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  1. Those of you who have been following the "Big Adventure" thread at I started back in May 2015 will know our story already, but for anyone who has managed to miss it, here's a brief summary: In 2013 we decided we wanted to move from SA back to Europe. I'd been in SA for 8 years at the time (I was also there for 8 years as a youngster) but "Wendy" had been in SA for most of her life. We both have UK (& SA) passports but we really wanted to end up somewhere that at least has a guaranteed summer and the UK does not fit that criteria. Northern Spain was top of my list for several reasons, not least of which was access to Cycling in the Pyrenees Mountains. After a couple of exploratory trips to Spain, we ended up buying a "Barn" in the village of Guaso in the Aragon region of Spain. Guaso is a hilltop village in the foothills of the Pyrenees. It is a 5 minute drive away from the small towns of Ainsa & Boltana and thanks to its location on the warm south facing side of a hill, enjoys its own very favourable “micro-climate”. We are going to convert the Barn into a 4 Bedroom "en-suite" B&B that understands and caters for cyclists (although everyone would be welcome of course). We've had plans drawn up, planning permission granted and builders quotes obtained. The original plan to cover the cost of the renovation / conversion was for us to put in our savings and borrow the balance from the bank. The regional department of commerce carried out a favourable viability study for us & the banks and the local bank managers were happy with our applications. When the bank managers (we've spoken to several banks) sent our applications to their respective head offices it became apparent that it was not going to be as easy as we'd thought to secure a loan. In a nutshell: Pre the 2008 financial Crises, Spanish bank managers (much like bank managers in the UK and the US) lent money without proper approval to literally anybody and his dog, holding the property deeds as security. As the Crisis hit it became apparent that people had spent the money on all sorts of things and now couldn't pay it back. Half-finished properties were repossessed to be sold off, but the numbers were so large that the banks ended up with more properties than they could sell and the market flooded. (which is why we got our property for the price we did). The downside though, is that banks can no longer accept your property as security against a loan. That leaves us with two options: Option 1 is for us both to get full time jobs, which would qualify us for a mortgage. Option 2 is for us to look for some form of private investment. Unfortunately, for various reasons including language and the type of work on demand locally, Option 1 is just not viable. (Of course we knew that when we came here - the plan was never to have to look for full time jobs, the plan was for us both to run the B&B and associated services, which in itself is going to be a full time job for both of us!) So that leaves Option 2. To try and raise the funds we need via sources other than the high street banks. Now this is something neither of us have ever had to do before. We've both had various mortgages/loans over the years - but always through a recognised bank/building society or, in the case of vehicles, loan company. I know there are a fair few financial bods on here as well as a number of (small) business owners. What we're looking for (aside from a suitcase full of money) is any advice, on how to move forward. There are some things that we do already know or have already considered: 1) We do know that if we don't involve the banks then we can split our project into three stages (as I've mentioned on the Big Adventure thread). 2) We believe that one possibility for funding the second and third stages of the project would be via some form of "Crowd-Funding" (essentially a time-share type setup where people get a holiday every year (for themselves or a nominee) for a number of years using the finished stage(s) of the project) A downside to "Crowd-Funding" is the admin cost that the organisers take. Percentages vary anywhere from 5 to 9% of the total amount raised. 3) We know, because it was shown to be true on the Dept. of Commerce viability study, that this area is growing, our business plan is sound and we will succeed. . 4) We remain confident that buying the property we did, where we did, was a good idea. Almost everybody that I guide, regardless of where in the world they come from (from Brazil to New Zealand and everywhere in between), wants to see our barn and hear our story. They all love our place, the tranquillity of the village, see the potential in the property and encourage us not to give up! 5) The time we have already spent here interacting with visitors has taught us exactly what it is that people are after when they come here to stay. (Being cyclist ourselves, we already had a pretty good idea, but you can always learn a bit more). 6) We have realised that instead of running a B&B "with some cycling/guiding thrown in", there is actually a very big market for proper organised cycling holidays - both MTB and Road based. To that end we have spent time working with and forging relationships with, the local bike repair/hire shops, the local uplift taxi & bike services, restaurants etc etc and we now aim to provide, alongside a basic B&B service, full-blown guided cycling holidays..... Lots of ideas & plans and lots of enthusiasm. Maybe with the help of our Hubber friends we can work out a way forward from here. In the meantime, we're constantly promoting the area, I'm MTB guiding (and making friends with) some very nice people - some of whom have already made return visits, and we're both working enough to keep our heads above water and food on the table. . . . . Tranquilo - Todo a Tiempo. (Stay Calm, Everything in its Time) Tony & Andrea.
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