December 29th, 2016 by Laughlin House
February 28th, 2016 by Laughlin House
With Bentonville’s biggest “hometown company” being none other than Walmart Stores, Inc., our town plays host to droves of business people every week selling products and services. And because Walmart is the largest seller of goods in many consumer industries – including the entertainment industry – it should come as no surprise that from time to time, some of the business people visiting are pretty famous and influential.
You never know who you’ll run into on the Square or at Crystal Bridges or at the Walmart Home Office. Celebrities like Tom Cruise and Harry Connick, Jr., dining at Tavola Trattoria (it happened, I swear!) George W. Bush riding the mountain bike trails (I kid you not. Saw it with my own eyes.) Drew Barrymore promoting her Walmart-exclusive makeup line “Flower”. Famous musicians, athletes, business icons, world leaders, philanthropists, politicians … the list of names and causes who’ve visited our town is endless.
In May, (May 3-8, to be exact), Bentonville will host more notable personalities than normal as they serve as judges, panelists, speakers and hosts for the Bentonville Film Festival (BFF). Geena Davis is the co-chair of the event, and she brings friends and colleagues along with her to promote the festival. Last year attendees had the opportunity to hear Geena, Rosie O’Donnell, Robert De Niro, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Soldedad O’Brien, and plenty of other famous faces in film and media speak.
WAY beyond just a place for celebrities to converge, BFF promotes a worthy cause. Its mission is to champion women and diverse voices in media. The festival is intended to bring together filmmakers and media content creators to influence media in depicting a range of gender and diversity.
In order to qualify for BFF, film submissions must meet at least two of the following criteria: the film must have a female or diverse director, producer, writer or lead character, or that at least half of the cast, crew or extras are either female or diverse (or both!).
And the other really, really awesome thing about it — the winning films are automatically guaranteed distribution, which could include a theatrical release via AMC theaters, television release via STARZ and Lifetime, and digital and retail home entertainment distribution in partnership with Walmart.
This year all of the film screenings are rumored to be in the downtown area, which we’re really excited about. More details about the schedule and venues to come as soon as its been released!
BFF is just one of several events we can count on to be fun, entertaining and educational this year.
In fact, be on the lookout for more exciting events in the area in 2016. Coming November 10-12, the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) will be hosting its World Mountain Bike Summit in Bentonville! According to their website, the World Summit program “includes keynote speakers, educational sessions, an expo, networking and—of course—plenty of time to explore local trails.”
More to come on that, too.
Until next time …
February 13th, 2016 by Laughlin House
Guests often ask us to name our favorite thing about running a B&B. I can name many: sharing our home with our guests … getting to know a little about them … assessing their interests and making recommendations … and watching people fall in love with Bentonville. (A bit less exciting — yet the majority of a small-time innkeeper’s life — is housekeeping. Dishes, room cleaning, maintenance, laundry, laundry and more laundry. Did I mention laundry? I can fold fitted sheets in my sleep.)
But of all the activities I love the best, I’d have to say playing host at the breakfast table is my favorite. To us it’s more than serving a memorable meal. It’s our time to get to know our guests. So we put a lot of time, effort, and planning into breakfast each morning.
Every day we get the pleasure of waking up the house to comforting smells of locally roasted coffee, bacon, cinnamon-y baked breads and fresh-cut fruits. Delicious scents vary by day, of course, and (hint, hint) depend on any dietary restrictions or food allergies that we’ve been made aware of the day before ;-).
When the doors open and our guests emerge, it’s show-time.
Cheerful morning greetings. Bottomless coffee. Juice and fresh-cut fruit. The homemade entree du jour — could be Don’s Savory Waffles Benedict or Jenny’s Orange Ricotta Pancakes, or perhaps it’s Open-Faced Breakfast Quesadillas or Banana-Stuffed French Toast. Whatever the dish, it was made with love and served with much anticipation.
Once everyone has been served and they’ve made themselves comfortable, the real conversations start. The topics are endless.
We’ve learned a little bit about: What it was like to grow up in the Bachman-Wilson house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright … The process for shipping entire painting exhibits to other countries … All about working with Ansel Adams … What goes through one’s head when restoring a gown from Gone with the Wind … The coolest places to see on travels from Stuttgart, Germany, to Stuttgart, Arkansas … Walking the Camino de Santiago trail in Spain … Building a home in a Quonset hut … Hundreds of stories about grandchildren … Blowing glass marbles and the unbelievable collectors’ market for them …
You never know where the conversation may be headed next.
And you never know just who you may meet. We’ve had people from all walks of life chat with us over breakfast at our table. Broadway actors, philanthropists, artists, police officers, novelists, chicken farmers, textile conservators, biographers, World War II widows, librarians, bridal parties, neuroscientists, doctors, college professors, train conductors, real estate developers, Walmart suppliers, IRS collectors, doctors, newlyweds, retirees from a hundred different professions. They come from Paris, TX and Paris, France; Miami, FL and Miami, OK; Ontario, CA and Ontario, CN.
Tonight we have guests from St. Louis, Little Rock and Jackson, TN. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow’s breakfast discussions will reveal. I can smell the bread baking in the oven right now. The anticipation is sweet.
Until next time …
September 17th, 2015 by Laughlin House
Well it’s official, we’re back up and running, and it looks like we’ll be nice and busy throughout the next couple of months. We’ve enjoyed our break over the past year, but we’re more than ready to get back into the innkeeping game.
Our guests have been asking us why we took the break — and we’ve assured them that nothing sinister was afoot. I had begun looking for a part-time job during a particularly slow winter season, and I was offered a fantastic full-time job, instead, and I just couldn’t pass the opportunity up — simple as that! Don and I seized the opportunity to take a bit of a break, travel on the weekends, explore all the new microbreweries in town, dote on Twinkie, and just live normal lives for a bit.
The house didn’t get too much of a break, though. It served as the headquarters for the organizers of the Bentonville Film Festival for about eight months – how cool is that?!
But the B&B and downtown Bentonville beckoned to me. Much as I enjoyed my time as a normal 30-something, I missed the bed and breakfast. So we decided to reopen — just in time for the busy fall season. Between Bikes, Blues and BBQ, the War Eagle Craft Fair, Slaughter Pen Jam, Razorback football games and other University of Arkansas activities, fall foliage, Octoberfest beer at the microbreweries, and the grand opening of the Bachman-Wilson House at Crystal Bridges, we couldn’t have picked a better time to get back into the business.
The house has a fresh coat of paint, we’ve taken inventory, made a few tweaks here and there, and are exploring opportunities for how to make Laughlin House even better than ever.
We look forward to hosting our guests and sharing all that Bentonville and Northwest Arkansas has to offer.
See you soon!
August 30th, 2013 by Laughlin House
Those mournful brown eyes captured my heart, the ones gazing tentatively up at me from the concrete floor of her shelter cell. They were set in perfect symmetry on an adorable red-and-white beagle face attached to a red basset hound’s body with white pointy bandana markings around the neck. All this cuteness poised on top of short little turkey drumstick legs capped with oversized white socks. She was calm, still, quiet amidst the crazed chorus of barking, jumping, pacing. The tag on the gate read, “Twinkie”.
“She’s the one,” I squealed. Don nodded his agreement, clearly hypnotized by those sad hound-dog eyes. Twinkie’s velvety ears perked up. Her white-tipped whip of a tail gave a quivering, hopeful thump.
Twinkie was clearly thankful to be in her new adopted home with air conditioning, a soft bed and consistent mealtimes with tasty Pacific Salmon-flavored grain-free food. And for the first couple of days, we kept her in our little apartment while she got accustomed to her new surroundings and her new people. She got a clean bill of health from the vet. Once she warmed up to us, her cute, bouncy, perky personality was absolutely hilarious. She was a powerhouse — a knee-licking, head-ramming, 45-pound wiggling belly flopping bundle of muscle and sheer stubborn basset-hound determination.
All was right with the world on our honeymoon with this new dog. Until, that is, she was finally allowed to go into the B&B and make herself comfortable.
And then the doorbell rang. And a canine alarm sounded in response. Loudly. With zeal.
Outside in the yard … the same. She was a fence-dwelling, people-chasing yard guardian — trumpeting dire warnings to anyone within 100 feet of the fence. Nobody came anywhere near her yard without a good old-fashioned talkin’ to.
Absolutely perfect for a bed and breakfast, right?
She also proved to be a “leash lurcher”, which was unfortunate because she lives to go on walks. Wrapping the leash around our hands multiple times to keep her under control, our hands morphed into swollen purple sausages. It was relentless, her lunging — toward smells, toward sounds, after squirrels. Oh, and the cats. She was obsessed with cats. She poured every fiber of her 45-pound being into lurching, determined to get to whatever irresistible attraction was just out of reach. She was a strong little thing. And when she finally took a break from straining against the leash, ready to move on, she strutted and bounced, smiling, happy as a clam. Our little junkyard dog owned that sidewalk.
Cute as the “junkyard” side of her personality was, if we were going to keep her at the B&B, we had to teach her some manners.
So we decided to enroll her in a basic training course at one of the local pet supply stores, where she did okay for the first couple of lessons, even acting like a model pupil, the teacher praising her and setting her examples by her. That was, as soon as one of the Rottweilers in the class picked a scuffle with her and, without warning, nipped at her nose. The run-in shut her down. She started misbehaving for the trainer. She refused to obey a single, solitary command. Each time we returned for a lesson, within 10 feet of the pet store Twinkie became visibly stressed, drooling, panting, pacing. We pulled her out of the program the week before graduation. She was our primary school dropout.
Enter Nick Rangel with American K-9 Academy.
Desperate for a permanent fix for Twinkie’s less-than-welcoming behavior, I found Nick on the internet. And after a lengthy phone conversation about expectations and costs (she was, after all, 5 years old — an advanced age for training), we set up an appointment to take Twinkie out for an evaluation.
As we drove up to the training facility, on several acres of open land in nearby Gravette, we were somewhat alarmed to see several large dogs in the fenced-in dog yard. Because after Twinkie’s run-in with the Rotweiller, we and Twinkie saw all big dogs as a potential threat. The German Shepherds, Labs and other dogs curiously watched as we unloaded Twinkie from the car. Not one of them barked. And when Nick gave a command, they all snapped to attention and did what he said.
We were amazed at his command of the dogs, and after her initial evaluation, we were quick to enroll her in a 4-week K-9 basic-training bootcamp.
Nick delivered. He put Twinkie and her class of canine companions through the ropes that month. To help desensitize the dogs to people and kids, he loads the dogs up and takes them to local parks and trails and ballgames to train them around people. They roam his grounds and go on hikes and get one-on-one personal attention every single day. He corrects them firmly when they do not obey.
Two weeks into the training, we were allowed a visit. Already Twinkie was a different dog. She listened to us. She obeyed our commands. She walked on the leash without lurching. She waited for permission before going through a doorway.
Two weeks after that, Nick brought a newly transformed Twinkie to our house. He worked with us for a couple of hours, a train-the-trainer session. He gave us a printed manual to study, outlining training plans for the coming next weeks and months. He visited a couple more times to check in.
And it worked. Ask any guest. Twinkie is a better version of herself. Around guests she’s a mellow, laid-back dog. She’s still a perky little spitfire around her mama and daddy when we’re alone. She is a little shy around some guests, but she lets them enter her home without fanfare. She does greet people at the door (so be prepared to get thoroughly sniffed on your way in.) She picks her favorites and, at times, even positions herself outside her Chosen Ones’ doors so they’ll know she wants her ears scratched. But don’t worry, she waits for permission to go into rooms (and she’s not allowed at the breakfast table). We get daily compliments on her good behavior, and she gets daily kisses and pats from the guests.
And did I mention that we can walk her off-leash now? It’s amazing! She stays right with us, always keeping us in the corner of her eye, pausing when we pause, turning when we turn. We do still have to leash her at events and in crowds, though. Too much distraction.
Thanks to Nick at American K-9 Academy, our relationship with Twinkie has a much easier, more relaxed dynamic. We know what to expect of one another and we have a nice little routine that works for all of us. She’s now the perfect B&B mascot rather than the apartment-dwelling junkyard dog. And our guests get the ideal Hostess Twinkie treatment. Cheers to doggie bootcamp!
August 12th, 2013 by Laughlin House
It hasn’t been quite two years yet since Crystal Bridges made its grand entrance into Northwest Arkansas and forever changed the landscape of Bentonville. Since the museum opened, we’ve seen our neighbors, our town and our region appear in countless local and national news articles, magazine feature stories and TV shows. Bentonville has been named on the “in” list for several different prominent travel publications. We’ve watched our city streets get spruced up and witnessed well-planned community and real estate development begin to take our neighborhoods to new heights. And at the B&B we’ve been thrilled to serve as Bentonville ambassadors and play host to thousands of these visitors who have streamed into the area since the museum opened. I can tell you, our guests have left enchanted with our town and all it has to offer.
This week, the museum anticipates its one-millionth visitor to walk through the door since November 11, 2011. In celebration, they’ve launched a “1 in a million” campaign.
I just ran down to the Convention and Visitor’s bureau to pick up our yard signs. (Please don’t be too taken aback if our yard grows over the sign overnight — we’ve had an onslaught of rain, which we needed — but it’s making the yard grow out of control!)
Visitors can expect the beautifully-tended yards around town to sport these words of welcome as they head toward the downtown area. In addition to the yard signs, the museum itself will be offering some extra perks — as well as a story booth (kind of like NPR’s StoryCorp), where visitors can record their stories on video for use in future marketing and social media materials.
I plan to run down and talk about how much Crystal Bridges has meant to Laughlin House and to Bentonville in general. Since it opened, we have watched this little town transform into a growing hot spot for food and the arts – and it has become a model town for community involvement and “can-do” American spirit. Crystal Bridges has truly put Bentonville on the map as a destination city for travelers, and we are eternally grateful for the wonderful people it has brought to the area and to the B&B. Bentonville is booming. Our lives have been forever enriched by this jewel. I mean, it’s brought a million people to our area in less than two years’ time!
Thank you, Ms. Walton, for this wonderful gift — we can’t wait to see what the next two years of Crystal Bridges magic brings!
December 16th, 2011 by Laughlin House
Check out some of the press clippings where Laughlin House has been mentioned lately!