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Old 19.04.2011, 18:40
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Opening a B&B or similar

So... fantasy time.

I am in the process of being made redundant for the second time in less than a year, and have just about had as much as I can take of the business world with its office politics and twisted ethics. I would like to have a go at something different, preferably related to outdoor activies or rural tourism.

One idea that has been forming in my mind for a long time now is to open some kind of accommodation catering for walkers, climbers, cyclotourists and mountain bikers. More than a refuge but less than a hotel, along the lines of the French "gîtes d'étape" with a few double rooms and a couple of dormitories for backpackers and groups. It would offer bed, breakfast, packed lunches and simple evening meals, using locally-sourced products where possible, and would be somewhere in the Neuchâtel Jura or maybe the Fribourg Pre-alps. Possibly offering some thematic holidays (hiking and painting, for example), targeting Swiss, French and British public.

Currently this is no more than a germinating idea, I have not got as far as doing any concrete research. However, I would be very interested to hear from anyone on here who has done something similar, or who knows anything about the rural tourism industry: is there a market for this kind of thing in Suisse Romande, is that market already saturated, what are the pitfalls, what makes a good location and so on.

I am probably not in an ideal situation to jump into this sort of initiative - I am almost 52 and currently single, which I suspect would not make things easy in what traditionally seems to be a family-run kind of business. But before I abandon the idea completely and start applying for "normal" jobs again I would definitely be interested in hearing other people's opinions.

Stephen
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Old 19.04.2011, 18:46
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Re: Opening a B&B or similar

honestly i have no practical advice for you, but i will say that it seems to me a great idea and i understand the desire to expand into a project like that- especially if getting out of the business world.

i wish you all the best of luck- i wouldn't let age or relationship status hold you back- as long as you have some help in order to be able to take time for yourself as well, best of luck!
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Old 19.04.2011, 18:49
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Re: Opening a B&B or similar

Someone posted here a year or so ago about their project which is similar - search for B&B etc.... you should also look at the B&B website for CH, I am sure you can get some info there.

It's also something that we have been thinking about for 3 years, at the mo just another one of my projects that is simmering on the back burner. Good luck!
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Old 19.04.2011, 18:58
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Re: Opening a B&B or similar

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It's also something that we have been thinking about for 3 years, at the mo just another one of my projects that is simmering on the back burner. Good luck!
Yes, that's about the stage I am at too. Many years of staying in these places during hiking holidays leaves me under no illusions about how hard it must be, but it still appeals.
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Old 19.04.2011, 19:26
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Re: Opening a B&B or similar

Instead of buying a B&B yet, you could apply first for a job as a Paechter/Huettenwart (Engl: temporary patron of a mountain hat), so you can see if this lifestyle is really what you are looking for, and without the burden of doing any large investment.
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Old 27.04.2011, 19:48
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Re: Opening a B&B or similar

I work with some one who is quitting where we work at the end of this month to open a place in Ticino. They seem optimistic.
Working in such a place takes alot of time and effort. However I know of single french Chef, who owns a whole "chateau" in Burgundy running it on his own. Not to say the rooms were at what I thought were the cleanest, but doing it all alone, for a few years now.
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Old 27.04.2011, 19:52
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Re: Opening a B&B or similar

I`d say "Go for it"!

Advertising on the internet should bring lots of customers.

As long as overheads are kept as low as possible, and you are prepared to work hard .... no reason why you should not succeed.

Best of luck to you.
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Old 27.04.2011, 20:05
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Re: Opening a B&B or similar

I'd say go for it too. The idea about being a 'hut keeper' or something with the SAC (Swiss Alpine Club) would be a great idea too. Or perhaps you could rock up to one of your favourite huts and offer to volunteer your time at the weekends before giving up your source of $.

I've day-dreamed of doing something similar in combination with my hobby of paragliding. Maybe one day it will come true. I hope it does for you, too.

Puddy
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Old 27.04.2011, 20:17
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Re: Opening a B&B or similar

It would certainly be a good idea to talk with people who are doing something similar (but in an area where you would not be in competition with them). Obviously, location is everything but something else to consider is the locals. There was a couple from outside the valley that took over a similar place and put in tons of energy into it. They ran the place much better than the ones who had been there before but rubbed someone for some reason the wrong way. I heard all sorts of stories about what happened but it boiled down to the locals – they basically ran them out, made it impossible for them to keep doing business. Now the place is a lot like it was before and I avoid it. So, the moral is: talk with the locals in the area that you might set up business. Make sure not to step on any toes. Get the local authorities on your side. Try to find out about local “feuds” – in particular with the idea about locally-sourced products. (You get products from X, Y doesn’t like it and Z in the local Amt is Y’s brother-in-law….you get the idea). Sounds complicated but such is life in small valleys and villages.

That said, I certainly think there is potential for someone willing to work hard and offer innovative ideas (like thematic holidays).
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Old 27.04.2011, 20:19
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Re: Opening a B&B or similar

A lovely idea, especially taking over a mountain hut. But I would expect the rule book to be quite thick.

Are you going to just rent a large house? Or take over a failing one? I imagine they are expensive to acquire.
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Old 27.04.2011, 20:36
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Re: Opening a B&B or similar

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So... fantasy time.

I am in the process of being made redundant for the second time in less than a year, and have just about had as much as I can take of the business world with its office politics and twisted ethics. I would like to have a go at something different, preferably related to outdoor activies or rural tourism.

One idea that has been forming in my mind for a long time now is to open some kind of accommodation catering for walkers, climbers, cyclotourists and mountain bikers. More than a refuge but less than a hotel, along the lines of the French "gîtes d'étape" with a few double rooms and a couple of dormitories for backpackers and groups. It would offer bed, breakfast, packed lunches and simple evening meals, using locally-sourced products where possible, and would be somewhere in the Neuchâtel Jura or maybe the Fribourg Pre-alps. Possibly offering some thematic holidays (hiking and painting, for example), targeting Swiss, French and British public.

Currently this is no more than a germinating idea, I have not got as far as doing any concrete research. However, I would be very interested to hear from anyone on here who has done something similar, or who knows anything about the rural tourism industry: is there a market for this kind of thing in Suisse Romande, is that market already saturated, what are the pitfalls, what makes a good location and so on.

I am probably not in an ideal situation to jump into this sort of initiative - I am almost 52 and currently single, which I suspect would not make things easy in what traditionally seems to be a family-run kind of business. But before I abandon the idea completely and start applying for "normal" jobs again I would definitely be interested in hearing other people's opinions.

Stephen

Bed & Breakfast in a commercial way here is a Garni-Hotel (dt) or Hôtel Garni (fr). Real Garni-Hotels are usually privately owned and not part of chains, even if most hotels offer the B&B option regularily.
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Old 27.04.2011, 21:20
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Re: Opening a B&B or similar

I once stayed in such a place where we got a complimentary bunch of flowers on arrival - which I assumed to be the bouquet-garni.

Cheers,
Nick

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Bed & Breakfast in a commercial way here is a Garni-Hotel (dt) or Hôtel Garni (fr). Real Garni-Hotels are usually privately owned and not part of chains, even if most hotels offer the B&B option regularily.
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Old 27.04.2011, 21:33
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Re: Opening a B&B or similar

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There was a couple from outside the valley that took over a similar place and put in tons of energy into it. They ran the place much better than the ones who had been there before but rubbed someone for some reason the wrong way. I heard all sorts of stories about what happened but it boiled down to the locals – they basically ran them out, made it impossible for them to keep doing business.
Bloody hell, that sounds a bit too much like the place I'm being laid off from...
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Old 29.04.2011, 17:12
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Re: Opening a B&B or similar

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Are you going to just rent a large house? Or take over a failing one? I imagine they are expensive to acquire.
Don't know yet... this is still very much an idea which, in all probability, I will not turn into a concrete plan. I don't have a huge amount of money, so I suppose that taking over an existing one and investing in renovation/marketing would be more feasible than starting from scratch.
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Old 05.05.2011, 11:44
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Re: Opening a B&B or similar

Hi,

Near our chalet in Wallis, a couple of people took over this kind of refuge some 10 years ago now, www.gite-bonabri.com and they are thriving well. As said by all tourism experts, the 3 importants points are location, location and location... They are close to the parting point for some well-run mountain hikes (cabane d'orny, cabane du trient) and they are on the Mount-Blanc Tour.
Globally, I think Wallis is a better region for this kind of elementary 'gîte'.
Fribourg and Neuchatel don't have this tourism niche. I could presume that, when staying in a more accessible place, you'll end up serving meringue-strawberries-double creme on sundays to flocks of sunday tourists...
But that shouldn't withold you from your dreams!

Goog luck to you, in whatever you undertake.
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Old 08.05.2011, 17:55
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Re: Opening a B&B or similar

Thanks pag157 - the place that you have linked to is exactly the kind of thing I am thinking of. You're right about location as well I'm sure - being on or close to one of the big tours is a huge advantage in terms of generating revenue.
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Old 08.05.2011, 18:12
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Re: Opening a B&B or similar

Best of luck and keep us updated!
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Old 10.05.2011, 13:19
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Re: Opening a B&B or similar

This is a great idea, you'll be your own boss, and work for yourself, I think this will give you a lot of satisfaction!
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Old 10.05.2011, 14:34
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Re: Opening a B&B or similar

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Instead of buying a B&B yet, you could apply first for a job as a Paechter/Huettenwart (Engl: temporary patron of a mountain hat), so you can see if this lifestyle is really what you are looking for, and without the burden of doing any large investment.
This really is the best advice here.

Friends from Australia used to do the winter season here managing what you are describing, great lifestyle but salary was not that high but got a share of the profits. The house / chateu was owned by an English couple and aparently there is quite a few of these (foreign owned guesthouses) throughout Switzerland which seek managers/esses in winter. They found it through TNT, a backpacker magazine in the UK, so there are places available but finding them is not so easy, good luck.
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Old 10.05.2011, 22:52
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Re: Opening a B&B or similar

There is a place near us, near the French border, which is for sale at a very reasonable price and could be ideal - right on the famous Route des Cretes/Jura walking and cross country skiing TransJurassienne trail - with great cycling and VTT all around. It was a Sports Centre, then was a Asylum seekers place for some years. PM for more details and to see if you'd like to come and have a look at it this week-end? It is at the location 'Les Cernets'- half way between La Brévine and Métabief/Jougne French ski resort.
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