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Written by Michael

Winter Stare by Vonschnauzer-resized-600

People in the tourism industry refer to times of year in a different sort way than ordinary folk, especially here on Marthas Vineyard. Where you might say ‘summer’, we say ‘peak’ season. You may call them ‘spring’ or ‘fall’ but to us they are just ‘shoulder season’. These refer to our level of volume in the hotel, specifically and island-wide, in general.

After ten years in the business and six at the Colonial Inn, and having given it some thought, I personally have to break my year down differently. Spring is the ‘Anticipation’ season. After being closed for several months, I go a little stir crazy and it feels like it will be forever before we open up again and have guests to serve. (It is almost as bad as the furniture in the animated Beauty & the Beast, except I don’t sing as much as they do. It’s the ‘ennui’.) Summer shall hereby be known as ‘Madness’ season, simply due to the need to run madly about the property and the inability to form coherent thoughts. That’s how busy it feels some days. The fall, I call ‘Reprieve Season’. It is a time where the flow of guests begins to taper off slowly. While it would nice to be a little busier than we are, that is how it works at a beach-resort destination. It just naturally quiets, leading right into the final season: ‘Nostalgia season’ can strike at any time, but usually happens when our guest level drops below the number of employees we still have on hand. We usually have a ‘whoa…when did THIS happen’ moment in which we tell our staff they have some extra time off…um…Yay? That’s when I start thinking over the year and looking back and remembering some of our long-time repeat guests:

  • Brian and Lisa who come twice a year, when it’s quiet, whether they need a getaway or not!
  • Paul & Company who come for the MS Bike Tour fundraising ride in late April or early May. I have learned a lot about what makes wheel-chair accessible rooms easier to use with their patient help. (Several other wheel-chair bound guests have thanked me for those improvements to our rooms.)
  • Michael, Stacey and the boys (actual kids or photo shoot crew) who almost achieved ‘Permanent Resident’ status over the years, before they bought a place on Chappy! You know we are here for you when the power goes out over there!
  • Kevin & John visit regularly, even as busy as they must be. (I think Kevin is the only Town Mayor we have ever had in-house…)
  • Janet and Helen – together with Joanne and Evelyn form our own little book club as they exchange titles.
  • Kim & Marc and Christine & Joseph and their clans! A two-family long-weekend getaway, they have been as regular as clockwork. (They rented houses one year to accommodate their whole party…but secretly…I think they missed us too much to stay away.) How is it possible for kids to grow so much so fast?
  • Barry S. and his merry band from Maine- From reluctant bus drivers to allergic reactions…we have been through some fun bus tours!
  • Kris, Mike and the In-line skate group keep us busy and leave us their quiche from time to time!
  • Meg should bring her Adventurers back to see us, but since she still comes by just to pop in and give us updates on Little Man, Chase…we won’t nag!
  • Alan and Stephanie who 1st visited on their honeymoon and now come back with their boys, despite having a legendary air-conditioning problem on their 1st visit!

There are so many more…people we have grown to love over the years, kids we have had the privilege to watch grow into young ladies and gentlemen. We miss you when you’re gone and look forward to seeing you again soon!

So now that you know we miss you, what do you miss most about the Vineyard when you’re gone?

Photo by VonSchnauzer

 

Plan a Visit to the Martha’s Vineyard Food and Wine Festival
Where to Get the Best Pizza on Martha’s Vineyard Near Edgartown
Explore Memorable Things to Do & See in West Tisbury
Spend a Day at the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest
See the Next Big Thing at a Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival
A Guide on How to Get to Martha’s Vineyard
A Look at the History of Our Edgartown Hotel
Celebrate the Season | A Guide to Christmas in Edgartown

Bicycle by pacomexico-resized-600Recently, there was an article on this Blog, posted by CJ, concerning safety while traveling on Martha’s Vineyard. I am prompted to expand upon this theme by last month’s tragic bicycle accident in Vineyard Haven; and I speak with the perspective of having been a Military Police officer once upon a time. My purpose now is not to discuss the accident, but simply to share some of my observations with you in the hopes that they will help you and your family stay safe, while having fun on your Martha’s Vineyard vacation.

The Island is truly a magical place to visit, but this is NOT the Land of Oz with the perfectly maintained Yellow Brick Road leading wherever you could hope to visit. Similar to other places, the Island’s roads and sidewalks are susceptible to deterioration. Harsh weather and heavy usage takes its toll here as well as in your hometown, so caution is advised.  Martha’s Vineyard has many lovely and well maintained bike paths, which cyclists should utilize whenever possible.

Two days after the Vineyard Haven accident, the Park and Ride bus left my daughter and I behind at the State Road lot. Having some experience with the ebb and flow of bus, boat and traffic in getting home to Falmouth, I judged that it would not return in time to pick us up for the boat. With Kate strapped into her stroller, piggy-doll strapped in as well, we set out to walk down the hill to the boat. She soon fell asleep and I am glad she did.

We had to travel down the sidewalk where the accident had transpired. The farther I went, the harder it became to push the stroller through the inches of sand and cracked pavement that line the length of State Road. The sidewalks are in rough shape in places along this stretch and it terrified me when the stroller wheels would get into a rut in the sand and pull toward the street. It was a grim walk for me…full of sad thoughts, especially when I passed the accident site.

As a Military Police Officer on a small, family-oriented post in South Carolina, I assisted in many community seminars – some of which included bicycle safety. I can recite the rules of the road here and caution everyone to obey them, but safety starts before you take the bike out onto the road. The seminar that stuck out in my mind was the one concerning bicycle sizing.

I have seen so many cyclists riding on bicycles that I feel are too big for them. (On Thursday morning on my drive into Edgartown, a girl wobbled on her bike and fell… onto the sidewalk rather than in front of my car, but it was a close thing.) This quick and easy website helps with the steps in sizing a bike for safe usage. Scroll through the pictures and read the short descriptions. Learn the steps and know what to look for regarding your family’s safe bicycle sizing.

The bicycle rental companies on the island move hundreds (possibly thousands) of bicycles between them each day. They can find a bicycle for you that may be close to the right size, and can spend some time adjusting it to your specific body type.  But please remember…they have dozens of other customers waiting for their help, maybe not so patiently!

The final say is yours when it comes to bicycle safety. If they cannot find a size right for you, try again later on that day, or come earlier the next to spend some extra time. The Island will still be here to explore!

Image courtesy of pacomexico

Plan a Visit to the Martha’s Vineyard Food and Wine Festival
Where to Get the Best Pizza on Martha’s Vineyard Near Edgartown
Explore Memorable Things to Do & See in West Tisbury
Spend a Day at the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest
See the Next Big Thing at a Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival
A Guide on How to Get to Martha’s Vineyard
A Look at the History of Our Edgartown Hotel
Celebrate the Season | A Guide to Christmas in Edgartown

Recycling by e-magicLet’s continue the story of Greening the Colonial Inn.  If you missed Part One it’s over here.   Go ahead, I’ll wait while you catch up…

My brain hurts just compiling the factoids for this post.  My notes are scribbled and vague at best and I do NOT have a doctorate in this stuff, but it is the next step in our journey through a greener hotel.

I did contact our friend Chuck at Vineyard Bottled Waters and whined…just as I did when I wanted to get greener products in the hotel in the first place. Only this time all I could say was: I forgot all that stuff you taught me.

Luckily for me, (and by extension, you) Chuck ROCKS and gave me all this data again and in dummy-speak so that I could write an article that would NOT induce mass narcolepsy.

It seems that coffee will kill me if I drink it out of certain plastic travel mugs! My lovely coffee, Nectar of Heaven! Certain plastics (PVC (polyvinyl chloride) to be specific) will diffuse toxins into the liquid it contains.

I think we have all heard tell of such things before. Some stimulate the growth of cancers, some, such as Bisphenol-A, don’t cause cancer to grow, but they do stimulate a resistance to cancer treatments. Well, spiffy! They don’t cause it, but they make your body stop fighting it.

Most people agree that paper cups are better health-wise. We already use paper cups here! YES!

Uh…wait! What I did not know was that paper cups are coated with a layer of plastic to seal it and prevent leakage. What kind of plastic? I don’t know. There are good plastics and bad, just like cholesterol, but I don’t have the equipment to give you a work up and no lab space in the Colonial Inn pantry.

Luckily, there is a line of paper cups coated with a coating of polylactic acid made from corn instead of plastic. So…drink more coffee!

We have switched from plastic to paper bowls and plates for our continental breakfast. They are made from sugar cane and bamboo. These seasonal crops grow quickly and thus, are more eco-friendly than cups made from wood pulp from trees.

Now, on to our cleaning products. This is much more difficult in terms of understandability.

If you want the long version of the explanation which follows, here is the factsheet (PDF download).

To sum up: Greening The Cleaning® is a series of all natural cleaning supplies developed for use in medical environments to create a healthier healing environment.

100% of all profit returned to the Center and the Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer

In our search for an Eco-friendly product, we used samples of many kinds, but after our housekeepers were finished using them, they each said: “Nah!” when I asked them if the cleaners worked well.

Therefore, I straddle the finest of lines. I can’t go all Enviro-friendly if it means things don’t as clean as they can be, but the Greening The Cleaning product works great, smells great (no chemical Windexey smell from these products) and comes in a concentrate so is very affordable.  Did I mention that Chuck actually offered to drink the cleaning solution to prove how safe it is? Now there’s a guy who gets behind his products!(don’t try that at home folks!)

This is a link to some info on how they rate their product and has more sciencey words like ‘surfactants’ and ‘Nonyl Phenol Ethoxylate’ if you like that sort of thing.

Hope I have not bored you silly!  I need to find myself some coffee in a vegetatively sealed, non- Bisphenol-A rated, renewably resourced cup.

Now it’s your turn – when you travel, what do you do to make your trip a little ‘greener’?

Photo by e-magic

 

Plan a Visit to the Martha’s Vineyard Food and Wine Festival
Where to Get the Best Pizza on Martha’s Vineyard Near Edgartown
Explore Memorable Things to Do & See in West Tisbury
Spend a Day at the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest
See the Next Big Thing at a Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival
A Guide on How to Get to Martha’s Vineyard
A Look at the History of Our Edgartown Hotel
Celebrate the Season | A Guide to Christmas in Edgartown

Recycling by e-magic (1)I will attempt to walk a fine line in this article. I like our planet…I think we should keep it! It’s a ‘fixer-upper’, that’s for sure, but I’ve grown fond of it over the years. The more research I do into the realm of becoming ecologically responsible the more I feel that it could be impossible.

You will find no references to song by a certain Frog as I discuss the issue of going ‘Green’. To The Frog I will simply say ‘Ain’t that the truth, Brother!”

As a hotel manager, I make this VOW: I will do what I can to help our planet survive, but some of those steps take the involvement of our guests to be most effective.

The Colonial Inn has changed some of the ways we do our jobs over the last year and a half or so, and I will spare you the mind-numbing research in comparing and contrasting products…I will sum up the entire affair with the words ‘flaming hoops and ecologists with whips’!

We do not have an eco-manager at the Colonial Inn. We all wear many hats and there is not one person with the duty of making sure we are environmentally conscious. Each of us plays a small part of the process and we work at it during the course of our service to potential and in-house guests.

What We Have Done:

 

  • Where appropriate, incandescent light bulbs have been replaced with compact fluorescents
  • Every room in the Colonial Inn and the Edgartown Residence Club now has a small blue bin for all co-mingle recyclables.
  • The shampoos and lotion in our rooms are in recyclable packaging and they don’t need to be rinsed – our waste removal vendor told us that the small bits of shampoo and lotion left in the bottles do not damage the recycle process.
  • Every guest has a choice whether have sheets changed and towels replaced daily during their stay.  This helps reduce chemical and energy use in the laundry.
  • We are reducing our use of plastics in housekeeping by using canvas bags to tote laundry instead of large plastic garbage bags.
  • There are large co-mingle recycle bins in our lobby area and the front desk now religiously uses separate bins.
  • We now send 99% of our confirmation letters by email instead of printing and mailing (Sorry Post Office…)

 

These are some of the steps in the process. There are drawbacks to each of these systems.

There is not a day that goes by without housekeepers or managers finding food waste contaminating the recyclables. The huge white arrows forming the global symbol for ‘RECYCLE’ on bright blue bins apparently confuse some people.

To use small soaps and shampoo / lotion bottles is an effort to conserve… resources as well as our costs. These little bottles sometimes make it hard to liberate the required liquid. However, with many one-night stays, there is a lot of soap and shampoo thrown away. So…bigger bottle = easier access, easier access = waste…argh!

The canvas bags for soiled linens are no easy feat. Such a simple step to conserve plastic bags, but on a property built in 1911 there are no rolling house cleaners carts (the hallways are too narrow and have little one-step risers at random) so laundry must be hauled, not nicely rolled and dropped like larger more modern constructions. It is a little detail, but speaking as one who has done his share of laundry hauling…it is a workout. The canvas holds more and gets heavier than the plastic and with no elevator, it is all human effort to bring laundry up and down four flights of stairs each day.

These are the ‘baby steps’ of our conservation system. There are more, but this article is already overly long for a subject like this. I may have bored you all to tears!

Sadly, I plan to do it again. Look for “Going Green…Part 2- ‘Meat & Potatoes’” in which I have learned that …everything will kill you! It’s my job to make sure it kills you more slowly!

That last line made more sense in my head…

 

Plan a Visit to the Martha’s Vineyard Food and Wine Festival
Where to Get the Best Pizza on Martha’s Vineyard Near Edgartown
Explore Memorable Things to Do & See in West Tisbury
Spend a Day at the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest
See the Next Big Thing at a Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival
A Guide on How to Get to Martha’s Vineyard
A Look at the History of Our Edgartown Hotel
Celebrate the Season | A Guide to Christmas in Edgartown
Cool-Pumkin-300x225
Cool Pumkin

As I mentioned, Jim, our maintenance man, grew bored of winter island life. He decided to entertain himself by rooting around under the building for relics. Therefore, with fedora and bullwhip, he began his search for coins, arrowheads, old bottles etc.

We were not expecting him to find bones. Large bones. I’m no expert. I looked up the human skeletal system online and it looked to me like the thighbone. It had the L shaped knob that goes into the hip…
Jim found them sticking out of the side of the dig site and brought them to our attention. We called town hall first. In a town this small, everyone is going to know pretty soon so we might as well fess up.

Enter RED-Tape stage: Ron, the site supervisor for the construction company, agreed with us. He walked the bones over to the town hall and they told him to call the State Police. The State Police told us that they’d be right over to investigate. The newspaper photographer and reporter were here first.
Oh…by the way, we also needed to call the local tribe representative of the Wampanoags, the local Native American group. This whole affair made me a little nervous. Forget the scary bits…The fact that this street has had numerous ghost stories told about it, the phone call and bones…etc.
If the remains were human, the de/construction would have to stop until an investigation took place to everyone’s satisfaction. (I have a muddy ‘Slip ‘n slide” for the front yard of a hotel that was supposed to re-open in April. The LAST thing I wanted were delays!)

I feared for nothing. The Police sent the remains to the hospital for testing. The Wampanoag rep came and looked around. She gave us tips on what to look out for while further work took place and praised us for our diligence. Most people in these circumstances, she said, would have tossed the bones in the dumpster and kept on building. Forget the historical possibilities. She was going to call the newspaper and let them know how great we were…

What a let down this will be for some of you. The bones were not human bones said the hospital. They don’t know what they ARE, but they weren’t human. The newspaper made no mention of our historical uprightness of morality.

The digging recommenced the next morning and now all is right with the Colonial Inn world.

However, that doesn’t explain the phone call, does it? We may never know…

 

Plan a Visit to the Martha’s Vineyard Food and Wine Festival
Where to Get the Best Pizza on Martha’s Vineyard Near Edgartown
Explore Memorable Things to Do & See in West Tisbury
Spend a Day at the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest
See the Next Big Thing at a Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival
A Guide on How to Get to Martha’s Vineyard
A Look at the History of Our Edgartown Hotel
Celebrate the Season | A Guide to Christmas in Edgartown