The Evolution of the TWG Guest House in Rosseau with AirBnb!

Doing My Own Thing!

The smell of my  “Vin-a-bon” cinnamon rolls and chelsea buns baking in the oven, combined with fresh espresso coffee brewing on top of the stove, filled the crisp morning air. Nick and Lynn, a young couple from Belgium, were in the front sunroom sluggishly rearranging their backpacks, preparing for their first canoe adventure into Algonquin Park.  Dinner of homemade pasta and mussels, eggplant parmigiana and foccacia from the evening before, still filled their bellies with content. However, it did not stop them from enjoying my morning spread of hot lattes and tastey treats.

IMG_0855

Homemade Chelsea Buns, Bagels & Granola

As I stood back and watched, recalling my own backpacking adventures when I was in my youth, I suddenly realized what I had created with the TWG GUEST HOUSE was a combination of all the things  I loved most when travelling.

  1. A place where the host was the owner. They were local, or at least well informed about the area.
  2. You felt like you were stepping into a person’s home and so you got a glimpse of their personality and home life.
  3. The food was their own. Freshly made and again reflective of their personality.
  4. The atmosphere was casual, where you got to meet the owner’s friends, family & even pets.
  5. The rooms were clean, comfortable and not pretentious.
  6. It wasn’t expensive.
  7. It was a gathering place, where people from many walks of life and from a variety of origins met, ate together, laughed and exchanged stories.
dogs 2

Iago & Willow

This is exactly what the TWG Guest House has become, a gathering place that is affordable, comfortable and personable, with good food to boot!

For years I have been hosting friends, visitors and many actors from my theatre company, all without charging them, because, well, I love doing it. But last fall when the actors returned to the city and suddenly I had an empty house, my cousin Lisa suggested that I list on AirBnB. Quite frankly I wasn’t even familiar with what is now the largest hotel in the world, a combination of all sorts of accommodations from urban condos to luxury recreational homes to campers vans parked on the street of  Brooklyn, New York.

So, after photographing my home, I joined Airbnb and within days I started getting bookings. At first I simply rented rooms and people would use my kitchen to prepare meals or go out for dinner and breakfast. To be honest I wasn’t really comfortable with this arrangement. However, during the fall, when there are fewer dining options in the village, I found myself offering to prepare food. Soon that developed from preparing coffee and toast in the morning to making full-scale dinners.

When I opened in fall ’15, my visitors were primarily Europeans here to see the cavalcade of autumn colours or to experience a final canoe trip to Algonquin Park. During the winter I had only a few visitors but as spring approached I decided to take on this adventure with more of a commitment. In addition to rearranging my rooms, I also added a full continental breakfast that includes homemade bagels, muffins of sorts, chelsea buns, cinnamon buns, granola, smoothies, crepes and a selection of coffees and teas. Of course, dinners too became a favourite and guests started requesting my  Italian specialties.

This year, what I found very popular, were young couples going to weddings at the JW Marriott, just a short ride down the highway and who didn’t want to, nor were able to afford the expense of a room at the resort. Also, I have had several parents staying who were dropping off, visiting or picking up kids at summer camp. Then there were the urbanites looking for a weekend getaway, and others; families, who were looking for an affordable way to experience Muskoka. My reviews, for the most part, have been excellent, except from those who were not comfortable with the cozy atmosphere and having to interact  with other guests. I suspect they have not travelled much.  I’m the first one to admit, the TWG GUEST HOUSE isn’t for everyone, especially the anti-social.

From my perspective the venture has been truly successful and beneficial. It has provided me with security while I write my next project. It’s given me the opportunity to test out new cooking and baking skills. But most of all, in a region of the province where the majority are longtime, permanent residents of several generations, it has assured me that Canada is still a nation that celebrates complex, wonderful and versatile individuals. This year I have welcomed members from every community; visitors from the likes of Germany, United Kingdom, Belgium, China, Italy, Spain, Australia and  several African and South American nations not to mention all parts of Canada and the U.S.

IMG_0584

A marriage proposal  while staying the TWG GUEST HOUSE 

As one guest commented “It’s not the Four Seasons!”, nor have I ever claimed to be anything close to it or any other hotel.  I used to describe the TWG GUEST HOUSE as a “BnB”, which in fact, I am not.  I am my own invention; a hybrid of a traditional North American BnB, an Italian penzione and a hostel found anywhere in the world. It’s a place where strangers gather, become instant best friends then leave feeling they have had the opportunity to experience the local culture, and maybe, a bit of Muskoka magic. It’s a place that has turned out better than I had ever imagined. #keepingMuskokaAffordable

Visit www.TwgGuestHouse.com

LIMITED OFFER!

STAY WITH THE PLAYWRIGHT & CHECK OUT THE TWG FALL THEATRE SPECIAL 

theatre pckg 

 

 

 

The Weekend Guy’s Guest House…Quaint Sells!

cottage simpleThis past September I finally did what I have been doing for years, but now I am charging. I opened a “pop up” B&B. Actually it’s more of a cross between a tourist house and a small inn. I call it The Weekend Guy’s Guest House, of course.

It wasn’t a big leap for me. I just finished hosting a house full of actors and filmmakers for nearly two months. The difference is I’m charging, and now most people only stay a few days, not weeks.

It’s actually a good way of testing a long time dream to open up a small inn, kinda like Bob Newhart did on TV.  I would get to play host and also have the time in my office to sit and write during the day. It wasn’t hard either as my house is set up for such a venture. I have my space at the rear of the house and my guests stay in one of three rooms up on the second floor and share a bathroom.

Of course the internet has made it easy. I literally set up on AirBnB one day and within 24 hours I had my first booking! Since then I have entertained travellers from Germany, Israel, Netherlands, United States and Canada. There’s a learning curve involved. As AirBnB allows you to list anything from an entire house, to a single room, to a yurt in the backyard, you also have a choice as to what amenities you offer. At first I chose to simply provide a room with clean sheets and towels, plus the use of my kitchen. TwinAlthough I didn’t provide breakfast I did make morning coffee. This bare bones service was really all people wanted at first. However, I quickly learned that, yes there were guest who were simply looking for a place to crash for the night, there were also travellers who saw the opportunity for an inside look in the local culture. Naturally, being part of that culture, I switched to local tour guide and  cook as I would invite those staying for a few nights to dinner without charging. Hmmm.

It’s been truly an experience and an opportunity to meet really nice people from all over the planet. But I will admit, whether it was done consciously or not, I used these first few weeks to ask questions regarding my price and what services I was missing. I quickly learned my price was two low and some people prefered locks on their doors. I also learned that I can’t rely on the local restaurants to always be open for my guests, plus, most listings charge a cleaning service…And boy do I know why!

Now with twenty-six paying guests under my belt since Sept 6, having worked up a routine for laundry and cleaning duty, plus staying on top my dog Iago’s early barking routine, I’m beginning to get the hang of it. I’ve increased my prices, (just a few bucks to make it worth my time and effort), plus, I’ve added a cleaning charge. (You won’t believe how many times I’ve washed the sheets in the last few weeks!) I’m now offering dinner and breakfast packages. But what I am really  looking forward to are my group packages. Inviting  cyclists, snowmobilers, snowshoers or hikers up for a two-day all-inclusive. I’m even looking at hooking up with the local spa and offering “girls weekend getaways”.

Sometimes living in Rosseau gets so boring…but to outsiders we are a quaint little village. Last week two delightful girls who are big fans of “Gilmore Girls” compared Rosseau to Stars Hollow! Not quite. Stars Hollow is a metropolis compared to this place…Still, people are willing to pay for quaint….so, line up! I’m open for business!

For details on The Weekend Guy’s Guest House vist http://weekendguy.com/Weekendguys_Guest_House.html