Hostel Territory

So we've set off to Barcelona to live the dream and open our very own hostel. We're keeping this journal online to keep everyone updated of our progress, adventures and mishaps navigating Barcelona's booming tourism industry, Spanish bureaucracy, and daily life in Catalunya.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

We Want to Be a Part of It... New York, New York!

If anyone is still out there, Lauren and my adventures in Hostel Territory continue in spite of our radio silence.  While we haven't posted in a while, we continue to operate our hostels in Barcelona (remotely) and have moved on to a new project in New York City.  This all started a year and a half ago when Lauren and I were finishing up our respective MBA programs - she in Philly at Wharton and I in France at INSEAD - and were struggling with the question of what to do next.  As luck would have it, an old friend of mine from undergrad contacted me with a keen interest in opening hostels in New York City.  Yada, yada, yada... fast forward to the future... Lauren and I are now a couple of months away from opening our first US-based hostel in LIC, Queens NYC, New York.

The America-based adventures have been of a different nature than the Spanish ones.  As we're a bit older, more experienced, and now operating in our native language, everyday situations aren't as comical as they were at the outset of this crazy ride.  However, our sense of humor and strange sister behavior ensure that our lives remain less than ordinary.  

You can check out the site for our first New York City Hostel here.  We estimate we are a month and a half from opening and are counting down the days until we get to once again welcome awesome guests from around the world.  In the meantime, we are busy with fun things like pastry tasting and wine selection for the bar that will be a part of this new project.  

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

In other news, this is what I'm dealing with at Duo right now.

The neighbor's balcony on top of our sitting room has been leaking since we've had the place. The neighbor is a little over zealous in watering his plants and refused to stop. Complaint after complaint went ignored until finally the ceiling caved in. Thank god it happened at 4am when no one was around, but now we have this gaping hole and all sorts of water damage to our beautifully painted walls and trims. To top it all off, we had torrential rain overnight so we've got buckets everywhere catching water. It's a little ridiculous that it takes a ceiling collapsing to get any attention, but they're repairing the terrace as we speak and hope to be done with all repairs by Friday.

Meanwhile, our neighbor wants to move all of his plants down to our terrace and wants us to water them. The building administrator actually brought up the idea of him signing a contract absolving me of any blame/damages in case I kill the plants. I'm not touching any of that with a ten foot garden hose.

In good neighbor news, we invited all of the neighbors to the hostel last night for a little open house and a few glasses of cava. We invited them before we knew the ceiling would collapse, hoping we could use the whole space and the terrace. Regardless, it was a great event. Everyone was excited to meet each other and see the hostel. They were all very friendly and warm, unlike some other neighbors we've had... Special thanks to Candi the door lady for playing hostess and introducing everyone.

Unbeknownst to Lee and I when we selected the name, Duo means many in Chinese. As in "This summer we have had duo Chinese guests."

Nationalities of guests come in waves. We had a period with a lot of Japanese guests, another of Brazilians, and now Chinese. We have theories about customer reviews being left in languages attracting other guests that speak that language or write-ups in guidebooks and blogs of these nationalities that we don't know about. This Chinese wave is significant and seemingly lasting. Glancing at the book, I have one day in September with reservations from Yaohua, Zhao, Qianli, Zhung, Wang, Pan, Qing, Hu, Mao, Chen, Feng, Nie, and Xia (my apologies if I've included a name that isn't actually Chinese....I'm working on it).

Know anyone who speaks Mandarin that's looking for hostel work??

Saturday, July 02, 2011

I've been reminded recently that I haven't blogged a lot in the last month. I did forget one big event - The 10th anniversary party for Comcerç 24 at the W Hotel.Lee and I are regulars at Tapas 24, the tapas bar Carles Abellan owns in our neighborhood. We're there at least once a week and know most of the staff. A few weeks ago Lee got a call from our friend that works there, Sham, inviting us to this party. The day of the party came, and we never got an invitation. Luckily, our names were on a special list. It was amazing.

The party started at 8pm and took place on the deck of the W overlooking the Med. There were countless food and drink stations set up serving some Tapas/Comerç standards (McFoie burgers, Callos, plates of Jamon, Bikinis) plus a few raw bars, a wonderful cheese bar, amazing giant paellas, passed plates, grilled sausages, a salad station, a Moritz tap, a huge wine bar, and three cocktail bars.

Lee and I were in heaven. For dessert, they brought out a giant table surrounded by a sheet attached to balloons. They removed the weights on the sheet, and the whole thing floated away with the sheet to reveal a beautiful spread of pastries set up to look like a giant birthday cake. I´ll post pics of this later. All in all it was a fantastic party. Thanks to Susana and Sham for hooking us up!
Great new find in El Borne- Picnic

Lee and I split fried green tomatoes stacked with feta and a corn salsa, a barbecue pulled pork sandwich, and a delicious strawberry crumble with homemade vanilla ice cream for dessert. Lee tried a chipotle bloody mary. It was all delish. It replaced a "tacky" bar on a cute corner of Comerc (their words). They´re open for brunch 12pm-5pm Saturdays and Sundays in addition to lunch and dinner during the week.

Happy to have another addition to our growing list of cool brunch spots in Barcelona. I think that brings us to a grand total of 4!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

When I find you in bed at noon in the girls' dorm with the dude you brought home last night in bed with you and ask him politely to leave, don't roll over and ignore me. I am not afraid to go into RA-at-a-catholic-girls'-school mode, stand there until your friend puts his pants on , and personally escort him out.
So they did in fact open a hostel right above us at Somnio. My feelings are mixed. I think competition and new business in Barcelona can't be a bad thing, but on the other hand, they've already caused us quite a few headaches. They issue all of their guests keys and don't have a 24 hour receptionist which bring up a number of safety issues. Additionally, one of their bathrooms leaked through our ceiling into a guest room. Because it was the middle of the night, they accommodated the guest upstairs but then tried to steal the rest of their reservation. On top of it, they don't have insurance so I'm not sure we'll see the repair money for our ceiling. Overall it irks me that we try to do everything legally and correctly, but we could make a lot more money and have much less headache if we just opened some unlicensed cowboy hostel. I'd like to think ours is a better long term plan.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Somnio Investigates -

The neighbors above us at Somnio have been hauling mattresses and ikea bund beds (identical to ours) up the elevator yesterday and today. A neighbor came to speak to Lee about the basic of opening a hostel a few weeks ago, but the conversation was brief and inconclusive. What does all of this mean? I'll keep you posted.

You know what they say about imitation....

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A few things to report today

1) Just posted a job listing, and we've had 27 responses in 2 hours. Not a new record but definitely a sign of the times.

2) Our cleaning lady just reported that the Mossos are all over our block and surrounding area indicating another big protest today. I haven't hear the helicopters yet.

3) In an effort to research our newly elected mayor, Xavier Trias the first non-socialist mayor in decades, I came across this article . I like what he has to say so far!

4) Pain in the Ash is BACK. This time it's a new volcano, Grímsvötn. 252 flights to Scotland and Northern Ireland have been cancelled so far. We have a few Scotish guests staying with us, so fingers crossed they can make it home in a few days.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I´m baaaaack. Lee has not been a very good blogger in my absence. So there are a couple of major things to fill you in on! I´ve finished a year of my MBA at Wharton, and Lee´s off to INSEAD for a one year MBA program in the fall.

We (pretty much Lee) opened a new hostel in Barcelona last month - Hostel Duo. Hopefully we'll do a delayed grand opening party soon. It's only a few blocks up from Somnio, and it's opened to fantastic reviews. Someone just a few days ago wrote ¨I've stayed in other places and this was by far the best hostal experience I've ever had¨ That's what we're going for! Here are some pictures:

School was good this year. I kept busy with wine club and student government stuff. I brought a group of about 20 Wharton friends to Barcelona over spring break for our 4th annual Calcotada and some time in Barcelona including a trip to Penedes wine country.

Lee did a fantastic interview en espanol for a show called Tots els Matins on Radio L'Hospitalet a few weeks ago. You can watch and listen here

Those are the big highlights from the past few months. I'll be in Barcelona all summer working at the hostels and preparing to hand over management in the fall when we both take off. We have a lot more employees now and an intern arriving in June! No big travel plans yet. I´m sure we'll have a few visits from Mom and Dad and other friends. We might finally make it to Ibiza and the other islands in July. Our cousin, Emily, is getting married in Arkansas in early August. It should be a busy summer!