Posts Tagged ‘amenities’

Bed and breakfast offers guests a taste of farm living

Saturday, June 4th, 2011
Wednesday May 25, 2011
Bed and breakfast offers guests a taste of farm living
VIDEO: Ponderosa Lodge Farm and Bed and Breakfast in Lookout, WV offers a way for people to get back to nature, relax and learn about self sufficiency.
Daily Mail Staff

Craig Cunningham
Intern Rhianna Twomey, 18, of Portland, Maine, leads the way down the stairs to a rabbit hutch at the Ponderosa Lodge Farm Bed and Breakfast in Lookout, Fayette County. Twomey is followed by intern Emily Landis, 25, of Washington, D.C. Another intern, Sydney Cole, 20, of Portland, Maine, awaits the pair at the bottom of the stairs.

LOOKOUT – Guests at the Ponderosa Lodge, Farm and Bed and Breakfast can certainly take advantage of the serene mountain retreat to rest and relax, but the Fayette County lodge offers much more than picturesque vistas.

Guests can peruse the farm, work in the multitude of gardens or even help feed and water animals.

Ken Toney and his wife, Jorene Soto, moved to the lodge from the Washington, D.C., area in May 2005 hoping to find a place where they could escape the hectic pace of city life. And that’s what they found in the hills outside Fayetteville along U.S. 60.

The couple immediately fell in love with the 40-year-old lodge that had previously served as a bed and breakfast as well as a zoo in the 1970s, Toney said. And instead of using the place as a retreat for themselves exclusively, they decided to invite others to enjoy it.

“We bought this place to run as a bed and breakfast,” Toney said. “We always had the goal to turn it into a farm and group retreat.”

They wasted no time in attracting guests who wanted a little taste of what it’s like to live on a working West Virginia farm. The first patrons stayed at the lodge a couple of weeks after the couple arrived.

They rent the entire facility rather than by the room. Organizations such as church groups and corporations often rent the lodge for group retreats as do families wanting to secure the place for reunions, Toney said.

The lodge has 10 bedrooms and can sleep 32. A “great hall” where friends and family can gather is also available in the 10,000-square-foot facility.

A full kitchen is available, Toney said. Guests may do their own cooking or hire the couple to prepare meals.

The lodge has modern amenities such as wireless Internet service and cable television, and a nearby tower provides cell phone service to the area, Toney said. However, guests rarely spend their time hanging around the lodge using their computers or watching television.

That is because there is so much to do outside. The lodge sits on 16 acres of land just off the Midland Trail.

There is a large garden and smaller herb garden on the lodge grounds. Another large garden is about six miles down the road.

There are also fruit trees, strawberry beds and blackberry, raspberry and blueberry bushes. Animals such as goats, cattle and even turkeys can also be found.

“Most people come for the farm,” Toney said. “They want to get back to nature.”

And so far the educational experience offered at the lodge has generated a lot of interest, Toney said.

People staying at the lodge often work in the garden or help Toney take care of the animals, he said. They also like to walk through the woods or just sit on the porch and take in the sights.

“This is a safe place for parents to bring their kids and sit on the porch and watch them look at the animals or walk through the garden,” Toney said. “It’s very relaxing.”

Guests also can learn to garden or can vegetables, Toney said. Produce raised on the farm feeds guests and Toney’s family, he said. The produce is raised organically and the meat served on his table comes from the animals on his land.

A Note from Mary White

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

A Note from Mary White

Hotels have B&Bs beat when it comes to taking advantage of Internet marketing … or do they? True, they have infringed on our territory – brands from the Four Seasons to Hampton Inns are offering complimentary breakfast and an abundance of amenities, hallmark features of a bed & breakfast getaway – however, I believe there is still plenty of room to compete.

When I started BnBFinder in 1998 the Internet was about to become the great equalizer, the chance for B&Bs to be on a level playing field with hotels because of a cost effective advertising vehicle (a website) to get the word out about our properties. Our industry has changed a great deal because of the Internet and the benefits have not come to an end.

Our agility and individuality are some of the advantages that we should seize. As a small business owner you can make a decision right now and implement it immediately, you’ll never be held up by corporate bureaucracy. You can provide a truly personal experience for your guest, something even a 5 star hotel will have trouble rivaling. You frequently know ahead of time, or are the first to know, when couples become engaged and can add an extra touch such as champagne at breakfast or a mug from your inn as a remembrance of their engagement. You also have the advantage of deciding on the spot what to do, based on guests’ personalities, making the gesture more meaningful than a canned, corporate response. Beyond the special touches, guests would have to stay at a very high-end hotel to experience the type of concierge service offered at most B&Bs. Innkeepers are in the know about the best spots, restaurants, and local secrets.

As a result of your agility and individuality, I believe your “Internet message” should always convey the value and experience that your B&B offers. Your advertising should start with the premise that your B&B is more than just a place to sleep; that to stay at a B&B is to wakeup someplace special; that B&Bs are a better way to stay. This means something different for every inn, so how do you use the Internet to convey this?

Good photos are essential. We had wonderful feedback on Melissa Giannelli’s article on photos of your inn in last month’s newsletter. Does your marketing (website, blog, newsletter, directory listings, etc) show your breakfast, amenities, and area activities? Keep it simple and appealing and when it applies, flaunt it!

Video tells your story and conveys the experience far better than words. No longer do you have to be able to shoot and edit video clips or hire a high priced videographer to have great video for your website. Programs, such as Photo Story 3, make it easy to assemble photographs into high quality, engaging video. I created the video below in less than an hour after one webinar taught by Acorn Internet. (If you’re not an Acorn customer you can sign up for their webinar series by contacting The video class was originally offered as a “test” beta-class, and will be worked into the class schedule later this year.)

Don’t forget Social Media. At a recent HSMAI (Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International) panel discussion, revenue managers were asked how to judge the return on investment (ROI) of their social media efforts. I listened closely for this answer, as this is a question I am frequently asked by innkeepers. Interestingly, many chain hotels have not embraced social media as a format for engaging guests. It’s not that they don’t want to, but because of the priority of other corporate tech projects or because of the personal message necessary to engage in social media, they are unable to approach this medium with the agility that countless B&Bs have.

As an Innkeeper you can always be thinking about what makes your inn special and how to convey that in whatever form of Internet marketing you use. It’s a privilege and a pleasure to promote your inn and as always I value your feedback.

P.S.: I will be at the Northwest Innkeeping Trade Show & Conference April 4-6, in Portland Oregon. If you’re at the conference, make sure you stop by the booth and say hello!

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