Thursday, December 16, 2010

An Interview with Linda and Brian MacKenzie, Inn at Pleasant Lake

Inn at Pleasant Lake
1-800-626-4907 | Pleasant St., New London, NH
Relax in our elegant ten room inn overlooking Pleasant Lake and Mt. Kearsarge. Gourmet Dining.

An Interview with Linda and Brian MacKenzie
Linda and Brian have owned the Inn of Pleasant Lake for 14 and half years. Linda lived and worked in the hospitality field in Colorado, New York State and Virginia. Charlottesville, Virginia was where she learned inn reservations and other aspects of running an inn with a fine dining restaurant. Brian after attending university he worked in hospitality in Colorado, then attended the Culinary Institute of America. His first job out of CIA was at an upscale inn in Charlottesville, VA. After a year and a half in Charlottesville they bought The Inn at Pleasant Lake.

Linda and Brian's favorite thing about owning a Country Inn is their daily routine, which goes beyond the guest rooms, guest service and breakfast. Linda says, "We also incorporate into the daily mix our fine dining dinner service. When looking at the whole daily routine, We find that our favorite one thing is basically making our guests happy. Not only just happy, they tend to leave totally relaxed by the inn and its surroundings. A stay at the inn can be mentally and physically therapeutic by removing people from the hustle and bustle of their everyday lives."

Linda says, "We were looking to open a fine dining restaurant and preferred to purchase in a country location in New England versus a large city. To make the financials work in this type of demographic we figured it would make sense to do both an inn and fine dining restaurant. Our goal was to turn our inn into Destination Dining where guests would want to come for the food and extend the experience by staying over in a guest room."

Brian and Linda comment that most challenging about running a B&B is the transient nature of staff in their industry, although they have been lucky to have many great staff stay for many years and they supplement their busy times with additional support staff. Linda says, "Still there is a steady in and out of part-time help that can be challenging to manage."

"Time off can be elusive, " Linda mentions, "But we do try to schedule time away from the inn. In these times we enjoy doing things with our children. We enjoy the lake during the summer and snow sports in the winter. Our lives are really full so a nap always sounds great, but is rarely available."

Linda handles the marketing, payroll, wine list and ordering, bills, the ordering of supplies for guest rooms and the gift case, and décor changes and assists Brian when needed in reservations, with weddings and wait staff.
Brian is the executive chef, handles all ordering for the restaurant, catering agreements, restaurant staff, is the manager on premise and is responsible for anything that comes up. He handles broken things, guest relations, cooking, and much, much more.

The inn is located on Pleasant Lake and has a sandy beach for their guests to use and swim from. The inn supplies two canoes, one double kayak and a rowboat for guest use. A short walk from the inn is the entrance to a great hiking trail system offering easy, moderate and challenging hikes. New London has a nice mix of shops and is home to The New London Barn Playhouse which does summer stock theater.

Linda comments, "Many people come for a vacation or to visit people who live locally. We get many guests attending weddings at our inn or other nearby wedding sites. We get a good amount of parents from the local colleges and boarding schools and we have some customers who come for business."

From check in to check out Linda and Brian try to meet the guest's needs. They provide an afternoon tea each day of their stay and a hearty breakfast. They also have coffee and water available at all times and Wifi and a guest computer for those interested in those amenities. Some of the rooms have whirlpool tubs. They spend a lot of time on the gardens and making their grounds beautiful and peaceful.

The inn attracts all kinds of guests. They do weddings, they accept children so they have a lot of families too. Linda says, "The baby boomers are a big segment of our market as well, but truly it is a pretty good mix of all ages which keeps us competitive in our location."

Linda says that she would say to people who have never stayed in a bed and breakfast before that she would encourage them to try it and notice that a stay in an inn is much more memorable than staying in a routine hotel room. She adds, "Many of the little extras such as WIFI and snacks are included in the rate. It has a homelike feel with sitting rooms and a home cooked breakfast."

Linda feels that their B&B is different from other B&B because they cater to customers that want to enjoy a full breakfast, afternoon tea and the availability of an amazing prix-fixe dinner. They pride themselves on consistency and cleanliness. The inn is their career and they run it very professionally gauging the guests needs for interaction or privacy.

The Inn's signature dish's are their frittata or their Baked French toast get rave reviews at breakfast.
Their prix-fixe dinner is a very special evening featuring a soup, followed by a salad, an entremezzo to cleanse the palate, a choice of entrée and then dessert. Many of their guests have them at the top of their list of favorite dinners of all the places they've traveled in the world. They love that compliment!