Lee Rotbart

Posts Tagged ‘debates’

Me, Danny, and a big house in Cornwall

In Between the mortgage and the move on November 19, 2010 at 2:52 pm

You may have noticed that I’ve gone a bit quiet this week. This has predominantly been for the following reasons:

  1. We have been moving – still! After moving Danny out of his flat, we then had to move (some of him) into mine, we then had to move most of mine into storage, we then had to move the rest of mine, and a little bit of his, into my parents house where we arrived last night, and where we will be for the next 3 months.
  2. We have been completing and exchanging on all 3 properties, which – inevitably – come with their own set of unforeseen problems and mini-crises. Notably a ‘Danny Dash’ from his office in Kensington to my office in Soho to sign papers that had we had emailed to us on Wednesday morning and needed to be received by the sender by Thursday morning (I can be grateful for the fact that it was a rare day with no tube strike).
  3. We have been planning our website and logo which is very exciting, and we have both been loving it, but our designer has been throwing questions at us that we hadn’t really considered and therefore every meeting has resulted in 2 -3 hours of debate.
  4. Work has been hell (and I am not exaggerating). I have had both my CEO and Commercial Director in Singapore and Australia and am being managed across different timezones and different cultures via email. For the managers among you, this is NOT the recommended approach for building staff motivation and commitment.

As an aside it has taken a HUGE amount of restraint not to use this blog to rant about my bosses and I am proud of this, along with the fact that I have resisted taking a AK47 into work and doing what the Vietnam veterans of America were doing in the 80s and 90s.

Going postal, in American Englishslang, means becoming extremely and uncontrollably angry, often to the point of violence, and usually in a workplace environment.

The expression derives from a series of incidents from 1983 onward in which United States Postal Service (USPS) workers shot and killed managers, fellow workers, and members of the police or general public in acts of mass murder. Between 1986 and 1997, more than 40 people were gunned down by spree killers in at least 20 incidents of workplace rage.

Anyway… excuses for the silence aside, I am delighted to announce that Danny and I have exchanged on the property in St Ives, along with completing on our respective flats (well, Danny’s is nearly there). That’s it now, there is no going back. We are just us two and a big house in Cornwall. Oh, and a larger than expected storage box room in Bow which is absolutely stuffed to bursting.

As we drove away from my flat last night, with the few belongings that are going to see us through the winter in the back of the car, I thought that I’d be sad and a little nostalgic for my beloved flat; but that wasn’t the case. Instead I was excited, excited about the future, excited about being self-employed, excited that it wasn’t the end but the beginning, and excited about our new logo which arrived on email earlier that day. This excitement briefly manifested itself in the Big Yellow Storage building in Bow where we ‘surfed’ on the trolleys through the empty gangways (well it was 9.30 at night).

Precisely 5 months ago (to the day) we arrived back from our holiday in Cornwall and announced to our friends and family that we wanted to buy a guest house in St Ives and move down there. 2 flat sales, a mortgage, and a fair amount of negotiation and planning later we find ourselves on our way to doing exactly that.

My perfect guesthouse

In The beginning on July 19, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Everyone’s an expert! Or so it seems.

Everybody we speak to about this project knows exactly what they’d cook for breakfast, how the rooms would be decorated, what time they’d have breakfast, what they’d offer people in the way of extras, how they’d market, and whether they would be dog friendly or not.

My sister pointed out that it was like being pregnant and discussing names for the soon-to-be-born baby, everyone has an opinion about what you should call / not call your unborn child, and this isn’t that much different. In the end her and her husband just clammed up, and I suspect that’s what we might have to do.

The thing is, everyone LOVES a B&B and like the government campaign for teaching, everyone remembers a good one. Yet ask people what they remember and I can almost guarantee they won’t say:

“I was having a miserable time until I came down to breakfast, and there were two sausages, not the expected one, on my plate in the morning; after that, they could do not wrong”.

Very few people (in my humble, non-experienced opinion) will base their love of a place on one or two details: Yet I do believe they will remember the feel of a place when they walked in the door, they will remember if the proprietors were helpful and friendly, they will remember if they had a good night’s sleep, and they will remember if the view took their breath away when they looked out of the bedroom window.

I’m slowly realising, after the third heated debate about the breakfast menu, that the most important thing about this guesthouse is that it resembles us. The best possible version of ‘us’, but ‘us’ nonetheless. That way, while other people’s ideas are welcomed (really – they are), they are not going to inform what we do more than we will.

Differing opinions

If we choose not to be dog friendly then we will not attract dog owners, but we will attract those that don’t like dogs. If we choose to allow kids under 12 then we will attract families, while losing DINKYs, and so on.

Ultimately, the guests are the most important people in this equation and as we have no experience of them yet, we have to do what we would love, what we are proud to offer / cook / decorate… and then tweak as per guest feedback.

I have no doubt that we will get it wrong on occasion, but isn’t that part and parcel of a new venture? After all Edison invented hundreds of light bulbs that didn’t work before he found one that did, and wasn’t that process of elimination equally valuable?

Not that I’m saying we want thousands of guests to have a horrible experience until we come across the winning formula, we don’t. What I am saying, however, is that we will create our perfect guesthouse and while it might not be what you would do, or you, or even you… it will still be just right.