Drag my carcass out of bed for a 45 minute power walk. A few minutes out the door I begin to appreciate that I have the town to myself. Still too dark to see much, but the beauty of the houses – from tiny shotgun cottages to gingerbread mansions – is still visible in the pre-dawn light. My steps quicken as I’m waking up and approaching Centre Street with its twinkling tree lights and empty sidewalks, devoid of the happy shoppers and laid-back locals enjoying a cup of coffee, always ready to help a visitor with directions, recommendations and affirmations that “yes,” life really is this great here. They’ll come later; but now, the sidewalk is mine. I make my way toward the peaceful riverfront, enjoying the colors of a sunrise kindly shared by our beachfront neighbors on the east side of the island who got to see it moments ago.
I quietly pad along the docks being mindful of the boaters still sleeping, and whisper a hello to the fishermen getting ready for their morning charters and the marina workers just having their first cup of coffee. I scan the glasslike surface of the river for dolphins. Time to turn back toward home. This lap down Centre Street sees the town coming to life; bakeries, ice cream shops and breakfast restaurants are showing lights in the kitchens, and some artists and shopkeepers have arrived early for their own quiet time. The coffee shops and bakeries are doing an excellent job of slowing me down by sending their cinnamon-dark roast-omygodihavetohavesome goodness wafting on the island breezes. I try not to stop to pet every cat that I see… but this is hard… I remind myself that I’m on a mission and it’s time to start the workday.
6:30 Shower and SHINE:
Start feeding resident and feral cats, scan the gardens for anything ripe enough to incorporate into breakfast, then start food prep for Fairbanks House guests. Hubby, Innkeeper Bill, gets the coffee going, brings in the paper, cleans the pool and sets the porch while I get the entrée in the oven, prep the fruit course and sides. I triple check the list for any guest allergies, aversions or anniversaries. Check emails, Facebook posts and online reservations while entrée and bread are baking (filling the house with ohmygodihavetohavesome goodness), make the housekeeping chart.
7:30 – 8:00
The guests start to come down from their rooms for early coffee, directions for a jog, weather reports and a chat about last night’s dinner, questions about daily tours.
8 – 9:30:
Breakfast is served! We use this time to really chat with guests about their stay, their plans, any reservations that we can get for them for boat tours, carriage tours, dinner reservations, spa appointments, etc. We can find out if they enjoyed last night’s restaurant and make recommendations and reservations for tonight. We can also get them their boarding passes if needed and help them with their bags.
9:30 – 12:00:
We clean up from breakfast and check out guests until 11ish, and then assist our housekeepers if it’s really busy. If we have to wait for guests to check out, I answer emails and process reservations, check Google Analytics and post to our inn’s Facebook page.
12:00 – 2:00:
One of us will head out to grocery shop (or go to the Farmers Market if it’s Saturday), pick up flowers, run general errands while the other works on maintenance items or yard work, answers the phone, responds to emails and is available for concierge services – while getting rooms ready for check-in after our awesome housekeepers have cleaned them.
2:00 – 5:00:
Guests start arriving for check-in (sometimes earlier), and I start prepping food for our evening wine/ hors d’oeuvre hour and start dipping strawberries in chocolate for anyone who has ordered a Romance Package. The phones are usually active at this time of day so we always keep a portable with us wherever we are – even when we’re checking in guests or picking produce from the garden.
5:00 – 6:00:
We serve drinks and hors d’oeuvres in the living room, show our guests dinner menus from local restaurants and get them reservations if we haven’t already done that for them. If anyone has booked a carriage tour, we go out front with them and take pictures and feed the horse.
6:00 – 7:00:
We clean up from Social Hour and I start breakfast prep while Innkeeper Bill gets the coffee makers filled and sets the timers. We also make the cookies for that evening. We continue checking in later arrivals throughout the evening.
7:00 – 8:00:
Once the guests are all checked in and/ or out to dinner, it’s time for my evening walk through the Historic District, this time at a much slower pace. Town is alive; friends are walking their dogs, sitting on their porches with a glass of wine or enjoying a meal on the patio of one of our charming cafes. If time permits, we’ll join them. This is a walk filled with hellos, hugs and hearty conversation. I wallow in the soaring oaks with dripping Spanish moss. I hide from Boomer, the carriage horse, as he goes by on his rounds because, if I don’t, the tour will stop at me while he awaits a treat. I take photos of tourists who want a photo of the group while they capture a bit of our magic. This will be a slow walk, indeed. It ends on the same docks that were traversed in the first morning light, this time watching a glorious display of the final rays of sunset. The morning walk is for the heart; the evening walk is for the soul.