When your staff love Alaska it makes all the difference!

Taken at Summit Lake Lodge

We’re thrilled to have these two working for us! Taken when we stopped for brunch one trip to Anchorage.

One of the greatest challenges of a seasonal business is finding employees.  In recent years the easiest and best employees have been foreign exchange students participating in the Government sponsored Cultural Work & Study Program. The students were always hard workers and we’ve enjoyed and remained friends with all our foreign students; the hardest thing about using that program are the dates of work the students have.  Often the season has either started or lasts long beyond their work date windows, so we’re faced with the challenges of more temporary hires; which often need the same training. There have been some years that we’ve had to train as many as This summer we are to find 2 wonderful young women, one from Michigan and the other from Pennsylvania willing to come to Alaska for the summer.  Turns out they both love Alaska, are both great workers and better still, like each other and get along (they share our employee housing)!  We have our fingers crossed one or both will decide they love it here so much they’ll stay year round (at least for a few seasons)! 🙂

 

Spring is here! Time for upgrades and enhancements!

Another spring is upon us here in Alaska and we’re preparing for a busy visitor’s season.  We have a long list of things we’re working on, which includes upgrades to the TVs and DVD players in all the cabins and rooms, and a new enclosed stairwell for the Heron Roost building.  These are the things we planned on, but in the middle of April we were given a software project we hadn’t planned on!

You probably know if you’ve inquired, or booked with us, we have several website forms we use.  We had two different inquiry forms on our Angels Rest on Resurrection website, and a separate secure (https:) site called “Actually Alaskan” (actuallyalaskan.com) where we had our reservation form. The reservation form is a 2 page form, for added security for our guests.

On April 18 we received just page 2 from someone’s reservation. Later that day we received several notes from guests indicating that they had finalized their reservation…..but we didn’t receive the submissions. This prompted us to do some testing, only to discover that the forms were not working!  Shocked, and a bit panicked, we called GoDaddy, our website provider.

After over an hour on the phone, the technician claimed he had solved the problem. We received his test submissions, so we went to sleep that Friday night thinking they fixed the problem.

The next morning however, when there were no inquiries or reservations, we did some more testing.  Both websites, all the forms, on both failed to work!

Several hours later GoDaddy told us that they had applied a patch to their Website Tonight software that had caused all my forms to stop working!

We’re lucky that Lynda had the time to drop everything else she had planned to work on the websites! (She’s recovering from a shattered femur, so she’s been doing a lot of sitting around anyway! LOL)Screen Shot Angels Rest Secure Booking Site

So, in addition to the upgrades and enhancements we had planned, we now have a brand new secure website for both inquires and reservations!

 

Check out: https://www.actuallyalaskanlodging.com!  We hope you like the design! We’ll be redesigning our main website, angelsrest.com to match this design. This new website should work well from both computers and mobile devices!

Thank you Dear Reader!

We welcome your comments and feedback!

Namaste’

Wi-Fi that Works! Best Improvement Award of 2012!

As some guests know, there have been problems getting a good wi-fi signal in some locations at Angels Rest.  Some of the funniest/saddest stories would be from guests at the Gatehouse, that would have to stand in the kitchen, or sit in the bathroom, to get connected to the Internet.  There were “dead” spots in all three of the waterfront cabins, and depending on what kind of equipment guests had, they had various success.  It was always my least favorite discussion. I’d have to suggest, to those having real signal problems, that they’d have to “get closer” to the Guest Services Building; come sit on the porch…..

When we first opened, we tended to encourage people to enjoy the view and “unplug!” With the spread of smart phones and the pervasiveness of social media, there is no “unplugging.” The ability to upload perhaps hundreds of photos, so friends and family can follow along, have increased demand for good wi-fi and there is no denying the need.

Sometimes, to solve a problem, you just need patience, and to let technology catch up with your needs.  We get our Internet via DSL from our local telephone company.  For years, every Spring, we’d call TelAlaska, and talk to them about what we might be able to do to strengthen our wi-fi signal for our customers.  Finally, in 2012, a solution! Whoo Hoo!!!!

In several locations around the property you may notice small white “mouse” like looking devices,  on the buildings.  These are the relay devices.  It was an expensive investment.

As we near the end of the first year of the new hi-speed, property wide, wi-fi, I’m struck with a complete sense of joy and peace.  In the year since we’ve had this wi-fi network, there has been one time that the router needed resetting.  The only other question or problem we ever had with it has simply been folks needing the password.

In a world where our money is often spent on disappointing experiences, it’s so nice to say this was a worthy investment, worth every penny! Thank you to the Universe, and TelAlaska for a great solution! Guests can enjoy wi-fi anywhere at Angels Rest on Resurrection Bay, LLC, Waterfront Lodging & Retreat Center!

Thank you Dear Reader,
With Great Love, Namaste’
❤ LAMP ❤

P.S. I welcome your comments and questions!

Spring’s Struggle with Old Man Winter

April 6, 2013

April 6, 2013

April 9, 2013

April 9, 2013

Our days are growing longer by almost 6 minutes a day and we’re close approaching that time of year in Alaska, when it’s light out when we get up, light out when we go to bed, and light most of the time we’re sleeping. The long days of sunshine warm the ground. These are the predictable aspects of spring. The atmosphere that wraps around the Planet Earth, and results in the weather, is as unpredictable as the wildest tiger! Mother Nature is whimsical or has become more whimsical as the years have passed, I’m not sure.

Everyone seems to agree that the groundhog, who predicted an early spring, was badly mistaken this year. Although the Seward Highway is remarkably clear of pack ice, road damage and frost heaves are more plentiful this year. The seemingly constant snow is melting off the highway quickly, and long days make a round trip to Anchorage easily possible. Time to start stocking up for summer! Just a short month till our summer staff arrives!

Thank you Dear Reader,
With Great Love, Namaste’
❤ LAMP ❤

P.S. I welcome your comments and questions!

Trash in the form of Objects

We sell China our garbage; and they sell it back to us in the form and shape of objects – they look real, and feel real, but when put to use, they decay, fall apart or break often in less time than it took to unwrap them. There are a lot of things wrong with our economy, and this is certainly one of them. It’s a big one! How can people possibly afford to keep spending their money over and over on the same things? Recently I had occasion to wash 2 quilt bedspreads that I just purchased a few months ago. They disintegrated in the washing machine; when they came out of the dryer the solid blue backs looked to be covered with lint, but in fact it was the internal stuffing coming out through the fabric. I did not realize they were made in China when I bought them, but now I see it on the tags. Last year I purchased 5 sets of pots and pans for our new rooms. I run a quality operation and I purchased what I believed were reasonable quality products. Within weeks of use most of the frying pans needed to be replaced because the teflon coating peeled off after one use. The BBQ tools at our original cabin (10 years old) are still in use and look fine; the ones purchased last spring were rusted and falling apart by last fall and I’ve had to replace them all – sadly I could go on, and on, and ON with more examples. The common theme through it all, is that ALL these items were made in China. Don’t even suggest “buy American” …..YOU try to find American made items in Alaska; try to find them anywhere! Even if you could find what you need, you can’t afford the shipping to get it here, even if you could afford the item, which if not made in China, will be 3 to 4 times as expensive to start with!

So just remember, if it says “Made in China” it was probably made from US trash that we sold them….better keep your receipt. When it breaks, falls apart or disintegrates, maybe you can get your money back. As consumers we must demand better! If we’re diligent as consumers and make our voices heard can we make a difference? As a business operator, the challenge remains how to afford providing quality. Profitability is impossible when things constantly need replacing.

The Cold Wind of Tourism in the Summer of 2009

The cold wind of our recession/depression is blowing in Alaska, even though it has been a summer in paradise, thus far. This is our 10th year running my little lodging business, and regardless of what expansion we might have gone through in the winter, we would start the summer season with more sold out days than not. After the first few years it was not uncommon to be virtually sold out for the months of June, July and August; often as early as April. .

At the end of the first week of June 2009, I could count the # of sold out days ahead, on one hand. Not a day goes by that I don’t hear some tale of woe from a neighbor with a b&b, travel agent or charter operator. Tourism and travel are down across the board, and for many the season is looking bleak; for some, perhaps non-existent.

This winter as the economy crumbled before our eyes, it wasn’t that people weren’t calling and emailing for reservation availability this summer; they just weren’t booking. They were shopping and it didn’t matter that we’re among the nicest around; price won out, and we were loosing out to lower rates. The hospitality trade journal articles were all about not lowering rates; but after 6 weeks of practically no reservations, I lowered rates and ran some specials. Immediately business picked up; and although we still have availability on almost every single day, it’s often just one room that’s left. Meanwhile, the hotels and motels that stood their ground are reporting as much as a 60 to 80% down turn. Many of the smaller businesses that relied on the “spill over” effect will suffer the most, because there may never be a spill over this year!

This then may be the biggest indicator there is – We have an entire page on our website dedicated to other lodging suggestions. Historically we would begin sending guests to this page in February for the extremely popular dates like the 4th of July, and generally by April 80% of our requests would be met with “look for our link ‘other lodging options’.”

This year we have only recently started making referrals or sending folks to this page; and in most cases it’s only the groups of 3 or more; we almost always have a room left if they only need 1 bed.

The businesses that have been relying on referrals or “spill overs” will face the largest decline in business and it will be these businesses that may not be able to sustain themselves during these trying times. It will be businesses with solid footings, a strong customer base and enough business savvy and flexibility to ride out this storm that will survive this very cold wind that is blowing through our beautiful Alaska summer.

Where are the workers?

I really don’t understand – with the high unemployment numbers we keep hearing about, where are all the workers!? As the proprietor of a lodging operation in a tourist location I have need to hire a seasonal worker or two each summer; before I was self employed I worked at a local motel that had even more of a need for workers. Finding Americans who are willing to work hard at such tasks as cleaning rooms however, has proved to be a challenge only met by foreigners. Even young Americans graduating from high school or returning home after their first year at college, seem ill prepared to put in a full day, much less a long day. Over the years it’s been shocking how many kids expect 2 weekend days off as a part of their summer job’s “benefit package!”

How cliche to say “why, when I was a kid” …. But I fear I must….there was a time when a summer job was all about making the money, as much as you could, and you worked hard, willingly. Now, if you want to find someone to work hard at menial jobs like cleaning rooms, you need to look for a foreigner!

I’ve been in the hospitality industry for 10 years, and in that time, consistently the best workers have been the cultural exchange students. As word spread among local businesses, more and more have hired these students, and although there will always be a bad egg or two in any batch of workers, overall their quality far exceeds American workers.

What’s happened to our society that this should be the case, and what does this bode for our future? I don’t have these answers, but I continue to ponder this issue as I periodically search for employees of value.