Building and running a business may take much dedication, drive and focus however with hard work anything may be achievable. Sisters, Sarah Melton and Karen Atkinson have proved this. With plans to open a small hotel business they moved to Spain 15 years only to do so.
Part of the motivation for leaving the UK was to gain a more work-life balance and healthier lifestyle. The sisters heavily researched their prospective new venture; legwork went into choosing the ideal location and property to renovate. They settled on Torrox Village, where they found a hotel, which was the ideal size and location for them (10 minutes to the coast) yet in a white-washed village.
They far from knew anything about setting up a business in Spain or about renovating properties. However, after selling their homes in the UK, armed with a business plan, they were able enough to find individual experts in Torrox Village, a lawyer who offered support and with the help of some knowledgeable people and support from family and friends they began their journey into the unknown. It took over 4 years, being hands on, using their own personal funds before La Casa Hotel was open for business.
They came to realise almost immediately, they needed another revenue stream so utilising what they had from the Hotel, opening the restaurant side of the business to help creating cash flow. With Sarah’s experience in customer relations and Karen’s business background it offered them a foundation to create and build a business of their own in the competitive tourism industry.
In late 2013, a chance opportunity came up when they saw an article in the local newspaper asking for British hotel owners to apply to take part in a TV series. They grabbed the opportunity, applied and were short listed. They then were chosen to appear on the Hotel Inspector with Alex Polizzi offering the sister further exposure to Torrox village, La Casa Hotel placing them on the map.
This year in 2018 is La Casa Hotel’s 10th year since opening. Karen and Sarah are proud of La Casa Hotel and Restaurant, the brand they have built and what they have achieved with hard work. They continue to learn, listen to their customers, adapt and grow. the Jupital had the opportunity interview the Karen and Sarah to find out more about their journey to where they are today:
the Jupital: What do you both enjoy about your business the most? And why?
Karen likes to invent new recipes for the menu, which we change twice yearly; she is quite arty and has done much of the artwork in the hotel rooms. She is at her happiest when her new menus are in the making as she loves to experiment, we are all quite happy too as we get to eat them! Personally, I genuinely like to know about people, chatting is what I do best, much to my sister’s amusement! I also love we are in charge of the decision-making, although having your own business is hard work, it is also rewarding.
the Jupital: What truly makes La Casa Hotel unique?
We have an amazing team, which works at La Casa. Karen and myself are only the faces people see. We look after our staff treating them with the respect they deserve, developing their individual skills so they are happy in their roles. It is important to enjoy the journey in return they look after us by working hard to grow our business. Are we unique? Yes! We have a great product and great people so we are unique in our eyes!
the Jupital: If you reflect back on all your achievements of how far you both have come, which is the achievement which has impacted you the most and why?
We have gained the respect of the locals, we are proud we employ local young people in the area to improve the employment rates.
the Jupital: What words of wisdom might you suggest to get one started in the hospitality industry?
Research your business, be inventive and able to adapt to changing situations if they arise, enjoy what you do and work hard. If someone is thinking of moving aboard, rent first may be an option. We rented for 18 months whilst we looked for the project, thus offering us time to research the area, It also allows you to see seasonal changes especially important in the tourism sector, for example a busy bustling tourist destination in the summer may become a ghost town in the winter months. People often fall in love with the dream of living in the sun, however you need to wok to achieve the dream!….however, I am going to the beach today!
Karen and Sarah welcomes all to visit and experience the La Casa hotel in Torrox. To find out more click here.
How does a great hotel experience impact the holiday?