Do you dream about moving to your favourite holiday destination?
We have all fallen in love with a holiday destination. Gawped in estate agent windows to see what we could afford if we cashed in, and talked endlessly about how we could make a new living away from the daily grind and commute.
So with the Winter blues upon us, we thought it would be a good time to revitalise your dreams and look into the stories behind some of our Further Afield owners who made the leap. We also asked them whether being gay or lesbian was an issue in their decision-making or their new life.
MYLES GREGSON – RAINFORD
ALMOHALLA 51, ANDALUCIA, SPAIN
I had lost touch with an old friend I spent time with in Spain as a teenager; when he heard I had moved lock stock and barrel from London to Andalucia, his response was why had it taken so long….of course it was always going to happen. Spain has been a constant in my life, and once I met my now husband, it became a part of his too. It´s where I feel most at home, and without sounding all Life in Provence, the most complete. The dream was a long time in the making, these things don’t happen out of the blue, but when the time was right, the property market in London high, the one in Spain low, we just happened to find the right place.
I had grown up between the western Costa del Sol and the UK and when I turned 30 I decided I wanted to have a small place to call my own. I ended up with a small townhouse in northern Malaga province, over the mountains and into the olive groves and it became my first step on the Spanish dreamboat. It is called Archidona. I nurtured it as a holiday escape for several years, and then when I met the H we used it every month, me enticing him into a world of rural Spain yet not too far from the bright lights either. We sunbathed in the summer and huddled in front of the fire with red wine in the winter, one foot in Spain, one foot on the London treadmill and the corporate wheel. Heady excitement on Friday afternoons on the late flight, jaded on a Sunday looking to the week ahead back to Heathrow. Something had to break.
So after seeing more properties than I care to remember, we saw something that clicked, it was the last one we saw. 5 minutes walk from the holiday home ,in the historic quarter, 2 adjoining houses from the same family, just years, if not months from collapsing and crying out for love. In a whirlwind, the London house was sold, the job ended with a fortunate redundancy package, and the H had a guaranteed 6 months extra of work until we started the build. Sometimes things work out after a lot of careful planning.
We soon became a source of intrigue and interest amongst the locals. Of course we were known to some, but not the authorities. We were suddenly offering up a proposal to the town of an increase in tourism and somewhere for people to stay and enjoy the stunning area in which we live we. As two guys, there has never even been the lifting of an eyebrow. The Mayor is gay, his partner is also a councillor, as are two other gay guys working there. OK, so this is unusual, but we´ve never felt more integrated and as such were supported along the way.
There was a vast amount of paperwork, quotes to organise, architects to manage, licenses to arrange, but it happened, and we started work transforming the properties in October 2011. Using local builders we worked side by side project managing the build down to every last inch of how we wanted it. You can´t do it any other way. We made friends, wondered many times what on earth had we done, loved it, hated it, cried and drank and smoked too much, but we eventually opened the following September to disbelief, pride and exhaustion at what we had achieved.
We sit in the top 5 in TRIP ADVISOR AS BEST B AND B´S to visit in the region, we love what we do, thrive off our guests and take pride in our offering. If you have a dream, and some are out of reach, then follow it where you can, take risks, jump off the edge a little. It´s not for everyone and some people like to watch from the stalls, but if you´re not a watcher, then go on, you might surprise yourself.
HELEN AND ANNE
ORIEL MILGI B&B – ST DOGMAELS, PEMBROKSHIRE, WALES
The first thing to say is that we didn’t choose St Dogmaels, it chose us. We’d been living in Cardiff for 17 years and wanted to escape the city. We loved West Wales for its remoteness and beauty, having holidayed here for a few years previously. When we started looking for properties we knew that we wanted to be in Pembrokeshire, but weren’t sure where to look, until our estate agent suggested St Dogmaels.
The first time we visited was to view some houses and we were blown away by the village and its location in the grounds of the ruined abbey. Situated on the River Teifi, St Dogmaels is only a 20 minute walk from Cardigan and a 40 minute walk from the dune-backed, mile-long stretch of ‘Poppit Sands’ beach. We viewed 5 houses and put an offer in two days later.
Before we moved we had obvious concerns: was it too remote? Would there be anything to do? Would we be accepted in a very Welsh-speaking part of the world? We shouldn’t have worried. We’ve met a community of wonderful, creative people, who have been welcoming, kind and supportive. It’s very different from what we’ve experienced before, the pace of life is slower, time is a commodity: if somewhere is quiet, they’ll close and have an evening off, meeting up with friends or sitting in front of the fire with a glass of something and a book.
The best thing is we haven’t even discovered half of what’s on offer in this wonderful place. Aside from the tasty local food, the area offers an abundance of wildlife – the largest pod of dolphins in the UK, seals, choughs and red kites; and the All-Wales Coast Path (voted the second-best coastal destination by National Geographic magazine.) We wouldn’t LIVE ANYWHERE ELSE.
WILLIE DOCTO & GREG TRULSON
MOOSE MEADOW LODGE, VERMONT, USA
We met in 1992 at a gay-owned log home B&B in the hills of West Virginia. Little did we know that four years later we would be moving to Vermont to own our their own log home B&B. It was always our dream to run a B&B, but we expected to do it in our retirement years.
Greg’s employer at the time, IBM, decided to expedite that process by transferring him from Washington, DC to Vermont. Leaving his job as at the American Bankers Association, Willie took a leap of faith and moved with Greg. We searched for a house that we could turn into a B&B. Willie would run the Lodge while Greg continued with his day job.
Starting a new business is always challenging, especially if you’ve never done it before. We needed to hone our business skills, but also to create an ideal product. One of the first things we did was to take a class offered by the local chamber of commerce, which included experts in financing, marketing, insurance, permitting, and planning. We also looked at what the house needed: a new roof over the deck, new doors, private bathrooms, windows, landscaping and creating the “wow” factor.
We still remember how nervous we were to welcome our first guests, but we grew into the the job and the business grew along with us. It probably took about three years until we saw that the business would actually start to grow. Targeting a particular niche, such as the LGBT traveller, certainly has been a tremendous part of our success.
We were also fortunate to be located in a progressive State that welcomes the entrepreneurial spirit as well as equality. Vermont was the first state to legally recognize civil unions, which helped put our business on the map at an early stage. We enjoy welcoming all people – no matter the sexual identity, race, age, and even those who are high-maintance. We love entertaining. We love sharing all the beauty that is Vermont and we love helping people create lasting memories.
Willie Docto and Greg Trulson, own THE MOOSE MEADOW LODGE, Central Vermont’s only luxury log home B&B in Duxbury, Vermont. They have hosted over 330 civil union and gay marriage ceremonies since 2000, including the state’s first gay marriage ceremony on September 1st, 2009 when the marriage equality law took effect and the first military wedding on September 20, 2011.