When we set out on this incredible adventure, we decided to use the quote "May all who enter as guests, leave as friends" as our mission statement (not sure who to cite for this quote, but we love it and have adopted it), with one of our primary goals being to create a place that offered a truly unique experience when guests visit with us, so you can imagine our delight when guests (now friends :o) leave comments in our visitor book... 😊
In the short space of the ten weeks, we have been open, we've already had several guests come visit with us again for a second (and third!) time, many guests who only planned to stay 2 or 3 nights have changed their original plans and stayed with us longer....and many book their next visit before they leave!
What started as a fun way to leave messages to each other, and a place to capture the thoughts and ideas we had during our year long renovation, has morphed into a place our guests now leave messages for us...💖
Since our opening week, when asked if we like meeting and spending time with the people that visit with us at the "Atlantic", I’ve maintained that for 98% of our guests, I would have them back to stay with us in a heartbeat, our guests have been phenomenal. There will always be a few that maybe prefer a more traditional "Hilton/Holiday Inn" style stay, to our approach, but most people who make their way to Hatteras, find the ambience of the inn, very much in keeping with what they are looking for in an island retreat.
JB and I are having so much fun.... now, don't get me wrong, it's super hard work as we’ve been doing all our own cooking, cleaning, laundry etc. and always like to ensure spending time with our guests, is our number one priority. One thing we did decide early on was that, if we felt that we weren’t being able to spend enough time with our guests, we would just block out some room availability to reduce our workload, enabling us a little more flexibility with our time (which we have done several times already!). We truly don’t want to lose the ambience we’ve managed to create at the “Atlantic”, which makes it feel so special. When asked how long we intend to own the inn, we both reply (usually at the same time), when we stop having fun...which we know, will be quite some time!
JB and "Wild Bill" (one of our first guests, now on his 3rd visit with us, who most certainly has become our good friend) got a little creative in the kitchen, cooking some incredibly fresh and absolutely delicious scallops, tilefish, and shrimp....😋
Coming from a beach town in Scotland, I grew up having fresh seafood any time we wanted, which was wonderful. It wasn't until I left my hometown, that I realized how lucky I had been, and that seafood just didn't taste the same when it wasn't freshly caught. Over time, I stopped eating fish altogether....that was until I moved to Hatteras and began ordering fish in our local restaurants - it was AWESOME!!!!!!
Not bad for our first real effort at cooking locally caught seafood...
Whilst we need to generate enough income to keep the inn open, maintained and fully functioning all year round, and there are some wish list items, like a new surface on the car park, and perhaps a swimming pool… but we are not looking to maximize profitability and make boatloads of money, that’s not what owning the “Atlantic Inn” is about. As long as we can cover the inn’s expenses to stay open year round, and make enough to be able to live here, (owning your own business means no more employer healthcare options, or corporate 401ks - which is a bummer😝)….but then again, when you love what you do, work hard and put your heart and soul into your business, you reap the rewards every day 🥰)
When we had our horse-farm, we were fortunate to have had a 60ft lap-pool, that I would swim in every morning during the summer, and I do miss that refreshing start to my day. Here on Hatteras, when I get to the beach in the mornings, it is early, before sunrise and anyone who has ever watched the movie Jaws knows, that sharks feed at dawn and dusk, so swimming in the ocean, super early in the mornings, for me is a rather big no no! 🦈
So, a pool would most definitely be the best option during the busy summer months when I can’t make it back down to the beach later in the day. And…I’m sure our guests would also enjoy some pool time on days when the ocean is too rough to safely swim…..and then perhaps a little pool-house with our gym equipment, perhaps a hot tub and small sauna for the winter months….hmmm, that sounds like fun, and again, I think our guests may also like a hot tub and sauna in the cooler off- season, (and I’m sure JB will now remind me how expensive this will be 😉), but a girl has to have her dreams – so they can come true!!!
I think our philosophy of working on the organic growth of our business, as opposed to advertising on Expedia etc. - concentrating on our blogs, and creating and maintaining our own website, is working well. And “word of mouth” advertising is now one of our most successful strategies, as we are now seeing visitors that learned about us from friends or family who have already stayed with us, which is absolutely awesome!
We’ve also been super fortunate in having been featured in several publications including:
"The Raleigh News & Observer", Feb 2021 edition "This century-old inn on the Outer Banks is getting another chance" https://www.newsobserver.com/news/state/north-carolina/article248701170.html Coast OBX Magazine, Spring 2021 edition "Revitalizing Hatteras Island’s first inn" https://coastobx.com/revitalizing-hatteras-islands-first-inn/ "Outer Banks Wedding Guide" 2021 Edition https://indd.adobe.com/view/c2e52ca2-e7e2-41f4-bd22-605eac12852c "The Wall Street Journal" "Fishing in the Outer Banks—a Living Piece of Maritime History" https://www.wsj.com/articles/fishing-in-the-outer-banksa-living-piece-of-maritime-history-11623170940?st=urofouvv0ml3i40&reflink=article_email_share
Trip Advisor reviews are also rapidly becoming one of our great friends….as many people that have visited with us have been kind enough to take the time to go on Trip Advisor and Google, and post their reviews, many of which have been phenomenal, and we can’t thank those “Atlantic Friends” enough!!
Having lots of reviews is super helpful, as there are some comments and scores for the Inn from before we bought and renovated it, that are a tad detrimental. On checking with both Google and Trip Advisor, I was told that, as the Atlantic was a hotel before we bought it (The Seaside Inn), we cannot have the comments removed, even though they are not relevant to our business. But they did advise that, the more comments we have, the further down the review list the old ones will go, and our new scores will be the ones that drive our aggregate score.
When we put our mission statement quote on the wall, we hoped that, as in life, (when some people enter your life, they become your friends, and remain so, throughout your life), we would have guests that would feel more like friends than guests…. But we never for a moment imagined, how many incredible people this would happen with. We already have met so many wonderful and interesting guests that have most definitely become our “Atlantic Friends”.
When some visitors arrive, they ask if we have a “happy hour” or “social hour”, on certain days, at certain times. We’ve found that the best and most enjoyable gatherings, are the ones that aren’t planned…. they are the ones that have been purely spontaneous. As mentioned in my previous blog post, we designed both the interior and exterior of the Atlantic to provide space for guests to have “alone time” when they wanted to sit with a coffee or glass of wine and read a book or stargaze from the daybed on the uncovered upper deck, but also spaces that were conducive to great conversations, when people feel like having a little “social time”.
Often, when we decide to have a glass of wine, or a cold beer in the main guest lounge, or out on the front porch, where we watch the world go by - people begin to return from their visits to our fantastic local restaurants where they’ve had a delicious dinner, or their evening strolls along the beach, and join us to chill out and chat. As more people return to the Inn - some are tired, and head to their room or suite to relax, and put their feet up after a busy day on the beach, whilst others decide to join the gathering wherever it may be: - in the lounge, front porch, back decks, or around the firepit. So many interesting and fun conversations and exchanges of experiences…. people from many different geographical areas and from all walks of life, with an array of interests – windsurfers, writers, poets, fishermen and women, birdwatchers, collectors of shells, kiteboarders, surfers, photographers, artists, environmentalists, boat enthusiasts and historians to name but a few…. all with a common goal of relaxing and enjoying our beautiful island - living on “Atlantic Time” for a few days.
When we embarked on this life changing adventure, our aims were to enjoy living here in Hatteras, have fun running the inn, and have the opportunity to meet some great people, both local permanent residents (who are absolutely wonderful!!!) and visitors to the “Atlantic” (many of whom become friends), to be able to save a little piece of almost 100-year-old history, bring it back to life, and be able to share this beautiful and unique place with others….and I think we are managing to do all of the above. 😊
For those that are following our renovation adventure, as promised…
Firstly, I’d like to introduce you to “The Seahorse Cuddy”
Although the smallest bedroom in the "Atlantic", it has the largest bathroom!
The original bathroom attached to this room was in an awful condition, containing a jet tub that not only leaked, but was wired incorrectly…and a shower head hooked to the wall with no tiling or waterproofing on the walls, so if you were to use the shower, the walls would have been soaked. The WC and sink were extremely worn, and the walls and floor were shabby and not in a chic way (polite way of saying rather nasty). So, this bathroom was most definitely a rip apart and start anew project. We decided to go for a double, walk-in shower instead of a tub, and it worked out perfectly.
Every room and suite that we renovate at the Atlantic has presents us with its own unique challenges, but each also gives us an awesome opportunity to have some fun designing and decorating it….and Seahorse was no exception :o)
Finally…. drum roll please…...
It’s my great pleasure to present “The Windchaser Suite”
As the Windchaser Suite has a jet tub, I like to run a disinfectant cycle in the tub between guests....I think I may have used a little too much disinfectant 😲
We still have a couple of decorating projects in Windchaser, including hanging a windsurfing sail on one of the walls that will extend onto the ceiling. And working on some crazy artwork, using broken surf/kiteboard/windsurfing equipment. So, the suite will be pretty unique in its design.
I’m super excited that our latest project is almost complete, and that I’ll be able to announce the opening of our little gift shop “Atlantic Innspirations” imminently. Huge thanks to JB’s brother Dave and his wife Deb (who fortunately for us, loves to paint), who helped us move our project forward. Deb did a wonderful job of painting what used to be the hotel office, whilst they were staying with us on vacation (don't worry it wasn't a prerequisite to them staying at the inn, it was their idea to paint whilst on vacation). The shelving is in, and deliveries of some interesting items that will be alongside some local artists work, candles, “The Atlantic Inn” and “My Atlantic Life” T-shirts, mugs etc., are arriving daily. More about the “Atlantic Innspirations” gift shop on the next blog…
One last thing I would like to do is to give huge thanks to our incredibly awesome friend “Wild Bill” (whom you may have the good fortune to meet if you visit us... and the winds are blowing in the right direction). My intention was to learn to kiteboard, which I still intend to do, but having spent time with Bill during his 3 stays with us in the brief time we have been open, I decided that maybe I should give windsurfing a go…
So, I had my first lesson with Jack (huge thanks for his patience!), at "OceanAir Sports" in Avon – and it was incredible, and although there was much splashing of water.... as I fell off multiple times, there were several magical moments when all would come together, I would relax and not think about the mechanics of what I was doing, and I would catch the wind and manage to stay upright….I was actually windsurfing, and just like that - I found my next adventure…
Until next time….