Steve & Linda Brenner

Working in travel and tourism is typical for English-speaking immigrants in Europe, say the co-founders of The Beehive Hotel in Rome
Steve & Linda Brenner
Steve & Linda Brenner

OT What prompted you to leave the US and move to Italy one fine day
Steve Brenner We were living in Los Angeles and spending a lot of time in traffic, then time working for others, and just weren&rsquot happy with where that seemed to be going. I had already lived in Rome and we wanted to move somewhere outside the US. We also wanted to create something of our own. I think Italy was just one of many possibilities but because I&rsquod lived there and thought (foolishly) that we&rsquod be able to get some help, it seemed like the best choice.
Linda Brenner Steve came here in the early 1990s chasing a Norwegian girl. When things didn&rsquot work out between them and he was homeless and broke, he had to find work in Rome, which varied from construction to working at a local mess. We&rsquove known each other a long time, and when we were younger, had a tumultuous relationship. When we got back together, one of the decisions we made was to create something together and live abroad. We had other ideas too, but the one that stuck was moving to Rome to open a hostel. Six months later, we were here.

OT How did The Beehive come about
Steve Brenner Working in travel and tourism is typical for English-speaking immigrants in Europe. It&rsquos the equivalent of the Italian who moves abroad and opens a restaurant. I had been working in travel and saw that there was a need for a place that was good and cheap in Rome.
Linda Brenner This wasn&rsquot calculated, but developed organically over fourteen years. It&rsquos important for us to not just be a place to sleep in, but to support causes and hold events that are meaningful to us and to be a part of the larger community.

OT Tell us something about Cross Pollinate.
Steve Brenner In our first year we were turning away so many people and they were all asking us for our advice (since we were answering emails quickly and in proper English). We were recommending other places and it was so time-consuming that we decided to turn it into a second website. It&rsquos grown to about 450 properties in eight cities in Europe. We work with people we think are trustworthy and places that we find recommendable.
Linda Brenner The Beehive started in 1999 and Cross Pollinate in 2000. Things were unstable in those early days, so it was a good decision to have another business that wasn&rsquot brick-and-mortar.

OT Any more Beehives coming up
Steve Brenner We&rsquod love to open another place, but real estate is really expensive. Plus I don&rsquot know if a small place would be profitable as a second hotel, with someone else running it. And I don&rsquot think we could be in two different places running both. Plus, these things in Italy are much more complicated than anywhere else.
Linda Brenner We would love to have Beehives in other cities &mdash Venice, Florence, etc &mdash but it wouldn&rsquot be worthwhile financially or bureaucratically. Owning a small business here is a headache. The Italian government doesn&rsquot give incentives or make it easy or cost-effective for owners.

OT How does your belief in a healthier life and in organic living inform your work
Linda Brenner Our philosophies and beliefs have always been reflected in The Beehive &mdash so that&rsquos why we have a vegetarian and organic café use recycled paper products, including toilet paper use eco-friendly cleaning products, such as vinegar&hellip We do what we can and would do more, if there weren&rsquot so many limitations imposed by the city.
Steve Brenner A big part of it is about taking it slow and doing what you can, rather than getting overwhelmed with everything that&rsquos bad for you and giving up.

OT Any plans of visiting India, or listing rental properties here
Linda Brenner We&rsquod love to visit India and we&rsquove had some wonderful Indian guests stay with us. Ideally, we would go when we can be hosted and shown around by an Indian family &mdash we would prefer to see India from a local perspective and in depth. No plans of diversifying and adding properties from India though.
Steve Brenner We&rsquore not interested in a week&rsquos holiday. We&rsquoll go when we can stay a month or more and learn something from it. We like travel to be about change &mdash to really have an impact on us.

Steve and Linda Brenner are Co-founders, The Bee-Hive Hotel and Café and Cross Pollinate Travel, Via Marghera 8 00815, Rome, Italy, 39 0644704553,

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