Mum to Boutique Hotels – Rachel Webb
Rachel’s story is one of many inspiring successful talent discoveries women make while at home bringing up their children. Hers is a testimony to so many ways parents can still achieve career fulfilment and still be there for the family. Sometimes we are carried away by the prospects of building a career in a traditional corporate employment while neglecting opportunities that present each day for self discovery and real success. For International women’s month, I hope Rachel’s story inspires you to think more openly.
I moved from Devon, in the UK to really rural, inland Andalusia with my husband and two young sons in 1996. A new life, a new language, young kids, a new house, all challenges that kept me motivated and busy. Not being able to speak Spanish with my new neighbours, mostly older people, was at the same time frustrating and motivating. My boys, just five and three, starting picking up and using the language far quicker than me. But I was always busy. As time went on the newness started to pale, not being able to really communicate started to make me feel very alone and isolated.
Son number three came along in 1999, at least my dog was a girl! I occasionally jotted down thoughts, wrote a couple of stories for young children, one of which I entered into (free) competition and was shortlisted in the top ten. The top 300 out of over 3, 000 entries, what a boost. I gave English lessons to Spanish kids at home. I learnt a lot of Spanish through them paying me for classes!
Then some friends suggested we bought a house between us to renovate and then rent it. Prices were ridiculously low then, we paid 13,000€ for a three bedroom house and garden with pool. They bought the house, we had a loan against it for the materials to renovate and did the work. Another challenge and fun project. The boys in the dip pool, hubby did the building, electrics and plumbing, me planning, varnishing, painting, gardening, sewing and learning Spanish listening to my kids playing with the local lads. When the house was ready to rent, which took us 18 months doing it all ourselves, it was then time to market it.
I began a blog intending to promote our rental house and the area. Jaen, ‘my’ province was (and still is) one of the least known provinces out of the eight in Andalusia. That was the beginning of my writing and blogging. As the boys got older we became the inspectors in Andalusia for a popular printed campsite guide enabling us (to escape and) explore Andalusia. I then blogged about places we’d been. After visiting some beautiful little hotels for a drink or lunch I began sourcing them and planning our campsite inspection route around the hotels I wanted to visit and write about.
Then the idea of a blog just about great places to stay excited me. My ‘Blogger’ Andalucia Explorer blog gradually gained momentum, got me invited on blog trips and my Luxury Spain Travel blog on ‘WordPress’, which I began when luxury was nowhere near our possible expenditure, from which fam/free/press trips started, slowly, to become a reality which enabled my love of small Spanish hotels to have its own space, which has now become Only Spain Boutique Hotels as a seperate website.
Never give up. Just this year I was debating whether to let Luxury Spain Travel (LST) go and concentrate on the other two. When I was asked to visit a hotel, I wrote a post for LST and on the back of that post got invited on a Spanish press trip, yep finally my Spanish is pretty good, to a luxurious private estate, if only for one night.
And now, as well as the free stay, I’m charging boutique hotels to be on Only Spain and it is a yearly plan, renew every year to stay on the site. So far this year I’ve visited, had a complimentary stay for hubby and I, three lovely hotels, and at the moment I’m in talks with two more.
From a thought, a wish and then action I’ve learnt, grown, been disillusioned, given up, got up and got on with what I want to happen. Nobody else wants what you want and nobody else can make it happen for you.