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What Do You Do All Winter?

blog24We hope your holidays were great. We enjoyed a few “family days” over Christmas, celebrated John Shell’s (Lainey’s dad) 80th birthday, and then closed up the inn after the Polar Express completed its run on December 30. Turns out, we closed just in time. As you are certainly well aware, winter has hit with a fury. We have already had several snow falls, and now are experiencing plunging temperatures. We usually take a while to close and winterize the buildings, but not this year.

With temps getting down into the teens and wind chills much lower than that, we immediately drained all the water pipes and winterized all the rooms as soon as we could. It is still bitterly cold and looks like it will stay that way for a bit. Time to put another log on the fire.

To some our guests, we seem to have an ideal job. We work hard for nine months and then close completely for three months. What a life. Then the question arises…What do you do all winter? The answer comes in four words:

1) Rest- The first thing we do is just simply rest. By the end of our season, all of us are exhausted. I often tell folks that we nothing we do here is especially hard, it is just about the time. We are always open, including weekends or evenings. The days are long, starting around 7:30 in the morning and usually lasting until around 11:00 that night.

We don’t mind. We love our work, love the folks that come, and enjoy serving and visiting with them. It is just that we get few breaks and the end of our season is the busiest. October is the most popular time with lots of folks coming to see the mountains in full fall color.

Then we turn our attention to the Polar Express Christmas train excursion for families that begins in early November and runs through December 31. It has been a blessing for us, but is more demanding. The reservations are more detailed and complicated since we are making train reservations as well as room reservations. Most reservations are usually for just one night, so there is a lot of daily turnover. By the time the last guest leaves, we are leg weary and tired. It’s just nice to have some time to recuperate.

2) Host – Even though we close the inn for regular business during the winter months, we will open for special events such as retreats, get aways, or family reunions. If we can get a group of at least 25 folks, we will gladly open our doors for them. Our first group of the winter will be coming January 29-30. As soon as this cold snap ends, we will open the buildings back up, prepare menus, order food, and welcome our guests . It is a lot of fun. If your family, Sunday School class, group of friends are looking for a winter get away, let us know. We have room this winter and would love to host your group. (It is a great winter price too)

3) Plan – Winter is also the time we do our planning for the upcoming year and beyond. That is especially important this year. Our business, like so many others, is faced with many challenges due to the downturn in the economy. We have to operate more efficiently, market better, and respond more quickly to the changes in our market. We must be able to communicate faster and be ready to change direction mid-season if necessary. Our planning time is probably the most significant and productive task of the winter.

4) Repair and Refurbish – There is always a list of things we want and need to do here to keep the rooms in good repair. Our winter list is always longer than our time to do the tasks.

We like to tell folks that our winters are like your weekends. You rest some, have friends over occasionally , catch up on maintenance and yard work, and plan for the next week. We just cram all the weekends we missed during the season into the wintertime.

We hope your winter is a great one. We will be in touch with you soon about the next season. We are enjoying our quiet time, but are already looking forward to warmer days, fresh spring growth, and wildflowers.

They will be here before you know it. We are here to take your calls all winter.

— Mort