Ygsubor – B&B Profile
Five-Star Ysgubor nestles between the breath taking borders of the Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire countryside – Karen Calas tells us her story so far.
Ysgubor is a Welsh stone Barn with 2 Guest rooms, tastefully converted yet keeping the integrity of the old Cow Shed, boasting overhead beams combined with traditional features which allow the guests to relax in a character filled establishment with the added luxury of a new build. Situated in 12 Acres of mature landscape, Ysgubor is a working small holding with livestock, ponds and wildlife all around. Ysgubor has won many awards and been rated 5 stars for five years running by visit Wales. A secluded and peaceful location which has far reaching views over the countryside. The rooms are completely secure and private and the en-suite has a bath big enough for two and a separate shower cubicle .It is an ideal set up for families. No sharing stairwells or dining rooms with anyone else.
Ysgubor is an exclusive Bed and Breakfast especially for people who want seclusion and an unhurried pace of life .Guests like that they have their own front door and key separate from the main house which gives them added freedom.
Tell us a little bit about your background
We bought Ysgubor when it was a run down and derelict building and many of our friends thought we were bonkers. We were undeterred and lived in a caravan on the yard for the 9 months that it took to renovate, in the worst winter with frozen pipes and bitter easterly winds blowing the caravan around so much that we had to chain it down, so you can imagine how relieved we were to finish and move in. The end result is an intriguing mix of antique and modern, the hip and the homely, an interior that although fully restored has lost none of its history.
We have been running the Bed & Breakfast for 5 years now and it has been highly enjoyable. The time has really flown and when the same guests keep coming back year after year and you see their children growing, you wonder where the time has gone.
What made you decide to open a B&B?
When we used to visit my brother and his girlfriend in Brighton, we would stay in a lovely B & B in Hove and I was very taken with the idea of some day running one ourselves. We never really thought it would happen but as the children had all left home it gave us the perfect opportunity, especially as we had already converted the upstairs to a separate self contained unit for one of the children, who then decided she didn’t want it! That was the “eureka” moment for us to make the decision then to run it as guest accommodation and the layout of the barn lent itself perfectly for running our business .
What was the main factor for your choice of location?
We are very lucky that we live in such a beautiful area close to coastal paths, beaches and mountains. Pembrokeshire in particular has the most beautiful and picturesque beaches anywhere in Britain. We already had the perfect location to establish our business, so we just had to develop what was already here.
There are plenty of places for our guests to visit, for instance, Pembrokeshire coastal Path is just a short distance away as well as the Pembrokeshire National Park which include the Preseli Mountains. In Carmarthenshire we have many magnificent castles and the lovely market town of Laugharne where the playwright Dylan Thomas wrote his famous “Under Milk Wood” in his writing shed and boat house, both open to the public.
In short run us through your average day
My day is full on as not only do we look after guests but we have the livestock to take care of and both of us have jobs away from Ysgubor, so it is a very early start for me. When the guest come down for breakfast, I wait until they are seated with their cereals and fresh berries and yogurts before taking their hot orders. All our produce is either sourced locally or produced here on the small holding – there is wonderful fresh and wholesome produce to be sourced from the nearby market town of Narberth. Our hens lay daily so the guests are guaranteed to get the freshest of eggs and they always remark on the colour of the yolks. Whilst the guests are at the table I quickly refresh the guest rooms, replace towels, replenish the buffet tray etc. by which time they are ready for a second pot of fresh coffee!. After the guests have left the dining room, I clear all the crockery and load the dishwasher before leaving for work. I only work a few hours a day so I can manage to get a breakfast cooked first and then still be home in time for their return in the evening. Sometimes between cooking our evening meal and doing the washing and ironing, I may get a chance to eat!!
Is running a bed & breakfast exactly what you thought it would be?
Certainly when we first started it was quite a shock as we took a booking within hours of our website going live. We worried whether we were ready enough, but the fact that we have had so much positive feedback and several repeat bookings meant that we were doing something right. The second phone call was taken by my husband from a German gentleman and my husband was so nervous he asked what they would like for breakfast even though he was booking four months in advance. Anyway this family have now become good friends and have stayed with us every year since.
We love meeting new people and have made many friends as a result. There is no denying that it is hard work but as long as you allow yourself enough time to do what you need to do and don’t panic , it is highly enjoyable.
If you could go back to the beginning is there anything you would do differently?
We had some invaluable advice from the Grading inspector when he first came to grade us, making suggestions etc and he still gave us 5 stars so he must have had confidence in us. When he came back the following year he saw that we had taken his advice, which pleased him enormously. I don’t think there is anything that I would do differently, but I wished that I had listened more to my instincts in the early days, you learn that you will never please everyone, no matter how accommodating you are. However, we must have a winning formula as all the comments in the guest book prove.
What is the main piece of advice you would give to run a successful B&B?
Running a Bed and Breakfast is not without its pitfalls and anyone thinking of doing so needs to be mindful of that. However, it is also very rewarding as you get to meet so many wonderful people. You should certainly strive to be the best that you can. Imagine how others will perceive your home and have pride in its appearance. Your Guests are the most important thing and their comfort should be paramount. They will shop around beforehand and look at several websites to see where they can get the best value, they expect a high standard of cleanliness and comfort – they want wholesome food safely prepared and a warm welcome from the proprietors. Always make sure that your rooms are ready to receive guests at a moments notice, because a moments notice may be all you get when you open your door to a suitable looking guest standing on your doorstep. Be prepared, take a breath and smile!
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