The house that Jack built:
A winning B&B formula
A winning B&B formula
In this, the first in an occasional series on B&Bs and guesthouses, we chat to Jack Hogan. His four-star Manaar House consistently features in the top of the pops.
At time of publishing it ranked No. 2 on TripAdvisor, an online travel and tourism booking platform. The ranking was based on 298 guest reviews.
Booking.com, another major platform, gave Manaar House a rating of 9.4, based on 152 reviews.
Some achievement in what is a fiercely competitive sector.
There are 169 registered B&Bs and guest houses in the Umhlanga Community Tourism Organisation region, which includes Durban North, Umhlanga, Umdloti, Tongaat, Verulam, Mt Edgecombe, La Mercy and Westbrook.
Leaving aside lockdown times, business has been brisk in the more than 20 years he and partner Mark Tomlinson have been running their B&B. (It also has a two-bedroom duplex apartment available either on a self-catering or a B&B basis)
Occupancy rates for Manaar House, named for the Umhlanga Rocks road where it’s located, average 85 percent.
In telephone interviews and in a brief sit-down at Manaar House’s comfortable poolside patio, Hogan told how business took off from the start.
“The first Christmas we made R30 000. We thought, ‘There is money in this!’ and started extending Manaar House, adding bathrooms etc…”
He’s always travelled a lot himself for business and pleasure and learnt a lot from staying at other people’s places.
Hogan, Tomlinson and their team make it a point to welcome every single guest personally.
“We have a lot of returning guests. We are on the preferred list for Unilever and Rennies Travel,” he said.
Leisure travellers account for about 70 percent of business and of these about 60 percent are South Africans.
“We’re not the biggest or best, but we focus on customer service… you learn by your mistakes.”
When he started a second career as a B&B owner, Hogan was 55. Today he is 69 and looks back at his time in the tourism and hospitality industry with great fondness.
“The B&B plays a big part in our lives. We’ve made wonderful memories and wonderful friends,” he said, mentioning some of the personalities who have become regulars and friends.
Invitations have followed, including to weddings in the Cape, the West Coast… Paris.
“It’s rewarding,” said Hogan.
- Is there something exceptional or special about your registered B&B or guesthouse? Perhaps your hospitality industry business is particularly unusual or worthy? If you would like to have it featured in Umhlanga Tourism’s regular blog or monthly newsletter, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org .