Looking for Something More
I was tired of the Tupperware parties, and Amway hadn’t made me rich as promised. I wanted to be home with my children, but I also needed to something more with my time. I didn’t realize that “something more” would turn into something so big – 20 Years of Hatcher Pass B&B.
In March 1997, Hatcher Pass Bed and Breakfast came into my life. It was a work in progress to be sure. At the time, the bed and breakfast had been closed and the cabins had been used mainly as storage on the property. A rag and mop were my dear friends that spring and I quickly grew muscles moving things here and there to get the deep clean ready for the coming season. My then husband added water, bathrooms, and kitchens to the cabins to make them ready for our first season. It was a labor of love to be sure that first season and the hard work paid off.
My Very First Guests Arrive June, 1997
Nervous, excited, and anxious to make everything perfect were my feelings those first weeks in operation when my first guests arrived at the bed and breakfast. Those initial guests had to shower in the house as the hot water had not been hooked up yet. They didn’t mind at all. The breakfasts went off without a hitch and the cabins were perfect for our first guests.
For a little while I cooked full hot breakfasts for guests in the house. With children at home I soon realized the juggling of motherhood with getting breakfast on the table was two full time jobs. I really didn’t have that much time.
Breakfast has evolved over the years – I started delivering full breakfasts on trays to the little cabins between the hours of 8 and 8:30 a.m. each day. I did that for several years. My family benefited from some lovely morning breakfasts as well, a definite side perk of the job.
Going for the Grande Cabins
In 2001, after several successful seasons, the two grande cabins were built by Timberline Sawmill. To accommodate the growing accommodations, breakfast changed again to a CYOB (cook your own breakfast) in each cabin. This was the best decision for the B&B as it allowed for the more independent travellers we serve to not be beholden to any schedule. If guests want to eat at 6 a.m. they are able to and if they want to enjoy a leisurely morning and have their breakfast at 10 a.m. that works as well.
Change is the Only Constant in Life
I’ve run the B&B by myself since 2005. That year I entered a new phase – children all gone from home and newly divorced. I had a lot of fear and self doubt that year. At the heart of it was a desire to provide excellent service to my guests. Could I do it alone? I knew in my heart that I loved sharing this beautiful place with others. With that bolstering me, I believed I would make it. With the help of many good workers and a strong belief in what I offer I have continued on supporting myself for the past twelve years.
The Different Advertising Styles in Twenty Years
Advertising styles throughout the time I have owned the cabins has changed dramatically. What a joy to be a part of this crazy ride from print material advertising being king to the smart phones, Trip Advisor, Google, and others in this arena being king of advertising.
When I started in 1997 – rack cards at the Visitor Center in Palmer was the first order of business to make sure that I would get some guests. Internet advertising was not even in the picture for me – on the horizon, but my first web site would not happen until the winter of 2000. Print advertising and a strong local bed and breakfast association were still my best means of booking guests.
The past ten plus years, bed and breakfast associations have basically gone by the wayside, and the internet is the trump in the advertising world. Google often changes the playing rules and for a small business it can be a daunting task to keep up with the job of marketing. Thankfully I have many return guests and locals that don’t have room for their visiting friends and relatives who send their family and friends to stay here.
The Honor of Running and Owning 20 Years of Hatcher Pass B&B
I have loved this business and poured my heart and soul into it. Over the years, I have learned to wear so many hats – plumber, cook, marketing agent, problem solver, travel agent, and on and on. It has been a privilege and an honor to meet wonderful people from all over the world. I have often wanted to jump in visitor’s suitcases and travel off with them to their homeland as there are so many fascinating places I want to visit in this world. It has also been so wonderful to hear people speak in awe of this beautiful State and share pictures and stories of the animals, mountains, glaciers, fish and other amazing Alaskan treasures they have seen across this land. I always feel a sense of great pride when guests comment on how nice Alaskans are to them. I want that to remain – Alaskans serving up the hospitality to people traveling to this great State.
So as spring is in full bloom in Alaska, and the high season will soon be upon us, I look forward to sharing more about Alaska with new and returning guests this spring and summer. I also am eager to celebrate 20 years of business and look forward to what lies ahead for Hatcher Pass Bed and Breakfast.