Hill House Operations
Most guests are curious about Hill House’s operational model, perhaps more than usual, because it’s one of the few B&Bs not run by a single person and not a couple.
Bed and Breakfasts began as an extension of a couple’s primary residence, with breakfast being prepared out of the hosts’ personal kitchen and socializing taking place in their living room. This still is the model in Great Britain and Ireland, but in the US and Canada, most hosts have their own living quarters, often in a separate building on the property. (State and/or local laws generally require onsite residence.) Many of these B&Bs have only one host for whom operations are his/her primary employment, with the partner having full-time work elsewhere.
After a year of living and working at Hill House, I took a two-week vacation and my assistant innkeepers, Crystal Barnwell and Nat Allister, ran the show. When I returned I quickly decided I coudn’t continue working and living on the property and both keep my sanity and my health with the incessant time demands. And I realized that if I were to become sick or injured for any length of time, Hill House couldn’t function without a functional person living on the property.
So I moved to a condo 3/4 mile away and hired a resident manager couple, Katie Nagel and Joe Gill. They have light duties after 3;30 five days a week, and I hold the fort the other two days in the office. So now Crystal and Nat alternate days, arriving between 7:00 and 8:00 each morning and keep the workflow going throughout the day. I come in most every morning between 8:00 and 9:00, and help get breakfast out and the daily cleaning underway, and spend a couple hours in paperwork. I usually leave around lunch time, work some more from home in the afternoon and/or run errands, and Nat or Crystal manage the inn and do project work, and then hand off to Katie or Joe at 3:30. On busy weeks, either Nat or Crystal work an extra day.
It’s seeming to work for us.