Taking over an existing Bed & Breakfast or building one from scratch? Every now and then I receive a message from people who would love to exchange rainy Holland for sunny Spain. For many, running a Bed & Breakfast seems like the ideal way to take this (often exciting but scary) step. And I completely understand that. After all, we did it ourselves too. But how do you start? It goes without saying that starting something completely new is a lot more complicated than taking over something that not only already exists but (with a bit of luck) is also already running well. Is that a reason to not start something new? Of course not. Because starting something new also has its advantages. You can immediately profile the company in a way that suits not only you but also your intended guests. You do not have to deal with the expectations of an existing circle of guests. Expectations that you may not be able (or willing!) to meet.

However, the fact that profiling in Spain is a bit more difficult than what it should normally be is because the term “Bed & Breakfast” does not exist in Spain and the most comparable form (a “Casa Rural”) is used for many different (and varies) methods of exploitation. Do you rent the entire house or just rooms? Are the bathrooms ensuite or shared? Do you serve breakfast, lunch and/or dinner? Is that included in the price or not? Are guests allowed to use a communal kitchen or not? And do you, as the owner, also live in the house that you rent out?

To avoid as much confusion as possible, I described our company on our website as a “Boutique Bed & Breakfast”. Based on our idea to combine the friendliness, hospitality and personal attention of a Bed & Breakfast with the luxury of a small hotel. For guests, mainly couples, who want to switch off completely. Go for a walk. Read a book by the pool. Or enjoy a glass of wine while whispering and enjoying the beautiful starry sky in the dark. But although the guests who have already stayed with us think that we have succeeded in this, we are not allowed to openly profile ourselves in this way. After all, we have a permit for a “Casa Rural”. So, upon request, I quickly removed this description from the world wide web.

Maybe for the better. Because the term “Bed & Breakfast” (apart from the Spanish “Casa Rural”) appears to cause just as much confusion, as we experienced when friends of our parents decided to stay with us for two nights two weeks ago. After all, a Bed & Breakfast is (in many cases) no longer the ‘simple’ rental of an extra bedroom in a house that hasn’t been renovated since the seventies. Horrified by the idea that as a guest you are more or less obliged to all sit at a long table chatting about nonsense with the host or hostess, they breathed a sigh of relief when they actually entered our Casa Rural. Our Bed & Breakfast was on par with the luxury hotels where they were used to staying normally. Moreover, unlike breakfast, which is always included, having a nice chat with us is always optional. Especially if that means that we could add these (and perhaps other) converts to our regular circle of guests. Casa Rural? Bed & Breakfast? Boutique Bed & Breakfast? Boutique hotel? (The word one of our most recent guests used in their review of our establishment.) We don’t care. As long as we have been able to meet their expectations. Or even better: managed to surpass them.