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Forums  > Areas > Jalisco's Lake Chapala Region


Jan 18, 2005, 8:08 PM

Post #1 of 5 (1982 views)



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I am interested in any info regarding a Bed and Breakfast in Chapala. Is there much tourism in Chapala?? Is it possible to live on the salary one may get by owning a B&B. Is any one here familiar with mi casa B&B



Jan 19, 2005, 8:35 AM

Post #2 of 5 (1927 views)


B&B's: A Few Thoughts

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Yes, it can be hard to earn a living at Lakeside in the B&B business, but that can be said about any business here or elsewhere! The return on investment is often very poor when you look at what people pay to buy such places and then fix them up. Often there are only 4 guest rooms. The net income stream generated compared to the investment can be very small - poor return on equity. B&Bís here donít charge the $200+ per night as in the USA - itís more like in the $50-70 range, tops. Vacancy level in the off season is often high.

Itís better to view a B&B business at Lakeside as a form of supplemental income at best, or a hobby - and not plan on relying on it as your sole or main source of income.

To have a good location, the investment in real estate is often prohibitive. That Mi Casa Su Casa place in Chapala sat on the market for years unsold with asking price of about $80,000. One reason the price was so low was the location. First it is in Chapala - not a prime location for B&Bís. QQ used to be a nice upscale place, but they sold it off room by room. Lake Chapala Inn seems to be able to meet what little demand there is in Chapala. Second, the Mi Casa location within Chapala is very poor; itís not centrally located but blocks away from anything of even mind interest to a visitor.

Also, the market is now fairly saturated with ďupscaleĒ B&Bís now. For years there were just 2 or 3 places in Ajijic in the $60 range. Now there are several times that many.

Here are a few suggestions for any contemplating a B&B business at Lakeside:

1) If you have a large residence and can utilize part of it for a small B&B, itís more reasonable than investing in a property solely for this purpose. You would be using an investment you already have made but are under-utilizing. Also the incremental extra labor costs for cleaning and gardening will be less, as you probably already have a maid and gardener.

2) Open the food service up to the general public and promote it as such, even if only between the morning hours of 8-12. That way you can support underutilized kitchen investment and expenses when you do not have full vacancy. Otherwise you are supporting a kitchen when the place is empty, just in case you have a B&B customer. This way you can continue to offer a good hot breakfast to your guests, instead of succumbing to the temptation of going the ďcontinental self-serveĒ route that many end up having to do. The savings can go into your pocket and towards keeping room rates reasonable. Also you get synergy with each the B&B and food service parts generating incidental business for the other.

3) There is demand for budget accommodation at Lakeside. The $50-70 ďupscaleĒ market is now clogged with about a dozen places competing by offering in-room TVĎs, VCRís, video libraries, microwaves, telephones, Internet, full service restaurants, bars, health clubs, tours, airport pickup, lush gardens, swimming pools (but none heated that I know of), etc. There is more unmet demand for places in the $20-40 range. Keep it clean but simple in a not too noisy location, private baths for each room, offering a good hot breakfast and you will get business. People usually donít come to Mexico for the B&B , unlike in the USA where often the B&B is THE reason for their trip. At Lakeside people often just want a decent place to dump their luggage, sleep, and rest up between outings. Most donít come to hang out in the room watching TV and eating out of the microwave.

4) Get a web site, even for a budget B&B. Many inexpensive places at Lakeside lose business for lack of even a simple one-page brochure website. Out of town people will often choose a place just based on a good simple website, but probably will never know you exist otherwise.

5) Many successful places are an adjunct to another business such as a real estate office or restaurant. This has 2 advantages over a stand alone B&B. Labor costs are kept down because for many tasks the labor can be shared between the businesses. Also you get synergy with each business generating incidental business for the other.

The B&B customer profile at Lakeside is probably more diverse than in the USA where often they are looking for the ambiance of the B&B in a nice setting as the main attraction. At Lake Chapala, the customers are more diverse. They are typically of American or Canadian nationality but could also easily be Mexican or European. Some are strictly tourists, but many others are longer term seasonal visitors. And some are using the B&B as a place to stay while they hunt for a rental to live in a couple months. Others stay in the B&Bís while evaluating the area as a retirement destination or viewing real estate to purchase. Some are visiting friends or relatives who do not have space for them in their homes. Lodgers can be wealthy or on a budget. Most will probably be middle aged or seniors, but there are significant numbers of younger visitors. Some will be wanting to places which accept kids (or grandkids!) or pets. Some will be driving their own cars and will want secure off-street parking. Others will have rental cars and these they usually donít mind street parking. Many will not have cars at all. Most will be visiting to enjoy and explore the local area as opposed to just chilling out in their room.


Jan 19, 2005, 8:51 AM

Post #3 of 5 (1921 views)


Re: [JohnO] B&B's: A Few Thoughts

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Excellent post, John, thanks for taking the time to spell it all out. IMHO, you are 100% right about every aspect of the B&B business at Lake Chapala.

(This post was edited by esperanza on Jan 19, 2005, 8:52 AM)


Jan 19, 2005, 10:13 AM

Post #4 of 5 (1897 views)


Re: [esperanza] B&B's: A Few Thoughts

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A HUGE THANKS!!!!!!!!!!!! I actually thought of buying a large home to live in and maybe using it or part as a B&B.. More interesting we have family in Italy (Florence) who run two very succesful restaurants. They are always asking me about places like mexico or the carribean to open up in.. I will want to do more research on opening a restauraunt and what the best place would be..

Chapala does not really look like a touristy spot??

Thanks Again


Jan 19, 2005, 10:52 AM

Post #5 of 5 (1882 views)


Tourist Destinations: Chapala vs. Ajijic

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Chapala is very popular with the Mexican weekend day trip crowd from Guadalajara - thousands of them now come on Sundays especially since Lake Chapala has recovered. But most of them do not spend the night; they come out to stroll the Chapala lake front or picnic in the park.

Ajijic is more popular than Chapala with foreign visitors spending some time at Lake Chapala. Ajijic has more arts and crafts shops, events, slightly more upscale street vending, popular restaurants, B&Bís, and various other goods and services catering to foreign visitors and residents. Chapala, being the ďcounty seatĒ, is geared to more to the practical with more banks, government offices, bus station, a supermarket, a daily farmers market, etc. In Chapala along the lake front, especially on Sundays there are a zillion vendors catering to the day tripper tourists offering relatively inexpensive trinkets and wares of all kinds along with snacks and beverages.

Ajijic is the most popular Lakeside destination for foreign tourists looking for accommodation. Any demand in Chapala for Mexican customer accommodation is probably being met mainly by the large (by local standards) Hotel Montecarlo.
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