The Hotel Inspector pays a visit to guesthouse in the French Pyrénées

The Hotel Inspector pays a visit to guesthouse in the French Pyrénées

Hotelier Alex Polizzi received an SOS from a British couple running holiday accommodation in Ariège

Five years ago Mike and Joss Tucker swapped their comfortable city life in the UK for a farmhouse in need of renovation in the French Pyrénées.

Over two years they transformed the main house and outbuildings into a stylish family home and also created two bed and breakfast rooms, a two-bedroom gîte and a café. Their new guesthouse, Zero Neuf, in Gaudiès was originally targeted at cyclists wanting to holiday in the area.

Mike, 44, says: “I felt that if I was going to sell something then I needed to be passionate about it.

“I think probably I was led by my heart rather than my head.”

Joss, also 44, adds: “It was just jumping in with two feet.

“You only live once and we wanted to give it a go.”

However the couple, who moved to France with their two sons, soon ran into difficulties with a lack of paying guests and their savings rapidly running out. They decided to call in hotelier Alex Polizzi from Channel 5 show The Hotel Inspector to help them turn their business around.

On her first visit, Alex was impressed with the beautiful location, the décor, swimming pool and pretty brook in the garden, noting it was a really good place to relax.

However she was less impressed with the awkward space in the main house used for the B&B rooms and thought the couple should be opening up their best rooms for paying guests instead.

Alex presented Mike and Joss with a radical solution to their money woes, suggesting they move into the gîte next door during the May to August peak season and let out their entire family home.

She also recommended they offer meals to all guests to maximise their income and move away from just targeting a niche market of cyclists to trying to attract groups of families as well.

Mike said on the show: “The fact that Alex has come up with this idea to have groups stay within the main house and have young families I think is a terrific idea.”

Joss admitted: “It wasn’t our intention to rent out the whole of the house, but we have to try new things.

“I love the idea of the house being really full of people and animated, the garden and having kids running around.”

On Alex’s advice the couple also transformed the loft space into a family suite with a chic double, adjoining twin room and a sitting area to lounge in. Alex also helped them redesign their website to promote their accommodation to a wider group of people and encouraged them to offer meals at the café for passing cyclists too.

She summed up: “Cycling may not be enough to secure them financially, but it can still be a string to their bow, running alongside a new vision of letting their beautiful family farmhouse.”

Watch the show on My5


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