Need feedback on idea of a 'Middle-Earth inn'

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Straelbora
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Need feedback on idea of a 'Middle-Earth inn'

Postby Straelbora » Fri Oct 10, 2014 6:09 pm

As I've mentioned before here on the forum, I've had the idea of building an 'authentic' Middle-Earth tavern/inn to be made available for moots, LARPing groups, and as a kind of rustic bed & breakfast.

Well, I may or may not be on the verge of phase I, acquiring the land, but my wife (who, among other things, is an accountant and would manage the financial aspects of this venture) is partially skeptical, partially thinking that it could be a going concern. I'm not completely convinced, myself, so I'd like feedback from people who are as passionate about 'travel in Middle-Earth' as I am.

At this point, I'm looking at about 20 acres which border a 24 square mile state park in southern Indiana (it's one of the largest state parks in the US, and certainly one of the largest east of the Mississippi). I like the idea of 'buying the view.'

It's wooded, with rolling hills. My plan would be to find a 'crossroads' area on the plot and build a small inn: stone or brick on the first floor, perhaps Tudor-style beam construction for the second floor. There would be a large central field stone fire place on the first floor, along with benches and tables. The second floor would have barracks-style beds in place. The ground floor would be maybe 15 feet by 25 feet or so- nothing too large. The upstairs would have maybe 10 to 12 bunks.

There would be no electricity and water from a well. There would be no access to the building by car- you'd have to reach it by foot or horseback.

Although primarily my 'cabin,' I would want to rent it out because: I would want to be able to share it, knowing that I'm not alone in a desire to 'step outside of our world and into a fantasy one,' even if just for the weekend, and because I think it could eventually pay for itself. If it did, and there were enough demand, I would expand it, just as such inns expanded in medieval times, by adding a wing or maybe another cottage across the road, etc.

So, given that this has become financially feasible for me, I'd like some honest feedback from fellow Rangers - am I fooling myself that people would want to rent it out for weekends of peace and quiet and/or for LARPing adventures?

Thanks for any input, critical or otherwise.
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Ringulf
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Re: Need feedback on idea of a 'Middle-Earth inn'

Postby Ringulf » Fri Oct 10, 2014 10:57 pm

I don't know if I can give you a down to earth respectable and non-biased opinion here, you see my wife and I have been bitten by the same bug and have talked about a similar dream for as long as we have been together.
That said I can surely be a cheerleader! I think it is a phenominal idea. The inn and your cabin being the first structures and the center of the comunity, sound like just the way to start. the expansion to some stables and barn /tack room so that equestrian activities as well as pick up/ drop off to enter the facility and perhaps a wagon or carraige for those who might not be "Up" to riding, ie: the elderly, handicapped or the very young, might well be a good inclusion and help transport baggage as well.

Of course you then may eventually need a shop, blacksmith/wheelwrite/ crafthall or the like to attract the reenactor crafter groups and it may double as a classroom/living history room as well.

If the pub and B&B grow nicely it would be great to expand the dining to a bit more of a medeival restuarant theme, but if this was up to par for the right amount of diners and a small chapel was set up, you could also feild small wedding parties or gatherings. With the right acoustics in a small chappel there could be several venues for musical opportunities such as recitals and choral work as well as the pub style music in the original facility.
Archery takes a bit of space but would seem like a great activity along with thrown weapons and winter could change the whole face of the facility and could attract snow-shoers and cross country skiing.

I think the key though is that you sell the experience and that you have a very creative booking agent that can bring together many elements that can be offered in a way that lends itself to the particular type of group you are facilitating. Then have a few free for all type days for individuals that wish to sample and try out the experience and could then be directed to one of the groups that use the facility. Great to have a central public board where groups could promote themselves.

If a place such as this existed I am sure you could book seminars for crafts and skills of all types year round and one's imagination could be the limit to the clients that could enjoy such a facility. :mrgreen:
A heartening sight by Day or Night, Dwarven warriors bold! To add their Might to any Fight, Precious more than Gold! A Dwarven friend is to the end, Never shall they fail! Their word does not bend, wherever they wend,
through Cavern, Hill or Dale!"
Straelbora
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Re: Need feedback on idea of a 'Middle-Earth inn'

Postby Straelbora » Fri Oct 10, 2014 11:05 pm

Ringulf wrote:I don't know if I can give you a down to earth respectable and non-biased opinion here, you see my wife and I have been bitten by the same bug and have talked about a similar dream for as long as we have been together.
That said I can surely be a cheerleader! I think it is a phenominal idea. The inn and your cabin being the first structures and the center of the comunity, sound like just the way to start. the expansion to some stables and barn /tack room so that equestrian activities as well as pick up/ drop off to enter the facility and perhaps a wagon or carraige for those who might not be "Up" to riding, ie: the elderly, handicapped or the very young, might well be a good inclusion and help transport baggage as well.

Of course you then may eventually need a shop, blacksmith/wheelwrite/ crafthall or the like to attract the reenactor crafter groups and it may double as a classroom/living history room as well.

If the pub and B&B grow nicely it would be great to expand the dining to a bit more of a medeival restuarant theme, but if this was up to par for the right amount of diners and a small chapel was set up, you could also feild small wedding parties or gatherings. With the right acoustics in a small chappel there could be several venues for musical opportunities such as recitals and choral work as well as the pub style music in the original facility.
Archery takes a bit of space but would seem like a great activity along with thrown weapons and winter could change the whole face of the facility and could attract snow-shoers and cross country skiing.

I think the key though is that you sell the experience and that you have a very creative booking agent that can bring together many elements that can be offered in a way that lends itself to the particular type of group you are facilitating. Then have a few free for all type days for individuals that wish to sample and try out the experience and could then be directed to one of the groups that use the facility. Great to have a central public board where groups could promote themselves.

If a place such as this existed I am sure you could book seminars for crafts and skills of all types year round and one's imagination could be the limit to the clients that could enjoy such a facility. :mrgreen:


We're on the same wavelength- I could imagine this growing organically to become a bit of a small historical village, as are relatively common in much of northern and western Europe.
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Re: Need feedback on idea of a 'Middle-Earth inn'

Postby Greg » Sat Oct 11, 2014 1:10 pm

I can guarantee I'd be a corner ornament for you as often as I'd be present.
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Re: Need feedback on idea of a 'Middle-Earth inn'

Postby Manveruon » Sat Oct 11, 2014 8:08 pm

I just think this is an absolutely phenomenal idea, from beginning to end. And I think it's TOTALLY marketable if you approach it correctly. Ringulf has the right idea. There are so many different possibilities for a site like what you're talking about, it's practically endless. You could cater to living history groups, LARP groups, the SCA, Tolkien groups, the list goes on and on. You could even host a small renaissance/medieval fair for a weekend, set up around the inn if you wanted. Especially as the out-buildings began to grow and expand. I think it's a fantastic plan.
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Re: Need feedback on idea of a 'Middle-Earth inn'

Postby Taurinor » Sat Oct 11, 2014 11:37 pm

I think it's a really neat idea, but I think you would need to approach it carefully from a legal standpoint if you want to rent it out. If that's your plan, it may need to meet building codes for a hotel or other similar structure. At least with rental properties, there are laws requiring bedrooms to have a certain amount of window space for fire safety purposes and the like, so you might want to talk to someone with expertise in that area. Also, I'm not sure what the tax and liability requirements for something like that would be, so a lawyer might be helpful as well.

None of the above is meant to try to dissuade you in any way, of course. Things just get complicated when you want to make money off of them.
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Re: Need feedback on idea of a 'Middle-Earth inn'

Postby Ringulf » Sun Oct 12, 2014 2:31 am

Yes codes are important in this day and age and that makes keeping the whole medeival ambiance and authenticity a challenge, but I see those things a a possible strong suite for you and your Lady.
The Food prep and storage etc, may also be a challenge as may the libations. But again I truly feel it could be done!
The list of interested groups are endless Manveruon scratched the surface and the logical bigger players but don't forget local artisans for classes and seminars like wood carvers or potters etc, musicians, choral groups that would enjoy performing, recitals or teaching. Photographers painters could be given the run of the land just make sure they mention you in their peices, free publicity and inspired arts, hell they don't even have to be pros many folks would use it as a picture spot for all kinds of celebrations like engagements of other such photo ops. Ethnic clubs like the group I am in The Celtic Norse Herritage Society or Gaming groups (board gameing is getting very popular as well as the Diehard RPGers, and they are always looking for a place to hold game night or monthly meetings). Audibon groups, Nature concervancy, ducks unlimited all need meeting facilities and sometime giving them the use of your facility at a low or no cost donation basis can bring people to your facility you would never have had elseways and don't forget that every time something like this happens there is a press release generated which is just one more opportunity to get your name out there and be recognized.
A heartening sight by Day or Night, Dwarven warriors bold! To add their Might to any Fight, Precious more than Gold! A Dwarven friend is to the end, Never shall they fail! Their word does not bend, wherever they wend,
through Cavern, Hill or Dale!"
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Re: Need feedback on idea of a 'Middle-Earth inn'

Postby Straelbora » Sun Oct 12, 2014 2:48 am

Taurinor wrote:I think it's a really neat idea, but I think you would need to approach it carefully from a legal standpoint if you want to rent it out. If that's your plan, it may need to meet building codes for a hotel or other similar structure. At least with rental properties, there are laws requiring bedrooms to have a certain amount of window space for fire safety purposes and the like, so you might want to talk to someone with expertise in that area. Also, I'm not sure what the tax and liability requirements for something like that would be, so a lawyer might be helpful as well.

None of the above is meant to try to dissuade you in any way, of course. Things just get complicated when you want to make money off of them.


Luckily, I'm a lawyer. And Indiana has an incredible blanket immunity law for the proprietors of 'agritourism' ventures.
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Re: Need feedback on idea of a 'Middle-Earth inn'

Postby Taurinor » Sun Oct 12, 2014 2:08 pm

Straelbora wrote:Luckily, I'm a lawyer. And Indiana has an incredible blanket immunity law for the proprietors of 'agritourism' ventures.


Awesome! In that case, do it do it do it!
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Re: Need feedback on idea of a 'Middle-Earth inn'

Postby Stormraven » Sun Oct 12, 2014 2:28 pm

I've had similar ideas. I have nearly 20 acres here in Georgia (woodland and meadow with 1 acre stocked pond) and I've wanted to create a self-sufficient Middle Earth village and community. My wife and I have no children and no heirs so it would be a good project to pass on. Problem is you have interest but no serious takers. People are too comfortable with their modern lives and are quite unwilling to give up electricity and running water. It's still a dream of mine and it's a shame for the property is already here and I still can't find people willing to give up on modern conveniences even with the idea of adding a community building with such amenities (showers, computers, TV, modern kitchen).
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Re: Need feedback on idea of a 'Middle-Earth inn'

Postby Ringulf » Sun Oct 12, 2014 11:17 pm

You may have to ween them off tech and comfort but it will come if the commitment is there!
My wife and I would be very interested in doing it for a season or a month at a time I would drop everything and just become like Greg said, a "corner ornament" for I could have a very full life crafting and teaching and serving in many ways, but I have a Mom I care for and Stella has rejoined the workforce. Still all in all if enough folks could commit to being there in waves our little group her could really bolster the troops. :mrgreen:
A heartening sight by Day or Night, Dwarven warriors bold! To add their Might to any Fight, Precious more than Gold! A Dwarven friend is to the end, Never shall they fail! Their word does not bend, wherever they wend,
through Cavern, Hill or Dale!"
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Re: Need feedback on idea of a 'Middle-Earth inn'

Postby Stormraven » Sun Oct 12, 2014 11:58 pm

I believe the renting idea would work for many don't want to commit that much of their life to such a project as I have in mind. My feeling was if the Amish could do it, then why couldn't another group? And if you had a building with modern amenities, it would not be such a shock. But so far, it's just an idea of interest.
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Re: Need feedback on idea of a 'Middle-Earth inn'

Postby Rifter » Mon Oct 13, 2014 12:19 am

Greetings,

I've always loved the idea of having an Olde tavern and inn for re enactment or LARP with quality kit and character. A lot of people would want to enjoy it...but there are also difficulties catering to one specific demographic. Not having any electricity or such will right off the bat hinder your business. Then there are modern items to think about like phone lines and such. If this is your property and you want to rent the hall out that could work for local groups but even the green dragon Inn in New Zealand has interact and electricity. I think you could have bathrooms and electricity in the rooms but disguised. Outlet have latches that hide them, sconces are electric but covered by frosted glass and they flicker.

In a nut shell the idea has lots of potential but you'll have to decide if this is your house which you have guests in or your business because if it's a business there's always compromise and costs will affect that. I'm not trying to debate here nor looking for one, just giving my thoughts as asked. What ever you choose to do is your own consul of course.
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Re: Need feedback on idea of a 'Middle-Earth inn'

Postby Udwin » Mon Oct 13, 2014 1:24 am

I wonder if a lack of electricity could actually aid in marketability? - I read a piece a while back about 'tech sabbaticals' which are apparently a real thing in our hyperconnected Now: it's a trendy buzzword for when cubicle-dwellers unplug and avoid screens for a weekend or so. Maybe think about advertising this project as an off-grid corporate retreat space?
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Re: Need feedback on idea of a 'Middle-Earth inn'

Postby Ringulf » Mon Oct 13, 2014 12:10 pm

Udwin wrote:I wonder if a lack of electricity could actually aid in marketability? - I read a piece a while back about 'tech sabbaticals' which are apparently a real thing in our hyperconnected Now: it's a trendy buzzword for when cubicle-dwellers unplug and avoid screens for a weekend or so. Maybe think about advertising this project as an off-grid corporate retreat space?


Nice!
Good thought
Great angle
A heartening sight by Day or Night, Dwarven warriors bold! To add their Might to any Fight, Precious more than Gold! A Dwarven friend is to the end, Never shall they fail! Their word does not bend, wherever they wend,
through Cavern, Hill or Dale!"

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