GEORGETOWN, ON—When Doug Rapien built an 8,000 square
foot family home on 96 acres near Georgetown, ON, he had no plans to
open a bed and breakfast.
But in early 2011, when he was downsized from his job as a computer
executive, he consulted Donna Messer of ConnectUs Canada about his next
steps. “I showed Donna the house and she latched onto this house like
you wouldn’t believe,” Rapien told CLN. “She kept asking how this house
could generate some revenue, and I kept saying, ‘It wasn’t designed to
But the germ of an idea was planted, and the Rapiens began to warm to
the idea. Then, Rapien’s wife, Beate, passed away suddenly in August
2011 and there was no question of Rapien going back to a demanding
full-time executive job that would take him away from the house for 10
to 12 hours per day. His wife had been the primary caregiver for their
disabled daughter, Teresa. “There was a need for me to stay home and
care for Teresa,” Rapien explained.
The B&B idea seemed to make more and more sense. But there was
work to be done. “As a computer executive, my jobs were always projects
with substantial responsibility,” said Rapien. “Initiatives focused on
financials, budgets and project plans. I started project managing this.”
Renovations started in October 2011 and took six months. “I renovated
the first three rooms, then the suite, and then the common areas. The
pool, dining room and living room were all redone. We changed the drapes
in the pool room as well.”
He perfected the art of bargain hunting. “I shopped in a very
structured way. For example, I saw seven of a certain design of wing
chair that usually cost $799 apiece at Sears. I got them for $149 to
$249. I paid attention and realized that Sears and Sears Home stores
change their showrooms on a staggered basis. I have nursing care for
Teresa in the evenings, so once a week I would take a quick tour. At
Liquidation World, I found the chairs for $150 apiece. I had to go to
three different Liquidation Worlds.” In the end, he purchased 14 wing
chairs at rock bottom prices. “It’s all about knowing what you want and
having patience,” he said.
Rapien views his situation as being “semi-retired.” Thanks to other
finances, he only has to replace some of his income. But, he notes,
“Ultimately … if I stay in the house, it has to make financial sense.”
That’s why he has set his rates high and doesn’t like to heavily
discount. Posted rates for the three spacious rooms are $176 to $192 per
night. His clients are primarily people visiting family in Georgetown.
He does offer a wedding package—all the rooms for $1200 for the weekend.
“There are no restrictions on day use. On the day of the wedding, they
can use the common spaces to get their hair done,” noted Rapien. The
B&B is eight miles from Terra Cotta Inn, and not far from six to
eight other wedding venues.
Rapien was already a good cook, but his wife was always the baker and
all of her recipes were in German. So with the help of a niece, Rapien
had the recipes translated and learned to bake.
Breakfasts include three-egg omelettes, fresh baked muffins and
croissants, plus fresh fruit. Rapien’s repertoire also includes
cheesecakes and tortes.
There’s not a lot of accommodation choice in Georgetown, and Stone
Edge Estate is rated No. 1 on TripAdvisor. That’s not always a good
thing, Rapien explained.
“I’m the first one they call. I don’t give half off and there are no
extra nights. I have to give them the bad news about accommodation
prices in Georgetown.
“Our focus is on Greater Toronto and the general area. We’re a nice
B&B; the only place in the area with a pool. A lot of people come
here just to get away.”