Monday, August 31, 2009

"Doggy Dog World" or "Dog Eat Dog World"

Is it a "Doggy Dog World" or "Dog Eat Dog World"??? I think you'll find the answer is "both" when visiting Stephen Huneck's "Dog Mountain" in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.

Just a little family and I have endured the loss of two of our dear pets in just the past twelve months. "Boo" our cat of 18+ years passed after a lengthy battle with a stomach tumor. "Holly" my young and amazing German Shepard passed very unexpectedly of bloat. She was 6+ years old. If you have a large breed dog...take time to learn about bloat (great site for information) and possible ways to prevent it. I had never heard of bloat but it is the second leading killer of dogs behind cancer.

Family friends have told us repeatedly to take time and memorialize our pets at St. Johnsbury's "Dog Mountain". Until this weekend I had only driven past the unique chapel built by Stephen Huneck. The chapel at Dog Mountain was built to memorialize the special bond that exists between families and their dogs. Over the years, visitors have made the chapel a memorial to all their beloved pets.

This past Saturday I picked my youngest son, Cass, up from work. At the last moment I had decided to take my new puppy "Crown" for the ride. Crown, is an Australian Shepard, who got his name after my favorite past-time...I mean drink. My wife, Becky, vetoed "Whiskey" saying it was an inappropriate name for my puppy. My wife runs a daycare out of our house. Becky was concerned about children going home or to friend's houses and telling them about playing with Whiskey at Becky's Playcare. Not exactly the exposure/reputation she was looking for. Crown is a beautiful puppy that has an amazing personality to match. This was Crown's first truck ride. After picking up my son, Cass suggested that we stop by Dog Mountain as it was on our way home.

Dog Mountain is both beautiful and secluded. You are encouraged to bring your companion(s) and experience the chapel, art gallery, agility course and hiking trails. The chapel along with Stephen Huneck's artwork make this a do not miss location for pet lovers.

The three of us loved the agility course. I was able to convince my son to role model for the dog. I fell over holding my side on more than one occasion as Cass completed obstacles. All the while, Crown sat there in amazement looking at his young master jump over bars...six inches high. Cass also scaled teeter totters and ramps at a vicious rate. Ultimately, Crown and I decided that for a human Cass was pretty agile. We're planning to enter him in some shows and hope to bring home some blue ribbons.

My Fairbanks Inn is pet friendly and located only minutes from Dog Mountain. Plan your pet friendly vacation today!

Fairbanks Inn

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

An hour away and worth every minute of the drive...

I absolutely love this time of year. The black fly season is finally coming to a close and all the little kiddies are going back to school (YES!). I'm not sure there is a direct correlation between black flies and my children but it makes you wonder. My oldest son, Matthew, is a varsity football player at St. Johnsbury Academy. Each year, my wife and I find ourselves traveling all over Vermont to watch the academy football games. These early morning treks allow us to take in some of the best Vermont has to offer.

This past weekend we traveled to Woodstock, Vermont (one of my wife's favorite of the most expensive for me...I mean us) for the season's first football scrimmage. my humble the way life should be. No matter how many adjectives I throw at it, you need to experience it for yourself. No internally lit obnoxious business signs here. Instead, handmade wooden signs adorn buildings. Beautifully manicured lawns surround homes, churches, and inns. You drive slow in Woodstock...everything happens at a more relaxed speed there. For the record...I'm not a "shopper". For that matter...I officially hate shopping. There's something about spending a day in Woodstock that fools my senses and allows me to think I'm not shopping. Whether you are a shopoholic or not, don't plan a visit to Vermont without including Woodstock in it.

When visiting Woodstock...set aside an hour or two for the Quechee Gorge area. Just minutes from Woodstock is "Vermont's Little Grand Canyon". This amazingly beautiful gorge offers a quick photo opportunity from the highway bridge or hours of exploring wilderness trails. Either way it's a natural wonder that old and young alike will always remember. The gorge is over a mile long and 165 feet deep. The trail system is well marked and my five year old went down and up the gorge trail system without needing to be carried.

My family LOVES eating at the "Farmer's Diner" located in "Quechee Gorge Village" shopping center. It is a one of a kind diner experience. While shopping is at the bottom of my "to do" list...eating good food would probably be at the top. You won't go wrong at the "Farmer's Diner". After eating at the diner, stroll through the different village shops. There is truly something for everyone. The village offers Vermont made furniture, Cabot Cheese, pewter, jewelry, handcrafts, glassblowing studio, antiques, wine, blacksmith shop, and a toy museum.

It probably goes without saying but my son and the Academy football team dominated Woodstock. After watching the scrimmage...I think it's going to be a great year for our local Hilltoppers.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fire Scare...Check Your Home and Business

Two weeks ago I was conducting a meeting in one of my hotels' banquet rooms. Without warning a chandelier bulb made a popping sound and smoke puffed out in two different directions. As I went to turn off the power to the chandelier...flames mushroomed out. We immediately activated a fire pull station, grabbed a fire extinguisher, and evacuated the building. The fire never spread but it was a real scare.

We contacted the manufacturer and they immediately agreed to replace the bulbs with newer redesigned bulbs at no charge. To the manufacturer's credit, they have been nothing but incredibly responsive. I've searched the internet high and low for similar experiences and genuinely believe we may have had a freak accident. Just because I couldn't find similar experiences doesn't mean that they haven't occurred.

The bulbs were installed only four to five months ago as part of our "Going Green" initiative. We replaced 40 watt bulbs with these energy saving bulbs that only use 3 watts. It's amazing that more people/companies don't embrace doing what is right for our planet...while saving themselves money.

The bulb: TCP 3W Cold Cathode Clear or Frosted Flame, Candel

Monday, August 10, 2009

Swinging for a Promotion

My last blog entry was about my personal experience golfing at St. Johnsbury Country Club. I had mentioned that it was my first time swinging clubs in nearly three years. An interesting thing happened after playing that round. Twenty-four hours later, I was offered and accepted a promotion within my company. In addition, to my three hotels, I now oversee the Hampton Inn, Burlington, Vermont. In the future, I'll be sure to blog about all the great Burlington family events and attractions...BUT... I'll save that for another day.

At first the correlation between golfing and my promotion may not jump out at you. For's perfectly obvious. I'm convinced that as soon as the President of my company read my blog he figured, "if Brett can find time to golf...then he can find time to manage more hotels". I know that sounds crazy but I think I'm on to something.

Sooooo, just to test my theory...I took my youngest son, Cass, golfing this weekend. I've sat by the phone all morning...President has called repeatedly but didn't mention another promotion (yet). That's when the lightbulb went on, I forgot to blog about my weekend. Once he reads I was golfing again...I'll be Vice-President (or without a job).

It's possible neither is going to occur...but my money is on the fact that I'll be golfing this weekend as "Vice President Loehr". I already have a tee time for this weekend and plan on making some important upper management decisions in between strokes.

By the way, my son (fourteen years old) shot under 100...I'm proud of him. Hit em' straight!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Going for the Green

I hate to admit it...I haven't golfed in almost three years.

Whew! I feel so much better getting that off my chest. I love golf. I was passionate about golf. I'm comfortable saying that I "was" obsessed. I think I've beaten the disease (sure...anyway).

Did I mention that I'm not good (that actually may be kind)? There's something about running four hotels, raising four children, and spending time with my wife that makes it difficult to golf. This past weekend we hosted our best friends from Maine. My buddy asked if I could squeeze in a round of golf and after considering it for a moment, I jumped at the opportunity. Neither of our wives play but I knew from past experience that they both enjoy riding around in the carts and laughing (at us). Five minutes after hanging up with my friend, we had a tee time at the St. Johnsbury Country Club.

St. Johnsbury Country Club is one of my favorite courses I've ever played. Considering I've golfed at courses around the world...that's actually saying something. It is extremely challenging. It's tight and occasionally wide open. It's flat and unassuming then steep and challenging. The greens appear to be the size of a postage stamp or large and undulating. Dog legs left and then right (sometimes both on the same hole). No matter how many times I play there, it always gets the best of me.

On my most recent visit, I must say I impressed myself (it doesn't take much). From the start, my swing was natural. I struck the ball purely and more often than not sent the little white ball in a straight line. I had lost some distance but all in all I was doing alright...for the first nine holes. After making the turn, it all came back to me. I remembered why golf takes over your thoughts and chews at your inner being. Over the next five holes, I donated one ball per hole to the woods, water, and evil little fairway gnomes that steal perfectly placed shots. I sprayed balls to the left, right, and on at least one occasion, took a divot that could have been mistaken as a green beaver pelt. Ok, so I won't be playing at the Masters anytime soon.

I love golf and will be finding/making time to get out on the course more often.

My hotels offer incredible golfing packages. Guests play St. Johnsbury Country Club, the amazing new course at Jay Peak, Maplewood Country Club or Bethlehem Country Club. We hosts golfing groups from all over New England. The highest compliment our guests pay us is by rebooking annually. For more information on our golf packages, please visit the property specific websites.

Have a great day and "hit'm straight"!