We’ve taken a hard hit from the coronavirus at Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast.
We are well. For that, I am thankful. Our already high service standards have been enhanced to address the current threat. However… we have no business. Three cancellations this week – all reasonable, rational, and understandable. But it still hurts. It hurts because just this week we’ve lost hundreds of dollars in revenue. It hurts more because my heart is in innkeeping and I’m unable to do what I love. Innkeeping is my passion, and some crazy virus will not change that. My plan is to hold it together the best I can and wait it out. We need you to help us stay in business.
I feel like all of us are experiencing some stress over the Coronavirus. Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast is our home, so we’re paying very close attention to risks to ourselves and others. Enhancing our already high service standards demonstrates our commitment to our family, our guests, our staff and our communities. I’m not a natural worrier and I’m trying not to worry about our current circumstances. I’m working hard to keep my eyes on the Lord and His direction. If you know me, you know I do my best to live my faith and it’s gotten me through some very challenging times.
Hebrews 11:1 King James Version (KJV): Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Hospitality is in my heart and soul. I have faith that when we all do our part we will, as a community, conquer this current threat and I will once again be an active innkeeper.
How are we prepared for this risk?
Our inn’s Standard Operating Procedures are designed to ensure our guests’ safety, comfort and well-being. The health and safety of our guests is a high priority in our everyday practice at Blessings, and it always has been. Our 5-star (TripAdvisor 5-circle) reviews demonstrate our commitment to the highest service standards, including high standards in cleanliness. Enhancing our already high service standards demonstrates our commitment to protecting our guests and our loved ones.
What’s the threat?
Prospective guests are at risk any time they travel. Any time one of us leaves our home we risk encountering someone who has encountered someone who has… well, you get the picture! I recognize that there may be times that people must travel, but for the most part, I’m in the “please just stay home if you don’t have to go out” crowd on this one. As for our family, Glenn is in a risk group based on age. I’m happy to report that I’m not in that same age group, but I’m still at risk due to a congenital heart defect that showed itself in sudden cardiac arrest a few years ago.
I’m not willing to say we are closed, but I’m trusting the Lord to bring us only the guests who truly need us. If I was traveling, I’d want to stay in an inn with two suites, as opposed to one with twenty guests coming and going, touching everything. I get it, especially if someone needs an extended stay, and I’m certainly not locking our doors! OK. Doors are locked, but you’ll have a reservation and we have a ring doorbell, so I’ll see you coming!
How are we addressing the risks as a Bed & Breakfast?
If we book one suite, we will automatically block the other suite, unless people are traveling together. We will also block suites the following day to ensure the safety of those cleaning the suite when guests check out. (We need to allow 24 hours after guests check out, according to the CDC.) We had guests last weekend. They were healthy and had no known exposure. Still, there was no shaking hands, and no hugs. We kind of laughingly said that we were five feet apart most of the time they were here! We still had a good time getting to know one another, but it’s not the same as our normal Blessings hospitality. That hurts.
How are we addressing this risk as a family?
We are sheltering in place. I went grocery shopping last week. I have resources for grocery pick up to meet ongoing needs, church services are being streamed, and Lonzerotti’s is still open for take-out, so… we’re good! The young one is enjoying spending time with the dog and has school work assigned from ISD. Glenn is working in the yard and I’m working on B&B marketing and planning gardens. This year I started my own Impatiens and other plants, so I can spend time working with my little indoor greenhouses. (I am my father’s daughter, after all!) We have a beautiful jigsaw puzzle going on the dining room table. I’m cooking and baking and planning menus for when we’re up and running again. I even bought some edible gold leaf to play with!
The Top Five Things We’re Doing to Ensure Guest Safety
1) We’re making hand sanitizer part of the décor in our common areas and in the guest suites. Yep. It’s sticking right out there on the silver tray in the front parlor and on the European pottery Tranquility tray alongside the assortment of our finest guest amenities. We still believe that hand washing with soap and water is the best practice, and we provide plenty of good hand soap, but we want to provide another level of comfort for our guests. In addition, we have luxury hand lotion pumps to help sooth any drying that occurs from the use of alcohol-based sanitizers.
2) Our kitchen is off limits to guests. (You can look, but you can’t cook!) We don’t keep guests out of the kitchen to be ugly, but rather to ensure guest safety. Each family member and two support staff hold food safety certification – that’s five people for a two-suite Bed & Breakfast! We comply with, and often exceed, national food safety standards. Too many cooks in the kitchen would limit our control over the tenets of food safety. We’ll still serve you a multi-course breakfast in our dining room, or you may choose to have a Suite Retreat breakfast delivered to your door.
3) We value high housekeeping standards all day, every day. I’m not ashamed to say that I’d choose preparing a multi-course breakfast for twelve people over doing housework, but people pay to stay here, and we’re sure not going to slack off on housekeeping! Our already high standards have been further enhanced in the frequency and scope of our sanitizing procedures to ensure guest safety. From sanitizing doorknobs, light switches and remote controls to cleaning surfaces from top to bottom, our housekeepers demonstrate a strong commitment to our high standards and attention to detail for every guest stay.
4) Bedding is always washed after every stay and the beds are sprayed with sanitizer. The luxury linens our guests rave about are laundered in a detergent brand recommended by dermatologists and allergists for sensitive skin. It removes 99% of the most prevalent every day and seasonal allergens. We also use a specialty laundry sanitizer additive. Although it does not contain bleach, the additive kills 99.9% of bacteria. Our goal is to provide the cleanest, most comfortable beds possible.
5) The objective of social distancing is to reduce the probability of contact between persons carrying an infection and others who are not infected, to minimize disease transmission. When you’ve booked direct, cancellations due to the coronavirus carry no penalty. If you’re using a third party and need to cancel, you’ll have to go through their process, but most seem to be reasonable at this time.
HOW CAN YOU HELP US STAY IN BUSINESS?
Make your purchase. Gift certificates are available by the night, by the suite, and in dollar amounts. We sell several retail items and I can easily arrange no contact porch pickup, if you’d like. I’ll even make you a cup of tea and you can put your feet up and watch the world go by when you come to pick up. From Blessings coasters, Christmas ornaments and mugs in a variety of Deneen Pottery® styles and colors, to our luxurious Turkish Towel® robes to Comphy® sheets, we can share our highly rated inn amenities for you to enjoy every day in the comfort of your own home. Pick up, or we’ll ship. It’s as easy as that!
Show us – and our other local businesses – some love. Make a reservation, buy a gift certificate, pick up take out from one of our great local restaurants, or let a storekeeper deliver your purchase at the curb. This, too, shall pass and we want our businesses to still be here when it does.
Spend some time with us on social media. I know… it’s not my favorite thing, either, but now is the time that I really need you to share our posts and let people know that we still want their business when this threat is over. People are being very creative in addressing this very unusual situation, and I’m trying to share others’ posts so we all can benefit. Today my page shows restaurant posts and live concert opportunities – check it out! From Facebook to Insta to Twitter, we all need your support.
Book your stay. Future reservations are an encouragement. Beth, our returning guest, noted on Facebook the other day that they’re still planning to come in June. That’s great to know! Cancellations are standing out right now – my heart needs some new reservations to offset them. Please help us if you can.
About Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast
Experience a stay in our award-winning Bed & Breakfast located in a magnificently restored 130-year-old mansion in the heart of the historic district. Pampered luxury is our goal, to delight both business and leisure travelers. We offer two upscale guest suites, each with private sitting rooms and private baths. We provide multi-course gourmet breakfasts, 24/7 family-friendly hot and cold beverages and snacks, and cookies and milk at bedtime. Wi-Fi is available throughout our home and each suite has a digital satellite TV and all-season fireplace. We are located just steps away from Illinois College, the Governor Duncan Mansion and Illinois School for the Deaf and our neighborhood is highlighted on one of Jacksonville’s historic walking tours. Escape the standard hotel room and enjoy your own private suite in the finest Jacksonville area lodging.
Greetings fellow Innkeeper,
Are you still taking guests at this time? Even if someone has not shown symptoms, they may be carrying the virus. I own a B&B in upstate New York. We decided to close last month and the news today is that we are just now hitting the peak of the virus spreading. We will remain closed for April and pray for healing. Please let us know your thoughts on B&Bs as an essential business.
We did not close during the pandemic, but we did not host guests for several weeks. Our business has picked up within the past couple of weeks, finally.