Forget the miseries - how about the holidays? Market research for Lazio accomodation - please help.

Boab64 Image
02/17/2012 - 14:21

Hi All Italy Lovers, my wife and I are looking at buying an old restored 18th Century barn some 15km north of the centre of Rome (train to centre of town). We are considering setting this up as a B and B and we would be really interested to know what you think for research purposes prior to taking the leap. Please rest assured I am only after your opinion, nothing more.The barn is set out beautifully having been fully restored with a mezzanine library area and four double bedrooms (all ensuite).The garden is large and beautifully manicured, with a swimming pool, sauna, biilliards room, basement eating/communal area adjacent to the pool, exquiiste views of the beautiful valley in which it is situated (national park). There would be a facility to have pre packed picnics provided along with evening meals on request. The large pizza oven would allow us to give guests the chance to try out their culinary skills whilst having fun at the poolside. Highly secure and with my wifes and my own attentive service, we see this as a great location to make our guests feel at home. I am sorry I dont have a picture of the place at the moment.It would be our plan to allow people to linger at the property rather than the usual "out by 11 each day." This allows people the luxury to relax and enjoy all that the house and myself and my wife have to offer. Rome is 10 minutes away by train and we considered it would be excellent for those that want to taste the city life but to have the facility to return to the barn, recuperate, relax and enjoy that the beautiful Lazio countryside have to offer yet not feel like they were missing any creature comforts. The beautiful medieval town of Sacrofano is only 10 minutes away with award winning restaurants, beautiful walks and access to the whole of the region via a very 21st century bus termonal and train station. The nightly rate per room would be in the order of E75 low season and E90 in high season. It is our intention to provide many of the luxuries that you would expect in a small boutique hotel within our B and B. Can I please ask you for your thoughts on whether you might want to come to such a place if we were to go ahead and buy it. Does it sound atrractive to you, do you have any concerns. Please either place your thoughts here as part of another post or if you would like to maintain pprivacy, please ssend me a personal message.Your time and efforts are very much appreciated and we do hope we will meet some of you at our lovely B and B in the not too distant future.Robin



In reply to by Esme

Esme, there is no hidden message other than " if my wife and I were to buy this place" might you possibly be interested in staying there. I am trying to do what all business advisors suggest when starting a new enterprise - market research. I thought readers of this forum might have a view. Now I have yours. Thank you.

It just sounds like a 'free advert' - that's all.  However, should you really require the serious input of the members of this forum to base such a significant purchase on, then I would be very careful and obviously look much further afield for your research as most folks here do not actually "holiday" in Italy as such.  A lot of members either live in Italy full time or have "holiday homes" there, so it is my opinion that you wont get a balanced view as most would not use such a facility as the one you are hoping to offer.

In reply to by Esme

Esme, I am quite genuine (how do I prove it?). I have nothing to sell at the moment but I can't part with the cash needed for this property without doing some research. I wrote it to sound positive but made it quite clear that this was only a what if. Maybe I should try another way but I thought I would give the good people of this forum a chance to say either "sounds ok", "nah wouldn't bother want to be in Rome" or some other such comment. And I still do notwithstanding what you say about most folks having their own places. What I dont want is to sit back in two years, in the prison after going bankrupt, with someone clever soul saying "should've checked the market out shouldnt ya?" Have you any ideas of any web sites that might better cater for the non house owners? I'll try to make my query less salesy next Robin

You don't have to prove anything - especially to me - honestly.  I've read the other thread you started a while back and you had some excellent advice there - especially from Ram and Seb - opening this kind of venture in Italy is tangled with all the red tape etc. On the face of it, what you are offering sounds sublime (and I mean sublime this time) and I really cant think that many would say otherwise - but does that mean they would actually come and stay?  There's tons of competition (all over Italy) and I'd suggest you look at that and see if you can compete with the best available rather than ask here if it sounds OK.  Only you know what you are capable of providing.  What would your USP be? This project sounds as if it will be very expensive - to buy and to upkeep/maintain - can you survive if it goes tits up or takes 3 or 4 years before you are known for offering excellent quality and value?  What is your projected breakeven point?  How will you finance it?  There are a million far more important questions you need to know before asking if people would like to visit - how to entice them is only one. I play Devils advocate here, but I give an honest response from my heart and for some reason, I think you need to ask yourself the most important question - what is stopping you? If it doesn't feel right - don't do it - don't rely on anything anyone here may say - especially me!  It's understandable that you're worried - but if doubt and fear outweigh the excitement - then you already know the answer. Perhaps you could also take a look at Trip Advisor - not just for your area, but in all the most popular areas of Italy that may offer something similar - read all the client reviews - check out their bookings and compare costs.  Maybe look at the holiday rental sites also, even though they are more for villa rentals, they can be really useful to find out what level of bookings are being acheived. Talk to Seb, who posted on your other thread - he has tons of experience.  Ram is also well qualified to answer you.  Both are extremely helpful. 

The setting sounds lovely and I am sure there would be some demand especially given the ease of access to Rome. How easy is it to get to/from the airports by car? One thing I would suggest from what you have written, is to really check out the local rules and regulations as to what you can and can't offer in a  B&B. You may find what you would want to offer is not legally possible under the local regulations. As I understand it you are supposed to have a maximum of 3 rooms, offer only pre packaged food with expiry dates at  breakfast and you cannot offer an evening meal, or any other type of meal ie picnic, unless you have an industrial kitchen which I think would then immediately take you out of B&B catagory and into the country house hotel one. I am sure you will receive some more informed replies but as has been pointed out many of the forum members either live in Italy full time or have a holiday home there so you may not get many replies from folk who would be interested in holidaying in the Rome area but good luck anyway.

Boab, take it from someone who knows Marketing and Research; this is not the type of research you should be doing. As Esme said most people on here have an established connection with Italy, and would probably not feel the need to stay in a B&B. Secondly if you are basing your purchase on this type of research you have bad advice. By all means utilise this to get a 'feeling' for the project but you should spend time in the area to see all it has to offer, and do the math as regards to running costs, possible lets and ROI if this is going to be a business. You need to know your market, so approach other B&Bs in the area and ask some pertinent questions re Bookings, repeat business, likely clientele; oh! and get advice from a good FS advisor.

These are simply my personal thoughts, and I rather doubt that I fall into any typical holidaymaker category. If I want to explore Rome, I want to do it 24 hrs a day: the thought of nipping back to some safe haven in the hours in which the capital is relatively free of tourists seems to me to be bizarre. However, if I was unwisely attempting to enthuse young children with the culture and architecture of Rome, then being able to promise them a pool would be a useful sweetener. How child friendly are you intending to make this venture?

We have a house in Tuscany and another one in the north of Spain, close to the French border. Although we use them as a base and spend most of the time there, just doing day trips to interesting areas, we also spend time in other cities and countries, mainly Spain, Italy, France and the West Coast of the USA.  If our stay is up to 3 nights, we generally go to a hotel or a B and B. For longer stays, we prefer to rent a self-catering apartment. If we go to Rome, as we did last year, we prefer an apartment near the centre of the city where we can walk a lot and use as little transport as possible. We prefer self-catering apartments because, although we enjoy going out for lunch or dinner, we try to combine this with home-cooked meals, as we are not getting younger and we have to watch our diets. We don't have large breakfasts and most of the food that is served is very yummy, but not very good for our health. Another important consideration when we choose where to go. Also, we always travel with our little dog and this limits the choice of places, although, fortunately, this has also changed in the past few years and many owners welcome dogs with certain restrictions. As our doggy is a world traveller and very quiet there is never a problem. The property you describe sounds great; however, it would be very difficult to ascertain whether it is a viable project. You will have to make lots of research locally. I would agree with Fillide in that its proximity to Rome does not guarantee a good flow of clients. Personally, we would rather try to find something downtown and we would not be interested by the pool. On the other hand, families with children may find it interesting. They could combine a holiday with time for cultural visits.... Now, are you prepared to cater for families with children? You also mentioned the possibility of organising weddings in a previous thread. I think that you should also explore that possibility, but then, combining the two activities may be a much bigger problem. Nothing is easy, starting a new business is difficult and risky, particularly in these times. Make sure that you have enough money not to entirely depend on the revenue from the business... at least for a considerable time. There are a lot of peoply trying to make a living out of this kind of activity and not everyone is successful. In any case, we wish you good luck!

Well, once again the knowledge on this forum never fails to impress me. Whilst this wasn't quite what I was looking for I have learned a very great deal and you have inspired me to educate myself further. A great deal of work has already been done and I didn't want to bore you with the whole story leading to this point. I do hope that you will maybe permit me to come back again to ask questions on various other points that need a more open point of view or opinion. Its so very easy to begin to believe your own hype (I mean me and mine). So sharing is very much a privilege I appreciate. Thanks again folks. The adventure continues.

I am one of the people on this forum who does "Holiday" in Italy although we are looking at buying. When we are there we usually stay in an agriturismo when visiting Tuscany or Northern Italy. We use it as a base and try to position ourselves to take driving day trips in all directions. I have to agree with Gala. When we want to visit the big cities for a few days we would be more likely to stay downtown close to the action. We find a large part of the enjoyment of visiting is the night life. With a choice between taking a train back (even if only a twenty minute ride) or just a five minute stroll back to the hotel, we would choose the latter. For us, being tourists and not knowing the city, it is not only the train ride. It's also that we need to be concerned with things like making sure we get the right ticket, get on the right train. If it's quite late are the trains still running. Are they secure late at night. These are all things that locals would know and perhaps the people reading this are thinking these are not things to be concerned with. However, I believe these are things that your clients would consider. Having said all the above, your description does sound like it would be a lovely place to stay. Good luck with your decision.

How easy is it to get to/from the airports by car?    I have just re-read my post and realise a sentence is missing! Following on from the question re ease to and fro airports by car, it should say that if the airports are in easy reach, people flying in and out of Rome and hiring a car at the airport before going on to holiday elsewhere in Italy, may be interested in adding a day or two at either end and to use your place as a base to explore Rome knowing that they can leave the hire car in  a safe place and not have to risk driving into Rome.  Not quite sure where the missing sentence went, must have been gobbled up by the forum gremlins!

We are 'holidaymakers'  twice a year generally to Italy.  Your proposal sounds very nice and wish you the best of luck.  We like to use hotels so not for us - sorry.  There are quite a number of members here that have B & B's but I don't know what the form is re advice!

I think you need to ask yourself some questions, like: Who will be staying, Italians or others? How will they know that you are there? Check out the cost of advertising - it's not cheap Is your location sufficiently attractive to keep people happy when they need a day off from visiting Rome? Is there an attractive village nearby? Are there other other b and b's nearby? If not why not? Are you happy to put in the work of cleaning, bed-making etc, etc, people  quite rightly expect the very highest standards. Lastly check out what outgoings to expect in today's financial situation, there is the dreaded ICI back and there may be a tourist tax now or later, and don't forget local taxes. Do you live in Italy? If not give it a go before committing yourselves financially ( try to include the winter!)