A new Era – Well at least for us – Changes Coming and Past
It is hard to believe we have been living in Nicaragua for 15 months. The hotel has officially been open for a year and our occupancy rate slowly continues to grow. Everything in the country is word of mouth and Facebook so we have learned a lot about websites, facebook advertising, hanging banners across the highway, handing out pamphlets, attending trade shows (all in Spanish) and even joining the local Chambers of Commerce of other countries. Our Spanish continues to get a little better. At least we can communicate with our staff (usually) but holding a social conversation with someone is still a challenge.
We have learned patience…well maybe a little more…as nothing here moves even close to the speed of business in North America. This is truly a mañana culture and when someone says they will be here at 10:00am it is just as likely to be 3pm when you are rushing out the door to make another appointment.
Thanks to our great staff, we continue to get stellar reviews on TripAdvisor and are currently ranked #3 of 77 B&B Hotels in Managua and area. Our guests like that it feels like home, the rooms are large and spotlessly clean and they get a key to the front door so they can come and go as they please. And they love the food, both the breakfasts we prepare for them each morning as well as any lunches and dinners we cook for them.
We also continue to expand our services both for guests as well as for the local community. Based on feedback from our guests about our homemade items we make for breakfast, we have opened a small bakery “Grumpy Beetle Panadería” where people can order for pickup later in the day or week. We now sell homemade bread, scones, carrot and chocolate cake, cookies, granola and both almond and peanut butter.
Then if that was not enough work, we have also opened our breakfast restaurant “The Grumpy Beetle” to the public Thursday through Sunday. Our Grumpy Beetle Pancakes (world famous) made their debut at the beginning of July and last week were joined by the Grumpy Beetle Breakfast Sandwich.
Our VinoFlow Yoga Classes (thanks to Sabrina and Nathan for letting us steal their name) continue to be popular. We have the class once a month at the hotel and provide yoga, wine and great food.
For the last several years we have been renting a house in Pochomil, west of Managua, as a vacation property and at one point we considered developing the house into a full time B&B. But when we moved here we decided that at least for now, Managua was a better place to run a B&B. Sadly, we have now sold the beach house and that property is no longer available to our guests for rent. We have many happy memories of early mornings on the patio, late afternoon walks on the beach, boogie boarding in the waves and a few Toña on occasion. We are looking at the possibility of acting as a rental manager for other beach front vacation homes so we may end up with multiple beach house choices for our clients.
The good news is that this month, we are starting to upgrade the hotel in Managua. Our first project will be the “back yard”. We will be upgrading our water supply, installing a swimming pool, adding 2 additional terraces for guests to use and covering some areas with a pergola (open roof) to provide more shade during the sunny days and rain protection in the winter. The upgraded back yard will also allow us to host larger events at the hotel. The picture is the initial design drawing and is not fully complete but close enough. It is missing an upper terrace and a few other items like a waterfall on the wall.
In response to our guest’s requests we have created some typical tours that guests can do from the hotel, both in Managua and the nearby places of Masaya, Catarina, Granada and Leon and of course the Lava tour at Volcan Masaya. We originally expected to have a lot of first/last night guests that needed a place to stay at the beginning and end of their vacation, but we are seeing an increase in people that are staying not only 2 and 3 nights but also up to a week and using our hotel as a central base. Because of our location in the city, we have also become popular with people who have family in the city and have come to visit from other parts of Central and North America.
And last but most important, we have adopted 2 new kiddies that needed a home. Meet Chispita/Chis (Bright Eyes – the light one) and Murciélago/Murci (Bat – because she looked like one when a baby). They are sisters, they like mice, geckos and other weird creatures, Shannon’s ear plugs and belly scratches and they are growing like weeds. Not so little anymore at 8 months old but still sisters.
After the back yard is finished, the next item on the list is probably the addition of a new room or 2. We have space and plans for 14 rooms in total plus our own private suite. Where we end up is anyone’s guess at this moment.
Our pool should be finished late September and then some more landscaping so we will post some progress pictures over the next few weeks. Did someone say Pool Party? Absolutely…stay tuned for your invite to our first BackYard Party.
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