Meet The Business: Jenna's River Bed & Breakfast

We spoke to Jennifer, Founder of Jenna's River Bed & Breakfast in Guatemala - here's what she had to say!

When did you open Jenna's River Bed & Breakfast and what inspired you to do so​?​​ 

In 2006 I found myself looking after an old and dear friend of my father's. I rented a big house in Panajachel which had 5 bedrooms and bit by bit I started advertising room rentals. Mostly it was to fill the house with activity...we cooked dinners for friends, had silly Halloween parties and made a beautiful garden. That was the start! 

What makes your business different?​

My business is highly personalised to the needs of my guests. The remark I get most from my guests is that they feel at home here!

What has been the most rewarding part of opening Jenna's River Bed & Breakfast?​

The most rewarding part of having this business is when a familiar face arrives at the door - it's like seeing good friends coming to visit. Also, and maybe more so, I live in a country in which unemployment is a real problem - I'm very proud that I can employ 12 people. I have gotten to know their kids and it's incredibly rewarding to know that those kids are going to school and will hopefully go on to get great jobs!​

What has been your biggest challenge and how have you overcome this?​

My biggest challenge has been the process of buying my own piece of land and building my own Bed and Breakfast. Up until two years ago, I was renting other people's houses and fixing them up before being told that they would be increasing my rent! That's not going to happen any more! ​

What's next for Jenna's River Bed & Breakfast?

​I'm still finishing up the building - next is a pool and spa area. It's also the ideal location for destination weddings, so next year I will be advertising in that industry.

How has Tab helped Jenna's River Bed & Breakfast?​

Before Tab I was only able to accept a limited number of credit cards - Tab has changed that. Also, it helps my business that I don't have to pay the fees. ​I am so pleased that I can use Tab with my clients. It's fast, easy and I always get a smile when I ask for the selfie, that always surprises people!

Why is Guatemala a great place to visit?

​Guatemala has an enormous variety of activities - there are places to relax and enjoy the views, you can go kayaking, volcano climbing or horseback riding. There are places to go swimming or visit historic sites including the pyramids of Tikal. Geographically, it is spectacular and the people are very gentle an​d accommodating. 

Are there any trends / changes that you've noticed in tourism?​

There are a lot more people coming down to learn new skills, for example, Spanish lessons and back strap weaving lessons. There are also an increasing number of different types of retreats such as yoga and mindfulness getaways.

What would your advice be for anyone thinking about starting their own Bed & Breakfast?​

Be very patient! It takes time to get noticed and get the number of reviews. Make sure that you that you are the sort of person who likes to serve many different sorts of people. Know from the start that you cannot delegate your job - ultimately people will come to stay with you! Also,I've done this on my own and that's not ideal - it can be very taxing (getting help from people you trust is a great idea)! 

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