West Van home hospitality
The secret to running a successful B&B? Treat your guests as relatives. Gwen and Jim MacLean-Cruickshank know from experience. Before opening a B&B at their West Vancouver home, they were constantly having relatives stay with them.
Gwen’s family is from Prince Edward Island, so when they came, Jim, who has a history degree, loved playing tour guide with their guests.
“Vancouver is a great city to show off and the North Shore is an extra special part of it,” he says.
The couple seemed to have a knack for making visitors feel comfortable and when a neighbour commented about how much they seemed to love entertaining, they got thinking about a business idea. They decided to open their own B&B, Bay View at Green Gables.
At the time, Jim was in the telecommunications industry and Gwen was a teacher. “We discovered we liked this better,” says Jim.
That was 16 years ago. Since then, they’ve welcomed — and in many cases re-welcomed — guests from more than 80 different countries.
The five-star B&B has garnered many accolades, including top marks in Frommers guide to Pacific Northwest B&Bs. And last week the couple earned the West Vancouver Chamber’s home-based business of the year award.
“People are coming back time and time again,” says Gwen. “We really enjoy it, both of us love people and both of us love travel.”
Before guests check in, Gwen finds out about the their interests so they can offer custom-tailored ideas on things to see or visit or places to eat or shop. A former teacher, she also likes to help people learn more about the local history of the area.
Many guests arrive through referrals. One Dutch traveller arrived in West Vancouver with his son after being told about the tranquil West Vancouver B&B by another tourist when he was visiting the Iguazu waterfalls in Brazil. “Word of mouth is great,” says Jim.
Along with international travelers. they also get many relatives of local residents unable to stay with family during visits.
The experience of a B&B differs from other accommodation, says Jim. “Because they want to meet people and other guests who are traveling. It’s more personal than a hotel and you will get some local knowledge, which is invaluable.”
And with both Jim and Gwen trained in the kitchen, guests can also look forward to great breakfasts and postcard views of English Bay.
Of course while the couple gets their guests enthused about Vancouver and the North Shore, the reverse is also true. Recently they returned from China after some Chinese guests got them excited about visiting their country. They also recently travelled to Australia and Japan.
“A lot of B&B owners are travellers and get ideas,” says Jim.
For info, visit bayview-bb.com.