By Text, Tweet He Tells World Balsams Life's Sweet
July 20, 2010
by Lorna Colquhoun
At a table for two at The Balsams resort the other day, Martin Earley shared his chilled strawberry and coconut bisque with a few thousand people who couldn't do lunch (photo by Lorna Colquhoun).
He took a picture of it with his ever-present LG enV Touch -- a cell phone to those from the pre-technology era -- tapped a few keys and sent it out to his fans on Facebook.
A few seconds later, his phone buzzed with a response of envy.
"omg. my stomach just gurgled. do ya think that could ship to nashville??" Earley chuckled, dipped his spoon in his bisque and waited to do it all over again when the Caprese salad arrived.
From now until the end of August, Earley is working at the Dixville Notch retreat, his every activity posted to the worldwide web through words, pictures and videos. He's the winner of this summer's campaign and on July 1, became the "inn-bedded resorter."
He gets a room at the grand hotel, his meals, meets a ton of people, takes part in interesting adventures and when he leaves, he'll have earned $2,500.
Martin Earley shared his chilled strawberry and coconut bisque with a few thousand people.
For the 23-year-old, fresh out of college with a degree in philosophy and foreign languages, it's a summer job that could spoil him. Out of more than 300 entries to the contest kicked off in May by The Balsams, he was the clear favorite, getting 52 percent of the popular vote.
But it's harder work than it may seem. Five days a week, he has to be "on," ready to engage in activities that will engage future guests. Once he finishes golfing, or dining, or game playing, or hiking, there's video to be edited, a blog to be updated and everything else it takes to put his day in front of his audience.
Had it not been for his sister, Nina, who works at the Manchester Institute of Art, Earley would have been finishing up his cross country music tour. Instead, he answered opportunity's knock at his door.
"I thought it was too good to be true when I heard about," he said, wheeling around the Panorama Golf Course in search of the ball he hit out toward the second hole.
Along with answering a series of questions, Earley fell back on his music background and wrote a song, which he played on his ukulele and sang at the rim of the Grand Canyon.
"I was going there anyway, so I wrote the song," he said.
As he and his band were crisscrossing the country in an F-150 towing a camper behind it, he'd reached Nashville when he was invited one night to fly up to New Hampshire the next morning and talk to the folks at The Balsams.
On July 1, he reported for duty, and since then, he's built up a following of about 4,000 people on the hotel's Facebook page, as well as Twitter admirers and for the truly vicarious, those who watch his adventures on YouTube.
They've accompanied him on a morning hike up to Table Rock, with its view overlooking the hotel. He's brought people tableside to the pie eating contest on the Fourth of July. Instead of choosing his own dinner in the dining room, he offers up the menu to his fans and lets them make the decision between such things as Pinwheel of Atlantic Salmon, Seafood Bouillabaisse or Roast Chicken Galantine.
"wow it all sounds delicious. Try Pan Seared Crab Cakes, Chilled Peaches & Cream Soup, Mesclun Greens Salad, Seafood Bouillabaisse, Crispy Confit of Goose, Maple Ricotta Cheese Cake. Enjoy!!" wrote one fan.
From another, "I am so jealous as I sit in my dorm room and decide between Pop Tarts and microwave popcorn."
"Martin is great," said David Donohue, whose agency, BobDonPaul, devised the contest. "He's not shy. One of the goals we had was to drastically increase the number of people following us on Facebook, with the idea that followers will turn into guests."
A little over two weeks into the campaign, the hotel is up to about 4,000 followers who anxiously await Earley's next adventure.
So far, the hotel has been pleased with the foray into the world of social media.
"We're on the cutting edge and a lot of folks aren't even on the blade," said Gary Armitage, the hotel's vice president of sales.
Since the rise of social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, the concept such as the "inn-bedded resorter" have been put into play. A few days ago, Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry announced it was accepting applications from people interested in spending 30 full days and nights at the facility and posting about the experience on YouTube, Twitter and a blog and getting paid $10,000.
"I've been here 18 years and I have to say that guests are really excited," said John B. Kennedy, The Balsams' guest recreation manager.
Already, some of Earley's followers have arrived for their stay, ready to try such activities as the kayaking or hiking or even, as Earley did one morning, the soap-making.
"He's really reached out and grabbed people," he said.
Come the end of summer, Earley will pack up and head back to Boston to begin a career. The Stonehill College graduate is from Winterport, Maine. His first love is his music, but, he mused on the golf course, perhaps by then, he'll have a real knack for marketing.
To read more about Earley, visit here. To view a video of Earley at the Balsams Resort from NECN-TV, visit here.
For more information, contact Communications and Media Relations at 508-565-1321.