Building from scratch or renovating?

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Madeleine's picture
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If you have the opportunity to build from scratch or renovate an existing space here are a few things that A A A looks for (and dings you for not having):

  • closets
  • extra blankets/pillows
  • cabinetry in the bathroom (ie- no free standing sinks)
  • flooring in the bathrooms (don't know why we get dinged on this we have ceramic floors)
  • amenities (soaps, etc)
  • shelf space in the bathroom must be extensive
  • lighting
  • mirrors (multiple, lighted mirrors)
  • TV's (there is a check box for TV's in the bathrooms, but a B&B wouldn't get dinged for that but they do need to be in the rooms)

Other guides are not as picky but if you want the A A A inspection then pay attention to these things! Of course I have never seen a guide for the owner so they know what to install.

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OnTheShore's picture
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No TV's, just big picture windows and outside decks/porches looking out on the view.

No a/c, just what the ocean and the trees provide (supplemented by fans)

Yes, we do have locks on the cottages, but we leave them unlocked with the keys hanging on a hook inside so guests can lock them if they feel the need to.

 

On the TV's we found the infrastructure cost of extending cable out to all the cottages to be prohibitive, and it turns out that the no-TV thing is one of our USP's -- our guests prefer not having TV (even the families with kids, maybe especially the parents!).

We do have a long-range high-speed WiFi system, but even that doesn't reach all of the cottages...

At one time, we were a A A A property, but that was back in the 1950's / 1960's...

 

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white pine's picture
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Thanks for your post. Your place sounds lovely.  We are on 20 acres and the buildings are at the "back" of the property on the lake.  When we are expecting someone in the motel, we leave the key in the door, and the light on if at night...amazing how many comment on how they like this.   

We just bought air conditioners for the  motel rooms because last summer we had a couple of really awful sticky nights.  I felt that although that is far from typical, it would ruin a vacation....the fans in the room didn't help. Also, as JB suggested about the tv's, the fan on them can run as a sound blocker.

The lodge we put central air in, but I really don't want to do tv there, would like it to be something different.

Like Maddie says, the cost is another thing, maybe we will try without first and see how it goes.    Those who NEED tv can stay in the motel.  If we don't get the bookings we can rethink this.

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gillumhouse's picture
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I have window units for my guestrooms. I do not like central because everyone then has to be on the same thermostat as the controller of said device. I do not like to be chilly - that is how I spend my winters as I look forward to summer. I replaced one of the big original units last summer with the new programmable on rollers. Love the not lifting the damn things in and out but the hose takes up SPACE! I may look into trimming the hose if I put it close to the window. One question I get asked is do you have A/C.

Re TVs - after I lost a couple room nights and figured out it was because of big games, TV was no longer an extra on request, I bought 2 more. Now I have flar screen in all. Since I relocated furniture in Rosi's Room, there was no place to put a TV ON anything so the flat screen is mounted on the wall behind the door - I figure they will have the door closed anyway. There is a BRASS doorstop screwed securely in the floor to keep the hook on the door from finding the TV screen. All rooms also have DVD players and I have started a small library. Guests have watched movies. I have the TVs on the Weather Channel when they arrive (TV off of course)

white pine's picture
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We have each room on it's own control, with auto dampers in the runs we hope will solve that problem....can't wait til it breaks! Smiling  Technology....great when it works...  

Will wait and see on the tv....  

Breakfast Diva's picture
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white pine wrote:

If we don't get the bookings we can rethink this.

That's the key right there White Pine! Not every property is the same. You have to test out things constantly. You just can't get into a rut...if things aren't booking the way one expects, then it's time to reanalyze. I do it every year. In a down time, not when stressed. What is working and what isn't and how can we change it.

yes

Breakfast Diva's picture
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We stayed once at a b&b that had no tv in the room. They had 1 in the common living room. Never again will it happen!

When we were in the common room, it felt like we were back home, visiting Mom & Dad, and we were the only ones in the living room watchin. I was uncomfortable. If I'm paying, I don't want to feel that way.

My DH is like Maddie's DH. Has to have the tv on at all times. We even have to fall asleep with it on a sleep timer. Maddie, I'm like you...I like peace and quite. I want to read and enjoy my peaceful surrounding. Let me tell you that spending that 1 night without the tv and a VERY restless DH made for the longest night of my life. In hind site, I would much rather deal with the non-stop tv than my non-book reading husband restless and uncomfortable the entire stay.

So, here's my take on tvs. We all want to fill our rooms up, so why limit the demographics by not offering tvs. Yes, you might want a quiet place to think and read, but the majority of couples want a tv. Just because you hear from a guest every now and then that they appreciated not having a tv, how many couples just take it for granted that it will be there and will never say anything to you because in this day and age, they are everywhere.

 

 

Madeleine's picture
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No idea how many never come back because there is no TV. Maybe our reservations would be sky high if we had TVs. Then again, the one room with a TV doesn't rent first so who knows.

My brother is the same way, cannot sleep without a TV on. He won't come here if someone has 'his' room.

TheBeachHouse's picture
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When we bought the place, there were no tvs.   Now, every room has a tv.  They are all small and some are not flat screen, but they work.   Network and basic cable only.   No movies or pay per view.   

I'm having the noise disagreement with my husband.  He wants air conditioning in each room.  I say the guests want to hear the waves and have a sea breeze.

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TheBeachHouse wrote:

When we bought the place, there were no tvs.   Now, every room has a tv.  They are all small and some are not flat screen, but they work.   Network and basic cable only.   No movies or pay per view.   

I'm having the noise disagreement with my husband.  He wants air conditioning in each room.  I say the guests want to hear the waves and have a sea breeze.

Is humidity an issue there? That is the reason I want a/c, not so much for the cooling, but zapping that humidity. I cannot stand indiv room units of any kind, but others love them and prefer them to sleep by.

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TheBeachHouse's picture
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Joey Bloggs wrote:

TheBeachHouse wrote:

When we bought the place, there were no tvs.   Now, every room has a tv.  They are all small and some are not flat screen, but they work.   Network and basic cable only.   No movies or pay per view.   

I'm having the noise disagreement with my husband.  He wants air conditioning in each room.  I say the guests want to hear the waves and have a sea breeze.

Is humidity an issue there? That is the reason I want a/c, not so much for the cooling, but zapping that humidity. I cannot stand indiv room units of any kind, but others love them and prefer them to sleep by.

 

It can get very humid during the summer.   In this town, there is usually about 2 weeks a year when air conditioning is 'needed.'   Most of the time, we have a nice sea breeze.

 

I think we will go for the more expensive stand alone ac's for the two rooms on the third floor and small window units for the second floor rooms that can be installed easily on demand.

Silverspoon's picture
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We had good luck last summer with the first season of ductless, split AC in the two suites of the main house.  Each room has it's own thermostat so guests have a choice to use the AC or not.  The master control for regulating the temp is in our possession so if we see that the guests are gone we can adjust the temp remotely without ever entering the suite.  Works like a charm!  We still install a window AC in the bedroom of the cottage.  If we find that summers continue to heat up we will probably bite the bullet and buy a separate unit for that building.

Flat screen TV with DVD in both suites and the cottage...a must at the price point we get.  Even though we market to the quiet guest, the TVs are used...especially to watch movies.

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Madeleine's picture
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I will say you will probably have a tougher time selling no a/c than I have selling no TV. You'll get folks from places were it is just hot and they won't believe you that you don't need a/c all the time.

Some of our a/c units are permanent, others are in the windows. If you can get a whole house unit that would be best. No noisy units turning on and off all night. I can't sleep with the a/c on so I just have a fan.

You might want to try with just having fans this first summer. The tall floor models work well and are quiet.

We got them last year because it was just painful in the dining room. Worked well.

Arks's picture
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I absolutely would not stay at a place without a TV in the room, but I guess men aren't the ones doing the booking most of the time, and we're afraid to complain.

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My dh has never been afraid to complain about the lack of TVs in a room that I booked.  laugh

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Samster wrote:

My dh has never been afraid to complain about the lack of TVs in a room that I booked.  laugh

So what you are saying is we need TV's to drown out the DH's...yeah I got that! cool

white pine's picture
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I am thinking of not having TV's.  We have them in the rooms in the motel, in the lodge we were thinking of book shelves, (and we have wifi).   Thinking someplace where quiet might be prime...  May convert one room in the back hall to a "mini-theater" with a dvd player and antique theater seats for the bored in bad weather....

 

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white pine wrote:

I am thinking of not having TV's.  We have them in the rooms in the motel, in the lodge we were thinking of book shelves, (and we have wifi).   Thinking someplace where quiet might be prime...  May convert one room in the back hall to a "mini-theater" with a dvd player and antique theater seats for the bored in bad weather....

 

You are a destination location, so quiet is nice, but quiet out by the lake and in a canoe is where I would expect to enjoy nature sounds. People enjoy tv's, watching the weather channel, and more. This is what we do. I would keep them. They can turn them on or leave them off. Give them a choice. (my 2 cents)

Madeleine's picture
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We have one room with a TV and one in the common room. Yes, we lose business on big sports weekends. We would lose more if everyone had to listen to a TV running all night as the rooms are not sound proofed.

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Madeleine wrote:

We have one room with a TV and one in the common room. Yes, we lose business on big sports weekends. We would lose more if everyone had to listen to a TV running all night as the rooms are not sound proofed.

I think you are cutting off your nose to spite your face without tvs in all your rooms.

I disagree with that comment 100%, people expect TVs. Unless you are on the shore and there are waves crashing outside and you are sitting on the veranda in a fluffy white robe sipping a sangria... (oh that sounds nice right now)

The sound proofing IS THE TV.

I do not wish to listen to other people's conversations, or "other". I don't need to hear them in the loo, in the shower, talking over the hair dryer, on their cell phones, etc. Old people TALK LOUD. 

I am going to be bold and say this would prevent me from staying at a B&B. 

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I agree with JB 100%.  No TVs in the rooms can be a major deal breaker.  Might have been OK 10 or 15 years ago, but not in 2014. 

Lots of people have subscriptions to streaming services, so that could be a compromise if you have smart TVs or TVs that you can plug in Google Chromecast ($35 each one time price). 

I booked a B&B last year right on a tidal marsh on the coast - bird watching, beautiful views, big decks.  No TV in the room.  It rained....  When we weren't out sightseeing or having a fabulous seafood dinner, I had to listen to my dh complain about the lack of a TV to even listen to the weather or news.  So, there you have it....

white pine's picture
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For a rain day we do have the old bar... we don't have a license, but it is a popular place to hang out.  Two old juke boxes full of old 45's, and the pool table and a local place will deliver pizza too.

I think I will also make a mini theater for movies on dvd in one of the rooms in the back hall.

 

white pine's picture
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Maybe if the b&b doesn't work, we will turn into a home for aged innkeepers!  Y'all are welcome!

Innkeep's picture
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white pine wrote:

Maybe if the b&b doesn't work, we will turn into a home for aged innkeepers!  Y'all are welcome!

Sign me up

Breakfast Diva's picture
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What a great space and a throw back in time. Love it!

TheBeachHouse's picture
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Love teh bar!  That's where you would find us!!!

white pine's picture
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Six plays for the quarter, and we don't have a door on the jukebox so you can recycle them.   I love to crank the tunes out when I am working! 

gillumhouse's picture
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Saturday night dances!

Madeleine's picture
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That is so cool! I love it!

white pine's picture
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We arranged the rooms so that no two share a wall.  Each side of the hallway is one suite.  Was just hoping to keep the kids and tv's out in the motel, and allow the Lodge guests a different experience. 

   Will rethink this as in room tv apparently appears to be the norm.  Will mean we get to pay for another 20 TV's  (min. commercial rate for the satellite here ARGH, year round for a seasonal business!).  

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white pine wrote:

We arranged the rooms so that no two share a wall.  Each side of the hallway is one suite.  Was just hoping to keep the kids and tv's out in the motel, and allow the Lodge guests a different experience. 

   Will rethink this as in room tv apparently appears to be the norm.  Will mean we get to pay for another 20 TV's  (min. commercial rate for the satellite here ARGH, year round for a seasonal business!).  

If expense is the issue, then why not start with just flat screens with built in dvd player (start creating a lending library, you can get whole libraries on ebay for cheap). Or smart tv that can stream. We've already decided that now we have fast/unlimited cable internet (no more satellite internet!) that when one of our room tvs break, we'll replace it with a smart tv.

Madeleine's picture
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We don't have the capability for streaming. Worst WiFi in the country is here. For us, to install one more TV means another dish. Which means paying for access for 4 TV's even tho we might add just one or two.

But, of course, we know that's not my real reason...

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You have said who your demographic are.

THAT demographic wants a TV.

I WANT a TV.

I was on the innspiring road trip. Never turned a TV on at any B&B we visited. We were not there long enough, we arrived late, wanted to visit the innmate there, and it was not an issue. If we did anything at all it would be to sleep more, I also never read a page of my book, or listened to music other than in the go-go mobile. But we were not the normal B&B guest, as you know none of us are normal, that is what made it so much fun.

Madeleine's picture
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That's a big issue here - the expense, but not the ultimate reason. First, for A A A the TV's have to be flat panels, not old TV's. Then for an additional 6 TVs we need to upgrade and get another satellite and have the whole house wired. We'd need more outlets. And placing them so they were not on adjoining walls to other rooms is another problem. Our rooms are tiny compared with what I've seen elsewhere.

So I deal with the lost bookings due to no TVs on big game weekends.

Like you, we'd be paying year round for something that would mostly be used in March and 4 months in the summer.

Personally? I hate the noise. It hate traveling with DH because the TV will be on the minute he wakes up till he falls asleep and I turn it off. No time for thinking or relaxing. Constant noise. Can't read. Can't think. Can't talk.

That's my big reason for not having TVs. JB says guests will use them or not but a lot of times it's one guest will use them and the other half of the couple will be stressed because they can't get away from it.

TheBeachHouse's picture
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Not going keyless.   This is an antique house and we have antique doors and doorknobs.   I don't want to alter the antique character of the house in order to upgrade with technology.

I think the details are the charm.

 

However, one of the first things we did when we moved in was put tables in all the bathrooms.   They all have very small sinks and no counterspace.

Madeleine's picture
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Sorry, I wasn't clear. Not keyless as in electronic. No keys as in no one can access the room if the guest has used the deadbolt.

TheBeachHouse's picture
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Madeleine wrote:

Sorry, I wasn't clear. Not keyless as in electronic. No keys as in no one can access the room if the guest has used the deadbolt.

 

Gotcha.   I think I would be nervous leaving my stuff in a room with no lock.   We have old fashioned locks.   A key for the room and a key for the front door of the house.  Of all the things we want to upgrade, the door locks didn't even make the list.  

Madeleine's picture
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I've stayed in two places with no locks. Both times I was by myself! One place had a thumb lock but I didn't know that. 

The other place I put a chair under the door knob.

But both places I had to leave my stuff untended all day. Both innkeepers said someone was always there. But they're not always upstairs now are they?

Not that I travel with the crown jewels but I don't like the idea of someone poking around in my stuff.

We have both a deadbolt and a  doorknob lock. When we get rid of all the brass hardware we'll only replace those with one lock. 

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I thought you had to have ceramic in bathrooms for AAA approval? 

We looked at it one year and decided not to bother. 

One other I recall on the list was deadbolts, am I right? 

gillumhouse's picture
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Very early on in our existence we heard the AAA rules at a Conference. We did not qualify because #1 - we did not have enough rooms (Min 4 required) and #2 - private baths only (at that time we only had a shared) BUT deadbolts were also required and that one we thought was a good one - so we put deadbolts on all guestrooms AND the shared bath with me having the ONLY key to the bath.

Madeleine's picture
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It's not on my list of things she checked for. I remember that, too. It's supposed to be unkeyed, as well. Next year we do the rooms' 'jewelry' so I am removing the ugly door hardware and replacing with something pretty. There will only be one lock at that point, now I have two.

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