The New Normal in the COVID-19 Lodging
Over the last week at the Ringling House Bed & Breakfast, we have gone from creating bookings and turning people away because we do not have any rooms available, to an empty house. From one person running the Bed & Breakfast with some staff, to having my recently laid off partner at home helping. So by empty, we mean we don’t have any guests in our guest rooms.
Therefore for us, there are no worries that we will catch the virus from traveling guests, but there is a lot of worry, that at some point we will not be able to pay our bills. We also understand the fear of our guests that are calling to cancel their stay, either the event that they were coming for has been cancelled, that they no longer want to travel via public transport, and are self-quarantining, afraid to leave their house – much less travel anywhere. Their workplace may have closed, or have been laid off and have no income. When calling to cancel a reservation, many of our customers have taken a refund in the form of a gift certificate, which helps us immensely. Thank you to those that have chosen that option!
Needless to say, this pandemic has created a lot of fear. Here at the Ringling House Bed & Breakfast we have decided that we need to change the way we do some things, some by choice, others by mandate. We hope to get people coming back to Baraboo after this “quarantine” ends, because, people are people, and they are still going to be scared. I guess we will characterize these changes as the “New Normal”.
Fewer People in a Bed & Breakfast
First of all, a Bed & Breakfast is small. we only have 6 rooms, and could have a maximum of 12 people in the house at a time. Much less than the standard hotel, and therefore, much less chance of catching the contagion.
Check in changes
We are asking guests to wear masks upon check in and around the common area’s of the house. We are also asking guest to wait at the back door until we open it for them, to give us time to check in one guest, before bringing in another.
Our breakfast is typically served family style in our dining room at Henry Ringling’s dining room table. Now, per the Wisconsin mandate #72, we now will be delivering breakfast to peoples rooms, serving on the front porch or dining room, with a staggered start time, and distancing everyone more than 6 feet apart.
In lieu of the wine and cheese happy hour on the weekend, we will be bringing people a “mini bottle” of wine or champagne and/or a snack to their room.
Baraboo also has many restaurants that have curbside pick up now or dining inside/outside with social distancing in mind, outside of the breakfast that is served here at the Bed & Breakfast. You can pick up your dinner, and eat it in a mansion! How’s that for the new normal?
We are not only cleaning the rooms, but going through and sanitizing any surface that would frequently be touched like remotes, keys, faucets, light switches, chair arms, etc, in between each guest change. We also have disinfecting wipes placed around the house for people to use before/after touching something.
We want to be sure that our guests are not only comfortable with our amenities, but with our sanitation methods when they are ready to travel again. This will be the “New Normal” for us until the virus threat has significantly tapered off.
What’s to do?
The good thing about Baraboo are so many outdoor areas and parks to explore. It’s easy to practice “social distancing” while enjoying the great outdoors. Indoors, we also have many games you can borrow and play inside your room or another area in our elegant home. Our rooms are all equipped with internet-enabled smart TV’s, and our music rooms is equipped with several musical options. So, come experience the fun part of travel!
Coupled with our naturally limited occupancy levels, enhanced sanitation procedures, modified breakfast options, and multiple entertainment selections, we hope you will consider the Ringling House Bed & Breakfast as a safe and comfortable lodging option!
Julie Hearley & Stuart Koehler
Innkeepers, Ringling House Bed & Breakfast.