How Much Hanging Around?

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Weaver's picture
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01/24/2012

In looking at potential remodeling of the main house on the prospective property I am given pause to think about how much time guests spend in the common areas.

As many of you know I am planning a farm stay, so there will be lots and LOTS of things to do outside.  

How large are your common areas and how much time do guests really spend in them?

Should I

A  offer a nice comfortable sitting area, couch and a couple of chairs

B  a large open great room - currently the configuration of the main house

C an average size living room space open to the dining area 

There are wrap-around porches on the main level and the second floor so plenty of seating outside for both relaxation and breakfast.

 

 

Weaver's picture
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So from what I am seeing as long as I have the space, depending on who, what, and weather is it may or may not be used.  The main house is anntebelum styled with large porches on the first and second floor, the manor house has a huge covered back deck.

My concern was flipping the dining room to the living room to offer more dining space and have a smaller slightly more intimate sitting area that could accommodate seating for smaller social groups of 5-8 persons.  I hate the idea of having so much square footage not be used, and have a crowded dining room that would limit the number of guests at one sitting,  I also wanted to avoid any exterior changes to the house such as adding on space to the dining area when the living/great room was right there.

The kitchen is placed so access won't be an issue. 

As to what they do when the weather gets nasty, there is plenty in town, rooms are large, and the property already has a separate large recreation building with indoor activities such as pool and foosball tables, workout area, and indoor basketball and tennis court.

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You sound all set up.  No need to worry about a thing!

Weaver's picture
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Oh I wish that were true!  The best laid plans.....

At least if I have a plan when I close and am ready to start renovation/updating I will know which end of the map is north. 

Actually I am cheap and hate the idea of adding on dining space when there is this awesome great room that will probably never be full.  And since the owner's quarters will be in a separate (not nearly as nice) building it isn't as if I want to save the space for myself/family. 

 

Silverspoon's picture
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We have a dedicated guest living room as well as outside seating.  During the cooler months our guests do sit in the common room, near the fireplace, to read or peruse the notebooks of restaurant suggestions, things-to-do etc.  During the summer, the common room is usually just used as a place to make a cup of tea and grab a home-made snack, unless there are 2 couples traveling together.  Then they often sit in t he common room to socialize.   I think the area is important, not so much for the sitting around, as for the impression that guests have of having plenty of space...even if they do not use it.  It also puts one more room as a buffer between their living space and ours.   

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Kay Nein's picture
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I'm new to innkeeping, but I woud think that people don't go out of town & rent a room just to sit around the house all day.  My short experience has been that they just want a place to sleep in between their excursions exploring the town and seeing the sights.  But, we did have a mom/daughter pair recently that stayed with us just to hang out together and did spend some time in our parlor curled up watching TV and reading a book even though it was very nice outside all weekend.  

I would recommend that you consider what they would do if the weather turned bad and they could not go outside.  What would they do and where would they hang out in that situation. Also - do you have TVs in the bedrooms?  One B&B here does not, so they have a large common area with several different seating sections, a tv viewing area, a full bookcase, a game table...  

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K9 wrote:

I'm new to innkeeping, but I woud think that people don't go out of town & rent a room just to sit around the house all day.  My short experience has been that they just want a place to sleep in between their excursions exploring the town and seeing the sights.  But, we did have a mom/daughter pair recently that stayed with us just to hang out together and did spend some time in our parlor curled up watching TV and reading a book even though it was very nice outside all weekend.  

I would recommend that you consider what they would do if the weather turned bad and they could not go outside.  What would they do and where would they hang out in that situation. Also - do you have TVs in the bedrooms?  One B&B here does not, so they have a large common area with several different seating sections, a tv viewing area, a full bookcase, a game table...  

We also get lots of guests who are here to rest and realx. They may be getting back from Afghanistan, getting away from the city, etc.

They tend to stay in their rooms, hang out on the porch, sit and paint (today) etc. Some come for two days and only go out when we take them on their wine tour and for dinner and that's it. We have 13 acres of woods and 1 acre of vineyard for them to walk and enjoy the peace and quiet away from the city noise.

RIki
 

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K9 wrote:

I'm new to innkeeping, but I woud think that people don't go out of town & rent a room just to sit around the house all day.  My short experience has been that they just want a place to sleep in between their excursions exploring the town and seeing the sights.  But, we did have a mom/daughter pair recently that stayed with us just to hang out together and did spend some time in our parlor curled up watching TV and reading a book even though it was very nice outside all weekend.  

I would recommend that you consider what they would do if the weather turned bad and they could not go outside.  What would they do and where would they hang out in that situation. Also - do you have TVs in the bedrooms?  One B&B here does not, so they have a large common area with several different seating sections, a tv viewing area, a full bookcase, a game table...  

Hm, let's see:

  1. Wedding nights - occupay the room all day and night.
  2. Girlfriend of sister get togethers - sometimes they meet here half way at the inn and play board games and cards and only go out to get a bite to eat.
  3. Couples traveling together sit in the parlor and embibe and talk.
  4. Mom and Dad away from the kids, want to sleep in, read a book,
  5. Spouse here on business, so they stay at the inn and read or knit or whatever til spouse is done for the day and then they go out. (Like the law enforcement training, she was the trainer, he was here because she chose a B&B and it was romantic getaway for them both!)
  6. A break from work or school, they stay with us just to be together (like the couple where she was at the FBI Academy, he is a deputy sheriff in Chattanooga TN, they met here to reunite and be together)
  7. One person is here for an event, and they other came along for the ride.

Not everyone is a sight seer.  More so are out than in, but there are still plenty who may stay in.

The rest are out and about for whatever reason they are here.  Wait, case in point - have to add I just took a booking from 15 miles away. Are they here to sightsee? No way, they will be a couple who stays at the inn the whole weekend. Grandma is probably watching the kids!

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gillumhouse's picture
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I did have one of those He is in class and she came along once. He had the car and she was not a trail person - so I taught her how to make a basket (I had reed upstairs).

Hillbilly's picture
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You would be surprised how many people rent a movie an never leave. Life can be so crazy at home with work and kids. Some people just want down time. This is somethIng they can't do at home because of all the resposabilities at home.

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Joey Camb's picture
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weirdly some people do - which is their own business I suppose however our lounge which is a decent sized common area is very rarely used. Though our market here is a bit different in that most people who stay have come for something specific ie over the weekend it was British Craft Trade fair till Monday then Tuesday,wed,thursday is the international federation of Petrolium suppliers - neither of which groups require to be outside at all. If the weather is crap and they are here say for 3 days break I send them to York cos there are about 30 indoor attractions there which you can walk quickly between, they also do what is called the York pass which you pay about $80 and you can do as many attractions for the price as you can fit in which works out pretty good value, they also do a family pass which is even better.

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We have common areas, mostly out door areas but have a large great room if they would like to relax. 

Common rooms & things to consider:

Many people do not like to socialize with strangers, at least not for extended periods of time (I am reminded of a blog that was posted here of a 1 time B&B goer that hated the social part of it, think that one had a social hour or something). 

Some want to socialize while others want quiet spots to read.  In other words if you don't have lots of space you won't please everyone.  (not that you should)

Then there are those that totally take over the common area much to your surprise.  That was the case here this last Dec. when one of the couples staying here had a Christmas get-together with local family while we were attending our son's college graduation.  How did we know?  All the trash in and around the garbage can and the room was a complete mess. 

 

 

gillumhouse's picture
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I basically have no common space other than the dining room and the porch. Originally the Library was to be Ofice/guest area. Without realizing it, I turned it into office - MY clutter took over and although DH is always saying "You should or you need to", I have come to understand I do not want guests in here.

They rarely used it when it was common area. The porch gets used a lot in summer. My guests usually are interested in going out and about or are here to visit family and do just that. It depends on location, number of rooms, and the type of guests you get. I have had guests who came here to chill out, write, etc who wanted to have breakfast and either walked on the trail or wanted to be left alone in their room.

Proud Texan's picture
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05/30/2008

With the exception of our great room during breakfast,  all our common areas are all outdoors.  But, then our guest are expecting an outdoor experience.   We are toying with the idea of enlarging a screened in porch that overlooks the lake for outdoor dining on the two mornings of the year when the weather is pleasant in Texas.   In which case,  it would become a common guest area.

 

Arks's picture
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I think the traditional wisdom says common areas are used more when you have several rooms taken by the same group/family. They like a common place to gather and talk, rather than all meeting in one person's room.

When your rooms are all strangers to each other, they'll stick more to their own room and spend less time sharing common space with strangers.

My family took 2 rooms at a B&B recently. Due to the nice weather we spent a lot of time in rocking chairs on the front porch, but when indoors we all gathered in the larger of the 2 guest rooms. Never used the indoor common areas at all. But if we'd been a larger group, like 3 or more rooms, we'd probably have needed common areas for time together.

I guess the reasoning, for smaller groups, is that you can say what you want and be more yourself in a private room, just like you're at home. In common areas you have to be on your best behavior, be aware of what strangers may hear you say, and worry about being too loud and disturbing others.

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Joey Camb's picture
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we have a decent sized lounge and its sat in once in a blue moon!

muirford's picture
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Weaver wrote:
There are wrap-around porches on the main level and the second floor so plenty of seating outside for both relaxation and breakfast.

In our area, I would not count on outside porches for either seating or dining on a year-round basis.  It will be lovely some times of the year, but too cold, too wet, too hot, or too many bugs at many other times.  

We have a large living room space (three seating areas) and a library with seating for two in addition to our upstairs porch.  They especially get used by groups and our regulars. The more rooms you have, the more common area seating I think you should provide.  

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Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

Common space is something I wish I had more of.

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10/07/2008

You might consider doing a poll on this Weaver. As the answer is 'depends' but you need to have nice common areas, that is part of what it is all about.

We have a large porch that rarely gets used. When it is used, it is used, but rarely. From last week til this morning, not ONE PERSON has sat on our porch. People say they love the porch, it may be why they chose us, perhaps, but it sits empty at least 85% of the time. Our parlor is the same, from last week til now not one guest has used it, they have all rocked down at breakfast time and walked into the dining room.

Not saying it is never used. But it is rarely used. Which is unfortunate.

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