|I get quite a few calls from 50-something corporate types
who want to leave the "rat race". I myself am a 50-something person who left the
Chicago corporate rat race over a decade ago. Thus I can say with confidence this is a
wonderful lifestyle for corporate types who's children have left the nest. But speaking of
nests, can you protect, or better yet, grow your retirement nest egg by owning a small
Most definitely. Indeed I can't think
of anyone who could benefit more from owning a small resort than a 50-something couple
with management experience in corporate America. I have seen 50-something corporate types
buy a resort and in five years make far more money than they would have in the stock
market. And there are some serious tax advantages to owning small resorts.
Small resorts have little in common with a Bed &
Breakfast, Inns, or lodges. They are a breed unto themselves. Rather than guests staying
in one common building, they stay in separate cottages, they cook their own meals, and
clean their own rooms each day. The small resort experience is a personal one. Guests can
mingle and meet each other if they so choose, but are not forced to do so.
As I have said in other parts of this Website, I have also
seen people buy resorts and hate it, or lose their nest egg. It is like any investment
paying more than a 5 percent return. There is risk. It is not the lack of market demand
that poses the risk, it is how that market demand is managed that will make or break you.
The opportunity here is wide open for skillful managers. I no longer recommend small
resorts to anyone who has no substantial management experience.
If you have owned your own successful business, if you have
mid-level or C-level management experience, you can leverage your knowledge in this market
like few others who would buy a small resort. I am seeing a major change in the type of
persons who become successful resort operators, and it is those with management and
marketing experience who are doing very well. Of course there are a few savvy old-time
resort operators that few will catch up to in five years, but they are becoming a rare
About 15 years ago persons with little or no management
experience could successfully operate a small resort. Since about 1995 the competition has
become so intense within the American Hospitality Industry that only the truly experienced
do better than just make the bills each month. It requires the flexible open mind that
comes with real-world experience in tough markets.
Above all, it takes those who truly understand how to
successfully service today's demanding American Consumer. Skill in this area is essential
to generating positive experiences from the moment of first contact all the way to a
thank-you after check out. As skillful managers know, that positive experience must
continue from first contact to first phone call, through the entire stay, and beyond.
Resort owners who understand this chain of events are the ones who are making seriously
Good phone skills, a contemporary advertising effort,
ultra-clean rooms, and attention to detail will make or break you. Informed use of
technology is also paramount to success. It is a matter of understanding what the Consumer
expects, and being able to deliver those expectations at a profit. Sharp resort operators
are now using reservation software to generate financial reports and to track what is
popular with guests and what is not. How well can your skills pay off?
It is not unreasonable to expect to acquire a net worth of
one million dollars over a 10 to 15 year period of operating a small resort. I have
watched several resort owners do it in the last 10 years. Some joke about not being able
to afford their own property since it has quadrupled in value since they bought it. Yet
even if your wealth does not reach the million dollar mark you can still enjoy a very good
and rewarding return.
The beauty of it all is that beyond a few basics that one
must adhere to, the resort success is something you can tailor to your own ideas and
needs. It is like any other management project. Define your goals and go for it.
A resort is a great place to try out your own ideas of
"how it should be done". There are no committees, or shareholders, or boards to
impress to get approval on a new idea, or to report to. You hire or fire yourself every
day. Any success or failure is yours to enjoy 100 percent. The Frank Sinatra classic song
"I Did It My Way" can be your anthem.
In addition to making good money with your own ideas, you'll
enjoy a lot of personal freedom. If you wish, you can take four, five, or even six months
a year off. In other words, if semi-retirement is your goal, this is a great way to do it.
Will you enjoy the lifestyle?
It depends on what you need to stay entertained. If you are
accustomed to a sophisticated social life centering around the arts, upscale private
parties, raising millions for charities, etc., this is not the place for you. We do not
have a New York City social circle. Social life pivots around church and community events.
Keeping in mind there will always be a few people you can't
make happy, and that you will get some real jerks from time to time as guests, the main
lifestyle considerations center on whether you would enjoy serving your guests. If you are
the type who enjoys entertaining friends at your home, it is not a big leap to have guests
staying at your private resort, which is really just a big house. Because the resort is
yours, you can offer as little or as much involvement with guests as you want through
It helps to be the type of person who enjoys the Great
Outdoors. Fishing, hiking, hunting, canoeing, bird watching, nature photography, horseback
riding, and similar outdoor recreation is a major part of the Ozark tourism industry. So
are simple things like campfire events and outdoor concerts. People entertain themselves,
they are not entertained.
So there you have it. If you are seeking a rewarding, active
semi-retirement lifestyle, if you are looking for a way to leverage your hard-earned nest
egg, give me a call. I'll be glad to answer questions and lend insight on whether the
small resort lifestyle be a good one for you.
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