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Resort hotels vs. inns – it’s all about the personal touch

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By Marti Mayne

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Recently I had the displeasure of trying to contact a resort hotel in a New England destination, which will remain un-named, but within a one-tank drive of Boston. I started on a Tuesday night and after five attempts, I gave up. It took six calls the next day to reach a live voice at that resort. Each time I called, I was transferred from a reservation phone bank “not on premise” to a dead end at the hotel. On two occasions I was disconnected. Are you sensing my frustration?

Next I called the Rabbit Hill Inn and immediately talked to a friendly voice who answered all my questions in one call. In my business and I’m guessing in yours too, time is money and it’s precious. Wasting time with call upon call trying to find answers to questions about what’s included in a resort stay is not my idea of a good way to start a vacation.

FoxNews.com says luxury travel is on the rise. That means the same customer who might go to a resort hotel could also be planning on a stay at a luxury inn in New England. The same Fox News report says that travelers are taking to the Internet and phone to plan their own vacations. If that traveler seeking a luxury experience has the same experience as I do, I doubt that he or she will take the time to make more than ten phone calls before talking to a person and will head directly to an independently owned inn or B&B where the owner is often the person answering the phone.

One big difference between an inn stay and an equivalent resort hotel stay is the personalized service. Not only will the person greeting you when you arrive know your name, it’s likely they will become a friend…at least by the time you leave. Ask Dave and Sue at the Inn at Harbor Hill Marina, where a sign welcomes guests saying “arrive a stranger, leave a friend”.

We in search of luxury travel enjoy their perks. While you can book “bed and breakfast” packages at resort hotels, it’ll cost you. Book a room at a resort hotel in the White Mountains, and you’ll find a lovely breakfast buffet in the morning with a $15 per person price tag, plus tax and gratuity. Breakfast daily….roughly $40 per couple there. Head to Cape Cod and enjoy the breakfast buffet at a resort near the Captain’s House Inn, and the breakfast buffet will run you $28 per person plus tax and gratuity! (and by the way, you not only serve yourself in the resort’s dining room, the entrees are mass-produced and sit in warming trays vs. served to order at Captain’s House Inn). Stay at any of the 11 Distinctive Inns of New England, Mt Washington Valley's Country Inns in the White Mountains or the four Historic Inns of Rockland and a full breakfast is included, served by candlelight or fireside with multiple courses.

At the Rabbit Hill Inn, for example, if you’re traveling alone, feel free to invite a colleague or friend to join you, and the second person’s breakfast is complimentary too. When is the last time your resort hotel treated your friend and you to breakfast?

Afternoon tea is another example of an additional perk offered at many DINE inns and is either not available or quite costly at equivalent resort hotels. Stay at the Cliffside Inn, Inn at Thorn Hill, Manor on Golden Pond, Captain’s House Inn Rabbit Hill Inn, Deerfield Inn or Grafton Inn and you’ll be treated to a lovely afternoon tea complete with a spread of sweet and savory treats, tea sandwiches, or homemade cookies. On Cape Cod, for example, the equivalent afternoon tea as the one Captain’s House Inn serves is offered at a nearby resort. I tried to find out the cost, but yet again I was transferred from the front desk to a dining concierge who was nowhere to be found, and I couldn’t get the answer to the question. Last time I checked it was in the $25 per person range at the resort. No need to call and ask the cost at most New England inns and B&Bs where a beautiful tea service is offered; it’s include in your stay. Afternoon refreshments, and/or snacks, beverages and even wine and beer are offered 24/7 at most B&Bs and inns with some combination of tea, coffee, homemade cookies, wine, cheese, etc. You might find this kind of refreshment in your resort hotel, but the hotel will have a price tag of $5 or more in the mini-bar most likely.

You’re probably thinking that the cost of the room is so much more at inns and B&Bs given all they offer. Again, the cost comparison shows in favor of the inn choice. A basic room at the resort near the Captain’s House Inn starts at $499 for the July date I checked versus a lovely equivalent room (however with the added benefit of a fireplace) at Captain’s House Inn for $280. I’m willing to bet that the fridge in the resort hotel will not offer up Cape Cod potato chips and bottled ice teas and juices made on the Cape, as the Captain’s House Inn’s rooms will.

I may sound a little defensive, but many innkeepers are tired of hotels touting heavenly beds when their inns have been offering them for centuries. Call a resort hotel and they’ll even quote you a “bed and breakfast” package rate. Why not simply stay at a B&B or a DINE inn and save yourself the extra cost? As they say in the B&B industry, try the Better Way To Stay.

I'm pretty sure that what’s included in your vacation accommodations does matter to most travelers, and when you compare resort hotels to DINE inns, you’ll find yourself saving upwards of $200 per day between rate differences and all the complimentary extras.

Simply put inns and B&Bs are the Better Way To Stay. If you don't believe me, click here or click on the box below and watch!

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