James Whiteley Whitestores Interview
James Whiteley, Managing Director at Whitestores – the UK’s leading outdoor living store tells us how to make the most of your ‘guest house garden’
Gardens, large and small, are huge selling points for guest houses. Having the right furniture and landscaping can help make your guests feel at home and so it’s important to maximise your available space.
First impressions count
Whether your guest house is in a rural country setting with acres of lush landscaping, or a contemporary cityscape with a small terrace, the surroundings are the first thing that your guests are going to see. A neat and tidy exterior indicates that you take pride in your guesthouse and should reflect how you keep the inside. You don’t need professional landscaping, but well-maintained shrubbery and homely flowerbeds, or potted plants can drastically improve the aesthetic. This will help to set your guests expectations for the duration of their stay.
Define your market
Defining your B&B’s target audience is as important for designing the garden area as it is for planning your marketing activity. It’s impossible to please everybody, so having clear outlines of the type of business you want to attract is vital. For example, if you are targeting young families, having outdoor play equipment and games can help make their trip more fun. Alternatively, if your goal is to create a country retreat for mature couples, incorporating a cosy nook or a gazebo for afternoon tea and a glass of fizz on a summer evening can be a real special finishing touch. Your goal should be to make sure every guest’s visit is memorable, as this is sure to result in repeat business.
Create a home from home
Unless your B&B serves as a port of call for busy working professionals, it’s likely that your guests have chosen to stay with you because of those little personal touches that you simply don’t get in large hotel chains. This applies to the garden, as it does to the sleeping quarters. Ensure your guests feel welcome to use the outdoor surroundings and invite them to explore and enjoy the setting.
Even if you aren’t blessed with a huge outdoor space, you can use your creativity to make the most petite patio a major selling point of your abode. Simple tricks like using a cohesive colour scheme tactfully placed lighting and even a quirky selection of garden accessories can be the difference between a dull backyard and an Instagram-worthy outdoor sanctuary.
Go the extra mile
Although British weather is traditionally cold and wet, it’s important to embrace the sunshine, on the rare occasion that it makes an appearance and it is likely your guests will have the same belief. Having access to an outdoor dining table in the summer months is great for alfresco breakfasts, giving guests the option to dine outside is a lovely gesture and a British novelty. If you really want to push the boat out, organising a summer BBQ or picnic, complete with a stunning rural setting is the perfect way to engage with your guests and provide a personal touch to make their experience even more special.
Finding a balance between style and function
With lots of visitors and weathering it’s natural that your outdoor furniture will see a lot of ware and tare. Annually replacing overused garden furniture can be very costly, but may be essential to keep a well-maintained finish. Rattan garden furniture can look great in both contemporary and traditional environments and is an affordable, yet durable, alternative to wood. Unlike wood, which requires various oil treatments, rattan requires minimal maintenance and so makes the perfect option for busy hosts. The array of different colours and designs paired with being low-maintenance makes rattan a stylish and functional choice.
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