Sunday, March 11, 2012

To B&B or Not To B&B?

I've had a reoccurring daydream for years...own and run a bed & breakfast.  And why wouldn't I?  Almost every experience we've had visiting an inn has delivered a memorable, homey and personalized experience.  That's more than I can say for staying at a chain hotel if I'm aiming to take in the local spirit.

The beauty of running an inn checks off my top passions, starting with my love of design.  Below is just a small sampling of places we have actually stayed at...

The Berry Manor Inn in Rockland, Maine
Green Cat Bed and Breakfast outside of Poulsbo, WA

So many of the B&B's we've visited reflect the historical architecture of the area.

Hotel Convento (converted Convent) in Arcos De La Frontera, Spain

Ryokan Asakusa Shigetsu, Traditional Guest House in Tokyo
Hotel Pension Elisabeth Garni in Fussen, Germany
 
Most owners have done a loving job of embracing the period of the home through their interpretation in their furnishing choices.  Fun for me is a blank canvas to express my take on interior and exterior design which is in keeping with the home.  (Freud would probably say that's why we've moved so many times over the years.)

Landscaping always makes either a strong or weak first impression.  Oh to have the time to create the gardens I've seen at some of these bed & breakfasts...sigh.

Standard English Garden in Bath, England

Let's get to the crux of the matter, the breakfasts!  We've had some spectacular, top rate meals at bed & breakfasts.  Usually the inn keeper uses ingredients that are native to the area, are scrumptious and home made.  I would love to create menus and lose myself to cooking those dream concoctions.

More than one person can (should) eat
What I would make at my B&B
A charming home in a great location, a space for gardening, cooking a fabulous breakfast, a little socialization and then sending the guests on their merry way.  I could indulge in it all and make a living.  If it seems to mark off everything I am passionate about, what would it take to make the dream a reality?  Research!

Enter the big bubble bursting pin, stage left.

Last year I decided to get serious on studying the possibility and bought "Running a Bed and Breakfast for Dummies".

Courtesy of Wiley Publishing

The reality is we would be running a small business.  Like any standard small business, we would need to have 3 years worth of reserves to buy us time for getting our business off the ground.  That does not include the cost of buying the property, funding the improvements, paying for marketing, covering our own health insurance or putting away for retirement.  Add to the mix a sudden, unexpected downturn in tourism and one could find yourself doing the gardening, laundry, web design and a host of other odd jobs.  Vacation?  What vacation?

Buying the property is probably the biggest challenge of all.  Identifying a destination and affording the best location within that destination which would have at a minimum 4 bedrooms with private baths along with owner's quarters is an extremely pricey proposition.  Scale back the dream you say?  To even begin to make the numbers work, you need at least that many bedrooms to make it fly.  What if the destination is a seasonal stop?  Then it's really difficult to make the numbers work.

Now if money were no object, well, let's face it.  If money were no object, you don't have much need of running a small business!

Final conclusion?  A good way to kill my hobbies is to try and turn them into a business.  I think I'll just enjoy the pure pleasure of decorating, gardening, cooking and all the rewards they have to offer.

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