Friday, July 24, 2015

Get Thee to Virginia

There is no better time to get yourself to Virginia - specifically Cape Charles - and you will want to do it before Labor Day. We're giving away a Go Virginia Getaways Wine Country Getaway Pass (value $59) with your 2-night stay at Fig Street Inn. Check-in Sunday through Wednesday by September 2 and we'll give you a 2015 card that you can use during your visit to Cape Charles for the following discounts:

The card is valid until the end of the year and offers over 200 discounts and specials at restaurants, events, activities, and shops throughout the state, as well as exclusive online only deals.

Better yet, use your card for $50 off your next 2-night stay at our inn. So come explore and discover Cape Charles. We are sure you will fall in love and will want to plan your return trip and use your card for next visit to Fig Street Inn.

When you book online, you'll see the Getaway Pass package. Select that option and we'll have your card ready for you at check-in.
















Thursday, July 9, 2015

A Virginia is for Lovers Story...Cape Charles style

If you follow us on social media, you know we're a little obsessed with LOVE. Okay, we're a lot obsessed! LOVE are the art installations you'll see throughout Virginia to promote tourism and the "Virginia is for Lovers" brand. There are over 30 LOVE signs around the state and people "love" to visit and take pictures with them.

Each sign is unique and reflects the culture and history of its location. Ever since I learned about them, I thought we needed one in Cape Charles. Can't explain it. Don't know why, but it was really important to me that Cape Charles have one. 

Things always work out the way they are meant to, and I am grateful for everyone who said "no" because that brought me to the right team to bring LOVE to town. The Cape Charles Business Association was the one to say "yes" and instantly Miriam Elton from brown dog ice cream and Sandy McFall from gallery209 volunteered to help in the efforts. Miriam knows a lot about design and the right materials to use to weather any storm. Sandy is the artist so she knew what materials and colors would look good and complement one another. My role was to work with Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) to ensure we met their requirements, help with funding, and organize events to raise money and promote LOVE. 

We collaborated with Jen Lewis and Pete Leontieff of the Town of Cape Charles. The Town provided a permanent location (at the corner of Bay and Mason Avenues) and connected us with people who could actually build this thing. Together, we all came up with a design that is truly one-of-a-kind and perfectly represents Cape Charles and the Eastern Shore of Virginia. 

The entire sculpture is made of fiberglass which is perfect for our boating community. And then each letter incorporates materials to symbolize our area:

L - has beach glass and shells for our bayside location
O - is a tractor tire for our agricultural history
V - is made from kayaks to symbolize all the water sports and activities in our area
E - is made with crabpots for our aqua culture and watermen

LOVE is here to stay and be enjoyed by all. Come to the corner of Bay & Mason and take your picture. Post it out with #loveva and #capecharles to spread some LOVE far and wide from Cape Charles!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Mmmm.....Muffins!


We are known for our muffins. Guests talk about them in social media, write online reviews about them, and ask if we're serving them for breakfast when they check in. Our guests debate which is the best flavor and are pretty adamant about which one gets their vote.

Yes, Greg bakes them fresh each and every morning. He times it so they come out as close as possible to 8:30 am so they are perfectly warm for breakfast service. And if you do have a favorite, let us know so we can make sure we have one set aside just for you.

We get asked for the recipe all the time, so here it is:

Ingredients:
2 c white flour
1 Tbs baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp xantham gum (optional)
2 Tbs white sugar
1 Tbs brown sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 c milk
¼ c melted butter

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375F. Mix flour, baking powder, salt, xantham gum, sugars in large bowl. Add egg, milk and butter, stirring enough to dampen flour mixture. Batter will not be smooth and do not overbeat. Spoon into muffin pans (or paper muffin cups), filing each cup about 2/3 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

And here is the "secret" to how we make a variety of flavored muffins each and every morning....we divide the batter up into how ever many flavors we're going to make (it's usually at least 4) and then you just add whatever you want - chocolate chips; chocolate chips and cocoa powder (for double chocolate); chocolate chips, cocoa powder, and coffee (for double mocha); chopped apples; pecans; walnuts; dried cranberries; orange zest; lemon zest with poppy seeds; blueberries - the possibilities are endless.

Notes: Muffins do not hold well and are best eaten immediately after baking. The xantham gum will help them stay moist for a few hours after baking; otherwise they tend to dry out and get chewy. Xantham gum is usually available in stores that carry gluten free items. I don’t know if it comes in other forms, but we used powdered.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

5 Reasons to Visit Cape Charles

We get a fair amount of calls from people planning a getaway and they want to know why they should visit Cape Charles. The first few times we thought this was a strange question. But now we say, "you tell us what you want to do. You can do everything or absolutely nothing. It's up to you."

If you want to check-in and not come out of your room until check-out, go for it. Enjoy the room. Enjoy time alone, or with your travel partner. Relax by your fireplace or soak in your jetted tub. Watch TV. Watch movies. Log on. Read a book or magazines. Play board games or cards. Or just sleep.

(Did you know Fig Street Inn is the ONLY b&b in Cape Charles that offers TVs and fireplaces all from the comfort of your room; otherwise you have to share with other guests in common areas - no thanks.)

BUT, if you prefer to venture out, here is what we think are the must-sees, must-dos for a visit to Cape Charles:

LOVE - Cape Charles has its very own LOVE sign. You may have seen others around Virginia - they are all over, and you will find ours at the corner of Bay & Mason Avenues. We're very proud of this because it took a lot of work by a lot of people to make this happen (including us). We "love" how it reflects the history and culture of our town and region. So go, snap a picture. Everyone needs LOVE in their lives!

Beach - We have an amazing beach right on the Chesapeake Bay. It's about a mile long, with soft, white sand. Sure it's great in the summer, but it's great any time of year. Go for a walk. Look for seashells, beach glass or even sand dollars (They do exist! We've even found one ourselves).

If you are visiting in the warmer months, and you're staying at +Fig Street Inn, leave the beach chairs, towels and umbrellas at home. We've got all of that here for you. We'll even loan you a cooler if you want to pack water, sodas or snacks. And yes, those are included with your stay, too.

And for the above two, combine a visit to LOVE when the sun is setting at the beach. Cape Charles sunsets are spectacular! If you are here in the fall, the sun is positioned so it sets right into the letter O for a picture perfect moment.

Trail Ride - Pfeiffer Riding Stables is about 1 1/2 miles up the road from our inn and you can enjoy a one-hour trail ride along Kings Creek. We guarantee you'll see wildlife and waterfowl as you soak in the natural beauty of our area. Don't worry if you have never been on a horse before because they will pair you will just the right one. Make sure you tell them you're staying at Fig Street Inn so you get our special rate (varies depending on time of year).

Kayak - Southeast Expeditions has many different kayak trips and you don't have to be an extreme or experienced sports enthusiast to hit the water. They'll take you out to a clam bed where you can hunt for your own clams, or on a leisurely tour through the wildlife refuge to observe birds, butterflies (fall season), and take in the scenery of our barrier islands. Or rent kayaks for how ever long you like and go out on your own. 

Or how about kayaking to a winery? The tour is called "Paddle Your Glass Off", and it's a 4-hour excursion that includes wine tasting at the award-winning Chatham Vineyards (try the Cabernet Franc. It's out personal fave!). You paddle there, have a wine tasting, and then paddle back. Yes, there is enough space in the kayak to hold a case of wine if you so choose.

Mangia - Your trip would not be complete without great food! Obviously breakfast is included with your stay at our inn, and we do offer more than enough so you don't really need to have lunch, but there are plenty of great places to eat right here in Cape Charles:
And if you are here in the summer, you can top off any meal (or make a meal) at brown dog ice cream (open April through October).

Whatever you want to do, we're happy to help you plan it out.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Dear TripAdvisor

Dear TripAdvisor,

I'm breaking up with you. I want to say "it's not you, it's me", but that's not true. It is you. I don't want to be in this relationship anymore.

We had many good years. You won't remember, but we met in 2000 when you first came to town. I was different back then. You were too. I met you in another state, and you were the cool kid. It was sweet. It was new. We helped each other out. But I said good-bye in 2009 when I moved away. 

I came back to you in 2011. I needed you. I knew you were a player, but you filled a need. I was willing to pay for your services. The cost was $288 in 2011; $326.78 in 2012; and $524.14 in 2013. In 2014 you wanted $1,800. We negotiated and you said you could continue to give love for $900. That was too much for my tastes, so I said "no".

Then you called a few months later to say you wanted me back. You wanted $3,450. Nothing changed other than I rejected you and you were insulted. You took away my past client discount. If I wanted to have you again, it would cost - an increase of 558% to be exact. Nothing new, nothing different. Same services but at a very different price. I said no.

You called again, and again, and again.

Each time, I relived and rehashed what I didn't like about our relationship. I told you I was willing to reconsider, but you weren't willing to change. You wanted $3,450. The discussions were heated and sometimes you hung up on me; sometimes I hung up on you. This is not healthy.

This last conversation, I said we are at an impasse. I won't be told how wrong I am, how I'm making a bad decision, how I just don't understand how important you are. I won't be bullied, shamed, or guilted into taking you back.

I belong to a support group with many who have said good-bye to you. We talk....a lot. We share details on how each of us fared in our relationships with you. It's been helpful, cathartic, and reaffirming. We shouldn't be taken for granted. We want to be heard. We want to be with you, but we just can't put ourselves through this anymore. This relationship does not work.

Since we've split, I've grown - by 14.2% to be exact, and I did it all on my own. You didn't like this. You told me I'm making a bad decision. You said I still need you, but I'm doing fine without you.

It's been almost a year that we've been having these conversations but it is time for my exit. I think you have value, but I also know you don't treat me well. This dysfunction has to end.

We were friends once, but things change. Let us part and move on.

With sincerity,
Donna Olney Kohler
+Fig Street Inn 
Cape Charles, Virginia


Monday, March 2, 2015

B&B? What exactly is a bed & breakfast?


I recently attended an innkeeping conference where one of the keynote speakers said that you need to let potential guests know what you are not. Interesting….well, here is what +Fig Street Inn is NOT: 

Although it was a treat to sleep over my grandmas house as a little girl, that is not what you get at Fig Street Inn. We do not have:
·      Wallpaper
·      Doilies
·      Furniture you are not allowed to sit on or use.
·      Matchy-matchy decor with curtains that match comforters and pillows that match wallpaper borders (seriously, there is no wallpaper in this house).
·      Curfews. Come and go as you please.
·      Forced socialization. You want to talk to other guests or us, great. You don't want to, no offense taken. 
·      Small coffee cups. Antique china sure is pretty and we have quite a few sets, but when it comes to having a cup of coffee (or tea), we believe in a large mug. 

Fig Street Inn may be our home, but our #1 priority is the guest. We follow a philosophy that it is your vacation so let's make it what you want, not what we want. What that means is:

When do you want to check-in?
Sure we have scheduled hours, and no, we can't do check-in at 11:30 am (we do have to clean rooms). But if you want to come early, just let us know so we can make sure someone is here to welcome you. Drop off your stuff and if the room is ready, it's yours. If not, drop off your stuff, and then go out and enjoy your day. We’ll call or text as soon as it’s ready, and you can come back at your leisure. 

When would you like to eat breakfast?
We serve breakfast from 8:30 to 9:30 am so come to the Dining Room any where in that hour and we'll make you a hot, made-to-order breakfast. If you need to start your day earlier, let us know the day before and we can typically accommodate an earlier breakfast.

What would you like to have for breakfast?
We do a made-to-order breakfast. We do not believe in the "you get what you get, and you don't get upset" that far too many b&bs serve. We wouldn't want to eat salmon and green salad or a double stuffed French toast with chocolate covered bananas, so we would never tell you that’s what you’re eating either. We have an entrée of the day (eggs/omelettes to order, pancakes, French toast, waffles or crepes) and there is always a choice of at least 4 preparations. It is made hot, specifically for you – not in a one-size fits all casserole dish that is only hot at 9 am. And if the entrée is not what you want, we can always make fried or scrambled eggs, or choose from a selection of cereals, yogurts, or oatmeal. 

Stay connected, or disconnect - you decide.  
Many guests choose a b&b because they want a relaxing getaway, but it is not for us to decide what that means. Each room has a large, flat screen TV with Bluray player (and we have a video library with 300+ movies), and far too many satellite channels to choose from. If you want to watch TV, great; if you don’t, great; but it’s your choice. And our WiFi signal rocks! If you want to watch a movie on your laptop or tablet, go for it.

Want to recharge?
For some that means disconnecting, so turn off that phone, computer and TV. For others, it means being able to plug in all their gadgets. All of our rooms have ample and accessible outlets, including USB ports. You don’t have to move any furniture to get to the one outlet that’s somewhere behind the bed.

The beauty of b&bs is that each one is unique and we encourage potential guests to do their research and ask questions. There is a b&b out there for everyone, and Fig Street Inn may not be the right fit for you. And that’s okay. We don’t pretend to be the end all and be all. Our goal is a great, personalized hospitality experience where you feel welcome, comfortable, and relaxed. You are the guest. Let’s make this about you!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Pear Valley, an Unknown Treasure on Virginia's Eastern Shore

Last year, I had the opportunity to visit Pear Valley for a "private tour". When you see the small structure, you might ask yourself "And.....?" But the history that emanates from this building is amazing. It was exciting to see how people once lived, and you could feel the souls that occupied that house and worked the surrounding land.

Pear Valley is located in Eastville, Virginia, just 15 minutes from +Fig Street Inn. It's one of Northampton County's oldest landmarks and recently came under the tutelage of the Northampton Historic Preservation Society (NHPS).

It's not clear how it got its name, or who even built it for the Nottingham family, a common name here on the Eastern Shore. This yeoman's cottage dates back to 1740 and was occupied as late as the early 1900s. A yeoman was an independent, subsistence farmer who may have grown some crops for market.

One of the draws of Pear Valley is its unique architecture like its enormous chimney which spans the north gable end of the home and exhibits Flemish and Common bond brick laying techniques. Glazed header bricks form a chevron pattern that mirrors the slope of the roof. The other noticeable and notable feature is the tilted false plate and wooden peg joinery used on the roof. The wooden pegs also add a decorative element and are still intact.

Although these elements of high-quality craftsmanship were characteristic of the building techniques used in 1740, thirty-six years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Pear Valley is one of only two structures surviving in the state of Virginia that exhibit these now exceptional features. It is also one of only two U.S. National Historic Landmarks in Northampton County - the other being Eyre Hall which dates to 1760.

Pear Valley is currently open only by appointment, but we can make arrangements if it is something you want to experience on your visit to Cape Charles. Or you may contact NHPS directly at 757-999-1299 or visit their website at www.northamptonhistoricpreservationsociety.com.

Pear Valley is located off State Route 628 (Wilsonia Neck Drive) near Eastville, Virginia.