Earlier this year Richard and Elaine opened a B&B in Penrith having previously run a successful guesthouse in Aviemore for 8 years, before making the decision to downsize and move away from the area.
Why did you choose to move to Eden/Penrith?
We love the outdoors and Penrith is a perfect location as it sits in the Eden Valley with the Lake District and North Pennines nearby. The town has great transport connections for our visitors and for us it means we can visit our family on the south coast much quicker.
When we came for a visit to Penrith to look at possible properties, everyone in the town seemed really friendly and open to new businesses and we loved the quirky shops in town.
What were the challenges for you when you arrived?
The challenge for us was setting up a new business in a new area. We took over our previous guesthouse as an existing business so we knew that starting from scratch would be a bit more difficult! Moving into a new area meant we needed to create a new network of contacts and tradesman and as the house is a Victorian Townhouse we had the task of doing up an old house and trying to keep as many of the old features as possible.
How did you look to overcome these challenges?
When we arrived we began speaking to a number of the other nearby B&Bs and found out about a local accommodation owners group which was great for gaining more local knowledge. Using local recommendations and speaking to local building firms and people with builders skips outside houses nearby, we have begun to build up our network of tradesman.
We make sure we know as much as possible about what is going on in Penrith and the surrounding area so that we can be knowledgeable for our guests, the big events such as the Food & Farming Festival and Winter Droving are great and we really enjoyed the Tour of Britain this year. The Tourist Information Centre in Penrith is also a great resource for us to use as well as our guests.
We wanted to make sure that our presence on the internet was really good so we used a trusted web designer to create our website, we still have more to learn about social media and search engine optimisation, so we had a meeting with Big Cumbria to find out what support they could offer us.
How is the business going now?
We opened in January this year and very quickly we were busy with bookings for several months ahead. We have also been really pleased with the number of repeat bookings and the number of bookings for the late winter season this year.
We have had lots of positive reviews about the location and also about our B&B. We believe we offer a homely touch with added extras of packed lunches and luggage storage if required. We recognise that tasting quality local food is important to our guests so we use local suppliers such as Cranstons and buy free range eggs from a local farm.
Another thing that we are offering is a practical hands on B&B courses for people who are thinking about opening a B&B or small guesthouse.
Find out more about The Red Townhouse at www.redtownhousebandb.co.uk
Eden is a great place to live and to work. There can be few places better for life-work integration Sarah Dunning, Chief Executive of Westmorland Ltd.
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