You want to emigrate to Italy and maybe receive guests there just like us. But how do you find out if living in Italy with guests is something for you?
- Does it suit you and your possible partner to receive guests?
- What about your private life? Do you still have a private life during the periods when there are guests?
- You want it, but what will it mean for your partner and your children?
- How far should you go in your hospitality?
- Can you still choose for yourself and your family during periods when there are guests?
- Don't you have an incredible amount of work on your shoulders?
How are we doing
In this blog I will take you through how we are doing. Not a spectacular story, but I didn't write it to show you how it should be done either. No, it's just what suits us and what apparently suits our guests, because 80% of our guests are coming back.
Every year before our first guests arrive, we give Polmone a major refurbishment and cleaning. Usually we do that with just the two of us and the jobs are manageable. We check and update all paintwork. This varies from updating doors and frames to whitewashing the walls in the apartments.
The apartments get a full cleaning before everyone comes. All curtains, duvets and bedspreads are washed. We empty all the cupboards to give them a good service again. The crockery, glasses, pans and cutlery are all washed thoroughly. We take the books out of the bookcase to dust them well. Well, what's really wrong.
Nice job week
And every few years we ask friends and family if they would like to do odd jobs at Polmone for a week. Then we approach the work even more rigorously. We also do some bigger jobs outside. But the most important part of such a week is always the fun together. Usually the division of roles is that Nico coordinates the work and I take care of the catering. We all work hard, have a lot of fun together and Polmone can take it again for a few years!
The swimming pool
We usually open the pool a week before the first guests arrive. You would think egg right? But it is always a big job that starts with the sunbeds of the pool. They overwinter in the cellar and, strangely enough, they discolor if they don't get sunlight. So we immediately put them outside in the sun and indeed, after a week they become fairly white again.
Then we remove the winter cover from the pool. An action that we should at least do with the two of us, because you really don't want to know what such a sail weighs. The trick is to get it off in such a way that it doesn't end up in the pool, because then it becomes quite a tour to get it out again with the weight of the water added. We are now well trained together.
The next challenge then is to get the sail on a special wheelbarrow that Nico made for that purpose and to wheel the sail to the garden. There we spread it over the grass and Nico sprays it clean with the high-pressure cleaner. Fold up, put back in the bag and clean up!
Every year it is a surprise how the water has held up under the sail. One year it immediately looks good and we only have to clean the edges of the pool well. But there are years when the water is so bad that it has to be completely renewed. A job that will take us a week.
Finally, we turn the pump back on and we get to work to get the water back to the right chemical balance and let the sun continue to do its job to heat up the water. Usually the water is about 12 degrees when it comes out from under the sail. brrrrr!
There are guests again
And then there are guests again! The apartments are in full use again. You may be wondering if this is the time when you have the most work as a guest house owner?
When you watch the 'Bed and Breakfast' program, the guests are always entertained by the owners. And if you watch the other program 'Ik Vertrek', you will notice that in addition to breakfast, the owners usually also provide an evening meal.
But everyone who starts something like that chose more freedom, right? For more time for each other and for their families?
I will honestly tell you that we have approached that a little differently and that we really have all the freedom and also have a lot of time for each other during the guest season. Because what does an average working week look like for us when there are guests?
The changeover day
We have chosen to always have the changeover day on Saturday. People also come and go on other days, but that is more the exception than the rule.
That day is really hard work. The guests leave at the latest at 10 am and the new guests arrive after 4 pm.
Then 1 to 4 apartments have to be cleaned spic and span, the bed linen and towels washed, the beds made again, quickly preparing and eating food in between, sweeping the terraces and putting the garden furniture back in place. You can't do that on your own, so before we always did it with just the two of us. But in recent years Nico can no longer manage with his energy and we have help for cleaning.
When the guests trickle in from 4 o'clock, Nico and I take plenty of time to get to know each other while enjoying a snack and a drink and then we show them their apartment and we wish them a nice evening.
That evening I usually fold all the laundry away and prepare a part to be ironed. Tired and happy that everyone has arrived safely, we go to bed on time.
Because on Sundays, if there are enough guests, we will bake pizza. That is always a very pleasant afternoon or evening, where everyone can get to know each other in a nice relaxed way. It is our way of making sure that all our guests feel at home at Polmone. They are no longer afraid to disturb or run into each other.
At the end of the afternoon or evening we all clean up and wash up together and after that the ice is really broken.
We offer that pizza afternoon or evening to our guests. So we don't charge them for it. And also always say that it is not sure whether we will do it. That way we keep our freedom. And that was always what we did it for.
Everyone goes their own way
The rest of the week we don't really have to do anything with the guests. Everyone has their own apartment with their own terrace and their own kitchen. And everyone goes their own way. We are of course always available for questions and always make sure that we have a chat. But it's not like we're going to entertain the guests.
A nice chat
Usually it goes like this with us: We actually always have breakfast outside on the terrace where the wifi is also available for our guests. After breakfast we also drink coffee outside. It often happens that guests are also sitting on the terrace to pick up their mail or the newspaper using the WiFi. Then of course we also offer them a nice espresso or cappuccino and then you can spend an hour talking to each other about anything and everything. We have noticed those moments are invaluable and they are greatly appreciated.
Our work the rest of the week is doing small chores, the pool has to be cleaned and refilled every day, keeping the garden and vegetable garden. And of course we also regularly hand out something from the harvest from the vegetable garden. Then the greengrocer pays a visit to the guests!
Marketing continues to require some attention every day, but during the guest season that is at a lower level. The only thing I really try to keep is writing the monthly blog for the Gazzetta of Polmone with the accompanying newsletter.
The way we run our guesthouse is the way that suits us. We love our freedom and want to give our guests 100% freedom too. But everyone does it in their own way. Do you already have an idea how you would like to tackle it if you have your own guest house? I like to hear what ideas you have. Let me know!
And if you think this blog might also be useful to someone in your circle of friends, feel free to share. We appreciate that!
In the next blog I will tell you whether after our emigration we have been given more or less freedom by choosing to live in Italy and receive guests there er.