offers complimentary parking
Hotel charges for local phone calls....BandB offers complimentary local phone calls
Hotel charges $12 a day for internet ... BandB offers free WIFI
Hotel offers sitting in lobby, lounge or room at night....BandB has gardens, evening campfire, porch swings, glider rockers, rockers on the patio and view of countryside
Both places had Satellite TV
Both places had down alternative comforters
Both places had in-room coffee
I could easily see how a 2 night stay at a hotel could be padded with $150, or more, of add-on charges when a BandB stay can be so more comfortable and offer more personalized customer service.
I keep hearing news casts on TV telling people how to save money in this down economy, but I never hear them telling people to look at a BandB over a hotel to save on a weekend get away or vacation. Why is that?
This blog was written by Carol Steffey from Garden Gate Get-A-Way Bed & Breakfast in Millersburg, Ohio.

Ohio Golf Experiences in the Country

Many people have played the big golf courses in major cities, but there are some really unique golf courses off the beaten path. If you have ever been to Holmes Country Amish Country you have probably driven by Fire Ridge Golf Course.

Fire Ridge Golf Course has 18 scenic rolling holes with superb playing conditions. It is located off of State Route 39 between Berlin & Millersburg. It was built in 1930 and is a Par 72. It offers bluegrass fairways and large bent grass greens. You're going to love playing this course!

Black Diamond Golf Course was rated one of the Top 25 Ohio Golf Courses in 2002 Golf Digest! They were nominated for America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses for 2003 Golf Digest. Have you ever played a Par 6 up to 720 yards? You can play 9 holes, 18 holes or even play all day!

We also have courses for beginners. Willandale Golf Course is less hilly and less challenging. This course offers 27 holes and has a pro shop on site. You will also find a driving range with grass tees and mats.

Oak Shadows Golf Course is in Tuscarawas County. Just as an artist creates a masterpiece on canvas , Oak Shadows was designed to capture the natural beauty of the area. It encompasses 197 acres of rolling hills, wetlands, countryside, stately trees and more.

River Greens Golf Course has matured into one of the most enjoyable and finest tests of golf in Ohio. The tree lined, soft, lush fairways are constantly maintained and manicured. This contributed to River Greens receiving a 4 ½ star rating, and was named as "... one of North America’s top 201 best public-access courses" by Golf Digest in the 2000-2001 Places to Play publication.

When you are in the area of these golf courses you will also find wineries, cheese factories, Amish culture, gift shops, chocolate factory, etc. Check out the local lodging options to make sure you allow enough time to play golf and enough time to enjoy the area. Many lodging establishments work out special rates with the golf courses in order to offer their guests discounts, so consider a golf package.

This blog was written by Carol Steffey at Garden Gate Get-A-Way Bed & Breakfast near Berlin, Ohio.