Reflections on Five Years of Innkeeping

Smiling innkeepers, June and Marc

This surprised us too!

Unlike many innkeepers we didn’t set out to find the perfect B&B; in fact we didn’t set out to find a B&B at all. Other than the occasional “oh wouldn’t it be fun to own a B&B or a campground” running an inn was not on our radar.

Pre-Die Heimat

We have lived in many parts of the world and when we landed in Lancaster Country, Pennsylvania in 2007 we thought we might stay there forever. But after seven years of living in the over-crowdedness of the eastern USA, we decided it wasn’t for us. We longed for the open spaces of the Midwest, the warmth and openness of the people and the close proximity to family – particularly my 90 year-old parents. In our search to “find a way” to move back to Iowa, we found out through my brother (who also owns a B&B in Iowa City) that Die Heimat Country Inn in the Amana Colonies was for sale. So, we did our due diligence and studied the feasibility of us owning it. The rest is history.

Moving in and getting started

We moved in July 23; on the hottest day of the summer of 2014. We moved all our personal belongings to the basement (which is now Marc’s shop) and set up our personal apartment at the other end of the basement and hit the ground running. The previous owners were around for a day or two and then we were on our own. We found that was the best way to learn – to jump in and do it ourselves and our way. Looking back – we knew so little. But I did know how to cook breakfast and welcome guests and Marc knew how to fix anything in the building that needed it and to welcome guests, so we plunged ahead and have learned so much.

Highlights of innkeeping

In the past five years we have hosted people from all 50 states, 5 Canadian Provinces and 12 additional countries. The highlights of our job are meeting the interesting guests at breakfast time. We are always fascinated by their travels, their unique jobs and hobbies, what they do in retirement, their families and how they view the world.

A few of the things we’ve learned

Along the way, we’ve learned a few things about owning the business of Die Heimat Country Inn

  1. We started out trying to do too much of the work ourselves. We since realized that a strong and capable staff makes the difference between burned out or renewed innkeepers. We and our staff are a team. We each have our roles from cooking to housekeeping, front desk check-ins, gardening, office work, marketing and development, public relations, and building repairs and maintenance.
  2. Marc and I have learned to draw our boundaries. We make it clear when we are available and when we are not. We know that we need to take time for ourselves and to getaway. Othewise, we won’t be very good hosts to our guests when we are here.
  3. We’ve learned that this is a business and we must run it as such. Yes, it is hospitality. Still we must have a business plan and professional policies in place to succeed in the hospitality business.
  4. We’ve learned it is important to become experts on the local community. We share that information with our guests. We enjoy connecting with the Amana community and learning the story of this unique religious group that arrived in Iowa in 1855 and was communal for nearly 90 years. We have learned their history and experienced their present day worship services and understand the Amana Society business arrangement.
  5. So maybe we’ll stay awhile longer!