Rise and Shine and Get Through the First 30 Minutes


First in an Occasional Series on Hotel Life Down the Shore.

It’s the first Saturday in June and we are waking up to a full house at the Victorian Motel in Cape May. That means all 38 rooms are occupied with a total of 83 heads in beds, as we say in the industry. Slightly above two per room, which mean someone got grandma her own room, and a couple of families brought the kiddies.

I’m up at the crack of dawn to walk our five-year old Golden Retriever, Joy, who will become a lobby ambassador later in the day. At 5:00 AM, except for the occasional sound of running water, or the water heater firing up in the basement, beneath my bedroom, the building is peacefully quiet.  After ten years of living in and running a motel on the jersey-shore, sounds of the building’s life are quite familiar. The  sound of WiFi not working is the one sound you can’t hear in a motel or hotel, until someone knocks on the desk and tells you. Power surges at the far end of the Cape are the main reason for  WiFi interruptions.

This day should go reasonably smooth. Full compliment of housekeepers, including two new ladies from Lithuania on J-1 student work and travel visas, make up the team to refresh or clean all thirty-eight rooms. On Saturdays,  only a handful will actually turnover completely as most arrive on Friday for the full weekend.

At arrival,  we have what we call the thirty minute syndrome. If a guest is going to have any issues during their stay, it will usually occur within the first 30 minutes after arrival. People can be tetchy after a two or three-hour car ride, especially if it was in traffic. My staff is acutely trained to be sensitive to this process and provide the utmost in customer service, and diffuse any issue or answer any question. It is striking to see the effect on people after just a half hour or more of being in Cape May.

The eighty-three guests waking up here today will join the rest of the visitors to Cape May, shopping, eating, and otherwise contributing to the local economy. Some will swim in the still chilly pool, barbecue on the grill, or head west to the West Cape May Strawberry festival.

Today will go smooth, I expect. Most of my guests this weekend are returning visitors. Explaining how to light the grill, or adjusting the channel line up on someone’s television should be the extent of it. But, it’s early, and there’s a new half-dozen arrivals, that have to get through the first thirty minutes. We’re up for it.



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  1. Ann Keen
    June 7, 2014 / 2:51 pm

    I will be arriving for my 10 day visit to Cape May next Friday. I really appreciate reading what hotel life is like from John’s point of view. I will try to be patient and upbeat after my 2 hour drive…hoping it’s not longer than 2 hours…what with the closing of the I495 bridge here in Delaware and all the work on the Garden State Parkway.

    • June 7, 2014 / 3:39 pm

      Thanks Ann we look forward to seeing you. My remarks are stated as an understanding of the traveler, not a criticism. I sincerely hope that came through.

  2. June 7, 2014 / 11:57 pm

    I really enjoyed this blog post. For future blogs, I’d love to hear more inside details on the behind-the-scenes things that go along with running a motel/hotel. Also, if you’re so inclined to share, it would be fun to hear some of your favorite complaints from guests over the years.

    I remember this one time, I was at a motel and a picture fell off the wall above the bed and hit me in the head… lol. True story.

  3. Jackie Adamo
    June 9, 2014 / 4:19 pm

    Enjoyed reading this post! Counting down the days until our annual visit! Best place to stay in Cape May!

    • June 9, 2014 / 4:25 pm

      Thanks Jackie, look forward to having you back. Thanks for checking out the blog.