By Anne Jordan
There’s an awful lot of romance going on at B&B’s all across America. Couples everywhere search for special inns that will provide a romantic retreat for two. So with this in mind, how can you, as an innkeeper, help to provide a more romantic experience for your guests and thus, increase your bottom line?
Most of you have been providing romance at your inns for many years and already know about the usual romantic touches such as fresh flowers, a bottle of wine or champagne, a box of chocolates, and luxuriously soft linens. But have you thought about what sets certain rooms apart from others? The most highly desirable rooms and the ones which carry premium prices, feature fireplaces, jetted tubs and steam showers. Inns that showcase these features have made a decision to offer the public not just guestrooms, but luxurious spa retreats.
In October of 2004, the Hospitality Design – Boutique Expo (hdboutique.com) in Miami featured hundreds of vendors with many exciting new products. The dominate theme at this trade show was luxury, luxury, and more luxury. In the last few years, there has been an enormous demand by the public for the lodging industry to provide more luxurious amenities. The amenities that guests choose as being the most important are spa appliances and products. Studies show that guests are willing to pay a great deal more for upgraded rooms that provide the ultimate in personal pampering. According to industry experts, when the economy, and the hospitality industry in particular, took a down turn in 2001, inns that provided upper-end amenities were also able to charge higher prices and thus, were in a much better financial situation – even though they had fewer bookings.
In the past, if a room didn’t already come with a fireplace, a jetted tub, or a steam shower, few inns were inclined to put them in – as the cost was prohibitive. It used to be that putting in large, luxury, spa appliances required major remodeling projects and a pretty hefty bank account. However, today’s spa appliances have become much more affordable, due in large measure to manufacturers creating products that are easily installed and that retail at substantially lower prices.
Here’s a sample of the prices you can expect to incur:
Direct-vent fireplace with ceramic glass sealed fronts: $ 700.00 – 1,000.00
Jetted tub –for one or two persons: $ 700.00 – 1,500.00
Steam shower with steam controls, radio, sauna seat and storage shelves:
www.smartshowers.net $ 2,300.00 – 3,500.00
(*These are wholesale prices available directly from the manufacturers.) While turning guestrooms into spa retreats still requires a significant initial investment, experience has shown that spa rooms pay for themselves. The quickest way to get a return on your initial investment is to charge a premium for your spa rooms. Premiums for spa rooms generally pay for the upgrades in a relatively short period of time. It also increases the value of your inn. According to Claude Gagne, realtor and publisher of The B&B and Country Inn Marketplace, “There is no better investment that a B&B can make. Premium rooms usually run around $150 to $300 a night and are the most highly sought after – they always rent first.” Claude goes on to say that “More income means a much higher sales price later on – when it becomes time to sell. Innkeepers should have at least one to two premium rooms, but the more premium rooms an inn has, the better. This is a big trend, and everyone who has made the improvements has been very happy.”
Innkeepers who’ve already made the switch are convinced that the transformation of standard guestrooms into personal spa retreats has increased their guest’s satisfaction, which in turn, translates into increased bookings at substantially higher prices. Two years ago Fred and Barbara Vogel, owners of the Sea Crest by the Sea in New Jersey, decided to turn their historic inn’s guestrooms into personal spa retreats. They believe that the renovations they’ve made have been well worth the extra time and expense. “Inns that install fireplaces, Jacuzzi’s and steam showers will recoup their investment very quickly. People are absolutely looking for them. We went from having several less expensive rooms to having all of our guestrooms become premium…and we’re very happy with our decision.” Barbara says.
Today’s guests are becoming much more sophisticated and discriminating, and are very interested in purchasing “spa experiences”. Rooms with fireplaces, jetted tubs and steam showers are very romantic, and as such, are also the most requested. Making an investment into spa appliances makes a lot of sense for inns that are looking to increase their bottom line.
If you are interested in turning your inn’s rooms into highly desirable spa retreats, check out the newest bathroom and spa products on the market. Some of the most sought after items include: attractive direct-vent fireplaces that are capable of being placed anywhere in a guest room (including two-way fireplaces for use between a bathroom and bedroom); relaxing jetted tubs for two; and perhaps most intriguing of all, steam showers that can fit in any bathroom. You’ll also find that the cost of these items has steadily decreased over the past few years to where they are now more affordable than ever.
So why not explore the spa option and find out why it has become the biggest trend in the B&B industry. The investment of turning your inn’s rooms into personal spa retreats may not only help your bottom line, it may also make the decisive difference to your inn’s final sale price.
**For a free list of manufacturers who are offering special wholesale pricing to innkeepers, please contact Anne Jordan at Inn Designs – P.O. Box 7851 Santa Rosa, CA 95407 Fax: 707-539-511. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
A professional business consultant for the past 12 years, Anne Jordan is the owner of Inn Designs, a national interior design company that caters to the needs of innkeepers worldwide. As a professional business consultant, she has assisted both existing and start-up businesses in finding new sources of revenue and in developing unique niche markets. Most recently, she has been a contributor to several national magazines on various business and design topics and has appeared in newspapers and on NPR radio. For more information, please contact Anne at email@example.com or visit her website at www.inndesigns.com.
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