How about ‘guest hosting’? B&Bs have a quaint, rose-coloured reputation that many folks associate with seasonal charm. But what is the truth?
In the middle of winter, there is definitely something evocative about the charmed surrender of sinking deep into a plush king-size bed, between crisp chic Florence Broadhurst sheets, under a soft, enveloping eiderdown, with a gently crackling open fire playing in the background.
Especially after an indulgent submerge in a playful, bubbly spa bath following a day’s sightseeing or a host of business meetings…
Sounds like a fantasy accommodation? Not so.
Bed and breakfasts, or nowadays, more fashionably (but less alluringly) labelled hosted accommodation, provide benefits far beyond those of a five-star branded resort for those that appreciate individuality, more intimate service and indulgent comfort often coupled with rustic charm, unexpected histories and quaint architecture from a bygone era.
And it often comes at a tariff far less than just a room at a top-chain hotel.
Sharing a private home as part of ‘the family’ is a most rewarding experience. Inglebrae in Bundaberg is such an establishment along the more traditional concepts of a B&B. A c1910 Queenslander transformed into a cosy three-bedroom retreat with a communal breakfast, port before bed, antique furniture, manicured gardens and gracious hosts.
The Noorla Heritage Resort at Ingham encapsulates extravagant Italian architecture with a Ceylonese tea plantation manor heritage. At The Mudbrick Manor in nearby Cardwell, one can enjoy the antique four-poster in the manor itself or select one-of-four individual adobe suites. Das Helweg Haus at Glen Aplin on the Granite Belt has a grand German flavour mixed with fresh home-grown produce.
There are extreme eco-retreats set in rainforests, such as The Sanctuary at Mission Beach’s Bingil Bay or Pethers Rainforest Retreat on Mount Tamborine and the ultra-environmentally friendly Hidden Valley Cabins at Paluma on the Great Dividing Range about 1.5 hours from Townsville.Then there are the magnificent historic, pioneer Queenslanders with their extensive balconies and verandahs, exotic wildlife-prone gardens and stories to tell like the ghost of Woodlands of Marburg on the Scenic Rim. Or the 1846 Taabinga Homestead at Kingaroy or Woodleigh Homestead, one of the many B&Bs on Mount Tamborine.
From a restored sandstone monastery, such as the glorious 120-year old Abbey of the Roses in Warwick, to the inner-city Brisbane mansions like Number 12, Aynsley or Cream Gables; B&Bs offer a unique assortment of lodgings with an accent on indulgent comfort, superbly individualised service without the bells and whistles of big-brand five stars and affording excellent value for money.
While B&Bs can take guests away from the stresses of daily life, many do provide the ‘necessities’ of the modern-day man such as free wifi, iPods with a library of music, TVs with all the program trimmings and minibars (usually with a few gratis nibbles and bubbly).
So, as many look towards a sea or treechange later in life, what makes a great B&B operator?
First, one is unlikely to make heaps of money by managing a B&B, rather more like a comfortable return with plenty of fringe benefits. Any return on investment is likely to be when the business is sold.
But B&B prices reflect this and initial outlay can be as low as $350,000, though there are a quite a few that will cost more than $1 million. For example, One Thornbury in Brisbane’s Spring Hill is currently on the market for $395,000 while The Angkasa at Coolum Beach is listed at $2.5 million.