Fear in a pandemic

There was some local comments on social media about our business and Claire and I crafted this statement in response:

We are all afraid of this virus that has changed so many lives throughout the world. My wife and I are committed to ensuring the health and safety of our staff, our neighbors, and the community that we strive to be a part of. Frankly, we assume that every guest and diner who passes through our doors has COVID and we are following strictest CDC sanitation and safety protocols to keep ourselves, our guests, and neighbors safe. We are also committed to helping our community follow the state mandated guidelines to open back up and get back to business. (This is part of the Phase 1 state and county plan to open up.)

When we were contacted by North Central Public Health District (NCPHD) about our participation isolating folks as required in phase 1, we assumed that The Dalles hotels would follow the law and fill this need. That was a misplaced assumption and we were called upon to assist the community to isolate an individual who had no other option.

Please remember the state and federal laws are clear: hotels cannot discriminate due to protected status; that includes health issues. We isolated the guest from staff and other customers and redoubled our sanitation protocols ensuring there was no threat to the community at large.

The guest only stayed 2 days. Remember people are self-quarantining voluntarily to keep family and other loved ones safe and may not even be sick.  The Oregon Labor Secretary is investigating what happened in The Dalles and we believe that we will not be called on to help the county again.

Since we bought the hotel five years ago, Claire and I have run our business a little differently than others. Our mission and values include a focus on supporting our community as well as providing award-winning hospitality to all. We have demonstrated that by supporting local causes like the museum, Women in Ag and the school among many others. We buy from Azure Standard, Kramer’s and We3 Deli as much as we can. We provide more than $100,000 in wages to local employees and offer a safe and caring workplace.  

As engaged community members we are grieved that our decision is upsetting to some of you. We also appreciate the outpouring of support. Since we are community-minded we are taking your concerns to heart and are deliberating our best next steps. We don’t want to break the law, and we don’t want to alienate anyone, either. It’s a tough place to be, but this pandemic has challenged us all in ways we never expected.

If you want more info and facts, stay tuned for a link to the detailed presentation I gave to Dufur City Council.

Since this pandemic was announced our business has changed dramatically. Within a week, we went from preparing for a busy spring to nearly nothing for an unknown length of time. More than a dozen events and weddings have been cancelled and we have lost nearly $50,000 in revenue so far this season with no end in sight. But if you think we’re doing this for the money, think again. We charged the government rate for 2 nights. Not exactly a windfall.

Great image

 We were visited by a German Travel writer who posted this shot of the hotel.

Gregory Rawlins to play at the Historic Balch hotel in Dufur

The Historic Balch Hotel just announced that Gregory Rawlins will play a free concert in their garden on August 8 from 5-8 p.m. A surprise addition to their monthly summer concert series, Rawlins will be playing during Dufur’s famous Threshing Bee celebration held this year on August 8 and 9.

Gregory RawlinsRawlins’ inventive compositions, austere command of language, and homegrown honesty translates to what one listener coined as, “Alternatively Bestial Truck-Stop Folk.” His playing style courts quick, jangly, Guthrie- like strumming and delicate alternating thumb finger picking that recalls a Country/Blues tinge of greats Townes Van Zandt or R.L. Burnside. His predominantly tenor voice takes disarming baritone forays, spoken word side-streets and the coarse grit of his musical portfolio’s earliest stages… Rock ‘n’ Roll.

The Historic Balch Hotel is a bucolic outdoor venue and sponsors several concerts throughout the year. New Innkeeper, Josiah Dean, stated, “We wanted to keep the activities and entertainment going during the Threshing Bee. This fits in perfectly with our core mission of supporting community events like the Bee and adds to the summer-long concert series we’ve been hosting.” Dean also noted that food and beverages will be available for purchase.

The 18-room Historic Balch Hotel–a boutique hotel located 15 minutes south of The Dalles, Oregon–was founded with the mission of:

  • Commitment to hospitality: Boutique hotel experience with simple luxury and sustainability as core ideals. Friendly, helpful, engaged staff; clean, cozy antique-filled rooms with locally sourced pampering amenities.
  • Commitment to community: Creative local resourcing and hosting of community building events. This location is a gather place for all.
  • Commitment to the past and future: Preservation of the historic nature of the building and town, while upgrading infrastructure in alignment with sustainable building and business practices.

More information http://www.dufurthreshingbee.org/ and http://www.balchhotel.com/

Abundance Hospitality Announces Management Agreement with Historic Balch Hotel

Change brings the Balch “to the next level”

The 18-room Balch Hotel, a boutique inn located 15 minutes south of The Dalles, Oregon, has completed a lease agreement with Josiah Dean of Abundance Hospitality and Claire Sierra of Bliss Breakthrough to operate the historic landmark. The partnership will provide for increased guest service opportunities for the 107-year old property.

“This is a dream come true for me,” Dean said. “After over twenty years of managing hotels for other companies, the opportunity to run this property is amazing.”

The alliance allows Dean to improve operating efficiencies and increase marketing energies. Plans include increasing operating hours and upgrading the online presence for reservations. The property currently operates as a Bed-and-Breakfast style inn; the new partnership will allow for increased options for dining and entertainment.

“We will see what the guests crave and visitors are asking for,” explained Dean. “We’ll build on the successful model that is already in place.”

Expanded meal options are not the only new developments in store at the Balch. Sierra is an author, artist, art therapist and owner of Bliss Breakthrough, a coaching and retreat business. She is developing a wide range of events featuring regional experts in yoga, writing, healing arts and creativity. As a licensed esthetician, she is thrilled to create a venue for spa services featuring deep rejuvenation using organic aromatherapeutic skin and body treatments.

Balch Lease Announcement

The historic property was purchased by Jeff and Samantha Irwin of Hood River, Oregon and has been operated for the last 9 years by Ms. Irwin. The couple has devoted uncounted hours to restoring and furnishing the property with antiques.

Samantha noted, “I am most excited to welcome Josiah and Claire to the Balch! We have a remarkably similar view of offering excellent customer care, the direction to head in the future—the growth for the hotel and the Dufur area. We’re eager to pamper our guests and offer them even more wonderful experiences as we grow!”

Abundance Hospitality was founded with the vision of:

  • Commitment to hospitality: Boutique hotel experience with simple luxury and sustainability as core ideals. Friendly, helpful, engaged staff; clean, cozy antique-filled rooms with locally sourced pampering amenities.
  • Commitment to community: Creative local resourcing and hosting of community building events. This location is a gather place for all.
  • Commitment to the past and future: Preservation of the historic nature of the building and town, while upgrading infrastructure in alignment with sustainable building and business practices.

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Creating a Life That Is Fulfilling

Learn every day

“Looking inward is the key to progress. When you begin looking in, look out.”

 — Swami Beyondananda

Have you ever found yourself thinking, “Is what I’m doing really fulfilling me?” (If you’re asking, it’s probably a hint that it’s not.) I have often found myself working at jobs that, while I was qualified for and was good at, were not really on purpose.  At least not at first glance, anyway.

These situations can provide the opportunity for great growth (and sometimes new direction) if you allow it. When folks look at my resume they think “eclectic, diverse, and talented.” Never do they think, “Stable.” I have worked in leadership positions in several different industries, from hospitality, higher education, on-line discount retail and management training. Not all were a great fit, but with each I’ve brought my full attention and ambition opportunity so I could grow professionally as much as possible.

If someone from the outside was looking at your path and accomplishments what would they notice that you might not?

Make Every Day a Learning Experience

Whether those positions were in tech-support, graphic design or customer service, I’ve taken away valuable skills and found the knowledge is applicable in ways I’d never expect.  Always I’m looking to add to my skillset and benefit from the experience.   Like how to interact in difficult situations or how to network computers.

What off-beat habits and abilities have you developed? You may think they are random or un-useful, but maybe that’s not true.

I’ve worked in various types of hotels and learned from the ground up. I’ve then tested ideas from one property to another, one market to another. Each one was a new adventure in both learning and experimenting.

You never know what skills you will find useful as your life moves you forward.

I’ve noticed that as our purpose becomes more clear, the skills we develop in these supposedly “off-purpose” positions are actually quite on-purpose.

What’s a skill or talent you are currently honing, whether you want to or not? How might that fit into the larger picture of the purpose that’s unfolding for you?

Just a few days left in our crowd funding  campaign!

3 Steps to My Dream … How You Can Realize Your Dream Too

ThreeStepsBannerSQI’ve pretty-much lived my life by going with the flow.  This worked when I was younger because it allowed me the chance to see new places and learn new skills. However, at a certain point I began to realize that I’d ‘been there, done that’. I needed something more but I didn’t know what.

Since finding the answer to this “Big Question” I recognize 3 steps I took to make it happen.

1. Figure out what you really want to do and what mark you want to leave on the planet.

My journey began a years-long quest for “my purpose,” involving various career searches, counselors and spiritual visioning. After much frustration and many tears I felt as though I hadn’t really accomplished anything. Then I finally made a breakthrough that has set me on an incredible trajectory, while working with a life coach.

All that time I had been looking inward, trying to find answers, when the answer was apparent from the outside looking in: my dream is to own and run a sustainable, socially responsible hotel.

I had run hotels for many years and I have enjoyed creating outstanding experiences for travelers. The part that left me unfulfilled was that my efforts just made some owner or corporation richer. I have found little “purpose” to doing business for business sake. If I could run my own hotel then I could add that extra piece that had been missing for me.

Get clear on your dream. It could be right under your nose.

2. Tell someone what you are dreaming.

Realizing my dream was even more challenging because it seemed so far out of reach. Many people that I shared this new purpose with, smiled and said, “That’s nice, but so what?” They reflected my belief that I couldn’t actually pull this off.

Gratefully, I had my wife and a few friends who were supportive of this emerging (and seemingly unrealistic) vision.

The trick here is to set the idea of your dream in motion, by sharing it with others. This will keep you focused on how to make it happen. And make you accountable for taking action.

3. Do something a little different than your normal.

It was obvious that knowing my purpose was not enough. And telling folks about it, while helpful for motivation, was still not going make it happen. In my case I began searching for hotels for sale and figuring out how much money I would need in order to make a down payment, even though it seemed unrealistic.

My wife helped me to take another action that was different and which led to where I am today. Instead of just talking about hotels, Claire suggested that we take a trip and actually look at some properties I was interested in. We assessed our assets and saw a creative way we could afford to take action on this dream. It was her inspiration that began the process that leads me on the edge of my dream.

Here is the key: do something, anything, different from your daily routine, which moves you towards your goal.

A New Reality

Now I am on my way to creating a partnership with a beautiful hotel in a wonderful small town near Portland. It has been an incredible journey and there is a great deal more work involved, but I love it.

One of the challenges of reaching for great heights, is sometimes you need help and one of my lessons has been to reach out. I am in that position right now. As I’ve been telling folks about my dream and providing updates, they often ask how they can help. We have put together a crowdfunding campaign so you can help support our dream. Simple click here to go to IndieGoGo and help Bring the Balch to Brilliance.

Our hotel deal is on its way!

Claire and I have been working for months to get the financing together for our big (for us) hotel purchase. Between the sale of our home in Grants Pass, cashing in some retirement savings and borrowing from friends and family we are getting enough together to get started.
We are also blessed with very understanding and supportive sellers. The folks we are buying from have been very patient and are working with us to put together a partnership agreement to make it work for everyone.
It feels like it is all coming together in perfect time as the spring wildflowers are blooming and folks are starting to plan their summer travel plans.

We also have started an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign.  Check it out here: