Taking the Plunge....and Coming Up for Air!
Hello from The "Atlantic" - Apologies for the delay in posting this latest blog, but we had good reason...😉
The latest chapter in our adventure began 2 weeks ago, when we had our inspection from Dare County Public Health and Environmental Health Dept. Even though we had prepped for our inspection, and for the past year have had superb guidance and support from the Dare County team during our renovations and I can't thank them enough for their help, we were still anxious on the day of the inspection. Having never done this before.... the 50 combined years in clinical research that JB and I had, wasn't necessarily going to help us in our innkeeping adventure! Although for anyone that is in clinical research, they will understand that when I say it was like having a super important "onsite audit" of your trial conduct, processes, and procedures.... they’ll know exactly what I mean, and I suppose in its own way, this did prep us for the event.
It was certainly interesting watching as the inspector ran fingers along surfaces looking for dust, checking the water temperatures in guest bathrooms, looking under beds, between cushions on the sofas, shining a flashlight in every nook and cranny to look for dust or cobwebs....and even though I'm a tad on the OCD side, particularly when it comes to cleaning...I was still super scared we had missed something!
By the end of the inspection, I was scared to ask our score (which starts with 100 and has points deducted for every health and sanitation violation). When we were told that we had scored 100, I couldn't believe it - as a reformed hypercompetitive person (although according to JB, I'm not as reformed as I like to think I am... 😁), this was what I was hoping for, but didn't dare to think we would actually achieve an A 100.
So, the inspector left....and I did my happy dance (much to the amusement of Bailey and Bodie, who obviously thought I had finally lost the plot). JB and I hugged, congratulated ourselves and almost at the same time, the realization hit us - we were ready to open the Atlantic’s doors to our first guests, and after all the dreaming, the planning, the work, the expense....it was actually going to happen 😳
The next few days were a bit of a blur, getting guest rooms ready, adding those last-minute touches that we felt were super important. Last minute shopping - trying to guess how much cereal, yogurt, eggs, sausage....and toilet paper we would need to stock up on? How much bread would we need? Were we confident in the lodging software? Would we be able to check people in? Make changes when needed? Take payments for rooms? Would Bailey and Bodie be too noisy (they were used to living at our last place - a 40-acre horse farm, where they didn't see too many people)? Were guests going to like their rooms? Would they enjoy their night's sleep on the new hybrid mattresses? Were our breakfasts going to be ok? After so many years in clinical research, would we be able to cope in our new environment? So many questions and concerns were running amok around our heads......Whoa!!!!!! Time to take a big breath - and dive in 🧜♂️ 🌊...it was now or never...!!!!
So, we did...
Packages were still being delivered (still are😁) and last-minute shopping needed to be done!!
With much running around, making sure we were ready, JB suddenly decided on the day that our first guests were due to arrive, that he would build the fire pit area......so off he dashed to Nedo's Hardware store, to buy pavers and the project begun...
A couple of hours later we had a relaxing fire pit area at the back of the Inn, which we put to great use with our guests several nights later.... And a new "Atlantic" tradition was born 😁
During one of my mad dashes to Avon, I was starting to feel a tad weary, when I came back to Jake my Jeep, I found he had been "Ducked" - I was so happy to receive my little duck, I suddenly got a boost of energy, and drove all the way back to the Inn smiling. It's funny how the smallest, simple, and thoughtful thing someone does for you, can immediately make you smile, and the rest of your day is awesome!
So, with a little trepidation, we were ready for our first guests - we unlocked the door and awaited their arrival....and we couldn't have been happier!
We had decided that we would have a "soft" opening, with guests in only 3 rooms. With this being our first ever foray into innkeeping, we thought it wise to limit the number of guests that we would embarrass ourselves in front of 😊
Our risk mitigation strategy worked well, and lucky for us, our guests all arrived at different times, so we were able to check people in, give them a tour of our lounges, dining area, decks etc. before showing them to their respective rooms and suites. We did this together which worked well...if one of us forgot to explain something to our guests, the other would ensure the information was communicated.
Although I'm sure we missed some stuff, by 7pm all our guests were checked in, had settled into their rooms before heading out to sample the delights of one of our incredible Hatteras restaurants! Having spent a considerable time trying out all the local restaurants over the past year (this research was extremely enjoyable and was an awesome treat when we had been working hard renovating all day), we both felt comfortable at recommending particular places dependent on the preferences of our guests.
As I have mentioned before in earlier blogs, we are spoiled for choice for incredible dining options here on Hatteras. Having eaten in great restaurants all over the world, JB and I were bowled over by the quality of the food served in Hatteras, Frisco, and Buxton...it's fantastic!
Then it was on to our first breakfast....
...which went well, I think - although, behind the somewhat calm exterior in the lounge/dining area, we were still finding our feet in the kitchen, so it was a little hectic.
JB is now most definitely finding his groove in the kitchen.... although he has become a tad possessive of "his" prep table.
JB really does seem at home in the kitchen and has already begun experimenting with different breakfasting options on some of our guests, who appear to be extremely willing participants in this new kind of study (a far cry from clinical trials!!!!). So far, his culinary adventures have included crab, avocado and spinach omelet, a salami, tomato, potato, peppers, onion, and provolone frittata - which he calls his "Hakuna Frittata", a breakfast pizza with sausage, potatoes, cheese, and egg... and my new fave - French toast, fresh strawberries, cream, with cinnamon and vanilla infused maple syrup. These were in addition to the staples of biscuits, sausage, breakfast potatoes and eggs cooked to our guests liking.
And he's also started making an awesome key lime pie!!
No pics available....as we all keep eating it 😋
So, 2 weeks in, and we've definitely found a rhythm to our breakfast routine, and the kitchen is now as calm and relaxed, as the rest of the Inn.
We've already had a couple of new adventures with our guests...
During our first few days, we had an awesome young couple (you know who you are 😊) that flew into Billy Mitchell airport in a small 2- seater Cessna, complete with their folding bicycles. They had a great time exploring Hatteras and Ocracoke on the bikes and chilling out on the front porch with our rather chubby orange Inn cat, Pumpkin (who has adapted extremely well from being our barn cat on the horse-farm we moved from, to being a very happy, contented Inn cat in Hatteras Village).
On their third day they asked if we'd like to go up in their Cessna, one at a time obviously as there are only 2 seats 😁 JB went up first and loved it, and then it was my turn. As both of us had flown in small aircrafts before, we were super excited to fly over Hatteras....and as expected - it was breathtaking!!!
Then we had our lawyer/windsurfer/poet that arrived for a one-night stay whilst he was chasing the wind....and ended up staying with us for over a week. We had so much fun with him, and when he found out I wanted to Kiteboard, he was kind enough to introduce me to some incredible kiteboarders who gave me recommendations for an awesome instructor. One night he arrived back at the Inn looking a little disheveled, minus both his windsurfing rig and his truck. Whilst having an awesome ride out on the ocean, a large wave had snapped his mast and he had managed to pull his rig to the shore but needed a ride back to get his truck which he had left out on Hatteras point. So, JB aired down and headed for a beach drive in the dark to find the truck.... not something someone born and raised on a 300-acre farm in Nebraska, before moving to Colorado, was exactly used to...but JB is adapting well to island life.
So, after taking the plunge and diving in - I'm up for air and am happy to report that we've had the absolute best guests.... If we could have described the perfect guests for the inn - our first guests would be what we would have asked for... they ticked every box on our wish list - kind, considerate, fun, and super friendly 😊 What a blessed way to start our innkeeping lives.
Just a few of the incredible guests we had stay with us over the past 2 weeks.
And here are some of our guest's kind comments...
And now, I’m off to finish the planning for our Atlantic Inn open day for locals, which will be held on May 23rd…more details will be posted closer to the date.
Until next time,
Stay safe and Take care,
Pam and JB
PS. I promised you some pics of our latest completed projects - The good news is that the Mermaid room has had its first guests...and they absolutely loved it. The Seahorse room was a little delayed, as we waited on a new vanity unit, which arrived a couple of days ago (but it was definitely worth the wait, I love the color!), and the room is now almost completed. I'll post pics of the finished project in my next blog.