October 8, 1996 — that was the date my late husband, Steve, and I became the owners/stewards of The Rookwood Inn. This is my story of our inntroduction to innkeeping – – our inncredible first week as innkeepers. Happy 19th Anniversary to me!
On October 6, we packed up most of our belongings from our house in Lansdowne, PA and set out on our journey to Lenox, MA and The Rookwood Inn. So began our move from PA to MA and our lives as innkeepers.
We arrived at the inn with a car towing a U-Haul driven by Steve accompanied by our daughter, Nina. I followed with my car and daughter, Maya, with our four cats. Our dear friend, Liz, brought up the rear in her loaded to the gills car.
During our five plus hour drive from PA, Maya and I were serenaded by a meow symphony — no match for the BSO and Tanglewood!
When we arrived in the Berkshires, Maya and I went straight to a kennel to drop the cats off until we closed on the inn and settled into our apartment.
On Monday morning after breakfast, we left the full house of guests, and Steve and I went to closing. Liz took our girls to find pumpkins.
Closing went smoothly and we returned to the inn that afternoon as the new innkeepers. That evening we again had a full house of guests including a large group of hikers who checked-in that afternoon.
Liz left for her home in New Jersey on Tuesday in the middle of a nor’easter. That evening we lost power! We searched the inn for candles but didn’t find any. So I grabbed the girls and the three of us set off to find the supermarket.
Steve stayed at the inn to help guests and begin breakfast preparations. After buying all of the votives in the supermarket, we returned to the inn. Boy do I wish there were smart phones with cameras in those days! We walked into the kitchen and found Steve with a flashlight between his teeth and a whisk in his hands prepping breakfast! What a sight!
As customary, on Wednesday when the hikers were checking out, we held aside the Williams Suite so they could shower and change before leaving. Everything was going smoothly until we got word that there was a woman locked in the Suite’s bathroom because the doorknob fell off!
Steve grabbed a ladder and helped the woman out through the window. (Again, a missed photo opportunity!) He then climbed into the bathroom through the window, fixed the doorknob and we were almost ready to greet the next group of guests (of course, after the room and bath were cleaned).
Lest you think this was the end of our inauguration as innkeepers, our first week wasn’t quite over and neither were the challenges.
Friday was a full turnover of guests and a full house coming in. We had brought the cats to the inn on Wednesday and they seemed to be adjusting well. Our veterinarians had suggested that we not allow them outside for at least two weeks so they could fully acclimate to to their new surroundings.
That evening as guests were arriving, I was sitting at my desk and looking at what I thought was a reflection of our Ashley (the white cat) in the window. What I didn’t realize for a while was that the window was open and I was seeing her sitting on the railing outside.
When I realized, I tried to grab her but she ran away. I ran outside to tell Steve who was directing guests to park. He had his flashlight and looked a lot like an airport runway attendant. (Later some of our guests affectionately referred to Steve as the “Parking Nazi” for the way he directed traffic. However, when he was in charge of parking, we never had guests parking on the walkway or blocking the front entrance or driveways — something to be said for the “Parking Nazi.”)
After the guests were parked, Steve and I, with flashlights in hand, crept around the perimeter of the building whispering Ashley’s name. We didn’t want to wake or disturb guests who might have been asleep at 11:30. Finally she came to us and allowed us to bring her in.
As many of you might remember, Ashley was the queen of The Rookwood for many years. She loved our guests and their attention and was often found being pet and loved on the front porch.
What a first week we had and what memories it made! Driving to the grocery store surrouded by the Berkshire hills afire with the most spectacular fall foliage made mundane tasks enjoyable. Nineteen years later I am still sure that I live in God’s country.
I am so very grateful for the experiences I have had with Steve and my daughters here, and for the friends, family and guests who have come and stayed with us and shared their time at The Rookwood.
I am very grateful for the wonderful women who make up Team Rookwood — Chris, Mel, Jen, Kali, Lana — and the others who served along the way. I look foward to seeing what the future brings as I embark on the beginning of my twentieth year as innkeeper of The Rookwood Inn!
I’m looking forward to seeing you here soon. The Rookwood Inn is where memories are made — I hope you’ve enjoyed sharing some of mine.