03 Jun 2014

Hospitality abounds on Nantucket

The heartbreaking news last week of Maya Angelou’s passing brought to mind one of her most famous quotes, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I have no idea if Dr. Angelou ever visited Nantucket, but I’m certain if she had she would remember exactly how the Grey Lady and its people made her feel.  Who among us can forget the very first time we rounded Brant Point and gasped as the idyllic scenery took our breath away?  The beauty of the island alone is enough to make visitors feel welcome, but the red carpet gets fully rolled out by the thousands of people who work tirelessly to ensure that family, friends and guests who descend on Nantucket each summer never forget how this island and its gracious ambassadors made them feel.

Hospitality is evident year-round on Nantucket, but never more than during the busy summer season.  It’s fascinating to see the lengths people go to in their efforts to exhibit cordiality. One of my favorites is the privet hedges carved into pineapples on New Lane. Legend has it that the pineapple display began with the sea captains of New England who sailed among the Caribbean Islands and returned to the colonies bearing cargo of spices, rum and pineapples. According to the lore, the captain would nail the pineapple to his fence post to let friends know he was home. It was an invitation for them to visit, share a meal and hear tales of the voyage. Some Nantucket people raise the bar on the legend and carve entire hedges into pineapples that scream “you are welcome here, stop by and say hello!”

There are other thoughtful and creative ways the island people welcome friends and visitors. At the Centerboard Inn, the Nantucket Foodie (famed food writer Barbara Gookin) might have fresh baked pecan tartlets and tea awaiting guests when they return from shopping.  Flowers on Chestnut sells Claus Porto single use guest soap “discs” in a rainbow of colors and scents to ensure guests know you’ve personalized their visit.  The Nantucket Hotel invites its patrons (young and old!) to take a turn pushing the “magic” button at the front desk that sets the mechanical whale in motion…his wagging metal tail sending a clear message that says “we’re glad you washed ashore.”

As you prepare your home for family and friends this summer, what creative measures will you take to ensure they feel welcome? Perhaps something as simple as a handful of cut flowers in a mason jar in the guest bath, a fresh baked cookie and a bottle of water on the nightstand or maybe just a handwritten note on their pillow that says, “I am so happy you are sleeping here tonight!” Remember, it’s not what you say or do…it’s how you make them feel.

You’re welcome!

Shellie Dunlap


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