Saturday, December 22, 2007

Scenes from the Blue Shutters

Check out the latest Blue Shutters Beachside feature -- an online photo album. We've gathered up some of the photos from the past year and and created a set on the Flickr. We'll be adding more photos -- and we're asking friends and guests of the Blue Shutters to add to this.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Lights, camera and lots of action....

It was a busy evening this past Friday -- some fun for the Blue Shutters bunch and a difficult night for the city of Gloucester. The fun stuff surrounded the crew that is filming a movie in Gloucester. Members of the cast are staying at the inn -- and Friday evening, we were called into "action" to serve as extras. Gathering on Main Street in freezing temperatures, we made our movie debut with the help of director Oliver Horovitz and producer Tiana Matthews. Gloucester has been the backdrop for many movies (including one -- "Author! Author!" -- based on a play by Oliver's famed father, Israel, who is artistic director of the Gloucester Stage Company)and those of us at the Blue Shutters are very pleased that we're able to step up and support this effort. The night took a tragic turn as filming wrapped up around midnight on Friday as fire broke out just blocks from our location. According to initial reports, one life was lost and several buildings, including a historic synagogue was destroyed.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Tree Trimming, Snowball Fights and other Holiday Fun

The holidays are in full swing here at the Blue Shutters. Last Saturday we kicked it all off with a Christmas tree trimming. There were guests, old friends, neighbors and family on hand as we decorated the tree and celebrated the "lighting of the Inn". If you haven't been by for a visit, you need to come check it out -- the Christmas tree and holiday lights against the backdrop of Good Harbor Beach will certainly get you into the holiday spirit. And if that's not enough, there are lots of activities planned all around Cape Ann. One more example of the fun here at the Inn...check out our Blue Shutters snowball fight.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Stop the Presses...The Blue Shutters Featured in the Gloucester Times

The Blue Shutters Beachside Inn was featured in the November 16 edition of the Gloucester Times in a story focused on the "hot times" for the Cape Ann tourism industry. Our own Ed Comer was quoted, talking about "extraordinary summer" we enjoyed in 2007. We expect an even better season in 2008, with returning guests and with new visitors to the Blue Shutters who are learning about us from stories like this, from our e-newsletter and from friends who are spreading the word.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Start Spreading the News -- The Blue Shutters Bulletin

This week we sent out the second Blue Shutters Beachside Bulletin, an e-newsletter that helps us make all our friends -- past, present and future -- aware of the happenings in and around this little bit of heaven on Good Harbor Beach. In this edition, you'll read about the holiday activities planned by the Cape Ann communities -- it's shaping up to be a fun season with something every week from late November through New Year's Day. If you haven't experienced Christmas on Cape Ann, you owe yourself a visit. While our newsletter provides a detailed calendar of events, the Cape Ann Chamber website offers even more information.

The other big story in this newsletter -- the special deals we're making to long-term guests. For those who want to stay a month or more at the Blue Shutters during the off-season, we're making our one- and two-bedroom apartments available at special rates. As many of you know, our beachside location is beautiful in the fall, winter and spring -- if you know someone who might be interest staying with us for an extended period, please spread the word and have them contact us for the details.

Of course, the Blue Shutters will remain open for shorter stays throughout the off-season -- and as we say in our newsletter, this fall is a a great time to book a stay.

If you haven't received the newsletter and would like to, please call or email us (978-283-1198;

Sunday, November 4, 2007

"Homes for the Holidays" Kicks off the Season

The communities here on Cape Ann have planned a fun and friendly schedule of activities this coming holiday season -- a good recap can be found on the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce website. Here at the Blue Shutteres we too are making plans for the holidays -- we'll be dressing the inn for Christmas and helping our guests take advantage of all of the shopping, dining and celebrating that Gloucester, Rockport, Manchester and Essex have to offer this season. One great way to kick it all off will be a special event in just a few weeks -- Home for the Holidays. On Saturday, November 17, you'll be able to join in a tour of some of Gloucester's most unique homes that have been decorated for the holidays. The tours will take place between 11am and 4pm. And there's no better to begin and end your day of touring than the Blue Shutters Beachside Inn. Just imagine enjoying a glass of wine or a hot chocolate in one of our rooms overlooking Good Harbor Beach. If you have questions about the Homes for Holiday tour or any of the season's special events, call or email us.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Restaurant Week on Cape Ann -- Oct. 14-19

In earlier blogs, we talked about the thriving restaurant scene on Cape Ann. Almost every guest at the Blue Shutters Beachside visits the area's restaurants -- and we have a great time pointing folks toward our favorite places. Some come for a romantic dinner, some for traditional fare like lobster and steamers, some for cocktails or entertainment along with a bite to eat. It's all here for the "tasting" -- and this month is the perfect time to try out our local eateries. For "six delicious days" from October 14 through October 19, we'll be celebrating Cape Ann Restaurant Week. This first-ever event will make available three-course dinners at participating restaurants for the low price of $24.07. You can work up your appetite (and sleep off that big dinner) at the Blue Shutters Beachside -- all of the restaurants are a short distance from Good Harbor Beach. Check out the Cape Ann Restaurant Week website for more info and a list of participating restaurants.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Fall at the Blue Shutters -- Bird-watching, Kayaking, Doo-wop and More

While there has been a surprising number of beach days this fall (thanks to a string of summer-like weekends) we're beginning to see guests enjoy other activities around the Blue Shutters. A couple from England spent hours bird-watching. Guests down from NH launched a kayak just across the street in the tidal river that empties into Good Harbor Beach. A visitor from Italy used the inn as her starting point for a sightseeing tour of New England (starting with 3 days around Cape Ann). A couple from Reading who were with us this summer returned to the Shutters to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary at the restaurants in Gloucester and Rockport. Many guests have enoyed the whale-watching trips out of Gloucester Harbor (Seven Seas and Captain Bill's are the most popular). We've had a bunch of wedding parties that use the Blue Shutters as an option for their guests (rumor has it that the Blue Shutters is always the favorite). And finally, our doo-wop afficianados from Jersey (profiled in an earlier blog posting) were here for a return visit, and we found them a doo-wop concert in nearby Lynn. There's one common denominator in all these cases -- these guests return from their various excursions and spend time in our main room or on the lawn sharing these experiences with us. These conversations are one of the best -- and most unexpected -- benefits of running the Blue Shutters.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

North Shore Tech Council Parties at the Shutters

Tonight was a first for the Blue Shutters as we hosted a summer outing for the North Shore Technology Council. There was the band Blue Honey on the front lawn, deep fried turkey cooking in the back and 30+ council members spread across the Shutters property enjoying a beautiful summer-like evening. This all came about after a chance encounter with old friend Ellen Kaplan on Good Harbor Beach -- we talked about the Blue Shutters as a possible backdrop for the annual summer soiree. Little did we know that the council would take us up on our offer -- and are we glad they did. It was a great night for the council (the rain held off until the last guest left the driveway), and it was a great opportunity to showcase the Blue Shutters. Dozens of guests toured the inn and promised to spread the word -- and we promised to welcome the council back again. Based on the fun we had with tonight's band we're thinking about bringing them and other musician friends back to the Shutters next year for some outdoor concers. What do you think about BeachStock 2008?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

It's a Small World After All

Anyone who has visited Disney World has heard the "small world after all" song, and we're humming that tune here at the Blue Shutters Beachside Inn this fall. In the past week, we had two couples from the UK, another group from Belgium and a traveler from Northern Italy. Next month, we'll welcome visitors from Germany -- and as mentioned in earlier blog postings, we've had dozens of Canadians pass through the Shutters. It seems Gloucester is becoming a destination for folks from around the world who come to enjoy the beach, see the beautiful coastline and learn more about the history of the Cape Ann region. In most cases, we're part of a tour of New England -- our location less than an hour from Boston makes Gloucester and the Blue Shutters the perfect stop. It's interesting to hear what other parts of New England they're visiting -- Boston, Cape Cod, southern Maine, the leaf-peeping areas of NH and Vermont. But more often that not, they tell us their stay here at the Blue Shutters is the best part of their trip.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Making News -- Off-Season Specials

A few days ago we finally wrapped up and distributed our first Blue Shutters Beachside Bulletin, an e-newsletter we'll use to report on happenings at the inn and let folks know about plans going forward. In this first issue, we focused on off-season specials that are in the works, beginning with two weekend specials on tap for October - an Octoberfest Celebration on October 12-14, and a Halloween Howl on October 26-28.

Our Octoberfest Celebration will be held in conjunction with the Rockport Harvest Festival, and will include a welcome reception featuring German beers and wines and and, on Saturday evening, a night of German food and music - and a beer-tasting. In addition to our Octoberfest celebration, guests will enjoy continental breakfast on Saturday and Sunday.

Our Halloween Howl Weekend begins Friday evening October 26 with a welcome reception, and on Saturday, we'll visit Gloucester's famed Haunted Hammond Castle and gather for an evening costume party. On Saturday and Sunday, you're free to enjoy the other Halloween season activities in Gloucester and nearby Salem.

We'll be holding weekend activities like these throughout the off-season (and when there are no specials, guests can take advantage of discounted off-season rates).

If you're interested in these weekends getaways or if you have ideas or questions about off-season specials, call or email us. And if you didn't see our newsletter and would like to be added to our mail list, let us know.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Oh Canada

We've had dozens of guests from Canada this summer -- from Toronto, Montreal and others parts of "The Great White North". Some are including Gloucester as part of a swing through the Northest US. Others are past guests of the Blue Shutters, making their annual visit to the inn. And there are many newcomers -- folks who have heard about the changes here from friends, or have liked what they've seen on our website. We've heard the exchange rate is a big attraction -- as is our accesibility to Boston (about 45 minutes from the Shutters). Once here, they've enjoyed the beach, the bars, the gallaries and shops, the restaurants -- and of course, the inn itself. Speaking of restaurants, one of our favorites here in Gloucester has a Canadian connection. La Trattoria, located in downtown Gloucester on Main Street, features some of best authentic Sicilian food you'll find anywhere. The Canadian connection? While there's a distinct Italian flavor to the restaurant, the family members hail from Montreal. Yet another reason to celebrate our neighbors from up north.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Old Friends Gather for a Late Summer Night's Dream

It was a beautiful night -- the end of a beautiful day -- and we gathered on the yard for some wine, some munchies and some song around the outdoor fireplace. What made this particularly special were the friends who joined me, Patty, Eddie, Ann Marie and Hayley. Deb and Kathy -- who were with us early on here at the Shutters, cleaning and painting and bringing new life to the big chairs in Deckside -- provided sandwiches, wine and a growler of beer. Rick and Suzie -- who installed the new hardwood flooring in the Main Room and the uncovered the original hardwood on the second floor -- were back for yet another visit. As was Mary Igo, who has worked with Patty for years -- and who returns to the Shutters regularly with a fresh batch of brownies. Ralph and Cindy -- who met the Comers on a trip years back -- came back to the Shutters to stay a few nights, along with their son and Cindy's mom. They all gathered in the screen house and by the fire, as Eddie played guitar and Ralph&Cindy's son sang show tunes. Guests watched from the the Beachside porch overlooking the lawn, or settled into lawn chairs after returning from dinner. In a nutshell, it was a typical night at the Blue Shutters Beachside Inn.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Blue Shutters Takes on the Sea Gulls

While we've been innkeepers for just seven months, we've been through quite a lot. There's the usual -- making fruit cups at midnight, changing beds in the morning, responding to inquiries from around the world (just last week we fielded emails from Australia and Germany). But tonight we were pressed into a new kind of service. One of our guests returned from a whale watch trip with a coat of sea gull droppings all over their car. It turns out they parked their vehicle under a street lamp that is a favorite hangout for these Gloucester birds. So when the pulled into the driveway, we pulled out the garden hose and rags. The car is now clean as a whistle -- and our guests are happy. Which is what it's all about.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Cape Ann's Restaurant Renaissance

Another fun part of being an innkeeper is sharing insights on things to do and places to go around our B&B -- and I personally enjoy talking with guests about the area's restaurants. Not just offering my opinions on local eateries (my wife and I have lots of experience at this); it's also great to hear what our guests think. One couple from Montreal stood out when it came to food talk -- each night we'd offer suggestions and/or get a report from that night's dining experience. Among the spots that stood out (that we're new to us)....Jalapeno's, a cool Mexican place in downtown Gloucester; and Cygnet, a neat little high-end restaurant in nearby Beverly Farms. We shared with them some of our favorites, including Alchemy (for a nice meal with a unique atmosphere) and Amelia's (for a quick sandwich walking distance from Good Harbor Beach). A few days ago, we joined my brother (a chef at the Langham Hotel in Boston) and his wife for a great dinner at Mad Fish Grill in the Rocky Neck art colony (he and his wife are tough critics and they gave the Mad Fish a big thumbs up). Whatever folks prefer, one thing is for certain -- there's loads to great restaurants to choose from on Cape Ann these days. So many great places that the couple from Montreal decided to extend their stay (OK, there may have been more than food involved in that decision -- they were also pleasantly surprised by all the changes at the Blue Shutters).

Friday, August 17, 2007

A "Bright New Penny"

We've had a lot of great guests this summer, and we'll try to mention a few of them over the next few weeks. One of the more interesting groups was a mom, a bunch of her daughters and their girls. They have been coming to the Blue Shutters for years, and they were very impressed with all the changes (a "bright new penny" is how one of the daughters describe the Shutters). I lost track of everyone in their party -- but it was a big group, spread across three rooms here at the inn. And it was clear they were having loads of fun -- at the beach, around town and just hanging out on the lawn. At one point, one of our other guests looked out at this family gathering out front before a trip to the beach and asked if we were hosting a Girl Scout jamboree!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Goings On Around Gloucester

It has been another great week for beachlovers -- with temps into the 90s, guests here at the Blue Shutters have been spending many hours enjoying the cool breezes and refreshing waves of Good Harbor Beach. But folks have been doing up the town as well. The annual sidewalk bazaar continues on through the weekend, drawing visitors to downtown Gloucester. And there they'll find some of the Greater Boston area's finest restaurants. There's the new Captain Vito's, located in the Gloucester Cruiseport, which opened earlier this year (we stopped by last weekend and enjoyed some of the finest fried shrimp we've ever tasted). Old favorite Alchemy continues to impress our guests (you have to try the Uptown Mac & Cheese), and for late night entertainment, folks have given a thumbs up to the Mad Fish, The Rudder and The Studio on Rocky Neck and Captain Carlo's downtown. For those looking for daytime fun away from the beach, we've heard the whale watch cruises are great for kids and adults. We've been gathering information on all of the happenings around Gloucester -- or you can check the Cape Ann visitors website.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Fireside Chats -- From Doo Wop to Populist History

One of the advantages of owning the Blue Shutters is making new friends among the guests who visit. Some of the best times come at the end of the day, when we settle into conversations. This week, those conversations ranged from doo wop music to populist history. I don't know for sure, but my quess is we had two preeminent doo wop experts with us -- complete with CDs, DVDs and scrap books featuring famous doo wop artists. These folks -- who hail from New Jersey -- are also into the history of Cape Ann, and we have insightful conversations about the many interesting places and people of the region.

Last night over "al fresco" wine and cheese with some guests from central Massachusetts, we covered a range of topics -- haunted houses, favorite cocktails and populist history (did you know Winston Churchill and Woodrow Wilson are thought by many to be major league bigots?).

We look forward to many more days and nights like this, learning more about our guests -- and subjects like these -- in conversations around the front room, by the outdoor fireplace or on the front steps overlooking the beach

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Some New Views -- Thanks to Blue Shutters Guests

First off, sorry we've gone blog-quiet these past few weeks -- but soon after launching this blog effort, life around the Blue Shutters got VERY busy. We've had a great time with our guests, and it seems clear that those guests have had a great time -- on Good Harbor Beach, around downtown Gloucester, and at parties and local events. One of those guests was Peter Hennessey, who was in Gloucester for a family wedding. While Peter was here, he took some beautiful photos of the Inn, the beach and one of the innkeepers (a cute shot of Ed Comer). We thank Peter for sharing these with us -- and allowing us to share them with others. These pictures are up on our website, on the photo album page. There are other contributed pictures on the website -- from members of the Topaz Partners PR team. Topaz (the PR firm I run when I'm not helping out around the Inn) had an offsite meeting at the Shutters and a few folks brought cameras along. We hope you enjoy these pictures -- and we invite others to pass along their memories (picture and words) of their experiences at the Inn for all to enjoy.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

BeachBlog in NYC

I attended a Public Relations Society of America conference in NYC Tuesday, talking on the subject of blogs, podcasts and other types of social media. Yes, we talked about the Topaz Partners blog, podcast and other cool stuff the Topaz folks are doing on the web, but of course, I worked in a plug for the Blue Shutters BeachBlog. It actually was relavant to the conversation -- we talked about how easy it was to launch a blog. And how effective it can be in bringing together a community. It's still too early to talk about community-building, but launching this blog was a cinch -- and we're convinced it'll contribute to the growing buzz around the Blue Shutters. In fact, a number of conference attendees planned to check this out -- hope they do, and hope they stick with us as we add podcasts, video blogs, webcams and other social media techniques to spread the word about the cool things happening here at this inn by the beach.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Father's Work is Never Done

Our new website is up as of a few hours ago, and I hope others agree that it does just what we set out to do...showcase our views of Good Harbor Beach and the unique character of our guest rooms. Since February we've worked day and night, weekdays and weekends, inside the Blue Shutters and out. As we approach the big Feast of St. Peter weekend (June 27) we're ready for guests in nearly all of our rooms -- just this weekend, we made great progress with our two twin apartments -- Port and Starboard -- which feature a separate bedroom, a full kitchen, a spacious living/dining area and very nice views from a back porch. We also played host to a four different groups -- including a couple from Connecticut who brought our first toddler (Victoria, who took a liking to "Grandma Mary" Sapienza) and a group of recent college grads who did some late night partying on Good Harbor Beach. All this, plus a weekend-long Father's Day celebration which included dinner at the Franklin Cafe, a lobster feast on the back deck and an emotional Mass at St. Anthony's Chapel on Eastern Point. A big thank you to Tina, Mike, Jamie, Haley and Christian (and wives Patty and Ann Marie) for making the Dads feel special. After the work winded down, we ended the night -- just an hour or so ago -- with drinks and conversation with our neighbors Tony and Pat Bertolino.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Blue Shutters Blog Sets Sail

I've been thinking of launching a blog for the inn my wife Patty and I, together with our friends Ed and Ann Marie Comer, took over earlier this year. But since February, we've been busy painting rooms, sanding floors, cleaning toilets and moving furniture. And in recent weeks, booking guests! We did find the time to launch a Blue Shutters Beachside website, and we pulled together a brochure. We've also spread the word to family and friends (many who pitched in with all the work these past few months), and we reached out to our neighbors in Gloucester. The Cape Ann Chamber has been very helpful, arranging for our inn to be included on the website they set up for visitors. But not until today has the Blue Shutters ventured into the blogosphere. Going forward, we'll share updates on happenings at the inn (we'll soon be opening four new rooms), and we'll be looking for comments from guests and friends. We'd love to hear what you think -- come see for yourself.