Sun-drenched Spain wasn’t the first place the Roberts family had in mind when they decided to quit the UK, the frozen wastes of Canada – or at least the chilly cities, had been where they intended to head, just as soon as Sizei finished her idea of leaving Albion’s shores didn’t go away. they decided that if they weren’t going to Canada then they’d head in the other direction – to Spain. but before doing so they did something that never enters the heads of nnety-five percent of people looking for a new life abroad – the planned, and they planned most thoroughly.
“We decided we wanted to make a complete change and thought we’d open a small rural house but do it differently to other B&B’s,” continues Suzie, “So before we even set off we had an idea of what we wanted so that we didn’t spend ages looking at places that were of no use to us.”
The couple chose Murcia region for one very simple reason. “We had a limited budget and the research we did showed that Murcia was developing but prices were still reasonable, or at least within our budget,” says Sean.
Early 2002 saw Suzie and Sean sat in a cafe in the old quater of Cehegín, taking tapas with a local estate agent who was waxing lyrical about how splendid their idea was and how the wonderful house he was going to show them would give them ten bedrooms to rent. “Well it, would if Snowhite and the seven dwarfs had wanted to stay and bring a couple of friends, but they wouldn’t have been much use to anybody of normal size,” says sean with a grin.
Nonetheless the house had pontential and the couple set about bringing that potential out. “We’d stayed in enough places were there was no-where to sit in the bedroom unless it was on the bed, and people on holiday want a bit of space to relax, somewhere private, ” continues Suzie. “We opened up the rooms to make three suites, each with its living room separate from the bedroom so it actually feels if you are staying in a small flat. “Which, in effect, you are.
Each of the suites is pleasantly furnished in modern rustic style where clients can relax with the wine provided on arrival. The comfortable house and warm welcome are only part of what visitors can expect. If you need a pampering hairdo, Susie has a salon in the town and if you need information about what to do, sean is the local encyclopaedia.
“We realised that if we were to draw the type of clients that particularly appreciated the style of accommodation we were offering we need to offer them something interesting to keep them occupied,” says sean, “so we began to arrange walking groups and painting classes, but then thought that what many people really like doing when they’re on holiday but don’t often get the chance, is mixing with the local community. With this being a rural area we arranged for people to spend a day during harvest time picking olives and almonds and to take the oil and nuts home with them, and because the area is a major wine producer visitors can complete their gastronomic break by sampling wines at the local bodegas.”
This shows the good planning and business sense that the couple put into everything they do – keeping their clients happy. Give them something to do and not only will they stay longer but you get one up on the B&B opposition. Their latest venture has been murder mystery parties which after a complicated start making sure the right person actually did do in the right victim, they are becoming an increasing success, and they are baing asked to organise them for other people wanting something special for a celebration.
“We said from the very beginning that we would make averything the best quality we possibly could,” says suzie. “It’s been the same with the rural houses, the salon and other things we’ve done. We put a lot of planning into each of them and a lot more work than most people realise, but it’s been worth it. We ended up with a few too many bodies at the first Murder Mystry party,” she says, with a giggle “but it was a great laugh and now we’ve got the body count down to one!” And whatever the Roberts turn their hands to next, you can be sure it will be done to the best of their ability, and always with the client in mind.
Suzie and Sean are giving the opportunity for two lucky readers of the rural house Casco Viejo absolutely free. The prize is for two nights bed and breakfast – with cava and chocolat waiting your arrival! (dates are by arrangement with the owners, and all extras must be paid for.) Simply fill in the competition form below. But if you don’t win the competition you can still have a great time in Cehegín, because suzie and sean are offering readers of casa rural a third night free when you book and pay for two throughout the month of (april) which can be taken anytime before the end of July. Bookings must be made direct to casa del Casco Viejo. If you would like an extra special weekend away, Rural house are holding Murder Mystery Weekends every month. the next will be Murder at Millionaires Mansion, when relatives will gather for the reading of a will – and someone gets more than he bargained for!