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Arks

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For anyone interested in following the progress of my little Arkansas guest house, here's the latest:
  • My offer has been accepted on the oldest commercial building in our town, a brick 2-story with original old wavy-glass windows, over 5000 sq. ft., built 1895. The old building is right on the town square. Guest rooms in the front will look out at our ornate old 1875 courthouse and guest rooms in the back will have a view of the river that flows by town. Should be a nice setting.
  • Talked with the bank this morning. They love my business plan and said they're happy to loan me all the money I need.
  • Hoping to complete the property purchase process in the next few weeks.
  • Architect has done a walk through of the old building and thinks it will be a fun project. He says there's room for four large jacuzzi suites, a sauna and worlds of storage upstairs, and one suite downstairs, plus the 7 a.m.-11 p.m. convenience store I'm putting downstairs, a dining area and other public areas (public restroom and lots of storage, a kitchen, etc.). There's also a good-sized inner-block courtyard in the back that will be a great place to barbecue and relax.
The second floor currently looks like someone walked out, locked the door behind them in 1920 and nothing has changed since. Original high baseboards. Original wallpaper peeling off the walls. Original floors and ceiling. Lots of stuff the architect can work into the restoration. The upstairs space has not been used for anything since it ceased being a small hotel during the depression.
Downstairs has been remodeled to look "modern" and been used for various little shops until the last one closed about a year ago. The architect and I plan to restore the front facade to it's 1895 appearance.
Indeed, the fun is about to begin. I leave Sunday for a 3-day aspiring innkeeper seminar on the other side of the state.
My current concept, a notion foreign to many of you, I know, is a guest house with no on-site staff between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. We'll have staff on-site 7 a.m.-11 p.m. running the convenience store and guest house.
Originally I'd planned on supplying vouchers to the café across the street to handle breakfast, but now I'm thinking that if I can get some guests to go for a continental breakfast, I can save some money by not having to pay the café. I'd still offer the voucher if they want a hot meal, but also offer, in-house, muffins from the bakery next door, cold cereal and milk, a pot of coffee, a pot of hot water for making tea and instant oatmeal, bread and a toaster, jellies, etc., all put out by the convenience store staff shortly after they arrive at 7 a.m. This light breakfast may appeal to people needing to leave early, and some women who don't want a big breakfast. The men, on the other hand, will probably head to the café!
I'm planning to offer picnic baskets prepared by the store staff, and a to-go breakfast box, left with them the night before, for anybody needing to leave before 7 a.m.
Lots of other ideas, but this is getting wordy!
 

Don Draper

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Congrats on your progress so far! I think your idea is well thought out and will work fine. I would just caution that a continental breakfast can end up costing you more in time and money than doing a full hot meal. Your original idea to stick with the cafe, since it is going to be staffed anyway, might suit you better.
 

birdwatcher

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That sounds great! The only thing would be that there would be noone there through the night.
 

Breakfast Diva

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Congratulations! This is an exciting project and one that will benefit your entire town. Renovation of it's oldest building will get you a lot of press. Make sure you do press releases and get the most publicity you can along the way.
I know you have thought things out very carefully, but I don't remember anyone talking about fire sprinkler system for the building. You'll want to get the fire marshall involved, especially since there will be no management in the building overnight. That will also be a big issue for whatever insurance company you'll get.
Definitely keep us updated! You'll be in for a wild ride!
 

EmptyNest

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WOW! All I can say is good luck! You have some mighty big plans there and I sure hope it all works out for you. I still think you should have some kind of staff person on duty during the night. It just makes good sense and could avoid problems. Doesn't have to be a live in innkeeper but just someone there to "mind the store" so to speak. They could be the ones to prep the continental breakfast for the morning.
Yes I too am wondering about sprinker system. Can't believe that you wouldn't have to have that in such a commercial operation.
 

Arks

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WOW! All I can say is good luck! You have some mighty big plans there and I sure hope it all works out for you. I still think you should have some kind of staff person on duty during the night. It just makes good sense and could avoid problems. Doesn't have to be a live in innkeeper but just someone there to "mind the store" so to speak. They could be the ones to prep the continental breakfast for the morning.
Yes I too am wondering about sprinker system. Can't believe that you wouldn't have to have that in such a commercial operation..
I'll certainly mention the sprinkler system to the architect. He's handling the code requirements. I've never seen a hotel around here without a sprinkler system and since we're basically starting from scratch inside with a near-total rebuild, putting in sprinklers makes good sense.
I've just stayed at so many guest houses around the world, and agriturismos in Italy, that leave the place just to the guests at night, that I don't see the problem. As some have mentioned, this is in many ways more of a vacation rental than a B&B. People stay in vacation rentals all the time and don't seem to require the hand-holding of a night manager.
But still, if it's ever a problem I can have the convenience store open 24/7. They'd have a long, boring night in this little town of 7000, though! The only things open after 11 p.m. are the hospital and the police station (and I suspect those police are sleeping).
 

EmptyNest

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WOW! All I can say is good luck! You have some mighty big plans there and I sure hope it all works out for you. I still think you should have some kind of staff person on duty during the night. It just makes good sense and could avoid problems. Doesn't have to be a live in innkeeper but just someone there to "mind the store" so to speak. They could be the ones to prep the continental breakfast for the morning.
Yes I too am wondering about sprinker system. Can't believe that you wouldn't have to have that in such a commercial operation..
I'll certainly mention the sprinkler system to the architect. He's handling the code requirements. I've never seen a hotel around here without a sprinkler system and since we're basically starting from scratch inside with a near-total rebuild, putting in sprinklers makes good sense.
I've just stayed at so many guest houses around the world, and agriturismos in Italy, that leave the place just to the guests at night, that I don't see the problem. As some have mentioned, this is in many ways more of a vacation rental than a B&B. People stay in vacation rentals all the time and don't seem to require the hand-holding of a night manager.
But still, if it's ever a problem I can have the convenience store open 24/7. They'd have a long, boring night in this little town of 7000, though! The only things open after 11 p.m. are the hospital and the police station (and I suspect those police are sleeping).
.
There are different people all in your building...you may say vacation rental..but I don't see it like that..I see it as a small boutique hotel. Hotels always have some sort of staff present. It is different if you are renting say a cabin or a cottage. Then yes, I agree know one has to be on site. Just doesn't seem right to me.
We stayed at a small B & B in my hometown. No one was there...and I wandered around the place thinking about all kinds of things...I was not comfortable. Was the former funeral home where they laid out "Pretty Boy FLoyd" :)
There was a fully stocked kitchen and anyone could go in and help themselves and make their own breakfast. All sorts of frozen goodies, juices, pastries, cereal etc etc. It just didn't feel like a B & B to me and we never went back.
Several years ago in Charlottesville there was a terrible fire at an inn. 2 people died and several injured. No one was on duty and the fire alarms did not work. That was enough for our association to require members to live on site, or have wired in smoke detector systems.
 

Arks

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WOW! All I can say is good luck! You have some mighty big plans there and I sure hope it all works out for you. I still think you should have some kind of staff person on duty during the night. It just makes good sense and could avoid problems. Doesn't have to be a live in innkeeper but just someone there to "mind the store" so to speak. They could be the ones to prep the continental breakfast for the morning.
Yes I too am wondering about sprinker system. Can't believe that you wouldn't have to have that in such a commercial operation..
I'll certainly mention the sprinkler system to the architect. He's handling the code requirements. I've never seen a hotel around here without a sprinkler system and since we're basically starting from scratch inside with a near-total rebuild, putting in sprinklers makes good sense.
I've just stayed at so many guest houses around the world, and agriturismos in Italy, that leave the place just to the guests at night, that I don't see the problem. As some have mentioned, this is in many ways more of a vacation rental than a B&B. People stay in vacation rentals all the time and don't seem to require the hand-holding of a night manager.
But still, if it's ever a problem I can have the convenience store open 24/7. They'd have a long, boring night in this little town of 7000, though! The only things open after 11 p.m. are the hospital and the police station (and I suspect those police are sleeping).
.
There are different people all in your building...you may say vacation rental..but I don't see it like that..I see it as a small boutique hotel. Hotels always have some sort of staff present. It is different if you are renting say a cabin or a cottage. Then yes, I agree know one has to be on site. Just doesn't seem right to me.
We stayed at a small B & B in my hometown. No one was there...and I wandered around the place thinking about all kinds of things...I was not comfortable. Was the former funeral home where they laid out "Pretty Boy FLoyd" :)
There was a fully stocked kitchen and anyone could go in and help themselves and make their own breakfast. All sorts of frozen goodies, juices, pastries, cereal etc etc. It just didn't feel like a B & B to me and we never went back.
Several years ago in Charlottesville there was a terrible fire at an inn. 2 people died and several injured. No one was on duty and the fire alarms did not work. That was enough for our association to require members to live on site, or have wired in smoke detector systems.
.
catlady said:
That was enough for our association to require members to live on site, or have wired in smoke detector systems.
I'll definitely have a sprinkler system and smoke detectors set to dial the fire department automatically. People will be safer than they are in their own bedroom at home, sleeping away at night with just a battery-powered smoke detector and no sprinkler system.
Also, I'll need an burglar alarm system that dials the police if there's a break-in on a night when the place is sitting empty.
All this, even with higher insurance cost, will surely still be cheaper than paying someone to sit there and read a book 7 nights a week.
Now, if someone can think of something that person could be doing all night that won't disturb the guests' sleeping and will pay the salary of the night watchman, I'd love to hear it. Stuffing envelopes or other piece work? (I'm not being a smarty. I'm serious. I'd love to have someone there 24/7, just need to make the extra staff payroll-neutral.)
 

birdwatcher

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Not to be too nosy-but where in AR are you? We are in AR ourselves...
 

wendydk

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WOW! All I can say is good luck! You have some mighty big plans there and I sure hope it all works out for you. I still think you should have some kind of staff person on duty during the night. It just makes good sense and could avoid problems. Doesn't have to be a live in innkeeper but just someone there to "mind the store" so to speak. They could be the ones to prep the continental breakfast for the morning.
Yes I too am wondering about sprinker system. Can't believe that you wouldn't have to have that in such a commercial operation..
I'll certainly mention the sprinkler system to the architect. He's handling the code requirements. I've never seen a hotel around here without a sprinkler system and since we're basically starting from scratch inside with a near-total rebuild, putting in sprinklers makes good sense.
I've just stayed at so many guest houses around the world, and agriturismos in Italy, that leave the place just to the guests at night, that I don't see the problem. As some have mentioned, this is in many ways more of a vacation rental than a B&B. People stay in vacation rentals all the time and don't seem to require the hand-holding of a night manager.
But still, if it's ever a problem I can have the convenience store open 24/7. They'd have a long, boring night in this little town of 7000, though! The only things open after 11 p.m. are the hospital and the police station (and I suspect those police are sleeping).
.
There are different people all in your building...you may say vacation rental..but I don't see it like that..I see it as a small boutique hotel. Hotels always have some sort of staff present. It is different if you are renting say a cabin or a cottage. Then yes, I agree know one has to be on site. Just doesn't seem right to me.
We stayed at a small B & B in my hometown. No one was there...and I wandered around the place thinking about all kinds of things...I was not comfortable. Was the former funeral home where they laid out "Pretty Boy FLoyd" :)
There was a fully stocked kitchen and anyone could go in and help themselves and make their own breakfast. All sorts of frozen goodies, juices, pastries, cereal etc etc. It just didn't feel like a B & B to me and we never went back.
Several years ago in Charlottesville there was a terrible fire at an inn. 2 people died and several injured. No one was on duty and the fire alarms did not work. That was enough for our association to require members to live on site, or have wired in smoke detector systems.
.
catlady said:
That was enough for our association to require members to live on site, or have wired in smoke detector systems.
I'll definitely have a sprinkler system and smoke detectors set to dial the fire department automatically. People will be safer than they are in their own bedroom at home, sleeping away at night with just a battery-powered smoke detector and no sprinkler system.
Also, I'll need an burglar alarm system that dials the police if there's a break-in on a night when the place is sitting empty.
All this, even with higher insurance cost, will surely still be cheaper than paying someone to sit there and read a book 7 nights a week.
Now, if someone can think of something that person could be doing all night that won't disturb the guests' sleeping and will pay the salary of the night watchman, I'd love to hear it. Stuffing envelopes or other piece work? (I'm not being a smarty. I'm serious. I'd love to have someone there 24/7, just need to make the extra staff payroll-neutral.)
.
Arkansawyer said:
Now, if someone can think of something that person could be doing all night that won't disturb the guests' sleeping and will pay the salary of the night watchman, I'd love to hear it.
My two first hotel jobs were the night audit shift. I processed reservations, sent out confirmations, kept the laundry going, placed food orders for continental breakfast, places office supply orders, dusted everything and used the silent carpet sweeper and set out the continental breakfast before the end of my shift. Nowadays, auditors also sometimes handle online directory changes, and could even be reponsible for the website....whatever you need them to do. Call it as "Assistant Innkeeper" position...nix the 24 hour convenience store, just makes store employees a middle of the night target.
 

JBloggs

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Congrats Arkie! It's all coming together.
Oh be careful at your aspiring conference...when you tell them what we have told you you will have to pick their jaws up off the floor. Yeah, we tell it like it is...you know that. HAVE FUN!
 

JBloggs

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I love the idea of a guest house. See although I am an innkeeper I am more into doing my own thang, and that is more my idea of a fun weekend away.
I had a room who wanted an early check in today to close on some property near here so I left them a note and went for a lake swim. They called Dh's cell phone upset as they just could not work out how to get in. The email last night and the note gave them the four digit code. For some reason people think you push the buttons in and then the 115 year old door just automatically opens. So the "unmanned" part of your venture will indeed be interesting. People are used to being baby sat me thinks, apron strings (ie cell phones) and all that.
I asked DH how many times did they try it before they phoned? Did you have them try it while you were on the other end of the line? Yes, and of course they opened it then just fine.
 

One Day

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Joey.........it's not just guests that are like that.
I have a permanent guest called my dad..........about as useless as a stick in the ground.........no less than twice a week I have to fix the tv, cause he mistakenly changed the tv/dvd............to dvd..........can't figure out how to change it back.
 

Arks

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WOW! All I can say is good luck! You have some mighty big plans there and I sure hope it all works out for you. I still think you should have some kind of staff person on duty during the night. It just makes good sense and could avoid problems. Doesn't have to be a live in innkeeper but just someone there to "mind the store" so to speak. They could be the ones to prep the continental breakfast for the morning.
Yes I too am wondering about sprinker system. Can't believe that you wouldn't have to have that in such a commercial operation..
I'll certainly mention the sprinkler system to the architect. He's handling the code requirements. I've never seen a hotel around here without a sprinkler system and since we're basically starting from scratch inside with a near-total rebuild, putting in sprinklers makes good sense.
I've just stayed at so many guest houses around the world, and agriturismos in Italy, that leave the place just to the guests at night, that I don't see the problem. As some have mentioned, this is in many ways more of a vacation rental than a B&B. People stay in vacation rentals all the time and don't seem to require the hand-holding of a night manager.
But still, if it's ever a problem I can have the convenience store open 24/7. They'd have a long, boring night in this little town of 7000, though! The only things open after 11 p.m. are the hospital and the police station (and I suspect those police are sleeping).
.
There are different people all in your building...you may say vacation rental..but I don't see it like that..I see it as a small boutique hotel. Hotels always have some sort of staff present. It is different if you are renting say a cabin or a cottage. Then yes, I agree know one has to be on site. Just doesn't seem right to me.
We stayed at a small B & B in my hometown. No one was there...and I wandered around the place thinking about all kinds of things...I was not comfortable. Was the former funeral home where they laid out "Pretty Boy FLoyd" :)
There was a fully stocked kitchen and anyone could go in and help themselves and make their own breakfast. All sorts of frozen goodies, juices, pastries, cereal etc etc. It just didn't feel like a B & B to me and we never went back.
Several years ago in Charlottesville there was a terrible fire at an inn. 2 people died and several injured. No one was on duty and the fire alarms did not work. That was enough for our association to require members to live on site, or have wired in smoke detector systems.
.
catlady said:
That was enough for our association to require members to live on site, or have wired in smoke detector systems.
I'll definitely have a sprinkler system and smoke detectors set to dial the fire department automatically. People will be safer than they are in their own bedroom at home, sleeping away at night with just a battery-powered smoke detector and no sprinkler system.
Also, I'll need an burglar alarm system that dials the police if there's a break-in on a night when the place is sitting empty.
All this, even with higher insurance cost, will surely still be cheaper than paying someone to sit there and read a book 7 nights a week.
Now, if someone can think of something that person could be doing all night that won't disturb the guests' sleeping and will pay the salary of the night watchman, I'd love to hear it. Stuffing envelopes or other piece work? (I'm not being a smarty. I'm serious. I'd love to have someone there 24/7, just need to make the extra staff payroll-neutral.)
.
Arkansawyer said:
Now, if someone can think of something that person could be doing all night that won't disturb the guests' sleeping and will pay the salary of the night watchman, I'd love to hear it.
My two first hotel jobs were the night audit shift. I processed reservations, sent out confirmations, kept the laundry going, placed food orders for continental breakfast, places office supply orders, dusted everything and used the silent carpet sweeper and set out the continental breakfast before the end of my shift. Nowadays, auditors also sometimes handle online directory changes, and could even be reponsible for the website....whatever you need them to do. Call it as "Assistant Innkeeper" position...nix the 24 hour convenience store, just makes store employees a middle of the night target.
.
Little Blue said:
nix the 24 hour convenience store, just makes store employees a middle of the night target.
There's no crime here, but it wouldn't be a problem to close the store at 11 p.m. (or whenever) since there would be no business that late anyway, so might as well save some electricity by turning most lights off.
Excellent list of night shift jobs. Thanks!
 

Arks

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Congrats Arkie! It's all coming together.
Oh be careful at your aspiring conference...when you tell them what we have told you you will have to pick their jaws up off the floor. Yeah, we tell it like it is...you know that. HAVE FUN!.
Joey Bloggs said:
Yeah, we tell it like it is...you know that.
Yes, y'all lay it on the line. In Arkansas we tend to beat around the bush more than deliver straight talk, so it takes a little getting used to, but nobody's run me off yet. Too much good help to be had here!
 

Arks

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Joey.........it's not just guests that are like that.
I have a permanent guest called my dad..........about as useless as a stick in the ground.........no less than twice a week I have to fix the tv, cause he mistakenly changed the tv/dvd............to dvd..........can't figure out how to change it back..
Yep, I have a mom just like that. She thinks I'm a technical genius because I can get her TV and cable converter box back in sync.
 

wendydk

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I love the idea of a guest house. See although I am an innkeeper I am more into doing my own thang, and that is more my idea of a fun weekend away.
I had a room who wanted an early check in today to close on some property near here so I left them a note and went for a lake swim. They called Dh's cell phone upset as they just could not work out how to get in. The email last night and the note gave them the four digit code. For some reason people think you push the buttons in and then the 115 year old door just automatically opens. So the "unmanned" part of your venture will indeed be interesting. People are used to being baby sat me thinks, apron strings (ie cell phones) and all that.
I asked DH how many times did they try it before they phoned? Did you have them try it while you were on the other end of the line? Yes, and of course they opened it then just fine..
Joey Bloggs said:
I love the idea of a guest house.
Me too...wish we had a 'keeper of a true guesthouse on the forum, it would be nice to have that persepective.
 
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