I just had these 2 girls from New York stay at the hotel that just raved about my blog and were really sad I have not been posting. It is so weird to feel like you actually have fans. I did not know what to say except that I promised them I would get busy and publish something. So here I am...
I guess the main reason I have not published a piece in so long is that I have been basically working from dawn to well past dusk. I had no idea that a small hotel was this much work. We have a complete compliment of staff (13 in total) , yet it still seems to demand almost all the waking hours I have for a day.
In hindsight there are a few key things that I underestimated in taking on this project.
1) Not knowing how much work it was. I really thought we would lie in a hammock with a cordless phone and tell people the key was in their room, help themselves to drinks and pay us on the way out. Hell, we have even had clients cook us breakfast.
2) I did not realize it would be such a challenge to find qualified staff. It appears that tasks like replying to email is a specialized qualification. It did not dawn on me that people would not even know how to use a North American style washer, let alone a computer. It just shows how out of touch I am with reality outside of North America even though I espouse to be worldly. I mean why would people know how to respond to email. Apart for working for people like us what really is the need and Tico style washers work just fine.
3) I had know idea that we would be this successful this fast. We have absolutely no experience in running a hotel apart from staying in a few budget style places in my lifetime. Many local expats thought we were crazy and were supposed to budget for 1/3 occupancy rate. We are currently running at about 80% for the past 6 months (last 3 months, almost 100%).
4) Having worked in almost isolation and virtual enviroment, I forgot what it was like to deal face to face with general public. We are fortuneate that given our location and my blatant website, we screen out the average traveller and 95% of our clientel are great. But, that one person that is hard to please can really take it's toll on you despite efforts to not let it get to you.
5) I got totally carried away. Our idea was this was supposed to be a Key West style guest house. May be 8 rooms with a cozy atmosphere. Well, I started to run the economics, we realized that we needed more rooms to make the numbers work. Also, I have stayed in such ugly cramped rooms in many places in Costa Rica, I wanted ours to be spacious and look like someone had paid attention to decorating them. So, our building cost on the project almost doubled.
6) How little profit there was. Despite our success, I am surprised that there is little money left over at the end of the month. Because of both of our neurosis to make everything look nice, we keep spending money on fixing up the hotel with no end of projects in site.
Regrets? None! I am still happy to say given a choice of doing anything I want and living anywhere I want, I can't think of anywhere I would rather be. I can not remember feeling like that for most of my life. Life always seemed greener somewhere else.