Bostrom’s Bed & Breakfast, which has been welcoming guests for 7 years, is set in the gorgeous coastal village of Ucluelet on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. This 3-room inn is just steps away from the beach where travelers can enjoy a variety of activities on land or sea including kayaking, swimming, whale watching, surfing, fishing, hiking, biking, scuba diving, snorkeling, and much more.
With three levels of decking at the inn, guests enjoy pristine ocean views and can often spot humpback whales from their own guestrooms. And those stunning sea mammals are just the beginning of the wildlife that frequents the grounds surrounding the inn. Bears, deer, eagles, sea lions, cougars and even the occasional wolf, have all been known to drop by to delight camera-wielding guests.
Being on the coast and in a lush rain forest, Judy has noticed that a lot of her winter guests enjoy storm watching. Donning inn-provided galoshes, raincoat and sou’westers, guests can traverse the forest trails and walk along the rocky beaches as they watch the storms roll across the peninsula. And when the weather is too blustery, they can watch the “show” from the bubbly comfort of the deckside hot tub.
Q: Why did you decide to go into innkeeping?
A: I was a high school counselor and I love the kids and counseling but I wanted an early retirement and I wanted some options. This is a great way to retire. We built the place in about 1992. Once the kids grew up we started thinking more about the B&B and slowly made renovations.
Q: What is your signature Breakfast?
A: Our breakfasts change year by year. We’ve done a number of experiments like an Oatmeal Brulee I found on a blog from Barbara bush. It was a hit.
We also have a Blueberry French Toast. More like a bread pudding we serve it with sausages that we make ourselves and a relish made out of cilantro, apple and avocado. Top with French toast with crème fraiche and flowers. Add the sausages on the side.
There’s lots of fruit that we serve. We make our own juices – rhubarb, apple, and carrot juice. Also a poached pear juice with star anise for a little bit of licorice flavor, cinnamon sticks, vanilla beans and clove. It’s really nice, particularly in the winter when I can’t get a lot of fresh fruit.
Q: Where are the majority of your visitors from?
A: I think we’re getting a lot from Europe – England and Germany make up a lot of our visitors. People from British Columbia and from the States come up, too. It’s a lot of fun to have such an international group coming to the breakfast table each morning.
We have lots of repeat customers. Guests from England or Germany who are sending their friends over, so we become part of their circle.
Q: What’s the best thing you’ve done for your business?
A: The best thing is being aware of other innkeepers out there. I’m a member of the BC Innkeepers Guild. The information that you’re finding out all the time, it helps me feel connected. And helps me grow. We have a lot of innkeepers stay with me and I stay at other inns.
I also really listen to my customers – give them opportunities to offer suggestions to me. We’ve taken all their ideas into the B&B. The little details all come from the guests or from innkeepers or organizations.
If I were to do anything differently I would join groups like BC Innkeepers right from the get-go. So many ideas from so many areas. I think that’s big.
Q: Biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?
A: The biggest challenge is to force myself to close my doors for a couple of days in the middle of my busy season and be able to put my feet up. It’s so hard to say no. Sometimes I just need to close down to recharge.
In the winter we do slow down but people come here for storm watching. We don’t have as many guests, but when we do, it’s on stormy days the guests are playing snooker or out in the hot tub watching the storms.
Q: Biggest lessons you’ve learned in the industry?
A: I’ve learned to love the area. I’m learning so much more just because of the appreciation from people coming from different places. I’ve realize that through the eyes of my guests. I’m really lucky to be where I am and I’m lucky to have people tell me how lucky I am, so I don’t forget.
Q: What motto do you live by?
A: Treat every traveler like a valued guest. They are the ones on holiday. Their experiences are important. In turn, it’s their experiences that enhance my life.
Q: What’s unique about your inn?
A: There are a number of common areas where people can meet. People can grab take out, or barbecue and dine on the teak tables throughout the property. One of them is right on the beach. At the firepit as the evenings get darker, somebody might turn on a fire and start playing a harmonica. Providing areas.
Our main 1,200 square feet common room offers Snooker, board games, a big-screen TV. There are two bar tables with computers and two large tables where people can play cards. There lots of areas people can congregate. Or you can escape. Each room has a private deck too.
And we allow children as well. Our Trail Suite is so far apart from other rooms, it allows for children to run around and not both other guests.
We also permit dogs. Again with the Trail Suite if a dog is whining or barking, other guests can’t hear. People can let their hair down and just relax.
Q: What would you do all over if you had a time machine?
A: I think I would probably get into this business earlier because it’s fabulous. You aren’t making a lot of money, but you’re sure enjoying what you’re doing. It’s a lovely lifestyle.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time when not at work?
A: We just love kayaking. We love diving. We’re a scuba diving family. If we are able to close down, when we’re not renovating, we go out diving. We love just to get out into the landscape.
Did You Know?
It was on the west coast of Vancouver Island, about 62 miles north of Ucluelet, that Captain James Cook of the British Navy first set foot, in 1778. Captain James Barkley followed in 1787, arriving in Barkley Sound in search of sea otter pelts.
But Cook and Barkley were not the first men to perceive this land’s wealth. Archaeological evidence indicates the presence of First Nations along this outer coast for at least 4300 years.
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