Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Living the B & B Dream

I hear it all the time: “Someday, we thought it would be nice to open a bed and breakfast.” This is usually one part confession and one part inquiry.

As I am nearing my 25th anniversary of actually owning and operating a B & B, there is no quick & easy response to this. Truthfully, I would like to say: “Why someday? Life is short. Why not do it now?”

But I am not so direct. I do realize it’s a dream for many people - a rosy image of heritage home, delicious smells of eggs & bacon and interesting travel conversations over coffee. If I were to ask Why Not; the dream might just fracture into serious self-doubts and lack of planning.

So I smile and say: “Ask me anything.”

I mean it. Do you think you would like to do bed & breakfast? My name is David - ask me anything!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Bananas in Vancouver?

It's September and the bananas are ripening in our West Coast garden. Take that - Calgary, or just about anywhere else suffering freakish early snowfalls!

Our American friends just can't stop connecting our northerliness with "it must be cold up there". In Vancouver's case, remember the "temperate rainforest" bit? In a protected space between Nelson House and the neighbours, we planted a single banana plant a few years back and now look at our little jungle grove...

Friday, August 1, 2014

Vancouver in summer...

It's that time of year when everyone wants to be right here - in the downtown, West End. We have three nights of amazing fireworks set to music. This year it's the USA, France & Japan providing the "oohs & ahs!" We have multiple free concerts, both musical theatre and Shakespeare in the park. The streets are full of talented buskers and tourists trying to squeeze in the visual and culinary delights of Vancouver before boarding their Alaska cruises.

And then there is Gay Pride - weeks of celebrations and cultural events leading up to the big party and parade on the first Sunday in August. It's a wonderful thing to watch a rainbow-coloured parade against a backdrop of blue water, sailboats and mountain peaks.

Like those Alaskan cruise-ship passengers, a taste of Vancouver in high summer is sure to bring you back!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Valentines in Vancouver

After all these years as an innkeeper, my best advice to couples wanting to warm their romance is to keep it simple. Do something that you both enjoy and do it together.

Relax. Don't let Valentine's Day stress you out. A little getaway is more fun than a box of chocolates. A change of scene is way better than a bunch of flowers. Like diamonds, memories of a great time together, are forever.

Check out the Nelson House fun choice of rooms. That's Hollywood pictured above. Sleep in late, breakfast will still be waiting.

You will be very happy Valentines.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

We have decked the halls in celebration of all the wonderful guests over the last year...the breakfasts, the laughs and stories we have shared.
We look forward to welcoming you to our home and table in 2014!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Ozzie in memoriam


Ozzie was the red-gold colour of a back-lit autumn leaf. For anyone who ever met this dog, you will remember him for his big heart, his happy wag: “Hi! My name is Ozzie. How are you?”

At 13 years of age, his life here is over. Many hundreds of bed and breakfast guests were welcomed by his enthusiastic kisses. Everywhere this handsome fellow went, he made people smile. He relaxed them just a little. He was always on the watch for someone who might need what he was offering. It seemed his mission in life.

I am not much of a church believer but if ever there was proof, warm furry friendly proof, of God’s existence, it was Ozzie. This dog’s heart was a bottomless well of love that he was determined, as only a Cairn Terrier can be determined, to share with the world. He seemed an old soul who just wanted to help everyone a little further along the path.

Peace my friend. If there is a forever-land, you are no doubt happy to be there, among the believers in Love.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Enter the Nelson House B & B garden and you are now in a "fee-free zone". Enjoy!
This week, a Reuters story carried by major newspapers worldwide, revealed the dirty little secrets of the hidden fees charged by hotels. "Hotels watch occupancy trends and change prices - and fees - constantly....Overall, nearly a quarter of hotels charge for in-room Internet access, according to a 2012 survey commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association."
Downtown locations appear to gouge the most. "Common fees include resort usage, airport pickup, parking and gym visits along with charges for room service. Some of the more surprising charges include a fee for moving items around in the minibar (not actually consuming any), a bellman (whether you use one or not), the room safe (even if you don't stash valuables in it), checking out early, checking in early and upgraded amenities...."
The biggest problem with fees is not disclosing those that are mandatory. Last fall the Federal Trade Commission sent warning letters to 22 hotel booking companies for leaving details out of the price projection when consumers shopped for hotels.
Bed and Breakfasts really are a better way to stay. This short funny video shows you why!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Summer Fun in Vancouver

Summertime in Vancouver is pretty amazing. I took the photo above at one of July and August's three Celebration of Light fireworks displays over English Bay. These shows are the largest offshore fireworks competition in the world and attract up to 400,000 spectators along English Bay each evening. The pyrotechnics are synchronized to music and judged!

The day after the last of these shows, Vancouver turns its attention to the Vancouver Gay Pride Parade. This year was the 35th annual parade but the first to be funded as an accredited civic event. No wonder - the parade drew 650,000 spectators to the three hour extravaganza!

Since Nelson House B & B is just 2 and a half blocks from the nearest parade viewing point and 6 blocks from the Bay, both we and our guests have front row seats to the summer fun. Manager Michael, Assistant Lisa and myself work hard to keep the lemonade, iced tea and coffee flowing for all our lucky summer house-guests.

Here is a pic of Lisa's Pride cookies!! Keep smiling, there is lots of sunshine still to go.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Nelson House B & B Garden continued...

Our B & B guests are sometimes blown away by the beauty of the West End's gardens. If stepping off a plane from Phoenix or even Sydney, the green can be kind of trippy! I remind them that Vancouver is in a temperate rain forest. If you visit the depths of Stanley Park, there is moss hanging off the tree branches. We may not be hot and humid like Louisiana but we are certainly cool and humid like the foothills of the Himalayas.
I joke that I am something of a Darwinian gardener. I mean by that I am a firm believer in flowering shrubs and perennials. The photo above shows some of our camellias and rhododendrons. I stick'em in the ground and let the toughest survive! It gets a bit jungly at times but then it also creates a feeling of privacy and escape right in the centre of the city.
The hydrangeas are lovely this year. We have several mature specimens along the front fence and I must have missed adding garden lime to one. With our winter rains, Vancouver has a naturally acidic soil, so now we have blooms in a lovely range of pinks and purples. I will try to take some more pics as the heads grow. The roses, by the way, are "bonica" and always happy bloomers.  

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Nelson House Heritage Garden

A gardener must be an optimist - always planting for the future with the eye of one's imagination. As often happens in life, the future might not work out as planned or, let's face it, we just might not be around to see it happen.

One of the delights of a mature garden is the chance to see those loving plans come to beautiful fruition. Nelson House B & B, a century-old house, has such a garden. It is small - a city garden only - but it has been planted with excellent "bones" and tended with love for generations. A visit to our little urban oasis is a step back in time. Several of our trees, shrubs and roses are truly heritage specimens, planted when the House was young, circa 1905-10.

The photo above shows the "bones" of an astonishing pieris japonica - described by garden sources as growing slowly with an elegant, upright and layered habit. What is astonishing is that this very slow-growing shrub, a native of rainy, shaded mountainsides in Japan and China, is expected to reach no more than nine to twelve feet - ours is fifteen to twenty! Even in Vancouver's well-watered, shady environment, this specimen is undoubtedly one of the oldest on the West Coast.

Blooming through much of March and April in Vancouver, the pieris japonica graceful, dangling bell-like flowers are matched in their day-time charm by the old-fashioned lily of the valley perfume - especially on a mild spring night.