Stonehurst Place Innkeepers Take to the Sea!
As innkeepers, Paul and I rarely travel far from Stonehurst Place. We don’t feel slighted, as we feel that we experience travel through our guests who come to Atlanta from all corners of the world. But, we did step out of our ‘real life’ in Atlanta’s top Bed & Breakfast and back in time aboard the Queen Mary, which is permanently docked in Long Beach, California. We were there to attend the InnSpire Summit, a gathering of innkeepers from every part of the United States.
The first thing that you must understand about staying aboard the Queen Mary is that the experience is all about history. If you are expecting a sense of newness, polish, and upscale amenities you will be disappointed. But, if you’re like me, and you want to step back in time, then you’ll have the time of your life! My grandparents sailed on the luxury liner to France, in 1950, and I can still remember how often my grandfather would tell us all about it. I felt like I was seeing it again, through his eyes, as I walked the corridors.
The construction of the Queen Mary began in 1930 and her maiden voyage took place on May 27, 1936, from Southampton England to New York City. Because there was no such thing as travelling by air, this luxury liner set the bar high for transatlantic travel, in a time remembered for its elegance and class. In her time at sea, she made 1,001 crossings of the North Atlantic, and was used as a troopship during World War II. In 1943, Queen Mary carried a total of 16,683 soldiers and crew member from New York to Scotland, which was a record for the most passengers ever transported on one vessel, at one time, in history.
Her last voyage left Southampton England on October 31, 1967, and arrived in Long Beach, California on December 9th. This has been her home ever since. In 1971 she was again opened to the public as an attraction, floating hotel, and event venue.
Our stateroom was large and comfortable, but built for travel. It took a bit of time for us to get used to every cabinet latch and raised threshold, as we are inexperienced ‘cruisers.’ It was still outfitted as it has been throughout the decades, and we wondered how comfortable the guests would be with simply fans to cool the air. Today, air-conditioning has eliminated the use of fans, and we were happy to see that the portholes were operable!
Getting to know the ship was great fun! We were amazed that we could walk down in the engine room unattended, and take ourselves on our own tour! Even I found it fascinating, but it was Paul who appreciated it the most! I loved the Bridge, and seeing all the methods of communication that were used. There are self-guided tours available, and tours with guides. We toured ourselves, as time would allow, but eavesdropped on the tour guides whenever we could. If you have the opportunity, I would recommend the guided tour!
Due to the amount of rain that fell in Long Beach the week before, the mountains behind the city were capped with snow. While our days were filled with conference classes, we sat on the deck enjoying the landscape and the sun as often as we could. We didn’t know until much later that we were being treated to a rare view, as rain and snow-topped mountains is unusual for the area. The last night aboard ship we enjoyed dinner, music, and dancing reminiscent of the 1940’s. Guests dressed in 1940’s attire, and we truly stepped back in time!