Friday, September 04, 2015

Anatomy of a Hotel Bill

We've been on the road a fair amount this year going on vacation, visiting the parents to celebrate milestone birthdays (theirs, not ours, we're still 29 and holding!), going to a wedding. We've seen it all now in regard to fees and service charges levied by hotels, airlines and restaurants. 

It's been in the news a lot lately, too. Famous restaurants with $310 'tasting' menus tacking on an additional 20% 'service charge' that went nowhere near the pockets of the actual servers who waited on the guests. (Now, it is noted, the extra fee tacked onto the bill is called an operational charge. What?)

And our favorite airline, Jet Blue, has now instituted a baggage fee. (Let's hope they lowered the price of the ticket then.)

So now we come to my favorite set of add on charges - hotel fees. Hopping back on the bandwagon, the $2.4 billion/year bandwagon, hotels are now set to charge extra for selecting a room near the elevator, away from the elevator, near the pool, away from the pool, on a top floor, on the ground floor. Yes, you can now pay extra just skip the line at the front desk. So, if everyone skips that line, you know the line is going to be somewhere else and you just PAID to stand in it! (BTW, worst time to check in in Vegas? 11 PM. No lines at 2 PM.)

You've seen these fees, right? You find that perfect deal at a hotel, lower rates than anyone else around. The pictures look great - swimming pool, festive drinks, there's even what looks like a guest pantry in one photo stocked with anything you might want for a late night nibble!

You happily plug in all of your info online, or you wait in a phone queue for fifteen minutes delighted you're getting such a sweet deal. Then comes the final tally, which you may be hit with at check-in after a 7 hour flight!

  • Room charge: $159/night
  • Resort fee: $19.99/day
  • Parking fee: $10/day
  • Breakfast: $15/person

What happened to your deal? (Even if your room started off much lower, don't you feel just a little nickel and dimed when you see the bill? You were going to spend that extra $44.99 on the slot machines! You were gonna make it all back so your vacation was free!)

My daughter asked what the resort fee covered. WiFi in the lobby (no access in the rooms), a 'free' newspaper, swimming pool (closed in January when we were there). That's what we paid the extra $19.99/day for - WiFi in the lobby. We never found the place where they hid the free newspapers.

We don't like surprises anymore than you do. That's why here we include everything. (Except the tax, and we do have to collect it!) Your room price covers:

  • WiFi access so you can work or goof off when and where you like - in your jammies at 2 AM if you choose! On the front porch. In an Adirondack chair out on the lawn. In a comfy chair in your room.
  • All the coffee, tea and juice you want with your freshly prepared breakfast. Maybe Maine blueberry pancakes, maybe our crowd favorite Tuscan eggs. Table service with no tipping or 'operational charge' added on.
  • Parking.
  • Concierge services to help you plan your day or find the best place for lobster roll. (And we do know where that is.)
  • A coffee and tea bar with snacks that you can help yourself to at any time. 
  • Feeling peckish at 5 AM? Pop down to the guest pantry and help yourself to a bowl of cereal or a granola bar and watch the sun come up.
It's all included. So, pick up the phone and give us a call. We won't hit you with random fees. The price you see is the price you get. Plus tax. Gotta pay the taxman.

White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main St Freeport, Maine 04032

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Goat Cheese and Chocolate Puff Pastry

Goat cheese and chocolate puffs

Searching through the photo files I came across this beauty and realized I never posted the recipe! Let's rectify that situation right now.

Ingredients: (makes 8)

4 oz goat cheese
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
1 pkg of puff pastry (2 sheets)
2 oz chocolate, chopped (dark or semi sweet; for milk chocolate don't add sugar)
1 beaten egg for washing pastry
1 tbsp kosher salt (chunky salt, not table salt)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. If puff pastry is frozen, let sit for 20 minutes unwrapped before trying to unroll.

In a small bowl, mix together the first 5 ingredients.

Roll out pastry on lightly floured surface. Cut into 8 squares. Divide the cheese mixture evenly into the center of the 8 squares. Top with chopped chocolate. 

Fold one corner (A) of the pastry almost to the opposite corner (B). Brush top with egg wash. Fold (B)corner over top. Your pastry should be long and open at the ends. Brush whole pastry with egg wash and sprinkle a little coarse salt on top. Place pastries on parchment paper covered baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Serve warm or cooled.

Alternative: use cream cheese instead of goat cheese. Add nuts or dried cherries.

White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main St Freeport, Maine 04032