Twenty five years ago Bet’s B&B Studio was not even a dream. In fact, it didn’t exist. In its place stood a ramshackle two-storey barn, a 100 year old raw timber structure that housed a horse-drawn carriage. Above it was a hayloft.
Sometime, probably in the 1930s, the horse and cart had gone and the hayloft had become the meeting place for the local Shortwave Society, complete with creaky wooden bench seats and wires that criss-crossed the ceiling beams.
The barn, which fronted a rear laneway, was empty and abandoned when we bought the property in 1988. Its weathered beams weakened by termites, the brittle weatherboards loosened by age, the barn was so rickety and unstable that it sagged in the middle and looked ready to collapse. In 1994 it was demolished on the condition its original ‘style’ and building ‘envelope’ be retained.
The reconstruction took more than a year and, once completed, we lived there for 13 months while our house was renovated. It’s then that we realised something: if we liked living there, others would too. That’s when the idea of a B&B took hold. It was a chance decision that has re-shaped our lives.
We are now both retired – Bet from advertising and Keith from journalism – and we have become ‘accommodation providers’ of the B&B variety. It was serendipitous, it was unplanned and it was all because of an old barn that had to be demolished before it collapsed.
Running a Bed and Breakfast has been transformative. We may have got into the business by accident, but we’ve embraced it with gusto. We learned by trial and error, we sought the advice of other B&B owners, we shared ‘secrets of success’ and ‘lessons learned and never to be repeated’. Most of all we learned to love the business, but with one huge caveat.
We credit our longevity to one factor that sets us apart from many other B&Bs and that is: we run a self-contained Bed and Breakfast in a studio separate from our house. That’s what we like and that’s what our guests like too. House sharing is not for us. We find that gregariousness works better under separate roofs. Supplied with generous breakfast provisions and a kitchen of their own, our guests can cook what they want when they want to. They have their own bathroom, toilet and laundry, and with a key to the studio door they can come and go as they please.
Our credo is to anticipate and to meet the expectations of our guests. We do it by asking ourselves: ‘What would we like to find in a B&B?’ Often it’s the guests who provide the answers. They leave behind praiseworthy comments in our Guest Book that reinforce our efforts and make running Bet’s B&B Studio a real pleasure.
This blog post was a contribution by Keith from Bet’s B&B
If you are interested in experiencing Bet and Keith’s warm B&B, click here!