Michigan B&Bs Learn “Best Practices” in South Carolina “Low Country”

Despite sheets of ice coating highways, trees and power lines, sleet, snow, closed airports and cancelled flights, Charleston International Airport in South Carolina stayed open throughout Monday’s winter onslaught. That’s important why? Because Charleston — unusually gray, windy and frigid for this time of year — is the location of the 2011 PAII Conference.

PAII Conference 2011

PAII (pronounced like “pie”) is the acronym for Professional Association of Innkeepers International. This is where hundreds of B&B owners from across the continent are transformed into innkeepers: culinary wizards, caring hosts and clean freaks.

Michigan B&Bs are well represented because we all actually managed to get here despite the weather. I’m Linda Singer, executive director of Michigan Lake to Lake B&B Association, packing my brain full of best practices to share with those members unable to attend. There’s Herb and Ruth Boven from Castle in the Country in Allegan, also attending all the Select Registry seminars as second-year members. I just spotted Gail and Frank Partee, innkeepers at Historic Webster House in Bay City. And I’m looking forward to a presentation on how important inn-sitters are to keeping full-time professional innkeepers sane by Sue Hart Kalis of Portage, who, with her sister Anne Hart Struble, make up Lake to Lake’s Two Hearts Inn-Sitting team.

We’re here another two days to learn how to help Michigan Lake to Lake-member B&Bs be even more professional, safe and comfortable. (And, if truth be told, we get to enjoy what I’m told is “Callou-style” food — Low Country cookin’ — stewed pork chops, collard greens, okra and other exotic stuff).  Here in Charleston, we’re in “Low Country,” which translates to below sea level (gulp). Not many miles east is  NC’s “High Country,” then “Hill Country,” which I’m pretty sure is the Smokey Mountains.

NEWS FLASH: President/CEO Jay Karen announced today that PAII headquarters are moving to Charleston later this year. It’s pretty gorgeous here on the Atlantic coast, barely a sneeze from Myrtle Beach. Down here, they put a splash of rum in their Southern Pecan Pie. Think maybe PAII is hiring?

Just kidding. I can hardly wait to get home to Michigan to begin sharing with Lake to Lake members the enormous quanitity and quality of essential information I’ve gleaned, designed to make YOUR B&B stay tomorrow even better than today’s.