At B&B, It's All About Details
Encouraged But It's Not Mandatory At The Westbrook Inn
WESTBROOK INN in Westbrook prides itself on attention to detail and providing
guests with extras like homemade chocolate chip cookies or towels they can take
to the nearby beach. (MARC-YVES
REGIS I / October 8, 2007)
Special to The Courant
make the difference - a newspaper available on a window seat, lace doilies
covering a marble-top table, a subtle floral scent in the air and
just-loud-enough classical music in the dining room.
Then there are the extras - a glass jar of home-baked chocolate chip cookies, a
crystal decanter of cream sherry, a platter of cheeses, a casserole dish of
hot-from-the-oven chili dip.
Guests who lugged suitcases through the door of the Westbrook Inn on a Saturday
evening in the middle of a long holiday weekend shook off I-95's traffic or a
day of airport delays. That's why inn owner Christine Monroe said the details
and the extras are so important.
She and her
husband, Glenn, want to treat their guests the way they hope they are treated as
travelers. So, whether it's the spicy scent of freshly baked muffins in the
morning or a crackling fireplace on a chilly evening, the inn's atmosphere aims
to comfort and calm.
On a recent evening when all the inn's 10 rooms were reserved, cars pulled into
the driveway from New Jersey and New York, filling the small parking lot near
the green Victorian-style inn on Route 1.
Inside, the inn bustled with check-in hubbub, with one guest carrying a suitcase
up a staircase and another whisking an ice bucket for a pre-dinner bottle of
white wine through a hallway. Kaila Kilpatrick, one of the inn's employees, was
busy pointing out the building's highlights and some necessary information:
enter via the back door at night and note the hours when the dining room will
fill for breakfast.
Newly arrived guests introduced themselves to one another and talked about their
hometowns, baseball, college-age children, what brought them to shoreline
Connecticut and the travails of airline travel.
Once assured the arriving guests were comfortable, Kilpatrick and Monroe
arranged plates of hors d'oeuvres and bottles of wine on a linen-covered dining
room table. Guests dressed in shorts and T-shirts began pouring wine and sherry
and nibbling cheese and crackers.
With the temperature feeling like August despite the calendar's insistence that
it was now October, guests made their way outdoors, sitting at patio tables
under green canvas umbrellas. Laughter erupted from a group of women renting a
separate guest cottage on the inn property. They had a road map and the detritus
of a trip to a nearby Dunkin' Donuts spread on an outdoor table. A couple lolled
in a rope hammock slung under trees just beginning to show a tinge of autumn
"I stayed at a B and B that had only one common area," Glenn Monroe, who has run
this inn for 18 years, said. "I designed this place with lots of places to sit."
It's a design that affords guests the potential both for privacy and romance, as
well as camaraderie. With lounge chairs tucked into several corners of the
compact lawn, arranged around the stone fireplace in the dining room, in a
sitting room and parlor, as well as on a wide front porch and on private
balconies off guestrooms, some guests clustered together and chatted, while
others sought more secluded spots.
Monroe said he has had guests who meet at the inn, then remain in contact with
one another once they leave.
"They become best friends," he said.
The Monroes said guests are attracted to the Westbrook Inn for a number of
reasons, including small-town charm, nearby attractions ranging from theater and
fine dining to outlet shopping and historic museums, fall foliage, boating and
And, of course, there is the perennial pull of the water. The beach is just a
few minutes' walk from the inn.
Glenn Monroe said some guests from more congested areas such as New Jersey and
New York complain that the crowds and traffic prevent them from heading to the
shore in their home states.
With the beach-beckoning weather hanging on this season, Chris Monroe said she
hasn't yet packed away the beach necessities they keep on hand for their guests.
On the front porch, a fall display of dried corn, a hay bale, a garland of
orange leaves and a pumpkin vied for space along with the still-present stacks
of neatly folded beach towels, sand chairs and canvas beach bags.
While guests drifted back to their rooms to begin preparing for their evening
dinners and other activities, the work of running an inn was not done. In the
evening, there might be wheat to grind for the morning's pancakes or muffin
batter to mix. More guests may arrive and others may need restaurant
Kilpatrick, who is 20 and a graduate of Westbrook High School, said she has
worked at the inn for two years and enjoys meeting the guests.
"You'd be surprised at how nice everybody really is," she said. "They all have
stories to tell."
Kilpatrick carried a laundry basket loaded with snowy white towels to a cupboard
and began stacking them inside. She noted that she needed to refill the cookie
In a small study whose walls are lined with built-in bookcases, a guest book
lies open on a table. Departing guests have penned their sentiments.
"This place is so cute."
"Thanks for the cookies."
"We love your B&B and all its charm."
One message is a bit longer and more thoughtful: "Heart rate slower. Bags under
eyes no more. Mind completely empty of chatter. Job well done."
Special to The Courant