Achieving her goal by moving to Spain and opening a B&B, meet Helen Hares. Helen encourages you to come and enjoy her home by add Villa Andalucia to your staycation visit list for this summer.
I came to live in Spain for the healthy lifestyle and a warmer climate, I have MS and I always felt healthier when on holiday (I am sure we all do). I had timeshare in Nerja and every school holiday we would exchange our weeks for somewhere else in the Costa del Sol. I have always been a planner and I had set a goal of wanting to be living in Spain by 50. One day I needed a break from my husband and son and took myself off in the car and found the lovely village of Cómpeta and knew that one day I would live there. The Universe worked for me and 16 years later I was living in Cómpeta, and two years earlier than my goal!
Why is Cómpeta the place to be?
Peace and tranquility, you are away from the bustling crowds of the Costas (well usually) Spanish culture, at times you feel as if you have moved back in time enjoying their festivities. Friendliness, you walk along the cobbles streets and it doesn’t matter if it’s an old lady or gentlemen, a teenager or a small child there is always a friendly hello or goodbye, and they will want to chat if you have the time to do so.
What was your biggest challenge?
It was setting up the B&B and not speaking Spanish fluently. Paperwork, paperwork so much of it and the fact the Spanish 17 years ago did not understand the concept of a B&B, it tooks over 12 months and plenty of money to get it sorted, and these days all you need to do is register at your ayuntamiento!
We had a very good gestoria who at times got cross with the townhall. We had to have the place surveyed which was something we didn’t have to do when we bought it!
How do you spend your days?
I love running the B&B and meeting all the different nationalities that come to stay, sometimes breakfasts can take all morning, some guests love to hear how I came to live here and my life story of being adopted and finding my mother and brother. There are so many people who are adopted. I am able to pass my knowledge on of the area, what to see, where to go.
Guests like to walk around the gardens and several offer to do some weeding for me, and it’s lovely when they buy me a gift at the end of the stay to show their appreciation. I have plenty of plants given to me, and it’s a great way of keeping in touch with them, I send them photos of the gifts, and this spurs them on to book again, I have at least 50% repeat bookers.
After breakfasts, I am then checking on the pool and all the patios making sure they are clean and tidy. Doing admin work and keeping my presence on social media, to attract more bookers. I love and need my siestas, and my time to do some meditation, time for me.
Something you are grateful for during the past year?
During Covid, I have had time to learn about Instagram, twitter, Youtube and canva, I have done several business courses with my coach.
I now love doing lives on Facebook. Most importantly I have got to know loads of new friends through Costa Women and thoroughly enjoyed the Costa Women Pop Up Shop. Hopefully I am working with some lovely ladies and planning wellness days and retreats at Villa Andalucía.
If you hosted a dinner party at Villa Andalucia, who would you invite?
Right now I would have to say it would be my family, my son and granddaughter. I have missed them so much.
Cliff Richard would have to be one of them, I used to go to all his concerts before moving to Spain.
What is your secret accomplishment?
Accomplishment is buying my ex husband out of the business and having the willpower to run it on my own and make it even more successful.
“I am successful, and I will always succeed” because I am!
One thing you couldn’t leave behind when you moved to Spain?
My parents kept a pub and they had a big brass gong they rang at night for last orders. It has so many memories for me, I can hear my dad shouting “last orders please ladies and gentlemen”.
Favourite childhood book?
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe – the first book I paid for myself.
One thing you are looking forward to?
Going out and having a dance.
Something you would tell your younger self?
Don’t get married, I have done it twice and it’s not worth the hassle and money to get divorced.
Where can we find out more?
My Website: www.villaandalucia.org
And check out the Costa Women special discount at Villa Andalucia!
Thank you Helen!
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