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@Work: Inn at Pelican Heights

April 6, 2005 – Fred Laue decided to quit the corporate world about seven years ago and settle on a tropical isle. All things considered, he appears to have done better than his literary, Caribbean-hotel-purchasing counterpart, Norman Paperman, of "Don't Stop the Carnival" fame.
Fred's Inn on Pelican Heights, just west of Christiansted, has had some ups and downs, but none of the calamities that struck the hotel owned by the character in the Herman Wouk novel.
Paperman ended up heading back to New York, but Fred has no plans to return to his job with corporate beer producer Coors, where he worked as engineer and project manager for 30 years.
2003 and 2004 were bad years for tourism on St. Croix and that was not good for the Inn at Pelican Heights, but Fred did not evacuate. Last year he got a job as general manager at Aggregate Inc., a quarry at Ham's Bluff, but now he says business is looking up at the Inn.
"This year was excellent,"
When he first became the innkeeper, he says about 80 percent of his business was coming as new customers who learned about his inn on the Internet. Now, he says, "About 40 percent of my customers are return customers, about 40 percent come from word-of-the-mouth recommendations and only 20 percent comes from his web page at innatpelicanheights.com/.
Part of his success may be the result of the attitude he took when entering the business. He says before he did anything, he read a book called "So, You Want to Be an Innkeeper."
He says the first paragraph in the book said, if you want to be an innkeeper you have to love people. Fred figured he could do that.
He says that is what now makes his job satisfying. He says, "I have had some of the greatest guests."
He adds that the key to being successful as an innkeeper is "treating people well."
This key must be working for Fred because he said that Fodor's 2005 listed his inn as the publication's choice for where to stay on St. Croix.
He also works to keep his community connections strong. Before taking on the second job, he was a St. Croix Rotary Club member. He is presently president of the St. Croix Hotel and Restaurant Association, and a member of Team St. Croix.
He says the association is making more connections with its counterpart on St. Thomas and St. John. The two associations now share administrative duties and there is a meeting of both boards of directors on the horizon.
Fred was also treasurer of the now defunct Accommodations Council on St. Croix.
The Inn has six suites that contain kitchens, but breakfast comes complimentary in the common dining area. The breakfast is generally good and might include a dish whose recipe came from Fred himself.
He describes his job at Aggregate Inc. as "We make little rock out of big rocks." He adds that most of the product goes into making concrete.

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