The Impact of Heritage on Local Economies

Last week was a very busy week here at the Belgravia Bed & Breakfast. School activities are wrapping up while tourist season is in full swing. We’ve been attending recitals, concerts, and parties. Thrown into the mix was the Nova Scotia Provincial Heritage Conference, in Sydney, of which I was asked to be a panelist. Our topic? “The Impact of Heritage on Local Economies.”

The Conference ran from June 12th – 15th, but NSCC Graduation was on the 13th and I chose to be on stage to hug my eleven Tourism Management graduates on their big day. After the graduation was over, I hopped in the car and left for Sydney, Cape Breton, which is about a 3.5-4 hour drive from Truro, depending on which road you take. I was booked into the beautiful Colby House B&B, my third stay there.

Colby House B&B, Sydney

I was exhausted after a long day, and the beautiful bed was calling my name. I chatted with Bev for a few minutes, then set to work tweaking the slideshow for my presentation the following morning. There are many things I enjoy about staying at Colby House B&B – it’s a beautiful property for starters, immaculately kept! Bev & Gordon are wonderful hosts, and their attention to detail is superb. The first night I was there, they had a full house, with couples from Germany, Saskatchewan, and Vancouver. We had a great chat during breakfast.

The beautiful bed, calling my name in the MacLellan Room at Colby House B&B.

I could see the home that D’Arcy’s father grew up in from my window. Gordon mentioned the connection to the other guests at breakfast and we had a great chat about D’Arcy’s great-grandfather, a Sea Captain.

The conference was very interesting and I was disappointed I had missed the previous two days – especially dinner at Fortress of Louisbourg, and the Sydney Ghost Walk! The panel I was on included Dan Coffin from Destination Cape Breton, Cheryl Chambers of Chambers  Guest House B&B, and Stan Munroe of Port Morien Rectory B&B. Dan led the session, discussing market research which shows that most people traveling to Nova Scotia are looking for authentic cultural experiences and will visit at least one heritage site while here. We know from experience that there are many people who stay in Bed & Breakfasts for the duration of their entire trip for just that reason. You don’t get a much more authentic Nova Scotian experience than staying in a Nova Scotian home! (B&B’s in Nova Scotia MUST be owner-occupied.)

By preserving our heritage home and welcoming people into it from all around the world during the past ten years, we have had a huge positive impact on our local economy. In addition to the obvious taxes we pay at all three government levels, we are certain to send our guests to locally run restaurants rather than chains, we shop at the local Farmers’ Market during the season, we use and recommend local companies for gas, we recommend gift shops run by locals rather than encouraging guests to shop at the malls. Even when doing our renovations last month, we used companies with a connection to our area, and chose to install the solar panels that were built in Dartmouth, rather than in the US. By having local knowledge, we are able to tell our guests about events going on in our area, hopefully keeping them in our area longer. We have such a long and rich history here in Nova Scotia, and we sometimes forget that the western half of the country is much younger than we are – one of the points which had been made at the breakfast table by the couples from Saskatchewan and Vancouver at Colby House!

That evening, we had dinner and “A Taste of Celtic Colours” at the Sydney Cruise Ship Pavillion. What talented artists performed. We enjoyed guitar performances, Gaelic storytelling, singing & fiddling. It was a toe tapping great time! Back at the B&B, I chatted with Bev & Gordon until much too late! Bev was one of our “regulars” for many years here at Belgravia in her former career, so we always have lots to chat about!

After another delicious breakfast, I said my goodbyes and headed for home via Guysborough. It was a road I hadn’t driven in a long, long time and I wanted to check out the DesBarres Manor Inn and Rare Bird Pub which I have heard so much about. It was a beautiful drive, and I landed at the pub in time for lunch on opening day. They didn’t have their craft beer on tap yet, but I was driving, so wouldn’t have been able to enjoy one anyway. I sat by the window,overlooking beautiful Chedabucto Bay and had a delicious lunch with attentive service. I would love to go back and take D’Arcy sometime.

The Rare Bird Pub

I arrived home mid-afternoon, just in time to get the girls ready for their Highland Dance Recital and welcome favourite guests from the UK, staying with us for the third time. I do love exploring our beautiful province and am grateful for our rich heritage! I am happy that we chose this home to raise our children and build our lives. One of the nicest comments we had when we started this adventure ten years ago was from former owner, Mary Shephard. She had come to visit when we had our initial renovations complete and wrote in our guest book: “I’m so happy that this house is full of life again!”

“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! 🙂

Guest Book Comments

One of the first things we do when we enter a guest room to clean it up after our guests have departed is open the room’s guest book and check for a comment! We LOVE to read the notes that guests leave for us! They always make us smile. We usually don’t come out and ask for guests to write Trip Advisor reviews for us  (I know, I know – we should, but it makes both of us feel kind of awkward…) We appreciate that most guests will spontaneously leave comments in the room journals!

One of the things I really appreciate before staying at a B&B or a hotel, is finding out what other people’s experiences have been. I do check on sites like Trip Advisor and Facebook as well as the property’s own website.  The following is the first installment of a few recent entries from our room guest books:

“The most lovely stay we had in Canada! Thank you for the cozy, comfortable bed and the fabulous pumpkin waffle breakfast. We’ve stayed in many B&B’s but your is by far the best ever! Thank you!”  – Mark & Rita, New Hampshire

“We greatly enjoyed our stay in this beautiful old home.l It made a great little winter getaway.” – Fran & Steve, Nova Scotia

“Thank you very much. I love this place and I hope come very soon. You have a lovely family and a lovely place. Thanks again.” – Jairo, Bogota, Colombia

“Thank you for this lovely place and your wonderful hospitality. The breakfasts were superb!! And lighting the fire in the front room while we had old friends visit was much appreciated. Hope to come again. Fondly” – Serena & David, St. John’s, Newfoundland

“Many thanks for your hospitality – your home is beautiful, the bed was so comfy & breakfast was delicious. We’ll be sure to spread the word about Belgravia B&B.” – Yvonne & Laurin, Nova Scotia

“Encore merci pour votre acceuil chaleureuse. Les petit dejeuner sont excellents et votre femille charmante. A notre prochaine visite en Nouvelle-Ecosse nous savons deja ou nous dejournerons, dans une magnifique maison.” – Nicolas et Marlene, France

“We loved our stay here and had great laughs at the breakfast table. The food was excellent and the hospitality a treat.” – Michael & Karen, Florida

“So much more than a top class B&B! The lovely family ambiance, hospitality and personalized attention is a 6 star!! We will be enthusiastic in our recommendations! Thank you all!” – Pam & Bob, British Colombia

“It was such a pleasure stopping as your guests once again! We were made to feel so welcome, like “old friends”. You shouldn’t make your beds so comfy & warm, ’cause I could have remained in bed much longer! Beautifully delicious breakfast. We will be great advertisers for you and will hope to stop again. May your beds be full all season long.” – Duane & Gail, Alberta

“We thoroughly enjoyed our stay with you. We can’t add to any of the superlatives previously mentioned so will just say THANK YOU!” – Wendy & Peter, Australia

Belgravia Bed & Breakfast website