Ok....this review is going to hurt for a number of reasons. First of all....I can't say enough about the splendor and beauty of this place. I don't think I have ever seen such stunning landscaping or renovation in my life. This B&B is truly a must-see and a must-stay....but more on that later. My three star rating and the following review is based more on the innkeeper's waste of the most amazing opportunity than the actual condition of the B&B.
Firstly, Stepping Stone is up for sale. It hasn't sold so now it is going to a sealed-bid auction. The townsfolk have eluded that this is due to a divorce between the owners. I believe them wholeheartedly because the woman I met on the Friday night of our arrival was not a woman with any emotional or spiritual attachment to her Inn. I am told that weddings have gone from 50 a year to only 3....and I see why. To own a B&B is to live, breath and sleep customer service. It is to see the Inn as a place of warmth, happiness and togetherness. Customers have to feel immediately welcomed and wanted. If there is no reception and the feeling of "hominess"...then a hotel would suffice. What was most unusual and offensive to me was the manner in which the owner (we'll call her "Elizabeth") greeted us. We were the ONLY people in the Inn (an 11 room establishment) which should have meant great things for us (a wee hug, a welcome hand squeeze....an elated hello etc.....) however this was not the case. The first words from "Elizabeth's" mouth were "you will have to move your car up....you are blocking the laneway". We weren't. Then, a perfunctory tour of the downstairs and a long-winded excuse for why our champagne couldn't go in the fridge (crisis thwarted...we ignored her). This followed by some awkward chit-chat and what I can only describe as "muffled disdain". She left, we looked at eachother dumbfounded and then proceeded to our room. The Bridal Suite was spectacular. Homey....with just enough touch of English-meets-Asian design, a lovely walk-out to the garden, fireplace and the list goes on. The bed was comfy and we were very much at home INSIDE the room. There are no complaints about the room and the price was right. The next morning, there were two new people in the kitchen (staff). Two women named Darlene and Tammy were summoned from Portland to come and make us breakfast. Yes, you read that correctly. The owner was not willing or able to walk from her home to the Inn to cook eggs and sausages for TWO PEOPLE. I could almost hear the dollar bills being flushed down the toilet. On a positive note, the breakfasts were amazing and Darlene and Tammy are the loveliest and most welcoking women in the world. Sadly, the staff seem to have the Inn in their hearts more than the owner. Despite their positive nature and cheeriness.....it was obvious that they are worried about the future of the Inn.
There are signs of neglect and bizzare spending priorities all over the place ie: brand new inground pool, wrought iron fencing that hasn't been erected yet.....yet the microwave was a model from '82 and the fridge/freezer was probably from the 60's and missing handles. One side of the freezer was being held together with duct tape. Of course, this was all hidden between beautiful pine doors and I feel that this is the way things go at the Inn.......as long as everything looks pretty on the outside....you won't notice what is being neglected on the inside. There isn't even a dishwasher (can you imagine how many staff must wash dishes after an event?!). $$$$$$$$ wasted.
This is a stunning inn suffering from neglect. The potential for grand success is so great that one leaves the inn with a sinking feeling in the chest. I went to bed fantasizing about buying this place and returning it to it's original splendor. If only the owner could see it the same way. There is an obvious reason for the decline in business and poor reviews and unfortunately....it has more to do with "Elizabeth" than the building itself.
Hopes are that a motivated buyer will swoop in and save the Stepping Stone from a grisly demise. With the current loyal and committed staff on board, there is no reason that this place could not become an inn worthy of international acclaim.
I encourage you to visit this place with an open mind and heart but be forewarned that you will not be greeted by an owner with any concept of customer service. Look for Darlene and Tammy and all will be well.....
- Also Known As:
- The Stepping Stone Inn Westport, Ontario, Canada