There is no better compliment. The Bayfront Marin House family is a large one, full of love and memories and happy times. One of the (many) great things about owning a bed and breakfast is the ability to celebrate special occasions with our guests. In the past year, we’ve celebrated a ton of them: 50th wedding anniversaries, 90th birthdays, the end of chemo, 21st birthdays, new babies, 40th birthdays, surprise engagements, intimate elopements, elaborate weddings, and much much much more.
We fit about 10 years of celebrations into every 12 month span, and we feel super lucky to be able to do it.
Our guests mean so much to us, they really do become like family. Which is why we’d like to share a little family update with everyone today.
I’m going to warn you up front–there are some sad moments from the past year. But I hope you’ll keep reading, because there have been some happy moments too, and we want to share some of both. Because none of us are immune from life–the ups and the downs.
Wonderful People We’ve Lost
You may remember that in January, Sandy lost her biggest cheerleader and #1 fan when her grandmother Esther passed away. Although she’s been gone almost a year now, we’re constantly thinking about all the gifts she gave us–from treasured *things*, like fancy glassware and family vases, to funny and wonderful attributes, like her appreciation of well-trimmed eyebrows and her giving hostess’s heart. Sandy wrote a tribute to her hostess’s heart here, if you’d like to learn a little more about this amazing, wonderful woman.
Unfortunately, losing Grandmom was not the only loss our family faced this year.
In July, our Marin family member Steve Brown lost his battle with cancer. Steve has been with us since we bought the inn in 2010, caring for our grounds, and fixing pretty much anything that could break. Skills are super important when you’re working in maintenance, and Steve had wonderful skills, but what I appreciated most about him was his unflappable nature. An air conditioner goes on the fritz during the 4th of July? Sure…Steve will carry up a portable unit and set it up for you. Sink leaking at 11pm? He’ll be right there–no worries.
Steve was not the kind to stress out (unlike the rest of us around here!), but he responded to any issues calmly and with kindness. You may have met him as he watered the lawn (his second baby), or he may have helped you if there was a problem with your room. You also may have met him if you just said hi–earlier this year we got a note from a guest telling us how helpful Steve was in explaining the different amenities in the rooms, and showing her multiple suites to help her decide where to stay on her family’s next visit.
Steve was married to our equally wonderful office manager Heloisa Brown. We love Heloisa–she’s a very important person to us both personally and professionally. She has had a difficult year, and we constantly marvel at her strength. We are grateful to have her in our family and on our team, and we are so happy we got to know Steve for almost 10 years.
Just when we thought that 2019 was going to end better than it began, Mike’s mother Josie passed suddenly. Like Sandy’s grandmother, Josie was the best supporter anyone could ask for, embarrassing us (in the best way possible) with the pride she felt for her family. She told her neighbors, her doctors–heck, she told people in the airport!–how proud she was of our business, and our accomplishments. Mike was her first born, and the first grandchild on both sides of the family, and every thing he did was the most precious, most talented, most celebrated thing anyone had ever seen.
Mike’s mom was a nurturing force of nature–to Mike’s friends (who packed her funeral and shared stories of how special she made them all feel), to the whole Bayfront Marin House team, even to our frequent guests! Mike and his Mom talked every day, only for a few minutes, but it was enough time for her to ask about all the people in her life (and ours), and to ask Mike if we had any weddings or engagements lately.
Family was the most important thing to Mike’s Mom…and *everyone* was family.
A Mom to All
Josie had so much love for the people around her, she adopted five Grandchildren. Two were the sons of one of Mike’s college friends, and three were boys that Josie (Nini) and Gramps babysat from birth. Such was her endless capacity for love.
Speaking of love, she loved her children, Mike and Karen, most of all. Mike was the oldest, and he was born on his mother’s birthday. They didn’t just celebrate their birthdays together, they celebrated everything together. Mike held parties at his parents’ home until we bought our first house when he was 32 (and they hosted them again after we moved in 2010). He and his and Mom went on vacations together–Cape May, Mackinac Island, Key West, Savannah. The hub loves vacations almost as much as his family and friends, and he uses any excuse to combine the two.
Of course, Josie spent a lot of time in St. Augustine too, and she planned to move here in the near future. She teased us that our yellow beach cottage would be perfect for her and Pop, and she told us we could continue to rent it with her in it. “I’ll be an amenity!” she said, explaining she could make great restaurant suggestions for anyone staying in “her” unit. She also said she would look up the weather every morning and tell people what it would be when they asked. And she said she’d be very quiet, and could sleep in the closet.
Josie would have been a great room amenity, and she would have loved meeting so many (more) of our guests. She used to tell us how great it was that we had so many people in our Marin family–and she included our team as well as our guests in that.
It has been an adjustment since she has been gone; we miss her very much.
Amazing People We Have Gained
For every painful adjustment, of course, there is an equal and opposite wonderful adjustment. We’ve had some fantastic things happen in 2019. This year, we hired five new employees, and we couldn’t be happier to have them be a part of the team. If you’ve come this year, we hope you’ve met Kyla, Jessica, Michael (Jess’s husband), Becca, Lisa, Lacy, and David. Each one of them has brought unique skills with them, and they’ve all helped us continue to improve what we do here at the Bayfront Marin (and that includes our Beachcomber Cottages, our Marine Street apartment, and now the 1790 Sanchez House!!)
We can’t look back at the year without feeling incredible grateful for the staff we’ve had for years. Mary, Heloisa, Claudia, Laverne, Donna, and Tatyana (all of whom have been with us since 2010–back when we were really feeling our way around blindly!). We’ve been equally blessed with newer employees Marina, Ann, Daniel, Kelly, Meghan, Mandy, Susie, Anita, Krissy, and Christian.
When people say they feel like the Bayfront Marin is family–the credit all goes to this amazing team. We are lucky to have this talented group of people working with us.
Blessings and New Beginnings
Speaking of blessings, there have been many this year–after three years of fighting to rezone the Sanchez House next door, we finally closed on the property in August. The house is now finished and ready for weddings. When it isn’t hosting weddings, the house will be two units–the Jose Simeon Suite (named after an early owner of the house) and the Josephina Bridal and Honeymoon Suite (named for Mike’s mom). Both the suites are very special to us, and we hope you’ll come and enjoy them.
We had a hurricane scare this year–but while our hearts weep for the tens of thousands of people hit, we were lucky and had no damage. Although our actual wedding date was December 4, in January, Mike and I celebrated our 25th anniversary back in our original honeymoon spot–which now has new owners and looks better than ever, even as we look worse, haha!
Finally, I’m going to end with some lovely beginnings. On May 10, Claudia’s daughter Bianca (who worked for us several summers) gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Anna Carolina. Baby, Bianca and husband Jonathan are all doing well. Because they’re all in Germany, Claudia doesn’t get to see them as often as she would like, but just look at the beautiful pictures she gets! (Photo on the left)
And a few weeks ago, on December 12, Jess and Mike (mentioned earlier) welcomed a little girl to their family, Addison Rae (on the right). Look at all that hair–she’s the first baby I’ve ever seen with a hair “style”! She is just beautiful, and a great addition to Jess and Mike’s family, and the Marin family at large.
When the clock turns to 12:01 AM tonight, we’ll all be walking into a brand new year. From our family to yours: we hope that 2020 is full of wonderful moments, and health and happiness and prosperity. And we hope you spend the year making many happy memories. Happy New Year!