Building an Independent Hotel Brand: Roux

For years, Alli Baldwin and Ilene Mitnick planned for the day when they would walk away from corporate careers and open their own bed & breakfast.  Their ambition far exceeded that of a weekend hobby or part-time business venture, this would be an opportunity to fulfill a longtime, entrepreneurial dream.  On July 11, 2014, they turned their vision into a reality by opening Roux, a 6-bedroom bed & breakfast located in Provincetown, Massachusetts’ East End Gallery district.

Getting to opening day required a laborious four-month, eleven-day exterior and interior renovation of their 3,400-square foot, 1870’s Victorian house.  In addition to the property’s physical transformation, it needed an injection of personality that would capture guests’ intrigue and entice them to experience the hospitality these first-time hoteliers longed to deliver.

Crafting a new independent hotel’s brand identity from scratch is a challenging undertaking, but Alli and Ilene successfully developed Roux into a highly-regarded, award-winning B&B in less than one year.  Currently, Roux is TripAdvisor’s #1 of 70 Bed and Breakfasts in Provincetown, MA and Boston Magazine recently named the B&B the Best Inn on Cape Cod for 2015.  Curious as to how they brought Roux’s independent hotel brand to life so quickly, we recently spoke with our clients to get the first-hand scoop:

Alli and Ilene, before we discuss Roux, let’s start with the women behind the brand.  Why did you both want to open a bed & breakfast?

We knew we were genetically-wired to own and operate an inn. We love to cook, we love to entertain. We get intoxicated by the details that make a home sing and are thrilled to create gracious living spaces that make others feel nurtured. And, we love to host parties. So we decided to host an on-going sleepover party for friends we’ve yet to meet.  We opened for business on July 11, 2014, exactly when we said we would, thanks to a crystal clear vision.

That’s great, what an accomplishment!  Tell us about how you developed the brand and personality for your newly renovated bed & breakfast.

We came up with a new name – ROUX.  While many might know the term “roux” as the classic French base of flour and butter, the obvious, we fell in love with the metaphor.  Everything starts with a roux.  Roux being the canvas/the backdrop for whatever kind of vacation experience our guests would want for themselves.  And, the perfect place for our guests to start a dream of their own, everything starts with a roux.  Our tagline is The Art of Staying because there is an art to vacationing and guests can design their experience here.

Although we love and are inspired by all things French, we are less about French linens, architecture and crepe suzette and more about embodying the spirit of a French girl — her joie de vivre.  You can feel it at Roux.

“She’s” in constant anticipation of a big party and always ready for guests.  She’s always dressed for the occasion.  She appreciates good things in life but knows that the most important thing in life is to feel comfortable in her skin.  She has an understated elegance.  She’s sophisticated, but simple.  She takes good care of herself.  She finds the joy in conversation.  Knows that her wine is a gift to be enjoyed and to awaken her senses.  And, she has an appreciation for the best things in life.

So, it’s from this “French Girl” that we created our story and our brand.  From there, we designed the creative and wrote the copy for our website, as well as all other media, ads and social media images, so we could bring Roux to life exactly as we envisioned her.

With such a clear vision, it’s easy to see how you were able to develop the Roux brand.  How has the local Provincetown community embraced your new bed & breakfast?  Has establishing community relationships helped drive your business?

We have been blown away by the power of the local community.  The first weekend we moved in, we opened our doors to give away (for free) the entire contents of the house.  100 people showed on day one.  One by one, they carried out lamps, dishes, furniture, artwork, bedding and more.  Maybe they saw it as goodwill, but that weekend we made a lot of friends.  Many people who live in Provincetown have small houses but a lot of company.  Word of mouth started to spread quickly.  Roux has become a remote “guest room” for many locals.

With only sixteen months in business, we have joined local and Cape-wide Chambers; joined and have become influential within the Women Innkeepers of Provincetown association; become part of a local community activist group called Provincetown 365 working to create a year-round viability/commerce in-town and we are strong supporters of local businesses.  All of this has resulted in building a winning reputation, as well as word-of-mouth bookings.

In addition to working with the local community, we are now working to promote the entire town of Provincetown to women all over the country.  We are proud supporters and partners with the Provincetown Film Society; the Tennessee Williams Theater Festival, The Provincetown Theater and the Fine Arts Work Center.

Putting down roots in the community is obviously paying off!  What can guests and the local community expect from Roux Provincetown in the coming years?

We will always see ourselves as curators of the guest experience.  Back in the day we’d say we were brand managers.  We’re really just big dreamers and experienced travelers and we know what people appreciate.  Future guests, like the ones of today, can expect to be treated like friends when they arrive here at Roux.  They can expect to still be wowed by the rich, sensual experience for which we’ve become known and which we plan to continually enhance.

We also want to be known as a place that celebrates food as art and time at the dining room table as a convivial event.  To us, there’s a romantic element in preparing meals for our guests.  We find joy in preparing breakfast or our savory bites Happier Hours.  The kitchen and the dining room are places where all the delicious details of others’ food follies are shared, and we hope a few new ones created, too.  It’s one of the things we love the most – making, or hearing, little gastronomic love stories.  Perhaps we’ll have a book or a documentary of these experiences! J

If we looked into the future, we’d see the local community viewing us as women who made a contribution to Provincetown’s thriving tourism business; the locals would see us as “locals” – people who understand their neighbors and their neighborhood, making decisions that are good and just FOR Provincetown and for our town’s visitors.

The locals can also expect us to continue to beautify the property and be an iconic establishment in the East End.  And the local businesses can expect that we will have played a role in driving more shoppers/visitors and such to town’s businesses, galleries, restaurants, etc.

Alli and Ilene, thanks so much for sharing your amazing story about building Roux from a dream into a thriving bed & breakfast.  We wish you the best of luck and continued success!