Paul and Tania Slijper opened the nine-bedroom Hotel L'Avenida in Soller, on the north-west coast of Majorca, in 2007 after extensive renovation work. They share their experiences with Janet Harmer
Can you describe the style and setting of the Hotel L'Avenida?
L'Avenida is a small luxury hotel with a bistro carved from a 100-year-old mansion house in the UNESCO protected Tramuntana mountains of Majorca. We achieve an average occupancy of 87%, with most of our guests coming from the UK, Germany and the United States. Our six members of staff include five local employees and one from the UK.
How do you divide your roles at the hotel?
Tania looks after guest relations, staffing and accounting, while Paul is responsible for the food and beverage, the chef and maintenance.
What encouraged you to open your own hotel in Majorca in the first place?
The beauty, diversity and climate of the island.
How long did it take you to find the property - and how many other properties did you view along the way?
We saw only one other before falling in love with the old crumbling building, which dates from 1910 and is a classic example of modernist architecture with a grand ornate staircase and gloriously proportioned rooms with high ceilings and wall frescoes. It was designed by one of Gaudi's protégés.
Why did you settle on Soller as a good location?
Soller has a longer season than other parts of Majorca due to the walkers and bikers that descend on the town from February.
What were the biggest struggles in getting the hotel open?
Language and red tape, all the normal things that can get you down when living overseas.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a British couple running a hotel abroad?
Advantages - you see the market through different eyes and have a greater determination to make things successful. Disadvantages - being accepted by the locals, which may be due to jealousy.
What are the major challenges in running the hotel today?
Recessions and natural disasters (like ash clouds).
What do you like about living and working in Majorca?
It is nearly always sunny, we go to the beach at weekends and eat outside.
Is there anything you dislike?
Not having an M&S nearby!
How do you think the experience would have been different if you had launched a hotel in the UK?
We would be working 12 months a year. In Majorca the season is only nine months long. Perhaps we would have needed to exploit a restaurant a lot more in the UK.
Do you plan to return to live and work in the UK?
Perhaps as the kids get older and need a UK education.
Is there a strong ex-pat community in Majorca and, if so, how has it impacted your business?
Very strong, but it doesn't impact at all on the business.
background: Paul and Tania Slijper
Both language graduates, Paul and Tania Slijper have the ideal background to work abroad.
Paul is the one with the hotel experience having worked in marketing for Orient-Express Hotels, the Millennium hotel London Mayfair and Golden Tulip Hotels. He has also run Vanilla, a retail based interior design business in Brighton, providing him with the experience to create Hotel L'Avenida.
Meanwhile, Tania's background in advertising - she ran client accounts for NatWest and Lloyds TSB - as well as running her own financial services business, have proved invaluable in the day-to-day running of the hotel.
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