The Joy of Vacation Rental-ing
By William May
Published: 08/25/03 Topics: Comments:
If you think the newsletter is late this week -you are right. Because this week I sampled the joys of staying in someone else's vacation rental home. I'm actually supposed to still be on vacation but just had to drop a line to all the nice VROA folks I'm hearing from.
BACK TO THE BEACH.
So I'm sitting right now on the porch of a stunning 3,000 square foot mountain lodge on picture perfect Priest Lake in the extreme North of Idaho's Panhandle. This area of the world has lots of major mountain lakes. If you're not from these parts you must find some time one day to visit Lake Coeur d'Alene, Lake Pend Oreille, Priest Lake and the dozens of smaller and out of the way water meccas.
While they are popular areas some of them still have picturesque acreage available and lots of peace and quiet. Pend Oreille is also just down the hill form Schweitzer Basin ski area a very up and coming place. Good bargains there too. Coeur d'Alene is well know and home of the ultra fancy Coeur d'Alene Resort (cdaresort.com)cdaresort.com. If you're a golfer you've seen it featured in Golf publications as the one with the floating 18th hole.
These lakes are clear and clean. The climate is bracing in winter and warm to hot in summer. You can pretty much always count on good weather. Big time boating in summer and winter outdoor sports when it is cold. The terrain varies but you can count on some easy access locations and others where the granite peaks shoot strait up out of the water. I picked up one of the local fishing guide pamphlets that claimed the dozen 15 pounders were "an average days catch."
We took several tours of the lake by boat and I was struck by how large it was and how few the homes. While there are still plenty of residents I learned later that a good portion of the lake is surrounded by nation and state forest lands that will remain forever unused. The lack of growth encourages me, but I have to admit that I couldn't help but imagine building a modern interior - rustic exterior lodge at some locations where the navy blue water lapped at dazzling white sand beaches.
So back to the home I'm sitting in.
The owner is a long time friend and partner - Jerry Rose. Last year he and his wife Terri recently escaped from a hubbub of California, relocating his business practice to Spokane Washington. In just a 90-minute drive he finds himself in the middle of the forest on the spot he and his wife have built their dream cabin. Although its tough to call this place a cabin because it has four big bedrooms, 3 baths, designer kitchen, extra high ceilings, giant stone fireplace. Its stick built but with massive log supports and decoration.
The exteriors are wide cedar siding stained perfectly and complimented by giant green framed metal windows that open and swing out wide. The lot is mostly level and the giant deck sits on the second level providing clear vistas across the 28 mile long and 4 mile wide body of water. Although the home was not yet really complete Jerry was besieged with folks wanting to rent this summer, so he rented some weeks (at a discount) explaining the counters still had plywood on them and still the guests were delighted with the place.
Jerry and Terri are smart. They put slate hard surfaces in much of the home - virtually indestructible for guests. Slate floors. Granite counter tops. Light pine sided rooms and ceilings. In the winter a few throw rugs make it warm on the feet and still easy to clean. He's picked tight weave Berber carpet with a bit of a pattern for the bedrooms. Again to make them hard to stain and easy to clean.
The kitchen has a huge refrigerator - something guests’ love especially in remote areas like this where they have to bring in a lot of food. There is an over sized family dining table in the great room adjacent to the kitchen island. We group gathered frequently around it for gossip, laughs and silliness.
Now I must tell you that Jerry is a very detailed person. In fact, its one of his best attributes. I have to admit he has me beat on thinking things through - especially as a rental. He has a well-constructed dock that can actually be disengaged and pull to shore in winter to keep the sometimes ice clogged lake from damaging it. His beautiful 20-foot run about sits on a custom aluminum contraption that lifts it out of the water with a twirl of a large wheel. (It looks like it could have come from the steering end of a racing yacht.)
The heat, along with the kitchen stove and a few other appliances, are propane powered. Outside there is an oversize electrical generator to use if the electricity is cut. Doesn't happen often but when you're 60 miles from the nearest major town you'd hate to have guests cancel in the middle of a stay for lack of power - and lose that income. The generator will essentially pay for itself.
The living room features a set of Elk antler's the owners have been storing for years in anticipation of building a perfect place for them. They've also been promised a moose head for the soaring stairs area but it might actually be too big. If you're getting an impressions from this description I hope its one of a home that is perfected suited for its location. I am sometimes disappointed in homes that, while beautiful, are simply constructed in the wrong location? For example, this wonderful house would look downright silly in the tropics somewhere and probably wouldn't rent either.
My son was disappointed that there is no high speed internet access because he's currently addicted to the Star Wars on-line video game but found time to vegetate in front of the big screen TV and Satellite service (new to him). In fact, I found myself vegetating a few times with my arms around the boy. Not sure how much longer he'll let me get away with that but I figured I'd better take the opportunity while I could.
At 13 he's already 6 foot 1 inches tall. I remember that age well and let him sloth around a plenty. Frequently he slept until noon even though there were plenty of lake things to do. As we left I asked him what he liked most and he said, "Sleeping 12 hours non-stop." That's a good thing, isn't it.
My wife, on the other hand, took many hours to sit on the deck with her feet up reading novel after novel. She did a trip in the boat and a run to town but other than that her idea of nirvana is to get a minute, an hour, a day or more to do nothing at all. Vacation rentals are good for activities but they may be at their finest when they convince occupants to spend time moving back to a slower pace.
It strikes me that sometimes taking our time is what Vacation Rentals are mostly about? While hotels have expansive lobbies, frenetic activity decks and room service maybe guests are turning to vacation rentals because of something simple that resorts can never offer. The chance to get just a little tighter with our families. Maybe it even FORCES us to be with our families. To eliminate those nuisance cell phones and email and other modern day marvels that clutter our life and strangely enough cause us to become even more distant from those we love.
Yes, I do what most of you do when promoting our homes. I feature all the great amenities of each house. All the fun things to do in the area. Where to buy the priciest meal and even where to spend your money. It is my observation that first time vacation rental users usually do not understand why they're drawn to the idea of a rental home. But they go home satisfied in a way that they may not even be able to put into words. They had fun by being together, by spending some time on something for themselves and by finding another place to call home.
Some of our newsletters concentrate on the work and occasionally distressing part of being a property owner. But I'd like to remind us all of why we own and operate vacation rentals. Please drop me a note about your special place in the woods, on the beach or anywhere else. I'll even include some links for the best of them in future newsletters.
HOME OF THE WEEK:
This week, how about checking out my Vacation Rental of the week. Its one of our own, but next week I'd love to feature yours. Just drop me an email.
As always I seek your feedback. Please share you thoughts, stories, compliments and complaints on this or any other subject by writing me at Director@VRIA.orgDirector@VRIA.org.
Author: William May – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0026 – 08/25/03