Ben & Hetty, Bâton Rouge
When we met in 1996, we had the idea of starting a Motor Lodge in the Ardennes, Ben was working at that time at a traileraccessories company and I had a job in a restaurant.
We both had motorcycles, me on a Honda shadow 600 and Ben on a Laverda 1200th anniversary. My shadow compared to the Laverda was not a real bike, according to Ben, so we changed it for a Laverda.
After a few years living in a tiny apartment we found a lovely house in Schoonhoven with a garage for the bikes and the rest of the house was fine! Our own house!
The company where Ben was working at that time was moved to Schoonhoven, so he could go to work on a bike. I found myself a job at a Photographer.
We thought we were going to live there for a while. But in the mean time I went back to school, to get my final diploma’s to start up a business and after less than a year, the company was growing so fast that it did not fit in the building anymore and we moved to the south of Holland, close to the town of Venray.
We rented a little house there, because in that way, we could look around to see if we could find a suitable house for us and maybe start our Motor Lodge.
So we searched and searched and found a few nice houses, but the area was not suitable for a Motor Lodge. So we wandered more south and drove into Belgium. It was a lot cheaper and more space, but the landscape was not quiet what we were looking for.
So we kept on searching and searching and we ended up in lovely Wallonia, in a little town called Houffalize. We found a nice piece of land, on which we both fell in love with.
Together with an architect we made a very nice plan, but the town council would not grant a building permit. They did not want to have a motor lodge in their community.
We fought their decisions for three years but finally we lost the battle. Meanwhile, we moved to Houffalize, to a little rental house with a beautiful view.
In the meantime, we kept searching and searching for the right house, because if we had to wait for the decision from the community it would take too long. We did found some beautiful buildings, but something went wrong each time or they sold it, or the ground was dirty, to expensive etc.
In the meantime we started up a “handyman business” and did work where ever we could to make some money. Ben eventually found a job as a deliveryman for a horeca wholesale magazine and I was working for several businesses.
After three years fighting for a place and a good life, we finally found a house in Vielsalm, totally derelict but to us it felt like home! The sale went quickly and we were waiting for something to go wrong, but luck was on our site!
In the house we changed and painted all the rooms and through the years the house became more beautiful.
Years of hard working and no holidays, but that didn’t harm us, we made our dream come true!
Now, after 10 years, we are very proud of what we accomplished. We will still be working andrenewing for several years!
From old roof to new roof, from mini kitchen to professional kitchen, from no private apartment to a nice apartment, from just a bar to a bar with nice veranda to an extended two floor veranda and spiral staircase. We will probably never finish the building, but we are happy with that, because every time when the work is finished we feel happy and proud!
We still do this work with a lIt feels like coming home over and over again and we hope it will stay like that for a long time.