MOTEL MISSION STATEMENT?: & a little bit of GREEN
Yes, we have a MISSION. Sounds rather strange for a motel – but this little project has become an interesting adventure. The objective is to build a better business. We do this slowly and conservatively.
And how do we define a “better business”? That would be a place for people to escape… a simple, clean, comfortable non-intrusive place that makes the guest feel like they “own” a little part of the country – all for an “affordable” price. Our goal is to be fair both to the guest as well as to the business. We reinvest almost every dollar into the property and thereby make regular improvements to the product. We’d rather have more guests and charge less (thereby making the same $$). We want the city dweller that enjoys a country adventure – or the kind of guest that wants a quiet distraction from everyday pressures of life. We want to attract the guest that is more interested in nature than pretense.
We are proud of our guests as they are quiet and respectful! In fact, we love these guests!
GREEN ~ We don’t ever want to waste money or resources. In fact, we detest any sort of waste. It is more about “appreciation” than it is about being cheap. We love to talk about how we carefully spend the money you pay to stay here.
And we love the earth for MANY GREEN reasons… (both the tree-kind of green as well as the CASH-kind of green!). Over the years, we’ve cut oil use in half by investing a better heating system with individual controls in the room… we can cool them down pretty good in the winter when some of the rooms are vacant. We recycle all the trash we can… 1) because recycle is free, and 2) is it just feels right. Our A/C’s are top rated for efficiency. The first year after we got our new units, we saved as much on the power bill as the cost of the A/Cs themselves!!! All of this makes the earth a better place – AND it is the reason we have had very modest rate increases. We’ve shared the savings with our guests! We are still looking for other ways to be responsible.
Finally, our goal is to delve into the “imagination”. We want to offer something that meets and exceeds expectations. We want to offer something colorful and inspiring… we want to be the kind of business that opens the mind to dreams. That takes some doing, but that is what we are after. I suppose that would be the “vision”.
IMPROVEMENTS: It has been a labor of love – the task was just short of bringing the Titanic up from the bottom of the ocean. The motel was purchased in May of 2001 (a great time to buy a motel in New York?). On top of that, the building was in need of substantial repairs including the following: heating system ($16,500); carpets ($6,500); parking lot repairs ($25,500); pool ($20,000); well & septic system ($9,700); bathroom improvements ($19,700); door locks ($3,200); phone system ($4,200); soft goods for the rooms ($8,900); new roof ($24,000); thermal windows for the lobby ($5,000) and about $45,000 in general repairs.
We added a roof overhang so that you can get into the room without fighting the snow or the rain ($5,000) and we’ve bought a new zero-turn Toro lawn-mower ($5,000, and SUPER fun to use) – likewise absolute necessity with five acres of grass.
In 2008, we were able to make two wonderful improvements, we ripped up the entire drive and parking lot to clean things up and improve drainage. This and associated costs were $20,000. We also were able to dig up the 1,000 gallon oil tank for the motel. As there were poor records in prior years, we had no way of knowing how old the tank was. Since they have a useful life of about 30 years, we decided not to take any chances. A leaky oil tank can cost $100,000 in clean up… or more. Once we dug up the tank, we found it in especially good condition – perhaps about 15 years old. But better safe than sorry; that little project was $7,000 overall.
New black-out drapes along with wide slatted blinds were added along with new windows, doors and case goods!!! We even refitted some 1950’s dressers with stone tops. Most recently we purchased “sound machines” for the winter nights when the a/c does not black-out neighbor noise from our thin walls (SORRY about that!!! They were not good at sound proofing back then!). AND new phones with pretty good bluetooth speakers for your cell phones – complete with 4 USB charging outlets. Some other cool projects include lobby renovations. Later we’ll add a porch addition to the little studio apartment and finally a HOT tub for those beat up bodies after skiing… we REALLY want that one, but commercial building codes discouraged public hot tubs. But we’ll try – and we’ll figure it out.
So, as of yet, the motel has yet to drive a profit in excess of poverty level; such is the life of a small business in the last 15 years. But running your own business is more than just money; it is a pleasant way of life with the hope of someday getting ahead of the repair game. But hey, the to-do list is 20% of what it once was.
The total bill for improvements in 15 years is about $500,000. That’s not bad for a 9 room motel!
IT’S ALL IN THE NAME: Silvanus Lodge: Steele discovered the name while preparing a “Sunday School” lesson for the high school kids at Church. It sounded interesting, therefore some research was done. It was a common name in Rome for several centuries. The name originated in Roman mythology, meaning: the god of the forests, groves and fields. He also presides over boundaries. As fertility god, he is the protector of herds and cattle and is associated with Faunus. He shows many similarities to the Greek god “Pan” (he was a “buff” guy by some accounts, and a little scary by others). The first fruits of the fields were offered to him, as well as meat and wine–a ritual women were not allowed to witness. His attributes are a pruning knife and a bough from a pine tree. While certainly not exact, the name was fitting for the motel. It is pronounced “Sil-VAN (as in mini-van) -us”. This would be the English pronunciation. In Rome, it would be “Sil-VAIN-us”. The English twist sounded less likely to be pronounced “silver-anus”… and for obvious reasons, we opted for the English pronunciation!
PETS or PEST? – SORRY, NO PETS DUE TO A HEALTH RISK IN THE COUNTRY.
NO. Kidding. Because allergies can be a problem for some people, we have only two rooms designated for pets. One has two double beds, and one has a queen size bed. We have all sorts of rules regarding pests (ops, PETS). Most of the rules apply more to the caretakers… meaning, if the animal is not cared for (meaning CLEAN), no deal. This means the animal needs to be kept happy so no barking will occur that could tick-off a neighbor. Also, the pet needs to feel confident so that NO biting would occur. No over crowding of pets is allowed – meaning ONE pet per room. When pets are outside, owners/caretakers should be on a leash unless they are responsible pets that will not fight with other pets, or pester other guests. Likewise, the rooms are not huge, so the pet should not be bigger than knee-high. Caretakers should remember to bring food and water bowls (and food). Finally, caretakers need to be sure their animals have toys so that the room is not destroyed by bored pets. OH YEAH, you can’t leave a pet all by itself in the room with out a travel carrier… history proves animals get lonely and jumpy in strange places and they rebel via loud barking and excessive destruction. However, it is a nice way to refurbish the rooms on YOUR bill! Due to a few weird stories we’ve heard about, a “pet fee” of $20 will be requested. Why? Well, we now dry clean all bedding after every visit. We do wave the fee in some cases – when we know the pet, or if we feel confident that your pet is not the kind of pet that likes to sleep on the BED. Ewe… lets not go there… people traditionally do not enjoy sleeping in doggy beds.
SEEING EYE DOG? MEDICAL PURPOSE! The law requires that we allow animals needed for medical purposes (dogs only – for sight or hearing). We LOVE these dogs. But we require official documentation that demonstrates a trained service dog (service dogs are never left alone in the room, and typically do not have barking or biting issues, etc.). It is important that we meet your dog so that we can assure other guests that they are safe.
There is a $200 cleaning fee attached. Why you ask? Well, some people are allergic to animals and we would need do some extreme cleaning after a pet vacates a room. Often the room needs to be taken out of inventory for a day or two to clean carpets, etc. It is an expensive service. So, no charge for the service animal, but there is a charge for the additional services we would be required to provide.
We have had a number of guests that have stayed, and they all have understood the hardship we incur when we have to deep clean a room after a pet visit. It can be very costly. We are grateful for understanding guests. Compassion is a two-way street.
NO CAR, NO PROBLEM: Are you a city dweller with no car? For very little money you can have the best of both worlds. Here is the plan:
- RESERVE THE CAR: First, you will need to reserve a car with Enterprise to “pick up” at the Brewster stop on the Metro-North Wassaic line (be sure to check with them as they have closed a few offices). The main number is 800-736-8222 (or try ONLINE www.enterprise.com ). After you get your best rate, mention the following code and try for another possible 5% off – the code is: MNR24QC. Sometimes the rates as low as $25!!!
- GRAND CENTRAL: From Grand Central or which ever stop is best for you, start your venture into the county – just make sure the train is Metro-North going to Wassaic. This will cost about $17 a ticket, or a little less if it is non-peak travel. Enterprise also has a branch in Hudson NY; which means you can take Amtrak from Penn Station directly up the Hudson River into the City of Hudson. The only problem is that Amtrak can be a bit pricey compared to Metro North that departs from Grand Central (and Grand Central is so much cooler… although the ride up the Hudson is wonderful on Amtrak).
- ROUTE 22 NORTH (from Metro North): The train stop is on Route 22 – which is a road dotted with rolling hills and farms. You’ll take this wonderful road north through Millerton and up to Hillsdale. Hillsdale only has ONE stop light. Just past that light and on the right side of the road is the Lodge. You have to really work at it to get lost…
- DEAL BREAKER: Enterprise in the county is often closed on Sundays. Make sure to check on “key drop” policies… sometimes they do it, sometimes they don’t. But if you are really living large, just enjoy the country ONE more day… head for the office from the woods. Remember Enterprise has “pick up” service as well!
- AMTRAK: You can also take the Amtrak along the Hudson River up to the city of Hudson – which is about 20 minutes from the motel. Amtrak is a bit more expensive, but the views along the river are worth it. Enterprise in Hudson is very accommodating; you call them from the train stop and they will come pick you up. They even have a Key-drop service if you would like to leave on Sundays (Enterprise is closed on Sundays).
I’D LIKE TO FLY AROUND THE COUNTRYSIDE: A really fun way to get your lay of the land is to FLY around the region. You can fly around the Berkshires or out to the Hudson River and the Catskills… It is FAR more affordable than you might think… AND since you are at one of the more reasonable lodging facilities, WHY not spoil yourself.
There are other options to take in the views… like Sunset Rock in the Taconic State Park, which offers spectacular sunsets over the Hudson Valley… you can often see 20 miles or MORE and even to the Catskill mountain ranges. Or go to Olana and see the sunset UP CLOSE to the Catskills with dreamy views of the Hudson River…
And there is MORE… just let Steele walk you through a few options. An adventure is in the making.