News from – IAfrica

With the preference for boutique and customised accommodation growing among tourists in South Africa — and 2010 now looming large — there are many investors seeking properties they can convert into Bed & Breakfast (B&B) guesthouses.

However, says Dr Piet Botha, chairman of the Nationlink estate agency group, it is important not to romanticise the idea of owning a B&B.

"Lovely as the beachfront or bushveld location may be, and fascinating as you may find your guests, setting up and running a B&B is first and foremost a business venture, in which you are investing your time and money."

To protect that investment, he says, the first thing you will need is good insight into the local property market — because the position and type of property you buy will ultimately determine the success of your B&B

"For example, an in-town property will need to be close to main access routes, shops, restaurants and tourist attractions without being noisy. At the sea or in the mountains, the visual aesthetic of the location will also be very important. And if you opt for a country location far from civilisation, you will probably have to spend more on marketing to get your B&B known."

Botha notes that, depending on how many guests you would like your B&B to accommodate at any one time, you will need a home with multiple bedrooms, preferably with en-suite bathrooms so that your guests have sufficient privacy.

"You will also need space to prepare and serve breakfast as well as large living areas and ample parking space. Your paying guests will also expect the exterior of the property to be well kept and the fixtures and features of the home to be good quality.

"And while purchasing a home and converting it into a B&B can be an exciting way to create a fresh accommodation offering, this is quite likely to involve major renovations — and expense. It is thus often easier to purchase an existing B&B which already has the necessary infrastructure, staff and hopefully quite a few regular guests."

Consequently, Botha says, it is a good idea to chat to experienced local estate agents before putting pen to paoper: "He or she will know — especially in a small town or country area — if any of the established B&Bs are for sale, and failing that, the most suitable location and property in which to set up a new one.

"As there are numerous B&B's throughout the country, it is important that yours stands out from the competition, and you should seek expert help to select a property with the space and privacy, upmarket finishes, quiet surroundings and beautiful views that will make it memorable for your guests — and an increasingly successful enterprise."

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