Thursday, July 3, 2014

CELEBRATING OUR NATION'S INDEPENDENCE DAY AS A COMMUNITY

On the cusp of July 4th, I look out the window of our lobby and take it all in:  The passersby; the vintage cars that take their time to savor every moment of being on Race Street in Frenchtown, NJ; the visitors carrying shopping bags from our local and unique stores; the families walking with strollers and children being held by their hands.  It's so serene, so beautiful, that it reminds me of the very significance of our great nation's Independence Day and all that we have at our fingertips today having built upon that foundation.

I think about the decisive battle on Christmas, fought just a little bit south of where we are, and imagine George Washington crossing the Delaware River--the same river that brings locals and tourists great joy and an escape from "life."  When I walk on the Delware and Raritan Canal Trail (or simply the "Towpath" too) that was designed so beautifully to run parallel to this gift of nature, I love seeing the cyclists who ride their bicycles past me, the kayakers enjoying the river, and the families who trek to this little corner of our world, to have a family fun day tubing on the Delaware River.  Of course, given the weather yesterday and today, the river was devoid of this activity, with the major tubing company on our side of the river, Delaware River Tubing, always putting people's safety ahead of profits and closing during these bad weather days.  


As the storm unleashed it's rapid fury late this afternoon, I looked out the window and was in awe of the majesty of the storm, the calm that followed, and the rapid pace of the night afterwards in our Restaurant and Bar, when guests started arriving quickly, all trying to find a respite from the deluge.

As the evening winds down on our main floor and activity increases in The Rathskeller Pub (a.k.a. the Rat), I steal a moment to write this.  It is during these "quiet" moments, that often allow me to think, to reflect, and to be thankful.  I am especially grateful for our staff, who are so genuine, so dedicated, and so conscientious.  I watch them talking with our patrons, serving them, and doing all they can to make their day a little better than before they entered The National Hotel.  It makes such a difference knowing that they have internalized our vision for this historic establishment.  Again, thankful.  Simply and honestly, grateful.

To all of you, Pete and I wish you a wonderful July 4th.  Those of you who braved the rain storm and came, we hope you enjoyed the Brinley Shipwreck Rum Tasting event with Zack Brinley this evening.  And, if you're still here enjoying our Pre-Independence Day celebration featuring a live music performance by Midtown Direct, thank you for your continued patronage.

Pete and I hope to see you in Frenchtown and at The National Hotel in the near future.  Please do email me with any feedback or questions, or leave a comment on this blog.  You can also reach us at 908.996.3200, or fill out our guest inquiry page on our website.  We have a lot coming up this month, from this Saturday's live music featuring Mike Pfeiffer, to live music with Arnie Baird on Sunday, and much more.  Stay up-to-date with all of the activities and programs we have planned for this special season:

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Thank you again.  Here's to a wonderful July 4th!!!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

END-OF-MAY BLISS LEADS TO A GREAT MONTH OF JUNE AHEAD

We definitely received a gift:  An incredibly beautiful spring day!!  I love the way the sun shines over The National Hotel as you come down the hill from Route 12; it never ceases to take my breath away.  Having our front porch open and filled with smiling faces from satisfied customers just absolutely completes this picture!!!

Tomorrow is supposed to be a picture-perfect spring day & we couldn't be happier!  We have a special musical group lined up to entertain our dining guests, 5-7 p.m. in our main Restaurant and Bar:  El Bandito.  They will surely create a special way to close out this gorgeous weekend that will have you "chomping at the bit" for next weekend's line-up that will soon be posted on our website...pun intended, given that it'll be the Belmont Stakes and even if you don't follow the races, this will be yet another reason to get together Saturday afternoon and share our lives together.  Make sure to mark your calendars for June 7th and cheer on your fave, even if it's not California Chrome!  The 3rd and final leg of the Triple Crown is, after all, "the test of the champion."  Can you say, "exciting?!"

And another reason to say thank you, is the recent award we received from TripAdvisor that absolutely floored us, because we know we OWE IT TO YOU!!!  Thank you for your feedback and for continuing to support us and share your experiences with TripAdvisor, Yelp, facebook, and other online forums.

It's also unbelievable how quickly May is winding down! Maybe it's because of all of the activities in our area, from the local schools' proms, graduations, teacher-talent nights, and plays, to the area's myriad activities, ranging from cycle clubs touring our area's local roads to new initiatives that keep tourists and locals in town.

From next weekend's Farmer's Market opening in Frenchtown on June 2nd running through October 27th (10 a.m. - 2 p.m.), to our very own NEW Wednesday Karaoke Night that launched last month, featuring DJ Papa Gs repertoire of hundreds of songs (with on-screen lyrics), this little corner of the world has an invitation card all crafted & carved with your name engraved!!

But let's not forget about Father's Day too...The National Hotel has an entire weekend menu planned for that special day (that we'll post next week) so that YOU can decide when you'd like to celebrate:  Friday, Saturday, or Sunday!!  Make the special man you are honoring truly feel special as you choose the special day, time, and activity.  Call us at 908.996.3200 or click here to make your reservation, be it lunch or dinner, or even an overnight stay with special add-ons to make it an unforgettable Father's Day experience.


How about giving that special person a gift that will make him think of you and thank you EVERY SINGLE MONTH OF THE YEAR?!  Why not give him a membership gift to our monthly National Wine Club?  And if you'd prefer something a little different, why not just give him a Gift Certificate that will allow him to choose the many options available?  Call us at 908.996.3200 or email us to talk to our knowledgeable staff.

With everything we've just mentioned, I don't want to forget about the many other options that The National Hotel offers our patrons:


All of this is complemented by Frenchtown's list of upcoming activities, from the Farmer's Market in June to Bastille Day in July.  Even beyond the planned activities, our area offers a ton of options, from kayaking to tubing to bicycling and hiking--not to mention shopping, spa treatments, yoga sessions, pilates training, etc.  As we clear away the winter blues and see the extended hours allowing us to spend more time outdoors, Frenchtown comes alive! 

Thank you for all that you continue to do to make Frenchtown your chosen destination.  Whether you are a local resident or someone who enjoys visiting our area, make sure to visit our website for updates on things to do while you plan your time in Frenchtown.  It will be our pleasure to serve you and to make your stay with us memorable and something that you will long treasure.

Pete and I hope to see you in Frenchtown and at The National Hotel in the near future.  Please do email me with any feedback or questions, or leave a comment on this blog.  You can also reach us at 908.996.3200, or fill out our guest inquiry page on our website.  Stay up-to-date with all of the activities and programs we have planned for this special season:


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Thank you again.

Monday, April 28, 2014

FROM FLOWERS TO NEW PROGRAMS, EVERYTHING IS BLOOMING AT THE NATIONAL HOTEL

Spring arrived but old man winter has had a hard time letting go this year.  Still, seeing the flowers starting to bloom and lawns starting to turn green, refreshes the senses and lifts one's spirits.  It inspired us to plant some flowers in front of The National Hotel's main entrance, to replace all the beautiful flowers that had been planted back in 2009 by Kristine Gryl Marinelli (KM Interior Design), after we took ownership of this historic building.  It seemed like a minor inconvenience losing all those flowers after SuperStorm Sandy, compared to all the damage and destruction that storm brought with it.  But it was time.


It became a "family affair," as so much of our personal lives are intertwined with the love and respect we hold for The National Hotel.  Even on Mondays, when only the Hotel is open, we are often in Frenchtown, NJ tweaking this or that, replenishing supplies, deep cleaning carpets or tending to the beautiful, original pumpkin pine floors that welcome our guests.  Last week we weeded and planted; the week before that we spent Monday resetting computers with our new Spring Menu that was unveiled on April 15th, as well as doing a full staff training that very night.  The latter is an essential ingredient that helps us deliver the quality of service that our patrons demand.  It's our attentive, friendly, and caring staff that continues to amaze us.  We are so appreciative of all of their hard work and their dedication to The National Hotel.

All I can say  is that with their help, WE ARE READY FOR MOTHER'S DAY!!! That all-important day where we have the opportunity to honor our mothers, the mother of our children, or women in our lives who are nurturing and who make all the difference.  We're planning a special menu that weekend that will definitely say to that special lady in your life:  I VALUE YOU!  Make your reservations early; call us at 908.996.3200 or email us, or if you'd prefer, present her with a Gift Certificate to The National Hotel.

And speaking of ladies, following on the heels of our weekly Wednesday Ladies' Night (with 1/2-priced drinks for ladies, 5-7 pm in The Rathskeller Pub, a.k.a. The Rat), which has become a ritual for many, meeting up with friends and often, making new ones, last week also marked the launch of our brand new Wednesday Karaoke Night--something many of you have asked us repeatedly to establish.  We needed to wait to find the right person to host the night, the right music selection, etc.  We have established a long tradition of making sure that we take care of our guests and allow many of our programs to develop organically.  But with your encouragement, we found the right person, as anyone who attended last Wednesday's launch night can attest:
And while The National Hotel offers these great opportunities for community connections often on six nights of the week, Frenchtown itself has been busy creating many such opportunities, from getting neighbors involved to help clean up Frenchtown Park earlier this month, to planting trees at Horseshoe Bend Park (a 450+ acre preserved park with some of the best views of the Delaware River and wonderful hiking trails), to "Fit Frenchtown" which kicked off yesterday, focusing on a campaign for wellness created by the town's mayor, Warren Cooper.  Fit Frenchtown activities included participation from Yoga Loka offering a free yoga class yesterday, engaging students from the Frenchtown Elementary School Running Club, and will continue for the next few months with a women's wellness series planned, a softball game, walks along the bike path (Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park), and more.

And there's a lot to look forward to if you're planning to visit our area from out-of-state, or are a resident in search of new activities, including a world-class archery center that is likely to be built in Union Township across from the entrance to Spruce Run Reservoir State Park, and could be used by would-be Olympians.  There are currently only 3 such centers in the entire country.


As you can see, there's a little something for everyone in our little corner of the world, from sports, to health and fitness, to shopping, to finding that sweet spot when you look to escape from the daily grind.  Our Hotel guests often share that what Frenchtown offers is different from anywhere else they have traveled; a unique and special experience.  At The National Hotel, we'll continue to bring you exceptional programming, wonderful lunch and dinner experiences, fresh and delicious signature drinks, continue to explore new wine and beer choices to complement your meals, and provide you with attention to detail during your overnight stays.  This is at the very core of everything we do, always challenging ourselves to improve and to bring you innovative programs that will help make The National Hotel part of your weekly plans.

One of the best outcomes from the programs we schedule is the feedback we receive from those in attendance and the enthusiasm you demonstrate when these special nights come around.  If you've been to our Bi-Weekly Tuesday Trivia Nights (next one is scheduled for May 5th), then you know first-hand just how much time and effort Russ Coen (the night's creator) and our General Manager, Marlon Aranha, put into each of Russ' unique and well-developed trivia questions.  Everyone is welcome to join and "first-timers" are always embraced.  I have always loved that about The National Hotel's loyal patrons--they are the first ones to welcome you into the group, making it easy for anyone new to feel right at home, especially in the more relaxed Rathskeller Pub, the area's "late night destination," also dubbed "The Frenchtown Underground" by Alex Wolfson back in 2010:

[July 2010 Open Mic Night]

And from that to our regular music that continues to captivate us, from our weekly Thursday Open Mic Night (which, by the way, was also created by one of our loyal patrons, Alex Wolfson), to our Saturday Night Live Music series, to our Sunday Afternoon Music series; we live in an exceptional part of the country, where the appreciation of and for art is palpable.  The musicians who sign-up for Open Mic Night are joyful to perform, while those of us who can sit and enjoy their music, are in awe of their talent and appreciate the gift they bring each and every week.  Thank you to all of these artists, and to you for supporting them too.

Pete and I hope to see you in Frenchtown and at The National Hotel in the near future.  Please do email me with any feedback or questions, or leave a comment on this blog.  You can also reach us at 908.996.3200, or fill out our guest inquiry page on our website.  Stay up-to-date with all of the activities and programs we have planned for this special season:

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Thank you again.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

THERE'S SO MUCH THAT FRENCHTOWN OFFERS!

February came and went leaving us all craving a little bit of spring.  Today, we were given a little respite from the cold temperatures of the last week of February, only to be reminded that winter is not yet over; there's a storm heading our way.  Hopefully, we'll be spared the magnitude originally predicted.  All I hear at The National Hotel from our patrons, is that they are "DONE" with winter; the shoveling; the ice; the treacherous driving conditions.  We have to agree.  It's time for a little bit of spring.  However, I also remind myself that one of the reasons we live in the northeast of the US, is precisely because we love experiencing each one of the four seasons.  There is an absolute beauty to winter that is just breathtaking.

    

And let's not forget that this area produced two Olympians who recently competed in the Sochi Winter Olympics:  Kyle Carr and Chris Creveling.  Creveling was part of silver medal team in short track.  How proud they must be; how proud this little town is of them, as they both frequented the Frenchtown Roller Rink and participated in speed skating competitions.  Amazing!


Today, as we welcomed our lunch guests to our Restaurant & Bar, I saw just how grateful they were for the warm winter drinks--Mulled Wine!!--and the hot dishes from our Additions to the Menu and our main menu that came out of the kitchen.  It is such a privilege to be able to welcome new friends and old friends to The National Hotel, to provide them with a little escape from the daily grind, from house chores, from "routine."  And, to be located in such a beautiful little gem of a town with all that it offers its residents and visitors alike, is like winning the lottery.  There are many small towns all over the country, but there is something uniquely intimate and welcoming about Frenchtown, NJ.  It's a place where you can enjoy a day of shopping--or, a day outdoors walking or cycling right next to the Delaware River, or hiking nearby on the 300+-acre preserved Horseshoe Bend Park.  In other words, there's a little bit of heaven right here, fulfilling everyone's desires.

We're featuring David Turner this afternoon, 5 - 7 p.m., part of our Sunday Musical Afternoon Series.  There's always something special happening at The National Hotel--and that's probably why we've been nicknamed the area's "Late Night Destination."  Between our Bi-Weekly Tuesday Trivia Night, our Weekly Thursday Open Mic Night, our Saturday Night Live Music Series, and of course, our Sunday program, there's always something to do in town.

Have you had a chance to stop in pick up a book from our town's favorite book shop, The Book Garden?  They offer writing classes, meet-the-author events, etc.  And it's housed in a beautifully maintained building just a few blocks from The National Hotel.

What about Designs for Tranquility, with its lovely paintings, water fountains, jewelry, and small accessories?  Owner, Jill Paul, and her husband, Russ Hoge, go out of their way to select items that are meaningful, unique, and handmade.  I've always loved entering their lovely shop and chatting with them; they are so passionate about the beautiful items they carry.

And like these two shops, there are many others in town that will surely brighten a somewhat bleak day, fill you with ideas, and encourage you to come back.  That's the underlying lovely principle that you'll find everywhere you go in Frenchtown:  People here want you to visit, want you to linger, want you to stay!

So if the Frenchtown "bug" has bitten you and you want to make this a place you'll visit more often, give us a call (908.996.3200) and make it an overnight stay.  Our knowledgeable concierge will help you select the guest suite that best fits your needs, as well as help you make the most of your stay, including just how to add special packages like yoga sessions, pilates, etc.  As a small establishment in a small town, we know how important YOU are, and we will do everything possible to make your stay with us a memorable experience that will make you want to return to Frenchtown.

Pete and I hope to see you in Frenchtown and at The National Hotel in the near future.  Please do email me with any feedback or questions, or leave a comment on this blog.  You can also reach us at 908.996.3200, or fill out our guest inquiry page on our website.  Stay up-to-date with all of the activities and programs we have planned for this special season:

Find us on Facebook  Visit our blog  Follow us on Twitter  View our videos on YouTubeFind us on Google+

Thank you again.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

COULD IT GET ANY COLDER?

January always signifies a fresh start to me--even with these sub-zero wind chill temps.  I'm looking forward to listening to Rob Lanter's music this afternoon, to help me take the chill off the day and reconcile so much that's happened!  Each new year is an opportunity to assess goals and plans.  Interestingly, reflecting back is also a part of the process, and one thing that sticks with me is the topic of a meeting I attended last year while wearing my other hat as a fundraiser in the not-for-profit world, where we discussed the concept of "Joy" in the workplace.  Even though, I confess, I was somewhat skeptical, it made me think of my work at The National Hotel.  There isn't a moment when I'm working here that I don't experience a sense of pride, a sense of fulfillment, and the absolute joy of having the privilege of being able to work to bring this historic establishment well into the 21st century, while preserving the legacy of the original family who built it and proudly operated it back in the mid-1800s.


Joyful.  Yes, that's definitely the correct way to describe how Pete and I feel.  Joyful, when we have the opportunity to share our passion with our patrons and friends.  Joyful, when we are able to source items from local and sustainable farmers for our menu, allowing us to contribute to our local economy in a meaningful way, while providing our Restaurant patrons with the freshest ingredients, especially as we planned and worked on our Valentine's Day menu.  Here's my plug:  Reserve your table NOW!


Joyful, when our guests recount stories about The National Hotel from years gone by--this oral history is an invaluable part of The National Hotel's history.  Joyful, when our overnight guests write notes in our guest book that describe why they enjoyed their stay, whether it be the food, the hospitality, or the weekly entertainment--and often, how they can't wait to plan their next trip to Frenchtown, NJ and The National Hotel.  Just plain joyful!

Photo courtesy of Borough
of Frenchtown website
And why not?  There are so many things to do in our area, so many possibilities of how to add a true quality of life factor to one's experience in Frenchtown, that it is no wonder that guest after guest conveys their desire to return.  As a quick example, how about the free ice-skating "rink" that just opened in town, thanks to the Frenchtown Fire Department and the town government.  Last night's opening night was a huge success, a real old-fashioned small-town moment that brought young and old out, even with the cold temperatures, to enjoy a slice of Americana, with a bonfire to boot!  Truly, Frenchtown is a unique hidden gem, filled with artists, one-of-a-kind shops and galleries, activities to please the soul, body, and mind, from relaxation workshops, to a high-end spa right in town, to fitness studios offering yoga, pilates, and more--all with the personal touch and attention to detail that can only be possible by having the proprietors deeply involved in their establishments and in the community.

And speaking of community, let's take a moment to acknowledge the work the Frenchtown police department did during the storms:  They delivered prescription medications to those who couldn't drive in the inclement weather, especially the elderly Frenchtown residents and those whose health prevented them from leaving their homes.  There are so many wonderful people in town, helping each other, being "neighborly" to neighbors and visitors alike.  We are lucky, really fortunate to enjoy the benefits of being a part of this small town.
A small town, in fact, nestled in an absolutely beautiful and pristine area.  Let's not forget just how beautiful a simple walk on the Delaware Towpath can be--parallel to the Delaware River, peaceful, lovely--especially with the sun setting west of the river.  And now, with all the snow (even with the shoveling that goes along with it), the area can aptly claim its name of a "winter wonderland."  Those of us who have the privilege of calling this area our home, are blessed indeed, as are those of you who are fortunate enough to have discovered Frenchtown and the surrounding areas, with each season bringing a new dynamic and a different experience to your visit.

Pete and I hope that 2014 has started for you in a remarkable way, full of promise and renewal.  We hope to see you in Frenchtown and at The National Hotel in the near future.  Please do email me with any feedback or questions, or leave a comment on this blog.  You can also reach us at 908.996.3200, or fill out our guest inquiry page on our website.  Stay up-to-date with all of the activities and programs we have planned for this special season:

Find us on Facebook  Visit our blog  Follow us on Twitter  View our videos on YouTubeFind us on Google+

Thank you again.