Guests Feel at Home in Family B&B

Tourism, Culture and Heritage (To Jan. 7)

June 2, 2006 4:14 PM

NOTE: The following is a feature story on Truro bed and breakfast owner Anne McDonah prepared for Tourism Week, June 5-11, by the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage.

Cosy rooms and scrumptious homemade breakfasts make bed and breakfast accommodations a favourite for many travellers. At the Belgravia Bed and Breakfast in Truro, the whole family helps make guests feel at home during their stay.

Owners Anne and D'Arcy McDonah moved their young family to Truro, prepared their new 100-year-old home for guests, and got their accommodations license in March 2003. They named their B&B for the original name of the street where it is located.

"I grew up in Truro, and wanted to move back here," says Anne, who holds a tourism and hospitality degree from Mount Saint Vincent University. "I've also always wanted to have a B&B. I thought I'd open one when I retired, but it turns out to be a great way to stay home with my kids and run a business that I love."

While they have a private part of the house where the children can play, guests enjoy spending time with the whole family.

"Lots of people seem to enjoy children and pets. We had a couple from New York tell us that they felt like they were visiting a favourite family, not just a B&B," Anne says. "I think our guests feel more at home here because this isn't just a house -- it's the home of a loving family.'

The Belgravia is open all year and attracts many tourists as well as business travellers. Anne notes that many of their repeat customers are business women.

Anne and D'Arcy do everything they can to make their guests comfortable.

"We give our guests a tour of our home, offer them coffee or tea and help them get settled in," Anne says. "We make ourselves available without crowding them."

Anne treats all guests to breakfast including fresh fruit, muffins and dishes like eggs Florentine. She's always ready to meet different dietary requirements. When they know about a special occasion like a birthday or anniversary, the owners give a two-glass size bottle of Jost wine to the special guests.

The couple stays abreast of local activities and attractions to help guests plan their trips.

"I think a lot of people choose B&B accommodations because they want the inside scoop on the best places to go and things do to and see," says Anne. "We aim to meet their expectations. We always keep a supply of maps and give guests a range of options that we think they'll enjoy."

Anne notes that they never put a "no vacancy" sign in front of their home.

"Even if we don't have vacancies, we encourage visitors to come in because we're in touch with other accommodations in the area and can often make referrals," she says. "People often arrive at the end of the day and they're tired, so we don't want to discourage them with a "no vacancy" sign when we can actually help them find a room."

Owners of inns, B&Bs and other similar accommodations in Truro email each other every morning to advise of vacancies.

"We're all very supportive of each other," Anne says. "We help each other while also helping visitors. We also try to meet for dinner a couple of times a year to share our experiences and learn from each other."

Anne's customer focused approach is in line with Nova Scotia's tourism plan for 2006. The plan is developed by the joint industry-government Tourism Partnership Council. It is based on extensive research and designed to expand the tourism industry in Nova Scotia. It is available on the website at www.gov.ns.ca/dtc. .

Tourism is a $1.29 billion industry in Nova Scotia employing 33,000 people.

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Media Contact: Adèle Poirier
              Tourism, Culture and Heritage
              902-424-4819
              E-mail: poiriea@gov.ns.ca