Some of our rooms have televisions in them; some of them don’t. How this happened is a long, organic tale.
In days of yore (November, 2000) when we became innkeepers, television was a topic that we didn’t want to talk about. The rooms at the Auberge came equipped with small black & white portable televisions that pulled in the analog signal beamed from the top of Mt. Mansfield. When we learned the cost of wiring the inn for cable television, we decided not to upgrade. Instead we decided position ourselves as a non-television oriented inn. Our focus would be on service, hospitality, and simplicity. Our low rates would reflect that. In a town where the race toward luxury was in full swing, we comfortably settled into the spot that would become our logline: “Stowe’s most affordable B&B.”
That didn’t mean that we would turn our backs on television; we just wouldn’t make it a cornerstone of our business model. People could watch all the television they wanted at home, we reasoned. In Stowe, the attractions were outside the door. There was a television in the common room, and when a fellow innkeeper sold some televisions to us, we added them to the downstairs rooms. These were nice color sets, but the big attraction for us was that they had built-in VHS players. Guests could borrow tapes from our modest VHS library and watch a movie if they wished.
This left the two upstairs rooms without televisions at all. Even though those rooms were more expensive than the downstairs rooms, nobody seemed to mind the lack of an idiot box. When digital television arrived, we bought some converters for the downstairs sets, but still we didn’t add television to the two upstairs rooms without them. At this point, ten years into our innkeeping lives, the decision was driven more by apathy than anything else.
This December, a couple stayed with us, and they were disappointed that there wasn’t a television in their room, one of the upstairs queen rooms. It’s happened before; usually we’re able to mollify them with a shrug and an explanation of our innkeeping philosophy. But that week the hot tub--which has been in the infirmary several times already this winter--conked out. Our guests were crushed; the outdoor hot tub was one of the reasons they stayed with us. No TV, no hot tub...what good were we?
That Saturday, after returning from shopping, Chantal plunked down a box on the dining room table. “It’s a TV,” she said. “A digital, flat-screen TV.” She’d bought it at one of the discount stores on sale. That afternoon I installed it in Room 6, in hopes that the couple staying there would at least accept the TV as a gesture on our part to make their stay a positive one. They never mentioned the television that bloomed from the wall in their bedroom that day, and we didn’t ask. And though we’re still not planning to wire the inn with satellite or cable and outfit the rooms with HD flatscreens, we’re one set closer to having every room equipped with a television.