October 5, 2015
We are rapidly approaching the end of our 2015 Season. The cottages are almost fully booked for Columbus Day weekend, the exception being that the 1780 Farmhouse is available now due to a late cancellation -- anyone for a quick getaway? We have a few more bookings the weekend after that, but then we will be closing up the cottages for the winter, and putting away the boats.
This year was a great year, with the HarborFest “Stroke of Art” events in early September being a major highlight. We also hosted two big weddings and one small one, and welcomed many new guests who we hope will become hooked on Harborfields as so many of us already are. To that end, we are already thinking about next season! Numerous returning guests have made their reservations for next year (Thank You!), and we have also booked four weddings! (with another two pending, and one or two pending for 2017 as well). But all of this activity has forced us to really look at some of our business practices, and as a result we are going to make two changes that might impact you:
(1) Traditionally, the deadline for returning guests to let us know of their plans, and be guaranteed their cottage for their week(s), has been January 1. As our business develops, however, we are finding it would be really helpful if we could know your intentions much earlier. So for the 2016 season we are going to only hold the cottages until December 1, after which everything not yet claimed will become available on a first-come, first-served basis. Of course you don’t need to wait until December 1 -- if you are reasonably certain you want to come back next year even before you leave this year, let us know! We don’t necessarily need your deposit right away -- just knowing of your intention to return would be really helpful.
Also, we don’t know if this has ever been recorded anywhere before, but we wanted to clarify that the policy of holding the cottages for returning guests really only applies to those who are staying a week or more, with the primary emphasis being on the peak season of July and August.
In summary, if you want to be guaranteed your cottage for your dates for 2016, let us know as soon as possible, but at least by December 1, 2015.
(2) For a long time, Harborfields was a strictly cash or check business, no credit cards were accepted. Traditional merchant accounts with credit card processors remain rather byzantine, but developments like PayPal and Square have simplified things and made it possible for small-time operators (like Harborfields) to accept credit cards. So for the past few years we have been telling you that cash or check are our preferred forms of payment, but that we could process a credit card if necessary. What we’ve seen is that more and more of our guests are choosing to pay us with plastic. We don’t blame you, it’s the way that we pay for so many things ourselves. But for the merchant, accepting credit cards does have its costs. Sure, it is a cost of doing business, but one that has not previously been factored in to our rates here at Harborfields.
A couple of years ago, the credit card companies capitulated to a multi-state lawsuit and now allow merchants, under certain conditions, to add on a surcharge for customers who choose to pay via a credit card. However there remain a handful of states where the state laws prohibit such a surcharge --Maine is one of them. The work-around is that we will be raising our rates across the board to better reflect this “new” cost, but offering a discount on payments made by cash or check. We hope that this won’t be too complicated for us to manage (or for you to understand what you are paying), but we are going to try it for the next year at least.
We will continue to honor our policy that returning guests who confirm their next year’s reservation with a deposit paid (by check!) before Veteran’s Day (November 11) will be invoiced at the current year’s advertised rate, before the rate increase goes into effect (oh, and the discount for paying by cash or check only applies to those paying the new higher 2016 rates).
In other news, we have settled in to our fall routine with Wendy holding down the fort at Harborfields, while Tim and Bennett spend the weekdays back in Keene, Tim commuting to Harborfields to help out on the weekends. The craft fair season is heating up for Wendy’s pottery business, and Tim is engaged as chair of a search committee to fill a faculty position at the college, as well as serving on the campus-wide faculty evaluation advisory committee, reviewing applications for tenure and promotion.
Bennett has started his senior year at Keene High School, and decided at the last minute to try out for the varsity soccer team, not having played soccer since 6th grade! He is an incredible athlete and he made the team, even if he doesn’t always get to play in every game. None-the-less, his skills are improving and he continues to impress the coach with his development. Bennett is also taking four Advanced Placement (“AP”) classes this year, as well as Honors English, and is really very focused on his academics. Of course, ski season is just around the corner... Bennett will be applying to colleges soon -- having set his sights on some highly selective schools, it is an anxious time for him, but at least his parents have confidence in him!
So -- December 1 is the new deadline to let us know your plans for 2016 if you want to be guaranteed your cottage for your week(s); Veteran’s Day (November 11) is the deadline to be guaranteed the current year’s rates; and rates will be increasing for next year but we will be offering a discount for payments in cash or by check. We will have a busy winter, but we look forward to hearing from you soon, and to seeing you at Harborfields next year!
All the best,
Tim, Wendy, and Bennett.
The Harborfields Herald newsletter is published annually in the fall, with maybe a few other short updates in the winter, spring, and summer.
PO Box 524
West Boothbay Harbor, Maine 04575