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  Building Chesapeake Traditions and Superb Hospitality


 Barbie Perkins-Cooper

 The Tides Inn Resort,Irvington,VA– not only a Chesapeake tradition, but also a pleasant paradise

In a world where cell phones, Ipods, Blackberries, Notebooks and other modern technical devices dictate our life, a little peace and relaxation is just what the doctor ordered. Set amongst Carters Creek on theRappahannockRiverinIrvington,VA, The Tides Inn Resort is a special place where waterfront views provide an air of freshness, and the worries of the world cease to exist when entering the property.

 Aboard the Miss Ann

Looking out at the marina, Miss Ann awaits an inviting cruise. She is 126’ in length, a rare beauty with sparkling floors appearing so clean one guest on board suggested we could probably eat off the floors. Chartered for family reunions, meetings, and personal events, Miss Ann glides across the waters as gracefully as a swan. Her lower deck is enclosed, with tables and chairs, a bar in the rear, and a lounging room. Well maintained with smooth polished woodwork Miss Ann is a stunning craft of graceful, elegant refinement, owned by the Tides Inn, named to honor the wife of its original owner. According to legends at the resort, when the vessel was purchased by the husband of Miss Ann, she redecorated it with $30,000 but failed to appreciate the boat. On one trip, they had dreadful seas and Miss Ann took on water, toppling the boat. She refused to ride on the boat after that experience. Miss Ann holds a crew of eighty plus members, and is one of the amenities every guest should take part in while at the Tides Inn.

Once a secret resort hotel for locals and families, this award-winning hotel provides relaxation, gourmet cuisine fit for royalty, golf, spa treatments and the finest life offers, not for special guests – for EVERY guest. The mission statement for the Tides Inn states: “Building upon more than half a century of history and tradition we will create a unique experience, a retreat from the urban environment, a place where friends become old friends who return time after time to experience the warm hospitality that is The Tides Inn.” People come to stay on the water, golf, dine, spend a day at the spa, and relax at the Tides Inn.

Practicing a Philosophy that Works

The philosophy at the Tides Inn is a simple rule practiced at only the finest of hotels. Gordon Slatford, General Manager of The Tides Inn Resort prides himself in practicing and sharing his experience with others, having worked his entire career in the hotel industry on three continents. A kind, genteel man with a pleasant British accent and a gleam in his eyes, Gordon practices an impressive, friendly attitude he shares with all staff. “We attempt to read our guests needs and wants before they have the occasion to ask for them. I believe in the truest traditions of European hospitality – the feeling you have when entering a building – a feeling of coming home. The staff members greet you as if you are a long lost friend returning home. The Tides Inn is a place of solace where people return to time and time again. We pride ourselves in exemplifying the finest service, care, and true customer recognition.”

Customer Service Excels at The Tides Inn

At The Tides Inn customer service is not an every day routine, it is genuine. Employees are authentic and when they become a part of the staff at Tides Inn, they realize they are part of an extended family. Employees of The Tides Inn not only demonstrate the art of hospitality, they go above and beyond the call of duty to exemplify how precious each day is at the resort. Every guest experiences strong eye contact, a warm smile, and a personal greeting when strolling along the corridors. No cell phone attached to ears, no deafening phone conversations echoed in a restaurant setting or in corridors.

“Every customer who visits the Tides is an individual with special needs. Daily we discuss every guest every morning at our arrivals meeting,” said Gordon Slatford. “We always remember and practice the philosophy that there is no more important task than spending a few minutes chatting with our guests.”

Training, Recruiting Staff

During training and recruitment, the Tides Inn stresses a critical viewpoint of encouragement, never employing a skill but a smile. Never a qualification, but an attitude. To simplify, the staff stresses going the extra mile, experiencing hospitality ‘hands-on.’ “We believe strongly in actions. Waiters must dine in the dining room. Front desk staff must spend a night at the property. Everyone must take a trip on Miss Ann, our historic yacht.” The Tides Inn practices personalized services, thus building a bond with customers and happiness in the staff.

Originally owned by the Stephens Family, The Tides Inn recently completed a major multi-million dollar renovation in hopes to breathe new life into the fabric of the property. Refurbishment included renovations to all guest rooms. Formerly the number of guest rooms consisted of 124 rooms, however, during the renovation phase, the number of guest rooms decreased to a total of 106 guest rooms, including 22 of the rooms now classified as suites.

The accommodations at The Tides Inn are rich with details, luxurious and comfortable. Vista Suites provide a comfortable living area with a sleeper sofa and a pictorial view of the marina and Carters Creek. The bathroom is spacious with a large glass shower stall, garden tub, his and her sinks, and plenty of room to move about and relax while getting dressed. Deluxe guest rooms are available along with premium guest rooms featuring a large bedroom and sitting area. The Lancaster House Suite offers guests a cozy living area and separate bedroom. The Lancaster Suite is the ideal setting for families and friends.

Regardless of the setting, comfortable surroundings for all guests is the key. “When selecting beds for a resort, size is of little significance,” said Gordon. “A core responsibility of any hotelier is the provision of a great night’s sleep.”

At the resort, king size beds are provided whenever possible. All beds contain the availability for the guest to receive a good night’s sleep. Mattresses at The Tides Inn Resort are fourteen inches deep, featuring the deepest, most luxurious pillow top quilting. All beds are dressed with 280 thread count Egyptian linens, and down comforters, pillows. “If a guest is allergic to downs or other fabrics, we will completely remake the room with non-allergenic pillows, comforters, and accessories. It really is not good enough just to have a polyester pillow placed in a wardrobe,” said Gordon. “Our guests sleep well. We offer the perfect balance of comfort, luxury and service, along with a blending of rates, which allows a broad range of customers to experience The Tides Inn Resort. Rates during our high season ranges from the low $200 to the mid $300, with winter and low season approximately $100 lower. Peak season occurs from Memorial Day to Labor Day, with Thanksgiving andChristmas in demand.”

Another aspect of the unique heart and character at The Tides Inn are the hours of operation. Most resort hotels are open all year round; however, The Tides Inn closes during January and February for approximately six weeks. Many of the employees have worked at The Tides Inn for several years, and they return after the six-week closing ready and willing to work. Their dedication to their careers results in low turnovers. The family atmosphere is impressive. Employees are aware of the six-week closing and they use the personal time off to be with families. Gordon states, “We close around the first of the year for six weeks and will review and change the closure pattern. The Tides has a plethora of long service staff with many exceeding 25 years of service. One of the staff has worked here for over 50 years, starting as a boy, remaining with us and now it is his passion. This characteristic of the property cannot be emulated anywhere else. Our guests and several employees have grown up together. They share the delights of family on each and every visit. The Tides Inn becomes a nice family tradition.”

Bridging a Gap at Golden Eagle Country Club

Golden Eagle Country Club

Golden Eagle Country Club at The Tides Inn has some of the most challenging and beautiful fairways a golfer can imagine. The course was designed by George W. Cobb and has a backdrop of a fifty-acre lake. Golf Digest Magazine describes the Golden Eagle as a tough course and has hosted many championships. For detailed information about rates, tee times, and other amenities at the course visit the web site: www.tidesinn.com/golf.

The philosophy at the Tides Inn is truly a win, win situation, a complimentary blending of life skills, remembering what it is like to be the customer, and the remembrance of “The gift ofChristmas.” Gordon explains this practice, “Up to the age of fourteen, we look forward to receiving presents onChristmas day. Sharing the experience of giving someone a cherished gift, we experience the joy of giving. Remembering the smile on that special person’s face, the special feeling of warmth. These lessons are critical to anyone in hospitality. Our true rewards in life come from the pleasure we give. At the Tides Inn, we share life lessons, turning them into life experiences, training our staff to be good human beings. You know the good ones; they count every good deed and pleasure they give to someone else as a deposit in the bank of life.”

Every employee at the Tides Inn has a unique personality, complimenting the resort, making it one of the most amazing properties to experienceChesapeake Bayhospitality. Dining at the Chesapeake Club is a rare treat. Waiters top off water glasses and refresh napkins without a customer requesting the service. Food arrives at the proper temperature and is appealing to the eye and taste buds.

Attention to detail, pleasant staff, boat rides on the historical Miss Ann, golfing on a challenging course, spa treatments, a relaxing night’s sleep, extraordinary dining with service fit for a king, these traditions at the Tides Inn aren’t just for a selected few, but for every guest.

“AChesapeake Baytradition is not just a tag line for us, but a way of life,” said Gordon. “All of our seasoned and new employees strive to build not only superb experience, but memorable traditions. From the traditional Whiskey Run to our time-honored ‘spoon bread’ served each morning at breakfast, made for the past twenty-five years by the same woman, our guests continue to come back. Many of our employees have watched children grow up here only to return with their own children, thus building new family traditions. These customs are passed down from generation to generation. Of course the awards and many accolades we have received are only a measure of success, shaping our future while building many family traditions along theChesapeake Bay.”


Visit the web site: www.tidesinn.com for additional information.

The Tides Inn

480 King Carter Drive


Hotel Direct: 804.438.5000

Toll free reservations: 800.843.3746

Fax: 804.438.5222

E-mail: info@tidesinn.com
About the Author:

Barbie Perkins Cooper is a talented, award-winning writer of travel guides, screenplays, fiction, non-fiction, plays, and numerous articles for regional, trade and travel publications. Ms. Perkins Cooper is a member of International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association, North American TravelJournalistsAssociation, and South Carolina Writers Workshop. In her sparetime, she enjoys photography, boat riding, relaxing on the beaches ofSouth Carolina, riding a motorcycle with her husband, and listening to good music, especially jazz.

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