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buying for a bed & breakfast tourist/fall colors business

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buying for a bed & breakfast tourist/fall colors business

Hello, curr live in CO but aft caring for mom in NH 2005, really miss it, the coast of ME etc. I am looking at property fixer uppers in Northern NH, but don't know if they are too far north for the tourist/fall colors excursions most people from MA or NH would make. Towns like Berlin, Northumberland, Grafton and others (paper mills but the one in Berlin, as I have been told, has t closed). I am more familiar with seacoastal areas and routes but as everyone knows buying a home here for B&B would be far out of reach in most cases. So, are these towns just too remote or what is yr take on this? I don't want to spend a mint renovating just to have NO biz. Would not winter over. I will look into Vermont if you have knowledge of some towns that are lovely and r e is not outta sight! Take care and appreciate the input. esp from those living in NH and ME, VT

Antrim, New...
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1. Re: buying for a bed & breakfast tourist/fall colors business

The area you are referring to is often referred to as "North of the Notches", the notches being Franconia Notch (I-93), Pinkham Notch (Rte 16 past Mt. Washington) and Crawford Notch (Rte 302 between Glen/Conway and Twin Mountain/Carroll. The good news is, you'll probably find much better deals there. Bad news is, most people don't know that area exists. That said, there are many successful inns, B&Bs, resorts as well as cheapie motels throughout that area.

In the interest of making a good investment and not disappointing yourself, I would recommend spending some time in the area, especially in fall, but maybe in each season. Get to know the establishments that have been successful. Do some comparison shopping both sides of the notches.

The whole state is four season recreation, so don't concentrate only on fall colors. A few things to know. Fall colors are earlier up there by about a week, compared with below the notch. Even later farther south in NH. No particular advantage or disadvantage. The season just spreads itself out.

North of the Notch is where winter is really winter. The snow flies earlier, is deeper, and stays longer. The North Country, as it is also known, has a lot of snowmobilers who come up. There are a lot of trails. Also a lot of cross country skiing as you get out of the higher elevations of the Whites. A lot of lodging also caters to White Mountain skiers.

The woods up north are beautiful, extensive and desolate. When the snow melts, it attracts outdoorspeople for fishing, hiking, off road motor sports, hunting, wildlife watching, etc. It is prime moose watching country. In most places they are a common sighting. The north country is a unique area that attracts the vacationer that does not want to be in the middle of crowds.

Check out towns like Gorham and Berlin, as well as the smaller towns of Shelburne, Randolph to the east. Moving to the west, look at Jefferson, Bethlehem, Carroll/Twin Mountain. These are the towns you pass throuogh on the east-west route. Look at the towns from Franconia Notch up through Littleton, including Franconia, Sugar Hill and others, as well as Lancaster, Woodsville and other towns to the north. All of these towns draw vacationers that may be centered on the Whites, but prefer the lesser crowds and more unique or unexpected offerings.

Personally, I think that the north country has a great future. If you make a good purchase and don't expect to get rich quick, you may find that you have made a wise investment. Vacation property and business prices in the Whites and south are so costly, and the congestion is increasing, that the north country is sure to benefit. North country folks pride themselves on their remoteness, self sufficiency and endurance. So they are not looking for out of towners to come and transform their secret piece of heaven. But they are not opposed to joining the modern world a bit more and boosting tourism in the process. This is a great area with great people. Good luck.

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2. Re: buying for a bed & breakfast tourist/fall colors business

Where ever you buy, be sure there is enough business during other seasons as well. You can get top prices during foliage, which happens earlier in that area, but won't be able to command the same prices from snowmobilers (if we get enough snow) during the winter. Not sure, but I think VT real estate is probably a little pricier than NH. If it were me, I think I would subscribe to a couple of different newspapers around the area and maybe a state one to get a feel for the area, its people and politics. People come to NH from all over southern New England and New York and New Jersey on a regular basis, but you don't want to be too far away for them to make a weekend trip. We can talk further off forum if you like.

Southern New...
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3. Re: buying for a bed & breakfast tourist/fall colors business

I have to agree with the other posters. Inns and B&Bs here in New England early spring or late March/April can be iffy. Other than that there is Summer, Foliage & Skiing (or Snowmobiling) seasons. All of those you need to be open. "North of the Notch" means less drive by drop in's since there is less traffic therefore less spur of the moment biz. Lakes Region may be more four season. Rule of thumb for purchase - closer to Boston property = pricier and further from Boston = less pricy (except on Maine Coast where all bets are off).

Strafford, NH
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4. Re: buying for a bed & breakfast tourist/fall colors business


what an absolutely wonderful post..you said it all.

Gorham, New...
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5. Re: buying for a bed & breakfast tourist/fall colors business

Hello! I own The Mt. Washington Bed & Breakfast in Shelburne, NH - check out my website and then if you'd like email me or call me and we'll talk. I get a lot of drive by business but have a harder time convincing folks that they really don't want to be in North Conway. Our summer season starts around the 4th of July - later if it's rainy as it was this year and last. We get a small break between summer and foliage after Labor Day Weekend and then it's usually crazy until the third week in October - after foliage it is dead until ski season starts - and the past 3 or 4 winters have been hideous as far as snow is concerned - they can make it for the downhill skiiers but not for the cross country skiiers or the snowmobilers - so business has been way off during the winter season. I get folks from all over the world - but part of the problem is convincing them to spend more than one night as they are on a whirlwind tour of New England - one night here and one there.

The other issues are staffing (not easy to get folks up here - especially if you aren't busy enough to keep them year round), and having suffiecient funds to maintain an older home - new roof, painting, plumbing, heating, oil costs, frozen pipes, etc.

I LOVE being an innkeeper - I can't think of anything else I'd rather do - but you definitely have to be prepared and have good support networks.

Contact me if you'd like to chat further and good luck with whatever you decide to do!

Peterborough, NH
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6. Re: buying for a bed & breakfast tourist/fall colors business

You give no details about how many rooms you want and whether or not you plan to have a lot of help or work the place yourself. Do you expect to make money from this or is it just a hobby for the high seasons in New England.

I strongly suggest you contact an organization like PAII (Professional Association of Int'l Innkeepers) or the local B&B associations in NH, VT, or ME. They will have a lot of good information for you and can help put you in contact with experienced people.

I don't consider myself an expert by any means but there are a lot of things to consider. Do you want to purchase an ongoing business or start from scratch. If you plan to start from scratch converting a single family home, find out what the local requirements are regarding staircases, secondary egress, fire alarms and the needs for a fire sprinkler system (NH State requirement), and of course ADA rules like ramps and grab bars in rooms for handicap accessibility.

If you plan to buy an ongoing business (definitely the easier route), B&B prices do tend to be inflated a bit (compared to their revenue potential). The rule of thumb is the more rooms you have the better your chances of breaking even or making a profit...and of course a lot of long days and sweat equity!

I wish you luck but again I highly suggest taking a seminar or two and contacting the local associations in the states you are interested in doing this.

7. Re: buying for a bed & breakfast tourist/fall colors business

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