Cycling B&B in the foothills of the Pyrenees

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One of the people we're talking to re Private Investment asked us if we could provide some sort of proof of the value of the property we own, since that is going to be the security against anything we borrow.

I asked our Architect, who also owns the local estate agent that we bought the Barn through, and he's come back to us with an official valuation document.

I'm happy to say that the current value of the property equals What we paid for it + the cost of the Architects Project + the cost of the Council Planning Permission + a bit of normal growth in the time since we bought it.

This was good to hear.

Since any and all the money we borrow will go directly into the repair and refurbishment of the Barn, the value of the Barn will increase directly in line with whatever we spend on it until, at the end of the project, the finished property will be worth more than all of the costs involved in buying and renovating it. "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts".....

So whatever loan we manage to find will always be secure.

As a bonus, because there is so little property for sale in this area (and none at all in Guaso village) once the property is finished, if for any reason it didn't make money as a "B&B" we could sell it for enough to get everything we put into it back again, clear any loans or debts and still make a bit extra for ourselves.

Win Win!
 
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Whilst storm Dennis and storm Ciara before it, batter northern europe, here on the southern side of the Pyrenees we have been enjoying unusually warm weather for the last few weeks.

The days have been sunny, temps have be as high as 21 and 22 degrees and the trails are dry, dusty and fast - when I'm not riding I'm working outside in shorts and a t-shirt..... not bad for February!

It's still cold at night, in fact it probably feels colder after a warm day than it would feel after a chilly day. This week last year we had snow on the ground and there's still plenty of time for that to happen this year - but for the moment we'll enjoy riding, working and hiking in the sunshine.

Yesterday on my way back to Boltana from Ainsa I had a view of the sun setting behind the church up in the village of Guaso, where our "project" is. I took a quick picture thinking it probably wouldn't come out any good but was pleasantly surprised.....

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After 6 odd weeks of lockdown it was certainly nice to be able to get out again and last evening we did a 6km walk/hike from Boltaña up to the village of Sieste and back.

It was a beautiful evening after a hot day. We had our masks with us just incase, but we didn't need them.

The view of Boltaña was taken from half way up to Sieste. You can see the remains of the historic castle up on the top, the Old Town below it and the New Town down at the bottom. The river Ara passes between where we were standing and the town - just below the shot.

Sieste is a beautiful little village with view points in all directions, a fresh water fountain, a terrace bar . . . .

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For some time now I've been meaning to post an update regarding "Working in Spain", and specifically about US working in Spain . . . . I'll spread it over a few days . . . .

When we came here the intention was not to have to work. Or rather "not to have to find jobs". We knew that the Spanish unemployment rate was fairly high - nearly 15% last year. We knew we were moving to an un-industrialised area - Tourism and Agriculture are the two biggest industries here in the mountains, and we knew that there would be a language barrier. The intention was, as most of you will know by now, to renovate the our building and then run it as a B&B which would keep us both busy and provide us with a suitable income.

People here work different hours compared to what we're used to and there are some old "traditions" that are a way of life here which are different - but you soon get used to them.....

Most businesses open / workers start at either 8am or 9am - depending on the nature of the work - and then close at 2pm for a 2hr lunch break. They open again at 4pm and close at either 7pm or 8pm - again depending on the nature of the business. The lunch break is long enough for you to have a decent sized lunch - the main meal of the day here - and a 20 minute Siesta :-)

Mid morning - around 11ish - they have what they call "Almuerzo" (pronounced Almertho) which is a 15 minute break for a coffee and a sandwich or a couple of slices of ham and some olives.

Buliders here, who tend to be Romanian labourers working for Spanish building companies, start the day with a shot or two of Firewater. These guys are as hard as nails, used to working in all weathers and conditions, and can drink like you wouldn't believe! I don't generally have to work with them, which is good because I'm a bit of a light-weight by comparison...….
 
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Every village in Spain has a Fiesta once a year and this weekend is traditionally the weekend that the village of Guaso, where our Project is, holds its 4 day long Fiesta.

The church on the hilltop in Guaso is called the "Iglesia de San Salvador" (the Church of Saint Salvador) - so San Salvador, which is celebrated on August 6th (when the church celebrates the transfiguration of Jesus) is the Patron Saint of Guaso.

This year there will be a mass on Sunday but, thanks to Covid-19, no street parties, no "Ronda" (where musicians lead the crowd through the sreets of the village), no big open-air sit down evening meal and no dancin' the night away . . . .

Last year, as you can see, we had a ball!

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"Working in Spain" - Part 2.

For our first 18 months here, knowing that work was hard to come by at the best of times and being under the impression that the banks would have the financing sorted out for our Project fairly quickly, we didn't worry about looking for proper jobs at all........ ah those were the days!

Our plan was always, and still is, to do as much of the renovation work on the Project as possible ourselves - so once the Project build started that was going to be both of our full time jobs - 7 days a week. Once the Project was finshed and the business was up and running, then again, that would be our full time work - and being a B&B/Guesthouse it would also 7 days a week for much of the year. Neither of those scenarios were an issue for us - one thing we're not scared of is hard work!

During our first months here, while waiting for the council to approve our planning permision and the banks to approve our loan, we actually did lots of "work" but we didn't have jobs....

I was busy helping my new friends at "Zona Zero" clear and maintain mountain bike trails - work I loved doing - outside in the Pyrenees mountains with great weather and great people. I learned a lot about all local villages and footpaths during that time - Angel often took me to see stuff that you'd never know was there unless someone told you - and I made some good friends too.

We also both did a lot of work helping the previous owners of our Project (and our future neighbours) Ramon & Rosa with jobs around the farm. We helped them with the animals, the grape harvest, planting next years wheat - you name it we did it. Again, good hard work outside in the sunshine with our amazing sights and views - a massive change from what we were used to.....
 
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"Working in Spain" - Part 3.

Whilst out clearing trails one Autumn afternoon with my friend Angel Cheliz - the owner of the local "Intersport" bike & sports shop, we got to talking about work and, in the face of everything seemingly taking forever to proceed over here, my need to find a job.

Angel told me that with my experience I should contact the local campsites with a view to getting something the following spring for the summer season. The following February I prepared a CV, focusing on the parts of my work experience that were relevant, and within a week I started work at "Camping Ainsa" - one of the four local campsites.

https://campingainsa.com/

For me it's the perfect job. I generally spend a minimum of 80% of each day working outside in the sunshine doing jobs I really enjoy under the watchful eyes of the Pyrenees mountains. After so long "working inside" over the years - Eskom Power Stations, R&D Labs, Customers Factories, Offices . . . . it's a happy change. I have amazing views, fresh air and to a large extent I'm left to myself.

At the beginning of the year it's a very physical job - lots pf grounds maintenance - fallen trees, a billion leaves to clear up, half-meter high grass to cut and sorting out whatever else Winter has thrown our way - but it's a great way to stay in shape. Like doing Gym all day - but you get paid :-)

During the season it can get a bit hectic - there are 26 Cabins/Chalets of various sizes - all with showers, toilets, water heaters and even furniture - just waiting to break or go wrong. Plus all the communial services, the swimming pools and the general grounds where tents & caravans park up. But it keeps me busy and I get to meet lots of interesting people from all over Europe - including tons of cyclists who I can advise and sometimes even guide "out of hours".

Work here where we live is hard to come by. I'm fortunate in that I'm able to do a physically demanding job whilst also having the technical background to manage pretty much anything complicated that comes up.

I always thought that the job would tide me over until we can get our project built and our business running - but in fact we're now thinking that it would be worth me keeping the job even when we're open. "Wendy" will manage our place, with my help when I'm not at work - which will generate enough income to pay for itself - and my income will support us and pay our own "non B&B related" bills.

That's the plan anyway . . . . . .
 
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A week or two ago we were talking to a South African investor who was seriously considering investing enough money into our Project for us to have been able to complete just over half the build. By being careful in what work we chose to carry out and by doing as much of the manual labour as possible ourselves (and with my friend Ben's help), we calculated that we could have completed 2 (hopefully 3!) guest bedrooms with bathrooms, Lounge/Kitchen/Diner, Patios & Gardens plus a very basic room for ourselves.

The "room for ourselves" would have mean that we could move out of our rented apartment - an instant cash saving - and the 2 or 3 guest rooms would have allowed the Project to start earning it's keep. As I've mentioned above - I'm currently managing to find employment for around 9 months of the year with the Campsite etc and I plan to keep doing that, even when we're up and running ourselves, so that the Project can concentrate on paying back it's investors and doesn't have to support us.

The money would have been available within a month or two, which would have been the perfect time of the year for us - just as the "Season" starts to wind down and we'd be free to give the Project our full attention. . . . . everything was looking good, the numbers made sense and, amazingly, the builder we are going to use to do the "big stuff" had his van parked outside our flat on the day that the investor was due to give us his final decision......

It didn't come off in the end, but I'm happy to say that it was not because of anything to do with us or the potential risk associated with the Project etc and on the plus side - we've had the opportunity to double-check our numbers and the chance of it happening cheered us up nicely for a while during what has been a pretty grim year for everyone!

We'll take it all as a good sign and keep looking.......

:-)
 

straas

Veteran
I've just read this whole thread (may impact on my report submission)

Really hope it all works out for you - it looks like a great place and can't imagine it not working once set up.
 
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I've just read this whole thread (may impact on my report submission)

Really hope it all works out for you - it looks like a great place and can't imagine it not working once set up.
Thanks for the support..... and sorry for distracting you! ;-)

We're absolutely positive that it will work and we're determined not to let the dream go. Having just read the whole thread you'll appreciate how the "Plan" has evolved / is evolving as we go along. We are so much more prepared to do this now than we were when we arrived in Spain - not that we were unprepared then, just that were more prepared now!

We just need to find that financial investor "needle in the haystack . . . ."
 
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dodgy

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Wirral
Blimey, I had scan-read this thread a few times completely under the illusion the business was up and running. I really need to read more carefully!
 
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Did your B&B open in the five years since you started the thread or are you still working on getting to the dream?
(Very) Short version:

Originally the Banks said they would help us financially, so we bought a property here to renovate.
Banks changed their minds.
We have managed to just about find enough work to keep our heads above water while we look for a private investor.
We've had some interest but it's not easy.
We've done some work on the property ourselves, but it's not an easy renovation - it needs a proper amount of money and a Builder (with a crane!) to get the job done.

Meanwhile I'm busy working at a local campsite & doing my own MTB Guiding, while we "enjoy where we are" until we can get on with the next stage of the Dream"......
 
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