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I have always wanted to own a bed & breakfast inn. From the time I was a little thing, I thought about how it be to have a lovely place for people to come by and rest, chat and then move on to their next destination. I used to think about the kinds of people who would show up and the types of meals I would serve them to solicit words of praise over my unique style of cooking.
As time passed, thoughts of opening a B&B would occasionally slide across my memory but not on a serious level...they were just a string of thoughts housed to entertain myself. These thoughts were especially powerful when I was preparing breakfast for my little family. I make fantastic biscuits of varied flavors and varieties that I learned over the years from watching my mother and both grandmothers.
I opened my B&B last year. A friend of mine had told me about Airbnb the year before but I couldn't perceive how to navigate an online vacation service. I dismissed it. So, the vacant upstairs apartment remained unoccupied and cluttered for another year. I had also lost my job two years before and my finances suggested that I needed to rent out the apartment. However, I did not want the responsibility of a full-time tenant. "What if I don't like them? What if the tenant doesn't like me?" there were so many questions that filled my mind that I could not perceive the possibility.
Finally, after having a conversation with all three of my sisters about the idea of a B&B, they came to town to help me begin moving the items I had accumulated in the upstairs apartment. We moved most of the 'stuff' to the basement of my 75 year-old house. It took a lot of work and a great deal of stamina to travel up and down the stairs all the way to basement and back. We had fun even though it took a lot of energy and time.
One of my sisters loves to paint, it was something she always enjoyed; another was a decorator and had a skill in colors and textures. The last sister was wonderful in moving items to their best location for usability. We all pulled it together and they became were my first overnight guests. A few days later, a friend of one my sister called me because she was in a bind and somehow lost her hotel booking. She was coming to town for a singing convention.
My house sits in the middle of our community block. It is a Tudor style house along with a few others but all are solidly built brick and stoned foundation homes. Many of the houses were built in the 1930's and some in the 1940's. I have lived in my home for more than 14 years and learned that I am only the second property owner. The upstairs apartment is common to these older homes. The original design of these homes was created to accommodate more than one family. We even formed a neighborhood association due to the unique fabric of our homes. I am one of the co-presidents.
I was not officially listed online and not really open for business yet. I was happy to house these near acquaintances in that there were a few plumbing issues in that the apartment had not been fully used in several years. I served breakfast of biscuits, smoked sausages and green fried tomatoes. They loved it!
Most of the furniture could be considered flavored antiques. There is a 1940's General Electric refrigerator. Would you believe it still works? My grandmother's Singer peddle sewing machine and the cast iron kitchen sink which rounded off the array of in house items which help to set the scene in the apartment. The full-sized early American style bed was just perfect match for the lace curtains. A wall attached closet has an old built-in mirror which has a bit of the polish worn off leaves an amber glow. It is all old-fashioned-cozy place and I like it. I posted and changed pictures several times to show my place in the best light.
When I received my first real guest, I was proud to serve them the same breakfast as I had served other guests. They were grateful and complimentary...so much so, that they left me a tip! Most of my early guests received breakfast or its continental partner. However, over time, our city's regulations have changed a number of things:
My dream of having a B&B had manifested. It was fun meeting and welcoming new and interesting people from all over the country. When people came from different parts of the world, I was in heaven! I brushed up on my college French and Spanish and learned how to say, "Welcome, Please and Thank You" in five other languages. It makes for a pleasant attempt to welcome my guests and a bit of laughter when they correct my pronunciation.
- Hosts cannot serve breakfast because it violates codes. Therefore, I make sure that there are plenty of beverages and packaged snacks available.
- Most of our B&B's are centrally located in a particular area and zip code. We have to apply for permits to do business in our home for homesharing. Many people do not live in/on the property they rent and this also has its implications.
- If the intent of hosting is for investment or is it for rental is one of the key arguments. Nashville has become a very popular place to visit in recent years. The metropolitan government has responded to this issue by building many additional hotels. And, of course the idea of tourists renting at reduced fees that a B&B can offer would interfere with the exclusive revenue and taxes.
- Airbnb hosts have to pay a number of fees and taxes.
- More concerns and issues to be addressed at will.
It goes without saying that there have been a few not- so-complimentary issues. Although it comes with the territory, it is still a tongue-cheek matter. "Take a step back and find a diplomatic way of looking at it," I always say.
So, now I have been in an entertaining and learning status for a year now. It has been both a vibrant and fantasy-like attempt...depending on how you view it, to provide a visually entertaining step back in time, which is also comfortable, clean and safe place for my guests. It also gives me enjoyable pleasure and pride for me. Most guests say are pleased and appreciate the effort as they depart. The opinions are additionally reflected in their reviews if they give one.
If I remain in business, I hope many of them will return. Pegatha
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