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In 2010, we held a memory contest asking guests to submit their favorite recollection of an overnight stay, dining experience, special event, or exemplary service at Stafford’s. Below are a few of our the favorites.
The Squirrel (Grand Prize Winner)
Sometime on the morning of July 17, 2010, a squirrel crawled into a transformer and the power went down in the entire community of Bay View. I know this because that was the morning of my wedding, which was to take place later that day in the garden of Stafford’s Bay View Inn, with 167 guests in attendance for the ceremony, cocktails and a scrumptious dinner showcasing Northern Michigan’s finest local foods.
When I first awoke and looked at the clock that day, the glowing red dials said 5:30 a.m. I willed myself not to look again until a more reasonable hour, although I was so excited there was no way I was going back to sleep. When I did glance over again, there were no numbers at all. A little strange, but I didn’t really dwell on it, focused instead on the fact that it was my wedding day!
I got up and skipped over and tried the light switch. Nothing. And then the water faucet. Still nothing. Hmmm. “Probably just something going on with our room, right?” I thought, as a little twinge of anxiety started to creep in. My trusty Maid-of-Honor, who was by my side, calmly suggested we go downstairs to see what was the matter. When what to our wondering eyes should appear, but darkened hallways everywhere and I really began to fear…
The lovely girl at the desk, who to her credit never lost her smile, Shared the news that made my heart beat fast for quite a while… A squirrel in the transformer, no power for miles, And no water to boot – how was I ever going to walk down that aisle? I’ll stop rhyming now, as that’s a different story, but just a peek at some of the thoughts racing through my mind would show you everything from “How would the chefs be able to cook?” to “How would we see?” to more immediately at the moment “How would I take a shower?”
Fortunately, I never had the opportunity to move into full-fledged panic mode, as help swooped in immediately, in the form of Mr. and Mrs. Stafford Smith. Right away, they reserved the spa at the Perry Hotel for my bridesmaids and me that morning. Mrs. Smith herself met us there and showed us around. As we got ready, she brought us coffee and muffins, along with the sweet, happy news that the transformer had been fixed and all was right in the wedding world again!
It went on to be the most beautiful July day, with calm skies and sun dancing on the water and in the garden – a perfect day for a wedding, as it turns out. And so the tale will be told for future years to come, of the squirrel who took down the transformer and Mr. and Mrs. Smith of Stafford’s Bay View Inn, who saved the day. Just one more thing before I close – our Stafford’s Bay View Inn story would not be complete without a last hurrah for Ms. Kristina Carlson, who made each and every day we worked with her the most perfect day to have a wedding. Our sincere thanks to all!
Kristin, Ann Arbor
The Big Shield (First Prize Winner)
I was born in Muskegon in 1948, the fourth child of an eventual eight and our family, although not poor, lived with the cautious modesty of knowing that poor might be just a week or two away. Overnight vacations were few and frugal. When one did come along the station wagon would be filled with kids and excitement and the destination, always somewhere in Michigan, a Kernel of delight to be kept in mind as we traveled, counting the cows to left and right in competition and eagerly anticipating artesian wells and “Burma shave” signs. If we went north my father usually drove up US 131 which was then just a two-lane highway with plenty to see and places to pull over and take a look.
Each time we passed through Petoskey I would watch for two things in particular – the large area of exposed rock just north of the Perry hotel (which has since been covered) and what I called the “Big Shield”, a little further up the road on the other side. It stood next to a large building with lots of windows and a little turret just above a porch.
My wife was also born in 1948 and during the sixteen years that passed before we met, I had gone by the “big shield”, up and back probably a dozen times. We were married in 1970 and also took modest vacations, when we could. But that changed ten years later when my wife was looking through the February issue of Redbook Magazine and read to me several paragraphs from a glowing review of Sunday Brunch at Stafford’s Bay View Inn, near Petoskey. The author was particularly partial to the tomato pudding. Not being spur-of-the-moment types, we decided to visit there come September, on Labor Day Weekend.
This was a step up for us – an “Inn”! Plus we intended to walk the Mackinac Bridge. As we drove through Petoskey that September, I once again admired the outcrop of stone while keeping an eye out for our Inn and, in a singular moment of interconnected memories as we neared the “big shield”, I realized with childlike joy that that was where we were staying! As an extra serendipity our room was #1, just above the porch – the one with the little turret.
And yes, the brunch was fabulous, and has been many times since, although we only opted for the tomato pudding that first time!
James and Christine, Grand Haven, Michigan
Magical Water (Honorable Mention)
My husband John and I, along with our dear friends, Tom and Lisa, will be celebrating our 27th year at the Perry Hotel, a cherished Super Bowl tradition since 1984.
As you can see by the 1984 photo Lisa (left) and I were also celebrating our first pregnancies in one of Perry Davis’ beautiful Arlington rooms, exaggerated by stuffing a few pillows for added effect. What fun we had that first year, reading our baby books by the lobby’s cozy fire as our husbands skied, vowing to return each Super Bowl Weekend, God willing. To our surprise, our girls, Jenny and Julie were born that June, delivered by the same doctor, only four days apart.
1989 was a special year as well. Not only did Stafford’s purchase the Perry Hotel, but Lisa and I were gifted with the birth of our boys, Brian and Nick, delivered only five days apart. Rumor had it that there might have been something magical in that Perry water…
We look forward each year to sipping wine in the 3rd floor library, listening to Irish music in the Noggin Room Pub, those delicious breakfast sticky buns in the H.O. Rose Dining Room, and the fantastic service of the Perry staff, most particularly Mark, who never ages and keeps our water glasses filled to the brim.
Although Tom and Lisa have since moved to Greenwich, CT, our tradition still carries on. Thank you, Stafford’s, for your gracious hospitality, for creating lasting memories, and for that magical water!
Nancy, Hastings, Michigan
Perry Hotel Memory (Honorable Mention)
My most memorable stay was at the Perry Hotel in June of 2006. I was a member of John Demmer’s group on hand to celebrate the reunion of John’s World War II comrades. There were just three of John’s original unit on hand, but also some widows and extended family members from various parts of the country. I recall that one of the small conference rooms on the lower level was reserved for their meeting & show memorabilia.
I was on hand as I play the bagpipes and piped the guests into the various venues during their stay. We all traveled by trolley buses and returned each night to the Perry Hotel.
That last evening, the final banquet was held on the Perry’s large patio, where an excellent meal was served, and many “war stories” were told. In the enclosed photo taken there, we all wore “do-rags” made from table napkins in honor of the WWII mechanics headgear.
The service was excellent and the food exceptional, and I know that everyone had a wonderful time. I should mention that I am also employed at Demmer Corp. and John thought the pipes would lend a special touch to the occasion. He was right.
Terence, Okemos, Michigan
Exemplary Service (Honorable Mention)
In the summer of 1972, I was hired by my neighbor, Dudley Marvin, to wait tables in the Chart Room of the Pier. This was before the days of the salad bar, and I think the Wheelhouse was not in operation yet. On Friday and Saturday Nights there were 3 waitresses scheduled to handle dinner in the Chart Room. It was a busy busy restaurant and we usually had people waiting to be seated. We usually did not have the help of a busboy unless Sally Case from the Pointer room could spare someone.
On this particular night, we were just packed. All of a sudden out of nowhere appeared a gentleman in a white bus coat, a little older than I was. He was pouring coffee, watering tables, clearing plates, busing tubs, he seemed to know just what to do without any direction. When I had a minute to finally thank him and compliment him, I said to him “Wow, you have been a tremendous help tonight. I would like to buy you a drink after work!” This gentleman responded with a big smile and said “No Penny, I will buy you a drink tonight….I am Stafford Smith”.
I worked for Stafford and Jan for a couple of years. I worked in catering, Birchwood, and even at the Inn. As I learned from that night in the Chart room working for Stafford was totally a team effort. That team effort is the backbone of the “exemplary service” and the Stafford Hospitality.
Penny , Harbor Springs, Michigan
Pier Restaurant Memory (Honorable Mention)
It was a terrible tragedy. A local couple drowned in a canoeing accident on Mullet Lake leaving behind three young daughters aged 5, 7 and 9. At about the same time, I participated in a successful fundraiser put on by Hospice of Little Traverse Bay. As a result of a generous donation, I needed to find some worthy recipients for a dinner and theater package for a local summer musical. The production: Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. A Disney production? A young beautiful heroine and a charming prince? Three local girls needing a respite from events they still did not fully understand?
A perfect match was made.
The evening of Friday, July 17, 2009, is one those girls will always remember. Due to the kindness and generosity of Stafford’s Pier Restaurant, they enjoyed a dining event far beyond their normal fare. Dressed in their finest, the girls giggled and laughed as they were presented with special menus for their dining experience. Those menus had been given creative thought by caring employees and included courses inspired by various Disney characters. They dined as the sweet little princesses they felt they had become, if even for just a little while.
Another wonderful example of what happens when generous people all work together. I was happy to be a part of it and give special thanks to the Pier for their hospitality and support. It is an event I too, will always remember.
Barb, Harbor Springs, Michigan
Bay View Inn Memory (Honorable Mention)
Stafford’s Bay View Inn is one of our most favorite places to stay anywhere. The food, hospitality and the wonderful atmosphere is truly first class. I’m not sure if this is my most favorite recollection of one of our overnight stays, but it is a humorous one that we still chuckle about.
It was a blustery, snowy winter evening and we were in Room 39 overlooking the Bay. What a great time to be snug inside and enjoy a bottle of wine. I had bought a pretty expensive bottle of wine earlier, so we were all set. But, how to chill it?? In true husband fashion, I came up with the brilliant idea to lean the bottle of wine against the screen between the screen and window and let the air chill it. I carefully placed the bottle against the screen and waited to make sure the screen was securely fastened.
30 seconds passed — it’s secure and we’re good to go! All of a sudden, the screen pops open and goodbye bottle of wine, then the screen snaps shut!!
It was like a scene from the 3 Stooges! We had a wonderful evening anyway and, yes, I did go down to pick up the glass the next morning.
Keep up the good work!
Jeff, Midland, Michigan
Bay View Inn Memory (Honorable Mention)
Back when my wife and I were dating, I came north for the first time to work as a camp counselor at Lake Louise near Vanderbilt. I had arrived a day early, and other staff members suggested getting a bite to eat in Petoskey. My first sight of the bay was a complete surprise. I forgot about getting a meal, and simply followed the shore all the way into Bay View, which was another surprise, and stopped at the Inn.
Even though I was in camp clothes, the dining room hostess welcomed me to stay for dinner. No, no, I couldn’t do that. “Well, please take a postcard and come back to see us sometime,” she said.
I sent my wife that postcard, and a year later we honeymooned at the Inn. We had married on the third of July, and watched fireworks over the Little Traverse Bay on the Fourth. Stafford himself presided over the party. “Wouldn’t it be fun to live here someday?” we said.
We enjoyed the Inn so much that we returned at New Year’s, just in time for a tremendous blizzard. The staff, who were quickly becoming familiar to us, worked overtime to keep guests safe and comfortable. Reg Smith shoveled out cars while housekeepers brought warm chocolate-chip cookies. “It’s a real winter up here,” I admitted. “But wouldn’t it be fun to live here someday?”
Within a few months, we had our opportunity. And even after we settled into a home of our own, we kept coming back to the Inn for overnight getaways. We stayed in a number of different rooms and marveled at photographs of the staff from way back – pictures that told the story of Stafford’s vision and the people who had made it possible.
The people really were the story. Going to the Inn for brunch meant visiting with Barb as she poured a second cup of coffee, or with Corey between forkfuls of tomato pudding. Shortly after we stayed for New Year’s at the turn of the new millennium, the staff sent a personal note with photographs of us dancing with our infant daughter. Not too many places keep in touch with guests like that.
We have come to appreciate Stafford’s special role in the community – all the personal celebrations, the generous support of local causes, the way longtime employees are considered family. Through a lot of hard work at vision, this team has shaped the character of the area. I’ve thought more than once about the example young Stafford Smith set when he decided to buy the Inn. His lesson seems to be that yes, it’s a lot of fun to live here – but more than that, when you surround yourself with good people, all that work can be satisfying.
With many thanks!
Larry and Rexene, Harbor Springs, Michigan
Treasure Sale (Honorable Mention)
Our memories at the Bay View Inn started more than 12 years ago as a gift for our honeymoon. We have since continued to return many times with our two boys. We have enjoyed lighthouse tours, sleigh rides, shopping packages and weekend getaways.
All of our stays, whether alone, with our boys or our friends, it is always peaceful, relaxing and refreshing. One of our most favorite memories was having our long time friends join us on the treasure sale weekend. They loved it. We have booked reservations for the sale two years in a row and now plan on making it a tradition.
The treasure sale weekend is so fun and full of anticipation. The night before, when we can go in and survey all the goodies available, we begin to decide what we would really want to be able to take home with us as our reminder of another great stay at the Inn.
In the morning, we are as eager as children on Christmas day. When the sale opens we dash in and start shopping. Each year that we have been to the sale, there is a wide variety of items to pick from and the deals are the best. When we finally make it to breakfast, it is so much fun to sit and talk about what we bought.
The treasures that we return home with are as wonderful as the memories we have of our stay at the Bay View Inn. Many thanks to the staff for your hospitality, we look forward to our next stay.
Paul and Heidy, Greenville, Michigan