Friday, April 18, 2014
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Raymond Brunyanszki’s Camden Harbour Inn in Camden now belongs to the exclusive Relais & Chateaux association.
John Ewing/Staff Photographer
Q: How do you keep going in the winter?
A: Our rates start at $225 in the winter, but we run some sales and I would say that 99 percent of weekends are filled up and sold out. A lot of those people are coming from Maine and maybe a little from New Hampshire. The rates in the summer start at $425. For a lot of people that can be a little out of budget, so they come up here in the winter. Camden is really nice in the winter, most of the restaurants and shops are open, there’s the snow bowl where people can ski and the toboggan championships and a couple of other things. Also, we have 25 year-round positions and we really like to keep them on the job and make sure they make an income in the winter. It’s a responsibility as an employer that we have. It would be easy to shut everything down, but that’s not helping the town, it’s not helping our employees.
Q: What sets the inn apart from other hotels and bed and breakfasts?
A: Our guest approach is different. We like the Camden Harbour Inn because it has a structure of a hotel, with private baths and lounges where people can relax in the day and there’s a restaurant. We didn’t want a situation of sitting at someone’s kitchen table in the morning. I really like to be with people, but in the morning I want to have my privacy and drink my coffee. We put a lot of high-end amenities in the rooms. The art is real art chosen for every room and all the rooms were designed uniquely. There’s a lot of furniture from Europe, which we feel fits New England today. It’s extremely detailed: We have 40 people taking care of 20 guest rooms. It’s very personal and we put a lot of thought into what our guests want and their privacy. We tried to combine what we like about staying at a Ritz-Carlton or a Four Seasons – that high-end quality and privacy and attention to detail – with what we like about a bed and breakfast.
Q: What’s your background? Before you bought the inn, you did some work in the entertainment field?
A: I assisted my mom. She’s one of the most famous comediennes in the Netherlands and still performing, but I am a hotel consultant. I consulted with some of the best hotels in Europe and Oscar, my partner, ran a pharmacy, so we combined our experiences to run our own businesses. The Camden Harbour Inn is a seasonal operation, so it’s different from hotels that I used to work with, with 80 percent occupancy year-round. But as to how to operate a hotel and keep guests happy, there was a lot of experience there.
Q: Why did you apply to join Relais & Chateaux?
A: I’ve been working the industry and have been very much impressed by Relais & Chateaux. It’s by far the highest-end brand for smaller properties, and it’s unbelievably focused on food as well. A lot of small luxury hotels are focused on the lodging part but when you stay at a Relais & Chateaux property, you have some of the best chefs in the region cooking for you. When we bought this property we weren’t thinking of applying – we were trying to get things up and running – and then in the second year, when the restaurant was stabilized and things became more professional, guests were actually saying “You should consider becoming a Relais & Chateaux property.” So in 2011, I started to have the first conversations about it and we finally applied.
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