How long have you been doing this?
We opened the Frame's Guest House in the fall of 2017. It is getting busier and busier each year that we have been welcoming guests to stay with us.
Why did you decide to do this?
Once our 3 kids grew up and moved out, we added energy back into our home by hosting older International Students for 10 years who were in Calgary to learn English. It was a great experience, but we found it difficult to commit to 1-3 month stays once our aging parents (who lived in another province) needed more support. We needed to switch to who we could host that generally needed shorter stays.
Brenda used to work as a Physical Therapist at the Foothills Hospital with people who had experienced strokes and head injuries. She had seen first hand how stressed families often were, and how it was difficult (and expensive) for them to stay by themselves in a hotel while they supported their family member for extended periods of time. One day she was driving by the Ronald McDonald House, and wondered if we could do something similar (but on a much smaller scale) that would assist adults. She stopped in and spoke to the administrator there and was told that the need was huge and absolutely existed.
Are you like a BnB? If not, how are you different?
We are registered and licensed as a BnB with the City and our Insurance company - however what we offer goes far beyond what a typical BnB offers. Here are some of the "extras" that are also provided to our guests:
1) The option exists to receive a ride to and from the hospital each day for only $10/return trip. (A cab or Uber ride would be closer to $25 one way!) Our guests LOVE this service as many are elderly or from rural areas and are very uncomfortable driving in the city. We literally provide a door to door service and use a flashing emergency light in our car so that they know exactly what car to get into when it is dark in the evening.
2) On surgery days, we will drive our guests to the hospital to drop off the patient (usually at 5:00 am) and then stay available to do a second trip to the hospital later in the day once the patient is out of the recovery room.
3) A delicious and nutritious breakfast customized by each guest each day. Our guests tell us they rarely need lunch!
4) We create a "home away from home" environment by welcoming guests into all areas of our home and yard. They are welcome to watch movies with us, join us around the fire pit in the back yard, prepare lunch or supper in our kitchen or relax with us in the family room. Our home is their home during their stay.
5) Space is provided for guests to store food to use for times outside of breakfast.
6) We are available to have conversations with in order to relax at the end of the day.
7) We are committed to meeting and exceeding whatever needs exist for our guests. Examples have included providing icepacks and meal containers to bring food to the hospital; having access to our printer; providing a ride over to the local grocery store; having extra toothbrushes, a book to read at the hospital, slippers or a robe on hand when they were forgotten at home. Most often, our guest's biggest need is to have been a sounding board as they process what is happening at the hospital.
Why aren't you listed on AirBnB?
We initially listed our Guest House on AirBnB, however we kept getting calls from people who were in town for a vacation, conference or family celebration, and who were looking for "a cheap place to stay". It didn't feel safe, and we didn't want our home to be viewed as a place to just sleep for 1 or 2 nights. What we offer is not just accommodation. It is far more than that.
We chose to do this so that we could provide a service that could help families. We wanted it to speak to our hearts. With Brenda's past medical background, we knew the need existed for supporting families who were going through a stressful medical experience at the hospital. By focusing ONLY on people in that situation, we have always had guests that were a pleasure to have in our home, and who were grateful to have found a safe, comfortable and welcoming environment to be their temporary "home away from home."
Isn't it weird to welcome strangers into your home?
Our home has always been one that people are welcome in. We both really enjoy people and learning about their lives and experiences. To us, strangers are just people that we haven't had a chance yet to get to know. Somehow knowing that what we offer is going to help reduce stress for people and lighten their load, results in us being excited to welcome them into our home.
There is a sign when you enter our home that says, "Enter as Strangers, Leave as Friends." It is amazing to both our guests and ourselves how quickly that happens!
How do most people find out about you?
Initially most people found out about us through Facebook posts in the various communities around southern Alberta. Now 5 years later, most people find us through recommendations from their friends, Google searches and recommendations from staff at the hospital. Word of mouth is our most effective tool for helping to "spread the word" and ensure that the people who find us will be the right fit for what we offer. We can be found on Facebook, Google and in the Yellow Pages as "Frames Guest House".