The quaint community of Harbour Grace, Newfoundland, is as charming as its name. There, the famed Rose Manor Inn welcomes visitors from around the world. Recently we spoke with owner Erika Pardy.
What is your own ethnicity/heritage?
I was born in Happy Valley, Goose Bay, Labrador, from Welsh/Irish/English parents. After the age of 9, I was raised on Fogo Island and moved to Harbour Grace a few years ago, after taking a job as EDO for the municipality.
What is the Inn's history and mandate?
Rose Manor Inn was originally known as Bellevue Manor and was built in 1878 by Justice Thomas R. Bennett at the cost of 85 pounds sterling. Mr. Bennett (who later became the 11th speaker of the house in the House of Commons) was the judge who presided over the infamous "Harbour Grace Affray". During a march on St. Stephen’s day in 1883, tensions between the Protestants and Catholics were elevated. The ensuing altercation resulted in 5 deaths and 17 injuries. Nineteen people were charged in connection with the incident. Unfortunately, because the people charged were wearing veils and other "mummering" costumes, all charges were dropped and the 19 suspects were acquitted. The wealthy Mr. Bennett lost his fortune in the crash of 1890. In 1901, he died penniless, leaving his wife a pauper. She sold the property in 1902 to a wealthy merchant named Mr. James Cron, who maintained ownership until the passing of his 2nd wife in 1935. The home was passed down and remained in the family until the early 1980's when it was left abandoned and in disrepair, suffering severe neglect over the coming years. It had a few owners following that time. In 2002, the once beautiful home, was purchased by the Haire's and lovingly restored to its former glory as the magnificent Inn that you see today. Our mandate is to re-create history, to tell the story of its 'presence' and its past. The architecture is unique for this area and tells the story of an English manor from the Victorian Era. Being situated in the most historic part of Newfoundland, we are blessed to have a library of stories to tell; including, but not withstanding, Peter Easton (the richest pirate in history), Amelia Earhart's first solo transatlantic flight, the bloody massacre on St. Stephan's Day, the SS KYLE, as well as the Great Fires. We certainly cannot leave out Harbour Grace being the original capital of Newfoundland, the Ridley Premises, the boat builders, as well as the Baccalieu Trail and Admirals Coast. Our promise to future generations is to leave a place that will remain a constant in the hearts of those seeking knowledge of the past, while maintaining the luxuries and amenities of present day.
How has it evolved over time?
Rose Manor became an Inn in 2002. The previous owners were meticulous in the design and upkeep of this lovely property. In 2011, it was voted as one of the top 5 romantic getaways in Canada. In 2013, it was awarded one of the top ten teas in Canada. Since taking over in 201?, we have made some important changes to continue improving the quality and experiences that we offer, namely; we introduced a full time culinary expert and Chef. The Inn is now fully licensed to offer a full fine dining menu to not only our Inn guests but to outside guests as well. We offer a full gourmet hot breakfast menu to our over-night guests. We have increased the quality of our High Tea experience to include a variety of scones, sandwiches and desserts, as well as Champagne. We are proud to serve these on our 100+ year fine bone china. We also offer Tea tasting with over 80 flavours to choose from. All of our meals offer organic, locally grown products. We introduced new experiences, such as Lobster Beach Boil ups, Wild foraging for native plants and berries. We do guided pirate tours along the coast as well as being well known for our Murder Mystery dinners. We upgraded another of our rooms to a king sized suite so that we currently have 3 King suites and 2 Queen. We have increased our social media presence by posting to Instagram, Twitter, as well as our Facebook page which presently has a following of 9200 people. We have donated over 10 000 to local charities in just under 2 years. We changed our artwork to display the works of local artists. All of our jams and preserves are from local jam makers. Our focus is on our guests and experiential tourism. We have chosen to move away from weddings and events that do not allow us to interact with our guests. We are the story tellers.
What are your roles and responsibilities there?
I am the owner/operator as well as the hostess. I also do the marketing and advertising. I am creative and a dreamer but I am also the toilet bowl cleaner and bed maker. I also plan itineraries, events and experiences. I am the point of contact for the business and attend sessions, board meetings, networking and marketing events. My son is a part owner and my Chef as well as the back end manager with regards to website design and online bookings and that sort of thing. I tell him my ideas or we share ideas and he brings them to life online.
What are the challenges of the job?
This will sound cliché but I love my job and I don't find any challenges in the guest department. I love every single one of the people that come through our doors. I guess if I were to find something challenging it would be the brevity of our tourist season. However, it allows us time to spend with our locals. In the off season, our locals are our biggest supporters. We host our Murder Mystery dinners from October until December. In December, our Christmas dinners are sold out for the entire month by local businesses and companies. Naturally when January rolls around, we enjoy a break so that we can work on marketing for the upcoming season. February is Valentine’s, March is St. Patrick , April is Easter and May, Mother's Day where we offer themed High Teas.
What are the rewards?
The rewards are too numerous to list. My heart is full for the people that visit us. The reviews we receive make my heart explode with gratitude. Getting to meet people, having the opportunity to create a wonderful, life long memory is a gift. Being etched in the memory of someone's mind is truly a life altering experience. My job is to make it the best memory possible, something to hold onto forever. Whether it's through our fine dining or our rooms, our customer service or events, we promise our very best.
What can visitors expect to experience?
Hopefully the best customer service experience they have ever had; tranquility, serenity, peace and quiet, great food, great fun.
How do you differ from the competition?
I think we are different because of our location (50 mins outside of St. John's and central to the Baccalieu Trail, Admirals Coast as well as the Romantic Coast and we are right smack dab in the middle of the Avalon. We are a day trip away from anything in eastern Newfoundland. Our style and age of the building are another unique feature to us. The events/experiences that we offer are also unique. We impress upon the full service aspect of the industry. With that being said, I don't think we really have competition, we strive for partnerships in the industry. The goal in the hospitality industry is to ensure all our guest enjoy their time here in NL. We all work together to make sure people leave with a sense of joy and satisfaction. After all, if you tell two people and they tell two people, then our place in the industry is solidified and with that brings more people. We can never have too many places to stay! We offer an English manor experience and our good friends offer a rustic cottage experience. Both are great, it's really dependent on what you are looking for.
How do you reach your potential clients?
We are active through social media and we subscribe to online booking agents. We do encourage people to contact us directly however. We have a website and are members of a variety of platforms. Tourism NL, Legendary Coasts, BBCANADA, We also take advantage of marketing opportunities through different media outlets and digital or print magazines.
I tend to be a positive person, preferring to see the bright side of things. To me, the economy couldn't be better. More people are traveling for adventure rather than weather so the more rugged coastline experiences are taking over from basking away on beaches. More people are staying closer to home and as a result we are seeing a rise in Canadian visitors. Since we have added additional flights to the UK and Europe, we are seeing a rise in those visitors as well. Newfoundland and Labrador are really in it's infancy with adventure tourism. We are growing in popularity with the help of our tourism strategy and planning. Our demographics are changing and experiential tourism is where the new surge is coming from. If I speak from our personal experience, our booking are up 160% since we took over 2 years ago. The majority of our bookings are multi night stays. It was only last year we decided we were not going to offer wedding packages at the Inn any longer, opening us up for more quality time with our guests.
How can that be improved?
Of course there is always room for improvement. A few years ago, the Destination management organizations of NL created vision 20/20. This was an outlook at what NL needed to compete on the global tourism market. We isolated things like better transportation, more eating establishments serving local cuisine throughout NL, more accommodations, more experiences and other important factors. Our goal at the end of the day is to increase our tourism revenue by becoming a top destination spot. Newfoundland and Labrador is a blank canvas waiting to be shaped into a tourism masterpiece.
What are your future plans for the business?
Our future plans are to continue to be the best we can be. My personal aim is to be no.1. I would like the number one spot in NL and eventually Canada. Number 1 for customer service, location, style, relaxation and to encapsulate the entire Bed and Breakfast experience. We will continue to offer our guests a true cultural experience and will continue to offer itineraries that will give our guests the best possible representation of our island.