Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Keep cool!

One thing I especially would like to do with this blog is highlight big and small efforts we are continually making to upgrade and enhance your experience when you visit the Shafer Baillie Mansion. Some of these are almost invisible, despite being major in terms of cost and effort.

For example, the first summer we reopened the bed and breakfast after buying the Mansion and restoring it for a year and a half, we had about a week of that rarest Seattle weather phenomenon-- truly uncomfortably hot. Typical Seattle summers may see some days hitting the upper 80's or low 90's, but generally not very many days in a row and always cooling off nicely at night. Air conditioning remains unusual in Seattle houses. But that week of solid 90+ degree days, we could see we needed to have a plan for those rare occasions, so we installed seasonal window air conditioning units in each of our guest rooms on the second floor. These units served our guests quite adequately for that summer and the next two.

But as we began planning renovations on the third floor to add our three new guest rooms (see my earlier blog post about those), we wanted a more elegant solution to the hot-weather problem, especially because most of the third floor windows are casement-style and do not accommodate window air conditioners as readily as the double-hung windows on the second floor. Therefore, we decided to install central air conditioning for the second and third floors.

Now, stop and consider for a moment that we're talking about a huge, nearly century-old house that uses hot water radiators for heat-- in other words, no preexisting air ducts. And, it's in daily operation as a busy B&B with no opportunity to close down for several weeks of installation.

Suffice it to say it wasn't simple and it wasn't cheap, but Fred and his crew from Good Services Heating and Air Conditioning have experience working with retrofits to old houses like ours and they were up to the challenge. In addition to air conditioning, they have also installed an "economizer" unit on the roof to save energy by drawing cool outside air into the house once the ambient temperature drops in the evening, which it almost always does in Seattle.

We really do believe that only the best is good enough for our guests and we look forward to a comfortable summer in the Mansion, whatever Mother Nature may have in store!

Mark

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Meet Brenda!

Remember last time when I said the biggest news around the Mansion these days is our 3 new guest rooms on the third floor, opening in mid-May? So maybe I lied, a little. The really, truly, honestly biggest news is the latest addition to the Mansion team, our new fulltime innkeeper, Brenda Mallonee!

Brenda hails most recently from Athens, Georgia, and brings a heaping helping of Southern hospitality with her to Seattle. She's been in love with the Pacific Northwest for about a decade now, and for years has been threatening to take early retirement from her career with the Georgia juvenile justice system to come work with us. So finally we called her bluff, and here she is! In fact, since among her many other talents she holds a degree in journalism and communications, I fully intend to rope her into being a frequent contributor to Mansion Musings.

If you see more fresh-baked items appearing in our breakfast spread, thank Brenda's passion for cooking. And if the Mansion grounds seem to be coming to life in a whole new way, that would be her gardening passion! From time to time you may see the table graced with the products of her pottery passion. This blog will likely highlight her photography passion. But most of all there is her people passion, which you will recognize immediately when she greets you at the door or on the telephone. We're already hearing rave reviews from our guests and I know you'll agree.

In addition to her primary responsibilities in day-to-day care for our guests, Brenda is also already having an impact in improving our wedding and event operations, and she is excited to be the point person for concerts and shows in our downstairs perfomance space, the Speakeasy. She brings many years of contacts in the music industry with her, so you may be surprised at some of the faces appearing in our humble little venue in the months ahead!

I could go on to tell you all about Brenda's teammate, Glenn, who will join us in May just in time for the opening of our new rooms. But I'll save that for closer to the date.

You may be wondering what is becoming of Ana Lena and Mark. Not to worry! We remain as intimately involved as ever with all facets of the Mansion operation on a daily basis. So when you come visit us you won't be missing out on old friends, just making a new one!

Mark

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The new Shafer Baillie Mansion Bed and Breakfast blog!

Welcome to the new Shafer Baillie Mansion blog! We'll keep you up to date with what is happening at the Mansion and in our area.

The biggest news is our new rooms! Beginning in mid-May we will be opening three new guest rooms on the third floor of the Mansion (the existing 5 rooms and suites are on the second floor). Since these new rooms were originally part of the Mansion's grand third floor ballroom, converted to bedrooms and bathrooms in the 1950's, we have named them the Central Ballroom, Southwest Ballroom, and Southeast Ballroom. Although the ballroom's vaulted, lighted ceiling was put in storage in the attic decades ago, these rooms include many other original architectural details of the ballroom such as archways and window seats. All of them have been freshly renovated to bring them up to Mansion standards for guest rooms. These rooms are larger than our second-floor queen size rooms (Capitol Hill, Queen Anne Hill, and Volunteer Park Rooms) but have the same rates ($149 April-October and holidays, $139 other months). The new rooms are all carpeted, and all have newly-renovated bathrooms with heated period-style tile floors.

The Central Ballroom has a pair of side-by-side queen-size beds and a private bath with shower and tub combination. It has the most expansive view of any of our guest rooms.

The Southwest Ballroom has a king-size bed and a queen-size sleeper sofa. The private bath has a walk-in shower.

The Southeast Ballroom has a king-size bed and a twin-size daybed. The freshly-updated private bath has a shower and tub combination.

Although these rooms are not yet pictured on our website (as they are still in the final decorating stage) they are available for booking on our availability page.

We know that an extra flight of stairs is daunting to some of our guests but others will find it a win-win-- free exercise and spacious rooms at a great rate! Keep an eye on our Rooms page for pictures of the new rooms as they become available!

Mark