June 10, 2020

My Lost Spring

Hello, it is June – how the heck is it June???  I feel like I’m stuck in a bad dream. For 19 years, for me, June has been a month where we go from busy to super busy. It’s a month of beautiful days and endless visitors who can’t wait to explore all Sonoma has to offer. So how is it that it’s a Saturday night and I’m sitting by myself at table 14 in the dining room drinking Hawks chardonnay and eating potato chips and writing my blog? By myself, not alone at a table, but alone at my property. Yes ALONE (well, don’t forget the cats and the chickens). And this is my norm and has been for what feels like a lifetime.

My last blog entry from January 30th, ends with this cheery note (as if I’m inviting trouble):

“So, while I didn’t mention floods or fires or blackouts, I can tell you that 2019 truly was our most challenging year that we’ve had and I’m glad to have it behind us. But 2020 is looking great! We have big projects and some big changes planned that I’ll be sharing as we get things fleshed out. But I can honestly say I can’t wait; it’s going to be an amazing year!”

Could I have been any more incorrect in my assertation???!?!!?!?? Fires and floods were nothing compared to what we (the world!) have been dealing with in the last 3 months.  Flashback to February 28th, I was on a sales trip down to LA. It’s a beautiful sunny week. I stayed at the Fairmont Miramar with an ocean view, saw an obscene amount of celebrities, met with some of LA’s top travel agents (many of whom are wonderful friends), ate as some really great restaurants (a personal passion of mine!), and chatted endlessly about how 2020 was going to be “my year!” But all was not perfect, a few agents lamented about clients canceling big trips to Asia due to this new virus, there was some concern in the air.

But it all seemed so far away and, certainly, like the avian flu or SARS, I figured this flu was destined to fizzle too. A few days later, I’m back in Sonoma and I’m beginning to realize things are starting to get ugly. We’re only taking cancellations; the phone won’t stop ringing. We are utterly unprepared for this new reality that is about to take hold.

On March 18th, one day after San Francisco – the first city in America, declares a shelter in place (SIP) order, our rural Sonoma County follows suit. We were officially shut down. PERIOD. But only for 2 weeks and then it will be business as usual. I remain optimistic posting almost daily on social media how beautiful Sonoma is and how I can’t wait for everyone to return. What I didn’t share was that within days I had to make the brutal decision to furlough almost all of my employees and, in an effort to keep Farmhouse safe and operational, I moved on to the property where I’ve slept every night since, living in room 16 (poor me!). It’s not how I thought I was going to spend my spring, checking the landscape lighting, feeding the cats and chickens, being the person that signs for deliveries and making sure that all our maintenance projects get done. It’s been surreal to say the least. And I have to be honest, after SIP got extended and then extended again, some of my darkest days I’ve ever had set in. If you follow our social media, you may have noticed somewhere in late April, I disappeared.  While the world suffered, no industry has been harder hit than the travel industry and I’ve suffered many a sleepless night pondering this.

And, while I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, I am happy to finally have an open date on the calendar – yes, June 18th. Something to finally be excited about!  Sure, some things will be different but hopefully, most of the wonderful things we’re known for will remain. And just thinking about guests returning and getting everything ready has me so excited! It’s a new chapter and one I’m eager to take on. So, please come see us. And, if you can’t come to see us, please go visit hotels and restaurants in your area. Never, in my lifetime, have hotels and restaurants been more vulnerable than they are right now. It’s going to be a slow recovery.  Please do what you can to help. And, when you’re ready to come to see us, Farmhouse will be safe and ready for you!

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