B&B in a newer mansion?

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Hi Everyone! 

I just found your site this morning and am delighted with the wealth of knowledge here.  My husband and I have always dreamed of owning/operating a B&B and an opportunity seems to be presenting itself.  I would LOVE to get input from the pros here.

For starters:  though I know it's not the same, hubby and I have owned a vacation home with great success for several years.  It was two hours from where we live, so my sister who lived near the rental was the "hostess/manager".   We have just sold this so that we can operate a hospitality business with more personal involvement.  (http://www.okcvacationrental.com/Video.html.) 

I'm a 50ish retired lady.  Hubby is a surgeon and still very active in his practice.  Hubby has two children from a previous marriage (ages 8 and 16) that spend every other weekend with us.

We have found a diamond in the semi-rough. It's been empty for almost a year and needs to be lived in and loved.  It overlooks a lovely lake (it is lake front property but dense woods and a steep grade currently prevents lake access from the house).The property is about 30 minutes from the hospital where my husband works.  Here is a link to a video of the property:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKAA3RSPWNc.  It is just over 8000 square feet, has five bedrooms, each with it's own private bath as well as theater, game room, pool, 2 hot tubs, exercise room, sauna, and a full outdoor kitchen with fireplace.  It has a dressing room with shower that opens from the poolside that should keep water drips from the pool to a minimum.  It also has a tornado shelter, (an important amenity in Oklahoma!) accessible through a hidden door that looks like a bookcase.   There is also a small 1800 square foot, 3 bedroom, 2 full bath A-Frame that is on the property that needs to be gutted and completely remodeled, inside and out. (the current owners used it as an extra closet!)  The two homes sit on approximately 20 acres with a beautiful private tree-lined road complete with decorative iron lamps and landscape spotlights in the trees. It has a gorgeous wrought iron entry gate (with a keypad) at the street. Majestic bald eagles soar over the houses throughout the day.  It is just a few blocks from the marina.  The payment is several thousand less than the home we currently live in (and just sold), so affording the payment even with 0 occupancy is not a problem.  Though we will welcome "help" with the mortgage, my main reason for wanting to run the B&B is more for social reasons.  I'm a people person and have often been told I have the gift of hospitality.  I love to cook and entertain and of course, "show off" my property. Clean?  Hmmm... not so much - thus  I would want to  hire help for the cleaning and grounds-keeping work. I'm computer savvy and have developed and been the webmaster of several pretty intricate websites, including the vacation rental site above.    I understand the "always on call" nature of the business but don't see that as a problem as I am an admitted workaholic (and like it that way).

There is no B&B at the lake at all nor are there any historic homes that would be the more typical B&B style home.  The nearest B&B is 30 minutes away in Tulsa though only a couple of them would be considered upscale.   This property is 25 minutes (and a beautiful interstate highway drive) from downtown Tulsa.  Is is about an hour from a major university (OSU) also via interstate highway.  There is also a nice general aviation airstrip within a mile of the property.  I can imagine private pilots and their sweeties looking for a nice place to puddle jump over to for the weekend or couples from Tulsa wanting to get away for the weekend but not spend a lot of their time on the road. Also parents coming to visit their kids at college....

My questions: 

1.  Do you think the typical B&B crowd would appreciate a non-historic but very luxurious home?

2.  Do you think business travelers would make a 25 minute commute in exchange for the lovely surroundings?

3.  Do you consider the kitchen, being open to the common areas a negative as far as kitchen activity in the mornings and "mess" associated with meal preparation?   

4.  Owners quarters:  should our quarters be in the master suite and rent the A-Frame in it's entirety OR should we live in the A-Frame and have the master suite available as a bridal/honeymoon suite?  I wonder which would be more likely to be rented more often?  I believe we will run it as adult only, so our own children, when they are there, come into play in this decision.  If we lived in the A-Frame, that would address the kitchen issue mentioned above as food prep could be done there and carried over to the "big house".   

5.  Boats and Sporting equipment:  should we have available at an additional charge sporting equipment for our guests? There is a very popular area at the lake with trails for ATV's and dirt bikes.  Does anyone have experience with this?  Or....would just a courtesy boat made available for guests be a big draw?  (Boats are available for rent at the marina but ATV's are not.)     

6.  And finally....what do you think of the name, "The Mansion at Eagle Pointe"?  I was leaning toward Eagle Pointe Manor but hubby liked the idea of "mansion" in the name conjuring up images of luxury and opulence. (Is conjuring opulence in this case a bit of an overstatement?).  I thought I would ask the city to officially name our private road "Eagle Pointe" and our official mailing address would be One Eagle Pointe.

Can you tell I'm excited?  I look forward to meeting everyone and thank you in advance for your suggestions and opinions!

Marti

 

 

 

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10/07/2008

Marti I love your enthusiasm. If it were me, I would stay at a newer mansion vs an old one. Yes.I don't think a B&B has to be an historic property at all. They typically are because they are less to purchase and the owners restore them and have more skin in the game.

If you are serious, make sure you check the zoning as you may fall under a "hotel" and the locals may fight you on it. Especially waterfront, we all know what sticklers they can be.

RE Business Guests may be restricted to $ and a B&B esp a luxury one may not be acceptable.  Even if you met the per diem. But it would surely be a great resource for traveling physicians etc. Showing them hospitality from the hospital aspect would be a win win!  

On that same token, when my husband had someone stay here who was visiting on business, it made it awkward for him.  I told him "Go ahead and have breakfast with the guest..." and he did, and it worked out okay, but he wasn't relaxed that evening before at all. 

All the best, keep us informed of your progress!

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gillumhouse's picture
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05/22/2008

K-9 has it right about the time issue. I only have 3 rooms and I DO have a life that I fit around the B & B and vice versa. 

Today - up at 5 to make coffee for one room. Stay up because I have a breakfast at 8:30 for another room. I have a commitment 76 miles away (fortunately a bit flexible because DH & he other DH cannot shut up so they can go), I have another room possibly coming in tonight so HAD to flip that room before I left. Today is my State's birthday so there were "doings" in town also and I got a call about taking photos - while i am 76 miles away. Come home take photos. DH wants to go out for our usual Thursday dinner. I am subbing tonight for bocce. Now he is waiting for me to come watch a TV program with him.  It is not unusual for guests to not arrive until Midnight - have had some with horses arrive at 3 AM. Think about it.

Kay Nein's picture
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You need to be completely realistic with the time expectations.  I did not realize how much time it would take until I was deep into it.  My weekends are not mine.  If I want to do anything fun & personal, it has to be done on a Tuesday or Wednesday when there is not a guest and even then I'm on-call (if you decide to allow walk-ins).  An 8am breakfast can easily be a 4+ hour operation when you consider coming in early for prep, serving and then waiting for them all to leave the table to finally finish clean-up of dishes, kitchen and dining room. Check-ins that happen at all hours of the day - whatever's convenient for them.  Early arrivers and then those that get lost or have a delayed flight or took their time at dinner and finally decided to check in. 

Make sure that you and your husband are completely aware of the time requirements before you spend all that money and effort to just realize that you never see each other anymore.  Sorry, it's a reality. 

I recommend that you live in the separate house.  You will appreciate having separate living spaces and not having people wandering into your personal areas or bothering you at all hours for silly things.

 

Best of luck to you!  Sounds like you already have alot figured out.  I hope it all falls into place and you are blessed with lots of wonderful guests smiley

Breakfast Diva's picture
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05/26/2009

Lots of great feedback from the previous posts.

Here's my concern:

  • You a your husband are used to a certain lifestyle. I read a lot about how you would enjoy a b&b, but not much about your husband. Is he willing to make a longer commute to his practice/hospital?
  • Are the two of you willing to live in a 'small' 1800 sq ft home and be content to see your guests living in the main house with all the space and you're cramped?
  • After a long day of surgery, is your husband going to be ok with you spending your time making sure your guests are taken care of, but he's going to have to be on his own when you're being the hostess with the mostest?
  • Is your husband comfortable with being around people/patients all day and then coming home to strangers in his environment?

These questions all have to be answered honestly by both of you.

The upscale clientele will be very demanding. Imagine all of your husband's collegues staying with you. You know what I mean wink 

Who is the typical traveler that goes to the lake? Families? Upscale? Romantic getaway? Are there other upscale hotels in the area?

The house looks beautiful and it doesn't matter that it's not historic. We are a historic property and most people don't even know it until they get here. Seems they don't read or care about the history, but care more with the amenities you provide.

You found a great place here to bounce idea around! I'm looking forward to hearing you answers to a lot of questions posted by all of us!

You really do need to take an aspiring innkeeper course to be able to understand if this lifestyle is well suited to both you and your husband.

 

Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

The upscale clientele will be very demanding. Imagine all of your husband's collegues staying with you. You know what I mean

These are definitely the people I do not want. We've had to deal with high maintenance guests when the hotels are full. Not pleasant. And yet, there are people with buckets of money who know they are 'slumming' when they have to stay here and you never hear a peep out of them. So, it's more to do with class than cash.

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Madeleine's picture
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I'm a people person and have often been told I have the gift of hospitality.  I love to cook and entertain and of course, "show off" my property. Clean?  Hmmm... not so much - thus  I would want to  hire help for the cleaning and grounds-keeping work.

OK, this little bit right here you kind of need to spend some time reading the forum to really understand what's being asked of you doing this for money.

You don't need the money so you don't have to be open if you 'don't feel like it'. That's a biggie. Your DH gets a nice trip to a convention in the Caymans? You close, you go, life is good. Most of us have to plan to the nth degree to take off to do anything. And we miss doing a lot of family stuff. (Weddings, baptisms, graduations, etc. We don't miss funerals but that's kind of a sad statement.)

I have talked with a LOT of former innkeepers who thought loving to cook and entertain was going to get them thru. But, the slog of having guests who don't appreciate what you've done, who break things and take advantage of your giving nature starts to wear on you.

And, if you have to clean up after them? You'll despise them pretty quickly. Housekeeping staff is very important to my sanity. Just ask anyone who has listened to me rant when one lousy housekeeper after another quits and leaves me in the lurch!

 

Madeleine's picture
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Without watching the videos, here are my responses -

My questions: 

1.  Do you think the typical B&B crowd would appreciate a non-historic but very luxurious home? Absolutely. Historic is not as important as relevant is.

2.  Do you think business travelers would make a 25 minute commute in exchange for the lovely surroundings? Not really. But it depends entirely on whether or not there is anything comparable that is closer.

3.  Do you consider the kitchen, being open to the common areas a negative as far as kitchen activity in the mornings and "mess" associated with meal preparation?   My kitchen is open. You learn quickly to do everything neatly and tidily and without saying, 'Oops!'.

4.  Owners quarters:  should our quarters be in the master suite and rent the A-Frame in it's entirety OR should we live in the A-Frame and have the master suite available as a bridal/honeymoon suite?  I wonder which would be more likely to be rented more often?  I believe we will run it as adult only, so our own children, when they are there, come into play in this decision.  If we lived in the A-Frame, that would address the kitchen issue mentioned above as food prep could be done there and carried over to the "big house".   You want to be AWAY from the guests. Especially with kids coming and going. This will be a ahard enough adjustment for them. Don't make them tiptoe around in their own house! Pay very close attention to regulations in your area about food prep. If you cannot get that food across the yard 'HOT' and fresh you won't get a license.

5.  Boats and Sporting equipment:  should we have available at an additional charge sporting equipment for our guests? There is a very popular area at the lake with trails for ATV's and dirt bikes.  Does anyone have experience with this?  Or....would just a courtesy boat made available for guests be a big draw?  (Boats are available for rent at the marina but ATV's are not.)    I would NEVER rent ATV's or any motorized toys to guests. You'll get those who will swear they run them all the time and then proceed to crash into everything in sight and blame you for it. Besides which, why do you want to spoil the natural beauty of the area with all that noisy crap? If you can eventually develop a path to the lake on your own property, I would have row boats and kayaks for guests to use. Not rent. It's the rental part that causes a lot of grief I think.

6.  And finally....what do you think of the name, "The Mansion at Eagle Pointe"?  I was leaning toward Eagle Pointe Manor but hubby liked the idea of "mansion" in the name conjuring up images of luxury and opulence. (Is conjuring opulence in this case a bit of an overstatement?).  I thought I would ask the city to officially name our private road "Eagle Pointe" and our official mailing address would be One Eagle Pointe. I like Swirt's idea for a name - Eagle Pointe Mansion B&B. Tells it all right there.

 

Generic's picture
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02/24/2011

Welcome... 

I'm not trying to be negative, but you need to answer the negative questions if you want people to get it.... My usual question is... WHY choose you? It's a question worth repeating. What do you do that is different? Why should I stay at your place? Why should I pay your price and not someone else's? Where am I going if I'm a business man? (They want to be close to their office to minimize hassle, which is why hotels often open up near highways and industrial/commercial offices.)

Why the complicated quote system? I don't want to think when I'm booking, I want to know the price and that's all. 

Why mention other companies? I see you using a coffee house's name? I see a brand of tissue (that will likely send you a cease and desist letter because they object to people using their name as a synonym for the product and it dilute's their trademark.)

If people have that kind of money to spend on a place to stay, do you really expect them to cook? If it's shared cooking facilities, who's responsible for cleaning up? BTW, a rack of spices... are not fresh spices. Those are dried spices. And if I'm paying $200 to $300 a night, that doesn't look like the list of restaurants that I want to go to. 

A gateleg table (no quotes needed) is a table that has one or two drop leaf built in drop leaves. That's not a gateleg table. 

BTW, hate the autoplay music. To be 100% honest, I'd never go back to your video page because of it. I have no control over the level of sound.

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05/22/2008

Sorry Eric but what are you seeing? I guess I didn't look at the vacation video because that is not what she was asking about ???? I don't think you caught the "house for sale" video that she is asking about turning into a B & B. Not the vacation rental.

Arks's picture
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EmptyNest wrote:

Sorry Eric but what are you seeing? I guess I didn't look at the vacation video because that is not what she was asking about ???? I don't think you caught the "house for sale" video that she is asking about turning into a B & B. Not the vacation rental.

Eric is responding to the FIRST video Martio links to above, in the second paragraph. It was a vacation rental she says they ran for several years but have now sold. So his comments are moot because they don't have that place anymore. (all true comments, though)

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06/24/2008

Welcome! Most everything has been covered here already by the fine INNspring regulars.  So I will just wish you the very best and hope that you follow up here as things progress.  Best of luck!

Arks's picture
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Hope you can get people to stay multiple days! There's no way they could check in at 4 p.m. and check out at 10 a.m. and have time to experience and enjoy even a fraction of the amenities the place has. The public areas could support a LOT more than 5 bedrooms.

A huge undertaking but maybe the income from the rooms will pay for the staff needed to maintain it all, including pool maintenance, lawn mowing, repairs, insurance, utilities, property taxes, etc.

I doubt five rooms could ever pay the mortgage, but if you can pay that, the rooms can help pay some of the lesser expenses. Starting from scratch, be prepared to subsidize it for a long startup period.

OnTheShore's picture
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Oh, on the courtesy boat -- we have a couple of small rowboats that are available for our guests free of charge, at their own risk. They get used a lot. But anything with a motor would open you up to huge liability. And if you don't have access to the water even though you are waterfront, how would your guests take advantage?

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OnTheShore's picture
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We have incorporated a separate entity (http://www.WestHarborRecreation.com/) to handle boat rentals at our place -- it has it's own insurance -- and a contract defines the relationship between the two businesses, i.e. the boat rental business is essentially a tenant of the accommodations business (which owns the property), similar to our mooring and dockage tenants.

But we're starting with boats that are already "in the family" so to speak and Harborfields already has the infrastructure (dock) to support the business (so no large capital investment is required), and we are avid boaters ourselves, so it's a natural fit.

If you have to make significant capital investment in equipment and/or infrastructure to start, and you are not yourselves avid boaters or ATV riders, or what-have-you, then you probably want to think long and hard before getting into the recreational equipment rental business (especially if you are also just starting a new hospitality business).

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05/22/2008

Welcome.

I swore I would not comment to another "wanna be" but you seem to be a bit different so here goes. And I agree with SWIRT as well. He made some good points

1. The place has the WOW factor people are looking for these days. Many people are looking for exactly what this place has.

2. Does every bedroom have a private bath...a MUST.

3. Before you do anything...check local zoning rules and regulations. You may not even be able to run a  B & B there.

4. PRIVATE owners quarters only. But how can you give up living in that for an A frame??? UGH! Unless you do a total redo to suit your needs.

5. Don't  do anything without checking about insurance / liability issues. If your hubby is a Dr. you know all about those.  Most likely I would forget that.

6. I wouldn't count on business people driving 25 min. from the city and they won't be able to afford your rates anyway. And being an hour a way from university is not going to get you people from there either.

7. Sounds like you should market your niche to the millennials looking luxury getaways and yours will have to provide all the whiz bang amenities that go with it.

8.Open kitchen...is gorgeous. But could be a detriment as you say because all your work is there for all to see. And someone here can comment dearly about guests getting into her kitchen.-) Carrying breakfast over to the big house doesn't appeal to me at all. But since the kitchen won't be your own private kitchen, it is not a problem then if guests use the fridge, nib in the pantry etc. You want to have guests smell the aroma of a wonderful breakfast wafting through the house Smiling  So thinking about it now, I don't think that should be an issue.

So sounds great...if you have the $$$ and zoning permits...go for it.  And then spend some time reading all the threads here because we have probably answered all your questions, many times over.

And...take an aspiring innkeeper course before you do anything. Find out what it is really like before you decide to take the plunge. It's not all a bed of roses and chatting up the guests.

Good luck.

 

gillumhouse's picture
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05/22/2008

I agree with Swirt with all the above. Re rentals of boats, etc leave that to the ones doing business already - as a bike shop owner friend siad when advising me against renting bikes to guests, "The insurance will eat you alive."

With your proximity to an airfield and OSU, Fly-ins for football games would be a source of revenue (let them rent a car) and Fly-in Get-aways is another possible.

Welcome.

swirt's picture
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05/17/2008

4.  Owners quarters:  should our quarters be in the master suite and rent the A-Frame in it's entirety OR should we live in the A-Frame and have the master suite available as a bridal/honeymoon suite?  I wonder which would be more likely to be rented more often?  I believe we will run it as adult only, so our own children, when they are there, come into play in this decision.  If we lived in the A-Frame, that would address the kitchen issue mentioned above as food prep could be done there and carried over to the "big house".

If it were me, I'd go for the owners quarters in the a-frame.  That way when your kids are there it is less impingement on them.  Regarding the food prep.  I would shy away from the prep it and move it scenerio.  When we ran our B&B we had an open floor plan so the the kitchen and dining were together. It presents some small challenges but nothing major.   Though some of it may come down to, can you talk and prepare at the same time, or does having someone talk to you completely distract you?

5.  Boats and Sporting equipment:  should we have available at an additional charge sporting equipment for our guests? ...

I suggest not jumping into this immediately.  It is very tempting when you are in the "dreaming" stage to want to offer every possible thing you can.  This sounds simple, but can get overwhelming real fast.  I would shelve this idea until you at least get a full year or two under your belt.  

1.  Do you think the typical B&B crowd would appreciate a non-historic but very luxurious home?

Yes. Absolutely if it is in a great setting, and it sounds like yours is.

2.  Do you think business travelers would make a 25 minute commute in exchange for the lovely surroundings?

Probably not.  Not necessarily because of the drive, but because business travellers are not going to want to pay what you are going to end up charging to stay in your fantastic place.  Pick your niche and don't try to be all things to all people.

And finally....what do you think of the name, "The Mansion at Eagle Pointe"?  I was leaning toward Eagle Pointe Manor but hubby liked the idea of "mansion" in the name conjuring up images of luxury and opulence. (Is conjuring opulence in this case a bit of an overstatement?).  I thought I would ask the city to officially name our private road "Eagle Pointe" and our official mailing address would be One Eagle Pointe.

"The" and "at" are extraneous stop words.  You'd be better off getting rid of them with "Eagle Pointe Mansion".  "The" would also position you in the T's rather than the E's in alphabetical lists.  I'd recommend having what you are be in the title  like "Eagle Pointe Mansion B&B" because 'mansion' may symbolize opulence, but it tells people nothing of what you are.  Unless eagle point clearly tells people where you are, you may want to work in your location (name of the lake perhaps) into the name.

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