Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Pros and Cons of Adding a Swimming Pool to your Homestay

Hi Everyone,

I thought I would write a small article on a question I get very often - Should I or should I not add a swimming pool to my Homestay? I have been struggling with this decision with my own homestay for the past month and I wanted to share with you'll some of my own thoughts.

Firstly, the Positives:-
1. Many more inquiries. We see this everyday when talking to our customers. Properties with swimming pools get more interest as compared to those without. In fact we have found in our surveys that one of the reasons that people prefer resorts - both families with kids and corporate groups - is that they have a pool.

2. You can charge more. This is another certainty when you add a pool. You will definitely be able to charge more for the property and people will gladly pay for the same.

3. Less dependence on season. This is very important. With a swimming pool of your own, you are not dependent on the season and your property is a self-contained tourist attraction with people being able to enjoy themselves within your property. Especially true also for beach properties and mountain properties where in monsoons the sea may be a bit rough or else it may be raining heavily and so treks are not so viable.

4. Customers enjoy themselves more leading to better reviews and them telling others. Again no doubt about this. A pool is something that is not very common for the average person and usually a good time is had by all. People who have a good time end up telling their friends and you get more repeat business.

5. You and your family get to use the pool.

Ok. Now to the cons:-

1. Cost to build and maintain. This is not a trivial investment. A decent sized pool as per my calculations would cost around 10 Lakhs to build and is a source of recurring expense to be maintained, cleaned etc. In addition if it is not maintained then it will end up becoming an eyesore and destroying the look of your property. As such, this is a decision which must be taken with care.

2. Having to sacrifice the lawn. The pool with hardscaping around it will take up a lot of place which otherwise could have been occupied by your nice lawns. A nice lawn is very useful for some large groups - esp. weddings, mehendis etc. and if building a pool is going to mean doing away with the lawn then I would caution against the same.

3. Risk. In india you will get a large number of visitors who will not know how to swim or for whom the experience of having a pool at their disposal is an overwhelming one. It will become necessary to police the pool and ensure that someone is available to rescue anyone in trouble at short notice. This in my opinion is something that is a big risk and worry for the holiday home owner to take on.

4. Added Tension and need to create rules. Adding a pool and keeping it open for outsiders will mean you need to protect yourself by framing rules and ensuring that all visitors sign the rules so that you protect yourself. Some rules can be such that kids are allowed to swim only if adults are already swimming, no food or drinks within the pool, pets not allowed inside the pool, no diving in the shallow side, proper swimwear to be worn and guests to take a shower before they enter the pool.

So in closing, this is a decision that must be taken with a great deal of thought and caution. What have I decided to do?

I have decided to install whats called an over the ground pool. An over the ground pool is basically an large pool that is sturdy but made of synthetic material and can be dismantled. It can be installed fairly quickly (1hour) and you can take it out when the weather permits and install on top of the lawn and take it out whenever you have functions. I have decided to import the same and install it and will put some pictures when it arrives so the rest of you can also see how it looks. The cost has worked out to about 4.5L inclusive of the shipping costs and my estimates of customs duty etc. in India and the pool is a very large one capable of handling 20-30 people at a time. Do send me your feedback if you feel I have done the right thing / wrong thing / anyone else has any other experiences they would like to share.

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