“Belgravia Even Better the Second Time”

We’re always happy to receive positive reviews on various social media sites, especially sites like Trip Advisor. More and more, travelers are using the internet as a tool to find out how others’ experiences were at a property before they book. We were delighted to receive notification of a new review this morning:

“We had an opportunity to visit Anne & D’arcy and their lovely family for a second time, two years after our first enchanting visit in 2010. It only gets better at this beautiful accommodation. We were greeted like old friends, got to enjoy a different view from another of their pretty suites, and as mentioned by several others, enjoyed their amazing breakfast and company in a stunning dining room. East coast hospitality at its finest! The Belgravia will definitely be our accommodation of choice when we’re next in Nova Scotia.”

Thank you Raina! We do feel like old friends now and look forward to seeing you again the next time you’re in Nova Scotia! Hopefully it will be warm enough to sit on the deck instead of in front of the fireplace! 🙂

Have a Heart

We, at the Belgravia Bed & Breakfast, have been partners with the Nova Scotia Heart & Stroke Foundation since 2005. Each year, during the month of February (Heart Month), canvassers go door-to-door in neighbourhoods across the province, collecting donations.  When they are finished, volunteers drop their kits off to our property for pick up. This year, however, we are taking things a step further…

For every stay at the Belgravia Bed & Breakfast during the rest of the month of February, we will be accepting donations (cash or cheque) for the Nova Scotia Heart & Stroke Foundation. Not only will you receive a charitable donation receipt which can be used for income tax purposes, but we will take the amount of your donation off the price of your room!

For example, a:

These prices include our tasty, heart-smart, full breakfast!

Both D’Arcy & I have family members & friends whose lives have been affected by heart disease or stroke, so we are thrilled to be able to offer this special for the month of February – heart month. We’re hoping to be successful enough that this will become an annual event for us!

Please call toll-free 1-866-877-9900, or locally (902) 893-7100, to make your reservation. This offer ends on March 1st, 2012.

Have a heart! ❤

Belgravia in the News!

The following article, written by Colleen Cosgrove, was featured in today’s Chronicle Herald Newspaper:

The last decade has not been kind to Nova Scotia bed and breakfasts.

A 19 per cent decline in overnight stays plagued the industry from 2005 to 2009, but numbers have been on a slow decline since 2000.

Nearly 100,000 visitors used a bed and breakfast in 2000 but by 2010, the number dropped to 59,000.

But on a snowy mid-winter day in December, when paying visitors are scarce and the summer tourism season is months away, Nova Scotia bed and breakfast owners are confident there are better days ahead.

Travellers are increasingly on the hunt for an authentic travel experience and a stay at a turn of the century farmhouse or a grand seaside estate can offer just that, said Anne McDonah cctowner of Belgravia Bed and Breakfast. “That’s why people are coming to Canada and to Nova Scotia,” McDonah said from her home in Truro this week.

“By being in a house and not a hotel, guests are getting the inside scoop on places to go and things to see and do in the community. It offers a chance to live like a local and a (bed and breakfast) offer that authentic experience.”

McDonah, who is on the board of the Nova Scotia Bed and Breakfast Association and teaches tourism management at Nova Scotia Community College, said bed and breakfast owners are promoting the authentic travel experience and offering “value-adds” to their operations to combat the downward trend.

Guests at Belgravia, for example, enjoy local produce delivered weekly to the house while guests at the neighbouring Suncatcher Bed and Breakfast can take a stained glass workshop or enjoy a genuine lobster feast complete with a how-to-eat lesson.

Neighbourhood overflow means Belgravia is booked over the holidays, but McDonah is using the slower season to revamp the company website and think up seasonal travel packages to entice guests year round.

There are about 1,100 overnight options in Nova Scotia. Between 400 and 425 of these are bed and breakfasts. The numbers ebb and flow regularly.

Location plays a big role in visitor traffic and the long-term viability of a bed and breakfast, said association president and Suncatcher owner Gerry Mailloux.

“Major cities and towns are more likely to reap the benefits,” said Mailloux, a veteran bed and breakfast owner who has worked in the industry since 1986.

“They seem to draw more business travellers than they used to and I think people are starting to realize the value of a (bed and breakfast).”

The growing popularity among business travellers has spurred many owners to offer amenities like free WiFi and printer and fax access.

The downward-trending numbers didn’t discourage Barbara Dean from opening her first bed and breakfast, Gowan Brae Bed and Breakfast, in Middle Musquodobit in August.

Retired and living in a sprawling 1830s-era home, Dean said her operation is merely a fun hobby and she expects many owners have the same approach.

“We have few overhead costs, just extra food and a bit of extra hot water here and there,” Dean said. “We all live in our bed and breakfast so I imagine it’s a hobby for most of us.”

In its first four months, Gowan Brae welcomed guests from as far away as Switzerland, Holland and western Canada and as nearby as the Annapolis Valley. How these guests decide on spending the night in Middle Musquodobit is something the association is working hard to understand, Mailloux said.

“We advertise here, there and everywhere but part of the problem is tracking where your guests come from and how they ended up with you,” he said. “We only have so many advertising dollars to go around ….. but at the end of the day as long as there are people still coming to stay, that’s what counts.”

Please welcome our new part-time help!

Over the years, many people have asked us, “How do you run a bed & breakfast with a family?”

Honestly… we just do it!

Before we had the B&B, D’Arcy and I both worked in the restaurant and hotel industry, so hospitality and service are all our family knows!  In fact, the year our daughter Sarah was born, we had two rooms the night we brought her home from the hospital!  (Looking back, we do wonder, “What were we thinking?” But it was October, she was early, and we already had guests booked!   We couldn’t cancel!)  Of course, it does help that our home is large, well-built (read: mostly sound-proof) and is laid out in such a way that we are able to have our own space for our family. Our children have been taught that if they are willing to be polite and mature, they may join us around guests, but if they need to act like children, they have to go to their own areas of the house!  Also, my parents live just a bike ride away – and they have a pool – so they are not always tied here to the B&B with us.

In the eight years that we have had the B&B, our children have had many experiences, opportunities, and met many people that they would not have had growing up in a “regular” house.  They really do seem to appreciate this and we are proud to have children who are kind, intelligent, thoughtful & mature as a result.

They each have various chores that they do to help out with the B&B, but this summer, we’re happy to have Evan helping us in an even larger, official capacity!

You can't tell in this photo, but he's drying the dishes for me!

Evan is raising money to participate in a two-week school exchange to Brazil next winter.  He’s been mowing lawns for neighbours (and his grandparents) and as of this summer is also is the official lawn-mower at The Belgravia Bed & Breakfast!  This morning, while D’Arcy was in Halifax attending a conference on adolescent mental health in schools, Evan was my breakfast sous chef!  We served omelets.  Evan was in charge of cooking the bacon and helped me serve our guests!  He has also capably taken reservations and records some of our book-keeping work for us.

In his spare time in the summer, Evan plays both baseball and golf.  The Truro Golf Club is just on the other side of our block, so he can be found there most sunny days.  He is an excellent student and in the winter, he is a curler, plays basketball, and is in both the Intermediate Band and the Jazz Band as a percussionist at his school.  He loves geography & travel, wants to see the world, and has future plans to be a cartographer.

We’re happy to have you working along side us  Evan – we hope you love it as much as we do!

We were awarded “Best B&B in Colchester County”

D'Arcy & I with our B&B friends, Nelly & Maarten, Janice & Donnie at the 2010 Best of Colchester Awards sponsored by the Truro & District Chamber of Commerce.

The Truro & District Chamber of Commerce held their first annual “Best of Colchester County Awards Gala” on Thursday.  We had been nominated in the “Best B&B” category and were notified a couple of weeks ago that we had made the top three finalists along with our friends from Baker’s Chest B&B and Eagle’s Landing B&Bafter a period of on-line voting took place.

The actual event had 250 people from various businesses in the region in attendance and was very well done!  They announced the winners of the 25 categories in alphabetical order, meaning Best B&B was the third award given out.  We all went to the front and received a certificate, congratulating us for making the top three, and then they announced the winner as Belgravia Bed & Breakfast!  We were so honored to receive this accolade!

In our acceptance speech, we thanked the other B&B’s and mentioned the fact that we all work together so well.  We email one another each morning in the summer, and send guests along if we are full and they have vacancy; we really believe that by working together we provide a better experience for our guests!

We also are thankful to our family, as without their help, we also wouldn’t be able to provide the experience we do.

You can watch our part of the award ceremony by clicking on the link below: (We’re about 15 minutes in)

Watch recorded broadcast from on the topic: Best of Colchester 2010 Business Awards (at Vpype Broadcaster).

D’Arcy’s Rhubarb Muffins

I have to admit that D’Arcy is the one who does the majority of the baking around here.  Almost all of our breads & muffins, he has made himself before leaving to teach high- school in the morning. (Yes I know how lucky I am!)

This morning’s guests raved about his rhubarb muffins and asked for the recipe, so here it is:

1 1/4 cup flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 large egg (he actually used egg replacer)

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup canola oil

1 tsp. vanilla (The original recipe calls for almond flavouring, but because we are a peanut & nut free home, he used vanilla)

1 1/2 cup diced rhubarb

  • Mix dry ingredients
  • Beat egg, add milk, oil & flavouring
  • Pour egg mixture over dry ingredients and stir to moisten.
  • Fold in rhubarb.  Sprinkle tops with sugar before baking.
  • Bake at 375*F for 20 minutes.
  • Yield:  8 large muffins

* Variation: Instead of sprinkling sugar on muffins before baking, dip tops of warm muffins in sugar after baking.

**  This is a versatile muffin – any other fruit in season are just as delicious!  We’ve made them with strawberries, raspberries, peaches, blueberries, etc.

Just a reminder that today (June 3rd) is the last day to vote for us as “Best B&B” in the Truro & District Chamber of Commerce’s “Best of Colchester County” contest.  To vote for us, The Belgravia Bed & Breakfast, please click here!