Fresh squeezed orange juice and fruit for breakfast…
Coffee on its way…
Walking guides for the local area…
Happy guests in the beach chairs…
Running a B&B Business - what it's like
We called our business Panokosmos, which, loosely translated in Greek, means “on top of the world”.
We focus on 25-35 and 50-65s, ie without children, folk who typically want to escape the crowds, are not too interested in the beach, have often been to Crete before. They value the privacy, peace and solitude. We get quite some honeymooners, and quite a lot of repeat business (over 20%).
We emphasise the unique location, atmosphere; the peace and solitude and privacy; but with relatively convenient access to activities and sights in West Crete, coupled with a level of luxury with high quality fittings and furnishings. The by line which we use to sum this up:
the luxury of a first class hotel;
the privacy of a private villa;
the atmosphere of staying with friends.
Typically during “normal years” we have been doing 12-15 bookings per year 80-120 room nights. We have a splendid conversion rate (33%) – basically once we have people in our sites we can nail them. Over half of bookings coming direct. We have 50 reviews on TripAdvisor now, all of them superlative, all of them 5 and occasionally 4 star.
We have built a website which is for sale, should you decide that you want to continue the holiday rental business. Along with comprehensive details, guest mailing lists, contact details this should set you up to continue a successful business.
We are very active on FB, and post in 9 groups with interest in either Greece or Crete, a total of some 50,000 people. We get a reach of around 15000 per month and engagement of over 25%. We work with one group “Matt Barretts Greece Travel Guides” and have an arrangement to remunerate for successful enquiries, which has been successful in the past.
The layout of the villa allows for flexible rental alternatives. Each of the three floors is self contained and independent, each opening onto the common stairwell and main door.
The rooftop apartment offers a bedroom and living room, with kitchenette inbetween. The splendid all round views and large shaded terraces make it an attractive holiday rental unit. The living room can double as a second bedroom, with a separate second ensuite.
The basement has a charm of its own, its low door heights and secluded north facing patio opening out from the bedroom providing shade and privacy in summer. Being largely below ground level it is wonderfully cool in summer (and never gets very cold in winter either). There is a fully equipped kitchen and bedroom with ensuite.
The main floor can be offered out complete, with spacious living area, dining space, central aisle kitchen and luxurious bedroom and bathroom.
Alternatively for bed and breakfast there is the bedroom suite, comprising bedroom with double aspect terrace, walk in wardrobe and luxurious master bathroom.
Secluded breakfast patio
What it’s like
We ran the business as a hobby, an interest and to provide a side income. We loved meeting new guests – we hosted parties from all over the world – from New Zealand to Canada, Poland to Spain, Georgia to Israel, Washington State to New Mexico. From 5 to 85 years old, though we tended towards adults only, especially in the later years. There were honeymooners, husbands recovering from serious illnesses and operations, couples renewing their vows, celebrating special occasions, new jobs, the last moments of freedom before children!
Daily breakfasts provided a regular opportunity to talk, for us to find out how others lived, what motivates them, and what they are seeking. We were able to help them enjoy their time at Panokosmos, and to experience some of the joys of Crete.
Cooking Food and Serving Wine
We love to cook and got so much out of creating and preparing new dishes, new offerings and new experiences. We wanted them to experience Cretan cuisine from the wonderful tavernas and restaurants around us, whilst we provided a more international fusion cuisine. We loved to use the fresh ingredients and the Cretan specialities in new ways, and to help to introduce new flavours and tastes to our guests.
We are keen wine drinkers, and every year spent two days at the Wines of Crete fair in Chania. Here we would sample from a good cross section of the 33 wineries on the island and choose our wine list for the year. The Cretans have made giant strides in wine making using the unique soil qualities and local indigenous grapes to grow and make some beautiful wines. Always popular too were cocktails, served on one of the pool terraces or around the garden at sun down.
In order to offer fresh bread daily, we found it easier to bake our own! Sourdough came later and proved very popular. We chose not to offer any menus but to find out what were our guests likes, and then surprise them every morning!
We have our cocktail recipe list, be it pina colada, rusty nail or daiquiri. Or some which we have invented ourselves based around tsikoudia, the local spirit. Inspired by a guest, we created “Sex in the Mountains” which proved to be a hit, made from the fruit of the prickly pear which grows in the gardens.
At a cooler hour in the evening, after the sun sets, and the lights begin to twinkle in the valley below, its a tempting offer to serve mezes. And to provide a bottle of wine selected to accompany.
We chose to cook in a way that fuses local recipes with a modern approach to bring out the best of the local ingredients. Again we found the surprise nature of our offerings was well received by our guests and enabled us to cook with ingredients which were fresh and to hand. We will pass on our recipe book, and the 3 and 5 course menus which we developed.
What it’s like
Helping Guests choose what to see and do
Over the years we have been here we have gathered guide books and maps. We have created walks in our area, compiled itineraries, lists of things to do. and made Google lists of favorite eating places, bars and attractions. These will all be available to you when you take over the villa.
Take a bracing hike in the mountains, or a stroll in a local mountain village; meander in shady pine forest, explore tiny out of the way chapels, skirt the sea shore and clamber around the cliffs – there are endless walking options.
Local markets with fresh produce – there are Google maps of the Chania street market days and locations. And if you dont want to cook your own, there are some great tavernas and restaurants to visit.
We have contacts with all the wineries local to the villa, and can introduce you to the owners. We have itineraries which take in wine tastings, and tours of the wineries and their vineyards.
Nature is all around – in an endless panorama of mountains, olive covered slopes, jagged rocky gorges, and the intense blue of the Mediterranean sea. We have drawn up walking routes near to the villa, which climb up into the moutains.