Post by João
It started with the serrated knife and ended with a bruised knee. Dinner for eight did go on as planned, albeit with a few cuts and bruises. With that, we wrapped up another day in the young life of minuvida.
It’s lion’s den, I tell you.
Back in February (it seems so long ago), we decided to throw ourselves into the fire and test the heck out of what we had so meticulously planned for two years – creating a lodging facility aimed at providing experiences, not just rooms to sleep. We invited friends and friends of friends to “beta test” the concept. We also opened up on some basic lodging platforms, such as AirBnB, and had almost 60 guests with over 70 percent coming through word-of-mouth and introductions/social media shares from all of you. We could not be more grateful.
So how did it go, you may ask. The good news: There IS demand for our concept (even enthusiasm). The bad news: It was a lion’s den. We had a baptism of fire. We learned a LOT! Rimi offered her “lessons learned” in a previous post. Here’s my (maybe more skeptical) take. But, hey, I’m realist.
- We are truly a startup so we have no schedules and work around the clock (exhausting and taxing for a husband/wife team, and our Azorean friends who love their social time and don’t understand that we can’t spend the day at the beach with them on a Saturdays and stay over until 2 a.m. barbecuing).
- Go where no human (or Azores noctule) has gone before. Case in point – our signature volcano vent-cooked meal and hike (we think we are the first people doing this on the island) has proven so popular that we just can’t eat any more cozido.
- Things will go wrong, and they did. We learned to have LOTS of cleaning supplies (and buckets) on hand when an entire family caught a stomach bug. Rimi deeply slashed her fingers during a gourmet dinner and I even stumbled to the steps with an entire tray full of desserts right in front of our guests. We pretty much had it all during these months of beta testing. A baptism of fire for sure, but the lessons were invaluable.
Beta testing is over and trough January we are running more or less as a B&B (fully licensed, thank you). We are even up on Trip Advisor. You can check us out at http://www.minuvida.com and make reservations on the site and check out suite photos and rates. The website is still best viewed on desktop but our app is coming soon.
In the meantime, life is good. At the end of the day, even with all the stresses associated with learning a new trade, we are really lucky to be living in a tranquil place away from the rat race of days past. It’s our new little piece of paradise. We only have to walk around our property to be reminded of why we’re here and the purpose of our business.
And that brings us to the future.
In January we hope to start a major renovation project that will catapult quinta minuvida into the next level. We are seeking the coveted “turismo em espaço rural” designation (basically a country manor boutique lodging facility) and will also build our new home in a current building on the property – and claiming back (finally!) our private space. We will run our full signature program (providing experiences, not merely a place to stay, through activities in food, outdoors and yoga built into each booking) and increase our amenities dramatically (how does a loaner bike program and on-site observatory sound?).
We also plan to hire at least a full-time person to help us out. We had some invaluable part-time help during the summer, so we know that when we double our capacity we will also need to increase our level of service.
Until then, keep spreading the word. We appreciate 🙂