Hostessing 101

Lessons in Hospitality from the Arrowhead Inn

From the Oriental rugs underfoot and the classical music playing overhead, to the fireplaces in each guest room, the Arrowhead Inn Bed & Breakfast in Durham is a historic plantation estate set on six acres of gardens and manicured lawns.

The original part of the home was built in 1775 on an Indian trading ground, hence the inn’s name. Today, the Arrowhead Inn draws visitors from around the world, where owners Phil and Gloria Teber serve them handmade pastries and a four-course breakfast that has inspired some guests to take photos of their plates as trip mementos.

At Christmas, the inn welcomes two live trees and many, many poinsettias, to add to the hospitality.

The Tebers say they are “called” to be innkeepers.

“It’s not a profession; it’s a lifestyle,” Gloria said. “We entertain seven days a week, and meet the most fascinating people.”

Leading from the main house and past majestic 250-year-old trees are stone walkways to the Garden Cottage, formerly the home’s carriage house, and a wood-beamed log cabin, complete with loft.

The motto here is “Live, love, laugh,” and the Tebers embody that daily as they tend to their guests. Cary Magazine asked these innkeepers their thoughts on being a host who makes holiday — or everyday — guests feel right feel at home.

Nancy Pardue: How do you define hospitality?
Gloria Teber: Hospitality, generally speaking, is to entertain guests and make them feel comfortable; it’s what we do every day. Hospitality is a gift — not everyone has it. It takes a lot of energy to entertain, and listening is critical. You want to be above and beyond, to make someone feel welcome.

Hospitality, the Tebers say, is making guests feel comfortable and cared for. Extra-welcoming tips include using your best linens, pillows and towels. Each guest room at the Arrowhead Inn features a plush king-size bed, reading lamps and fireplace, and a whimsical rubber ducky for the private whirlpool tub.

What are the most important elements of being a host?
Gloria: The little things are critical. The best thing you can do is pretend you’re a guest ahead of time, and take note of what you need — such as extra towels, and toilet paper. Have a plunger in every bathroom, under the sink. Think ahead. Always have the necessary things there, so you can concentrate on your guests. Ask them, before and after their visit, ‘What can we do to make your stay better?’

Give your guests guidelines in advance on subjects like no pets or no smoking. Some will appreciate access to an iron and ironing board, because their clothes have been squished in a suitcase. And as a host, be yourself. A sense of humor is critical too.

What extra details make a difference?
Gloria: Place a welcoming basket in each room, filled with almost anything. We use shampoo, soaps, lotion, water, snacks … even a rubber ducky for our whirlpool tubs!
Fresh flowers in a room, like a daisy, mum, rose or poinsettia, don’t cost a lot but make people feel good. And by using live, growing things in a room, you can offer them to guests to take home.

What’s your approach to meals?
Gloria: Excellent food, homemade food, is very inviting. As host, making menu suggestions and finding out guests’ dietary restrictions in advance is a good idea, such as meat eater versus pescetarian. Are they drinkers, or not? Offer options like hot apple cider and iced teas. We have tea, coffee and water always accessible. You can also keep an electric teapot filled with water; be sure to get one that turns off by itself. And have snacks available, such as cookies or pastries under a glass dome, or bowls of fresh fruit.

A sunny spot for reading, playing games or doing puzzles, the Arrowhead Inn’s informal gathering room, top photo, is also where breakfast is served each morning, and where self-serve beverages and homemade pastries are available throughout the day, along with a movie library.

The space leads into the inn’s formal dining room, bottom. Accessible snacks such as cookies under a glass dome or baskets of fruit help guests feel at home, the Tebers say, and make-ahead soups, sauces and salads for meals are timesavers.

Smell and presentation are everything; simmering apple cider on the stove melts everyone’s heart. And it’s smart to have homemade soups or marinara sauces that can be made ahead and put in the fridge or freezer. We also serve cold salads, such as quinoa tabbouleh.
And use your china and good linens! That’s what people notice, the details.

What are some tips for providing a restful environment?
Gloria: Use your best sheets to make guests feel special. We spritz lavender linen water on our sheets and towels because lavender is very inviting, and not too feminine or masculine. We make our own, from recipes online. Use good pillows; as a matter of fact, throw out the old ones!

People prefer cool rooms, not warm, for best rest. Put chocolates by the bedside, and reading lamps on both sides of the bed. We have a movie library, with a TV and a DVD player in each room, so that’s an idea. If they’ve brought a laptop, provide the codes for your Wi-Fi.

What about entertaining?
Gloria: Offer puzzles, newspapers, magazines or books you’ve enjoyed. We have games for guests, and even a piano.

Be a concierge: Take them to a museum for the afternoon. Invite guests to be hands-on with you, especially if they’re offering. Have them take photos or chop vegetables, rather than sit around. Most guests are looking for shared experiences.

Arrowhead Inn Bed & Breakfast
(919) 477-8430


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