Letter from the Innkeepers Thanksgiving 2009

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Dear Friends of Anne Hathaway’s:

Greetings from Ashland, where the curtain has gone down on the 2009 season. The plays have closed and the winter rains have arrived. The actors took flight (after many of them attended the wedding of Christine Albright and John Tufts, whom many of you will recall played opposite each other in Romeo and Juliet), and so did the innkeepers at Anne Hathaway’s.

We headed East and landed in New York, where Deedie collected a new hat for her collection. It’s a sailor cap signed by the stars of South Pacific, the musical so many of us learned by heart at an early age. We didn’t want it to end. A few nights later, we found some of our favorite guests in the lobby of the Metropolitan Opera. They were there to see a young friend make her Met debut as Turandot and how great that we could share the moment. For our 46th wedding anniversary, we joined Peter, Paul, Judy Collins, Pete Seeger, Whoopie Goldberg, Tom Paxton, John Kerry, George McGovern, Bill Moyers and a host of others at a memorial service for Mary Travers at Riverside Church. It was a wonderful four hours of songs, tributes, tears and laughs for one of our favorite singers of all time. After a couple of days at the Runkel farm in Pennsylvania and a stop in San Francisco for our daughter Lucy’s 40th birthday party, we returned to Ashland. We’ll have a family Thanksgiving here and watch the next day as Santa turns on the tens of thousands of twinkling white lights that make Ashland sparkle through the end of the year.

This has been an unexpectedly glorious year for Ashland and for us. OSF is reporting record ticket sales due to the strong draw of plays like the provocative Equivocation, the highly entertaining Music Man, the riotous Servant of Two Masters, along with probably the best production possible of Henry VIII.

Business at Anne Hathaway’s couldn’t have been better in the year of the worst economic downturn in decades. In the spring we were as nervous as any actor on opening night as we sped forward with construction of two new rooms. Many wondered if we’d taken leave of our senses. But, after a slow start in the spring, many of you turned up for the summer and fall and we were able to breathe a little easier. The lovely, elegant new Iris and Rose rooms were well received and bookings for them for next year are strong. In fact, they were so booked as soon as we opened them that we haven’t even had a chance to do the requisite Innkeeper’s Test on them yet. So now we’ve booked them for ourselves for a post-Thanksgiving rest.

When we hire staff for Anne Hathaway’s we tell them: “It doesn’t matter how charming we are, how good the breakfasts are or how pretty the flowers are. If the rooms aren’t clean, the guests will not be back. You are, therefore, the most essential ingredient to our success.” So hats off to our staff, an amazing team of industrious hard workers this year. We look for many of them to be back in 2010.

Other winter chores will include some rearranging for the kitchen/pantry area to make our work easier and more efficient. A new entrance off the garden will make it possible for a new energy efficient refrigerator to be delivered. Some may recall that special day last summer when a new refrigerator arrived, only for us to discover that not only was it too big to get it through the door, but we couldn’t get the old one out either.

Next year will also bring Deedie’s installation as the president of the Ashland Rotary Club, while David will continue to serve on the city’s Conservation Commission and Budget Committee, as president of the Ashland Bed and Breakfast Network and work on local tourism promotion activities.

Please know that your continued interest and patronage are not only appreciated, but are tonic for our souls and spirits. May the new year bring health, happiness and peace to all.

Deedie and David Runkel