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Posts posted by betoulle

  1. very sound advice as always Quillan.....we do watch the show but only because we are in the same business....if we were still in the UK in our old professions would probably not be interested as we tend to avoid watching reality shows normally......  I do however, know of a place in France which was featured on Grand Designs approx 8 yrs back who are still fully booked due to constant re-runs of the show.......so maybe it can be beneficial....  However, another well know B&B which had its own mini-series a few years ago has some dreadful reviews on TA from possibly the sort of people who watched & then visited to deliberately 'pick holes'........ it takes all sorts & one nasty review can ruin you....  Will watch the 3 in a bed series in France however, as it will be interesting to see who does agree to take part.  If the long, hard winter we are forecast does materialise though, the programme will not sell some regions of France to the viewing public.
  2. we have just heard from a Ch4 researcher & reading between the lines of her questions they are looking for people who are going to be competitive, bitchy, picky, critical & a general pain in the proverbial.....plus they want to film during the winter months, so we are not interested, but it should make good viewing.....
  3. quite agree - generally if you treat the guests with respect they will treat you the same - hate Cd'H with signs everywhere, we like our guests to feel at home with us....... any little quirks we have (blue towels are pool towels, try not to leave wet towels on the ends of the antique, upholstered beds, use trays from kitchen to room) we mention when we show them the room.  For the most part we just let them do what they want & during the summer months very few of our guests leave the premises as they feel so relaxed.  

    Hope you have all had a good season - we are starting to unwind as the light at the end of the tunnel gets brighter.....pool cover goes on soon, one less thing to worry about......shame about the pile of ironing getting ever higher as each day goes by......

  4. we learnt early on that guests these days (in all the years we were B&B guests we have never done this or even thought about it) will arrive with food & drink to have in their rooms, & after various incidents (chicken carcasses in bins, mouldy milk down drains, bags of cheese hanging on door handles & baths full of beer) we set up a coin cuisine with 2 large fridges, microwave, enough crockery, cutlery, glassware, microwave dishes etc for 8 people & I would say the majority of our guests now picnic on their terrace.  It is certainly one reason why we have so many repeat bookings.  Have never had any fights between guests, though at times the kitchen turns into a student squat which does infuriate me as I have enough to do without doing peoples washing up..... & I find when we are full I do need to empty the bins several times a day.  It really bugs me when the trays provided are not used & drinks are spilt all along the corridor (this happened this weekend & have spent the day steam cleaning the carpets.....)We do not allow BBQs or offer access to our kitchen facilities - have some guests due next week who have asked if they can bring a portable grill - to which we have responded no......with a wooden upper terrace, strong winds & drought we are a high fire risk....fingers crossed they dont sneak one in.... There will always be guests who push you to the limit, but vast majority are no trouble.
  5. we attract a lot of families during the summer & despite the cold & wet it does get used a lot - last week's family were in there every day - in wetsuits - & have reserved to return next year.  So I guess it depends on your market, location & other facilities on offer.  Like Quillan it is not used much outside of July & August, our tennis court is the main attraction which is available year round.  A tip we were given by GdF - only declare it for the months of July & August, then you only have to pay for 2 inspections - the price goes up every year...
  6. in answer to the 3 questions:




    surely if you have paying guests they have to be allowed to use all your leisure facilities...it would be a very severe B&B owner who had a pool & didn't allow guests to use it - certainly wouldn't get any repeat custom which those of us who have been doing this now for 10 years/more will tell you is the secret to success...

  7. le parc de l'Abrègement à Bioussac is a beautiful garden to visit;  2 great restaurants in Nanteuil;  the nearby village of Verteuil;  the chateau at La Rochefoucauld; Angouleme.....that should fill the 3 days easily
  8. we have many regular guests who stay in our gites every year - 1 of the main reasons is because of the bed quality....our family gite has a 2 metre bed & for all our rooms in both gites & B&B we have supplied top quality mattresses....2 things guests will remember you for are the beds & the breakfast............
  9. Apologies on behalf of myself, Quillan & Catalpa but we have all been doing this for several years & May/June is the time when each year we think 'Oh God, no more free time till October...' at the risk of being a little Pythonesque - Quillan you have it good - a 2 hr siesta??  you're lucky.....  the bottom line is only do it if you are used to working with the public & have experienced the more quirky side of people's behaviour & attitudes to who is generally perceived as being their slave for the duration of their stay with you - it takes all sorts & we have met some great people who return every year & are now our best friends, but every once in a while you will get the guest who takes advantage, treats you badly & who you are glad to see the back of.  In these days of Trip Advisor we always have to be nice, so a relaxed & slightly detached attitude is needed together with a love of people.  I agree it is nothing like having friends to stay, but having said that they do pay, which the friends generally don't, so some positives to having paying guests, but it is no picnic & extremely hard work being 'on call for 24/7' for 5 months a year.....  rant over..... you caught us all at a bad time...back to the 56 pillowcases waiting to be ironed, prep for tomorrows breakfast (we dont offer evening meals, but do offer a more extensive breakfast than necessary probably, but it brings them back every year....) last quick check before next guests arrive (probably late...) etc etc....
  10. well if you charge that amount, you will be permanently full & will have no more spare time at all....especially if you get back to back 1 nighters for 3 rooms, you will spend your summer cleaning, washing & ironing, though thankfully with only the 1 toilet to clean...... sorry for appearing cynical, but we have 4 rooms & 2 gites with 9 toilets for guest use between them - spending most of my time working as a glorified cleaner at present, so touched a nerve.... dependent on your area & what else you have on site as to what you charge, but certain nationalities will love it if you charge that much & doubt you would make much profit......... if you followed my previous suggestion & offered 2 rooms + a private sitting room with cooking facilities would have thought you could charge double that rate, with less work involved & possibility of offering self catering if there is a demand, or when you get tired....  Good luck..
  11. Have to admit I agree with Quillan's suggestion bearing in mind they have 3 bedrooms which would be sharing a bathroom/WC might be stretching the rules a little, & personally while I would probably be OK sharing a bathroom with one other couple, the potential of sharing a bathroom between 3 couples, possibly with children as well would put me off staying.  The queue in the morning could be a nightmare.  I would turn the rooms into a 2 bedroom apartment with the 3rd room being a kitchen/diner/living space.  It would give some flexibility as B&B would still be an option off season as many guests particularly in the cooler months like a private sitting area with some cooking facilities.   Breakfast could be served there - I have stayed in just such a place in Provence & it was proving to be a very good money earner for the owner.
  12. my colleague (ex president of GdF for the region) in the village has a 3 bedroomed 4 epi chambres d'hotes.  Out of interest her 2 king size rooms share a bathroom & WC, so she only makes them available to couples/family travelling together (allegedly...)  She is at the top of the market listed with Michelin, Bienvenue au Chateau, Sawdays etc.  Now it may be because of who she is, I do not know...but when we have our inspections GdF have always been very pleased with our en suite facilities, saying that shared bathrooms are interdit for anything over 2 epis.  With all the regrading things will probably change & more rules will be brought in & of course costs will escalate..
  13. the secret in these difficult times is a regular clientele - for the 4th year running we have the same guests staying in both our gites in same order as previous years from 4th June till 20th August......so have been almost fully booked since last summer with only 6 weeks of new bookings for the rest of the season.  Enquiries are very few & far between.  Next year could be completely different for us of course if they choose not to return for a 5th year.  Do find that OD tend to bring in the last minute discount seekers who rarely return as always looking for a 'deal'  Our regulars have been generated from Chez Nous & Holidayfrance direct for UK & pour les vacances for French market.  For our B&B the last 2 years & probably this, our occupancy has taken a nose dive.  Again we have many regulars who keep us afloat, but had no guests or even an enquiry for the months of Oct 2010 till April this year.  April was surprisingly busy with the French market, but May & June are a desert.  All my colleagues have a similar story to tell.  Lets hope the period for July-September is better, but a lot depends on the weather - a lot of French are staying at home this year & have had 2 regular UK families cancel due to change of circumstances... hard times for us all.
  14. A lot probably depends on your market & the area.  Always used Sawdays in the past for our own travels, but think that maybe the region we are in is not one that is popular with the high end British market - we like to feel we are upper middle range.  My colleague in the village is also in Bienvenue au Chateau, Guide Michelin etc & her prices are more than 20euros/night higher than ours, but she is not as busy as we are.  OK our revenue may be the same at the end of the year, but whereas we have nearly 100% occupancy with longer stay guests for the peak months July-Sept she always has availability & mainly 1 nighters.  During the off season she is with Wonderbox & Smartbox which bring in a lot of 1 night weekenders, but it is very hard work especially as she has to provide a romantic evening meal as part of the package for which she then gives the company 30% of her takings.  (She is also thinking of dropping them this year as her advertising budget is horrific.)  For us this is not an option as the cost of heating, food & laundry in our price range would be more than the room rate..... so we have very few guests during the winter months & can prepare ourselves for the 6 months when we are rushed off our feet.   


    Maybe we have been at it too long after 8 years, but we hope we have reached a reasonable level of repeat bookings from a & wide range of international advertising to keep us going a bit longer.  Since leaving GdF - who we were also paying an extortionate tarif - we have had far more enquiries from a mixed range of clients looking for something with 'wow factor' that is slightly more expensive than their budget but that offers value for money & where they feel at home enough to return.   Some of the Sawday recommendations can be a bit over the top with overpowering hosts who never make you feel relaxed enough to unwind - have stayed in a few ourselves over the years......... when accepting non-French owners they do tend to favour those who are a bit 'quirky'...... we were too business-like & maybe boring for them to accept, but so long as our guests appreciate our welcome & laid-back 'welcome to our home' approach, we are content.  Have to confess though that if I was looking for something in a tourist region I did not know, I would first look at Sawday, then see what reviews were on Trip Advisor before I booked - some very well known places in the Sawday book have been left appalling comments on TA...

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