Bethnal & Bec – A column for Owners by Owners

This is a column for owners, by owners. Vicky and Chris Saynor designed and created Bethnal&Bec Luxury Staycations, a true home-grown family business.


This is a column for owners, by owners. Vicky and Chris Saynor designed and created Bethnal&Bec Luxury Staycations, a true home-grown family business.

City chic-meets-countryside cool, in a stylish yet cosy home-from-home setting.

For grown-ups only, and maybe the dog too – escape to your own luxury rural retreat with everything you need to relax.

Chris – Renewable Energy….it’s complicated

We received some positive news a few weeks ago when Suffolk Council replied to our pre-planning application in the affirmative for solar panels and air source heat pump.

But if I thought that was the hard stuff done, I was very sadly mistaken. The property we are renovating in Felixstowe is currently only hooked up to electricity; no gas, not even an oil tank. For us it is therefore a no-brainer to add as much environmentally (and maybe long term wallet) friendly power sources as possible. With gas and electric prices stubbornly high it is something most Holiday Home owners should at last consider.

You would think you would call three or four solar installers, the same amount of heat pump people and get some quotes after site visits, choose your favoured supplies, spend a load of cash and get the renewable power you want. But oh no, you’ll be lucky to get anyone to call you back, let alone undertake a site visit or prepare a quote. Even if you do get that far, thanks to many global issues, the chance of getting the materials needed in the next six months, or the labour scheduled in is an uphill battle.

The only benefit of such a delayed supply chain is that it gives you additional time to think about all the details of the system you need…. let me repeat that again with a slight alteration. The nightmare of such a delayed supply chain is that it gives you additional time to think about all the details of the system you need? I joined some amazing Facebook groups filled with advice from installers, from manufacturers, homeowners, doubters and critics – it blew my mind. There is so much to know about these technologies and also the contracts with the electrical companies. Do you sell excess electric to the grid, use it to charge a battery? or buy an “eddi” and let it heat your hot water?

What about charging an EV? Do you change contract and have a cheap overnight rate to charge a battery. Add in the complexity that I have no idea how my guests are going to use energy throughout the year and it leaves me in a confused spiral. All I currently know is that being as eco-friendly as possible will make sense for our new holiday let project; it may take a long time to get a financial payback, but the environment will benefit immediately and I believe that being as eco-friendly as possible will be a positive marketing angle for all accommodation providers and indeed will result in a higher occupancy rate for those who truly embrace it. Just check back in with me in six, 12, 18 months or whenever the planets align and supplies, labour and my own decision making have come together as one.

Vicky – When support staff let you down…..

I’m taking off my Rubber Gloves to write this article….. once again we are without cleaners and feeling like we’re back to square one.

Chris and I both ran different businesses with large teams before we started Bethnal&Bec. We both emphatically agreed on creating a business without staff as we had found it both costly financially and mentally – and felt we possibly weren’t great managers either! Our (somewhat naiive) ideas for our new self-catering business was that we did everything in it – including the cleans. That all worked well, until one year in I was diagnosed with breast cancer and we had to rethink a lot of things!

It was clear that I wasn’t going to be able to clean or do much whilst going through treatment, and although with two small properties it was possible for one person to do ‘turnovers’ that soon became impractical when we found ourselves spending all day in hospitals and endless appointments. We knew a local cleaner that came highly recommended and Chris trained her up. Issue resolved and on we went.

Once treatment was over we realised the efficiencies and value of getting cleaning teams in, as we decided (and realised for financial reasons) we needed to grow – and doing that whilst juggling daily turnovers and 4 kids was proving very tricky, so we took on a cleaning ‘company’ and cracked on with building the Empire (!)

But we didn’t…. as we’ve now just fired our fourth cleaning company and are back cleaning toilets (more than before as we’ve expanded) and wondering how can you expand your business and be reliant on good cleaning staff?

Answers on a postcard please!

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About BethnelAndBec 14 Articles
Bethnal&Bec is an adult only accommodation for anyone looking for a place to switch-off, sleep, enjoy long walks, leisurely lunches in fantastic authentic local pubs, rest, or binge-watch Netflix on a 43" Smart TV. The retreats are equipped with every home comfort you could imagine including wood burning stoves, luxury bathrooms, private hot tubs and a unique in-room honesty pantry. Perfect for a truly rejuvenating stay, whilst overlooking a beautiful wild flower meadow and uninterrupted countryside views. Vicky & Chris have a regular column in Luxury BnB Magazine.