Not if you tell them you are practicing up "as a family" for the big upcoming annual dramatic presentation of the nativity scene, and explain to any who ask that "My husband's a little slow, and likes to practice standing there hour-after-hour next to those animals, leaning on that nasty old walking stick of his and looking sort of wistful-yet-profound. Besides, he's always been something of a method actor."
If they seem surprised, just reassure them: "Oh, but don't you worry: we plan on switching the donkey back outside so there is room for me, just as soon as that star comes up a'shining in the East, and I have one of those "virgin births."
Sorry! I couldn't resist. (I am also assuming that you haven't locked your husband out of the house at gunpoint and forced him out into the bitter snow barefoot, and that there are no shackles to be seen around his ankles, a la Stephen King's "Misery," and no mysterious unexplained groans arising from the barn's depths in the middle of the night : ) )
All of these tantalizing but (overly) dramatic possibilities aside: if it is simply so that each of you find your lives more peaceful and enjoyable being "near" but not "on top of each other" all the time, then, to the extent each of you is comfortable with the situation, then so will be your guests.
You might be surprised how few Americans (and Europeans, etc.) live in "traditional" situations. Percentage-wise, Ozzie and Harriet are now the clear minority. The attendant sense of obligation and social expectations etc. seem to have often become a "situational straitjacket" for those whose hearts and souls call them elsewhere, and into exploration of different possibilities.
Even if Ozzie and Harriet do happen to book the place, it may be quite likely that Harriet's Mom has recently left her long-time husband for another woman, and Ozzie's never really gotten up the courage to tell Harriet about "that other family" that he seems to have started the next state over a few years back, fearing that "she might not understand."
My partner and I are more like "Ozzie and Ozzie," and though our relationship is rarely the point, we use our best judgment to share "whatever" appropriately, if asked. In other words, we simply pay attention and do our best to make our guests feel at home, to the extent possible. (Just sometimes, instead of opening up my big mouth, I try to simply take a moment for a deep breath, and think "God bless this mess." The thought applies in full force "across the board:" to myself, Alan, any of our guests, or whomever.) A pinch of flexibility, kindness, and humor all go a long way towards making the whole thing work.
And as for our guests, we are truly grateful to have them, exactly as they are, and never let them leave without telling them, simply and in all sincerity, that we are very glad they have come, and are grateful. That simple gesture can be added to your operating budget as a line item cost of -$0 -, and yet itself sets the experience you offer apart from every single one of the multi-million dollar hotel chains.
My point, nevertheless: don't assume anything about what you think your guests might be assuming about you. Though it does seem Human nature to be "looking for a story," and God knows many people, given a choice, could (and do!) choose drama over oxygen, most people are "live and let live." Besides: as I learned long ago, most people's attention rarely wanders with any sustained focus much further than themselves.
To generalize, guests (kind of like children, in this sense) simply want to know what's what, insofar as they might be necessary for them to enjoy the experience, and are remarkably tolerant about variety. I think they do (like you and I) appreciate simple authenticity. They, like we, often learn after we have first been surprised.
So, in practical terms: keep it simple, and matter-of-fact. It is well worth mentioning that during the time you're around you're generally to be found in the house, while your husband enjoys spending time in his "workshop" or private space out in the rehabbed barn, and that therefore one or the other of you should generally be available if needed. You can tell them you both feel such availability is important, because your guests are a priority to you both. At the same time, you might mention that you both also understand and are committed to safeguarding their right to privacy and peaceful enjoyment during the course of their stay.
People will think "OK, cool," and simply go about their vacationing. If you and Joseph of Nazareth (whoops, I mean your husband) are both cool with the situation, I cannot imagine anyone else having a problem with it. If they do, they are always free to inflict themselves elsewhere, upon a less fortunate place.
I hope you find any of this useful. I also do hope you will pardon my nonsense. Best wishes to you and your husband, wherever you might be found!
It should be no problem ... just make it clear in the listing.
There are lots of vacation homes in San Francisco where the cottage for rent is actually a little place, basically in the back yard of the main house where the owner lives. This is made clear in the listing, of course. And a lot of people actully prefer a vacation rental like this, where the owner is nearby and accessible, in case the guest has any questions or encounters any problem.
Hmmm...this is a tough call for me. I agree with the previous poster that you may find people who like having the owner/manager nearby for emergencies or questions. But IMHO I think they will be in the minority.
Guests want their privacy. That's what a vacation is all about...a chance to get away from the telephone, the interruptions, work, etc. When they pay for the use of your condo or house, they are "buying" their freedom from all that. To know that the owner/manager is only 200 feet away in a barn out back, just seems a little too cozy to me. That's not to say your husband couldn't be a fantastic, hands-off kind of manager who is just there when his guests need them and otherwise, leaves them to enjoy their vacation without feeling they are being monitored.
If this is in your business plan to have him manage the rental onsite, I would suggest you find a way to show the benefits of his presence and emphasize strongly that they will hardly know he's there (if that's the case). To plant the seeds of hospitality, I would recommend that you and your husband have a welcome gift for each new arrival (basked of treats and beverages; maybe some fresh flowers) and include a note that if they need anything, your husband is only a phone call away. This way they see it as a plus, and not "uh oh, we'd better behave...there's the owner outside working around his barn." Establish trust and an air of welcoming right off the bat and maybe this will work. Good luck.
amyg, I have to confess, I laughed out loud when you implied that the owners living in a barn 200 feet away would be "too close for comfort." Hilarious!!! :-D Where I live, many of the properties are not even 100 feet deep. On a 25 foot by 100 foot sized lot, you might have a house in the front and a cottage in the back. If you had a place with 200 feet of separation between itself and the nearest building ... you could be advertising it as some kind of pastoral retreat! People would love that and would be amazed that they had SO MUCH SPACE.
What a difference in perspective, huh?
I think the Owner in the Barn Idea is totally fine. You just have to make it clear on the listing. You could tell the guests that they are getting to rent the Main House on the owner's farm. The owner has his office / sleeping quarters in a separate building on the premises. The guest has full access to the Main House and all the grounds surrounding the house.
I am a Manager of 17 rental homes and I have to tell you about one of our client's homes that really bothered some guests. Keep in mind that these guests were repeat customers of mine and liked to try new houses in the area every time they come. Anyway, the situation is slightly different. The house is a furnished vintage house with antiques throughout - very romantic and very pretty. However, this particular owner had some of their personal things in the house, such as bathrobe in the bathroom, some clothes of hers in a closet, and many of her products in her kitchen. This annoyed the renters terribly as they commented it made them feel like they were staying WITH someone and that someone was always watching over them. Besides, they had to move her stuff over in the kitchen to put their groceries away. The house was very clean.
The only reason I bring this up is that although someone will be 200' away, there really shouldn't be ANY personal items in a vacation rental, and you still may have some blowback by guests feeling someone is watching them. Best to put this in the listing and again, keep all his things out of the rental home.
On the other hand .. the subject of personal objects in the vacation rental also depends on how it is advertised.
My very first experience with vacation rentals was around 1998 when a group of classmates and I traveled to New York for a national conference. I had never heard of such a thing, but it seems that one of my classmates' mom had some connection with some sort of travel agency that allows you to book nights in people's homes. Anyway ... there were 5 of us, and we all got to stay in a small 1 bedroom apartment in Greenwich Villiage. It was this lady's full time lived in apartment ... but whenever she got a "booking," she went off to Long Island to stay with her sister. The apartment was tiny, and it had tiny closets with shelves stacked all the way to the (very high) ceilings with all this woman's belongings, to the point that she surely had to get a ladder to get the stuff down from there. I thought it was very interesting how she found way to fit all her belongings into this small place.
Anyway ... the place was jam-packed with all this lady's stuff, and WE LOVED IT. We enjoyed looking at the family photos throughout the apartment, including framed newspaper clippings about the achievements of this woman's son when he was in high school. The only thing that was set aside for us was the bed and the fold-out sofas, but that was all we needed. We didn't mind that the lady's stuff was everywhere, we knew this was her primary home, and it gave us the feeling of being a REAL HOME, like we were just crashing at the home of a friend. One who just so happened to live in Greenwich Village!
So ... I want to provide the perspective that having the owner's belongings in the apartment is not necessarily a bad thing ... if you are up front about what the situation is, in the advertising / listing / etc.
We are redoing a building right now for a rental and it is about 200 ft from our home. We are going to put it in our ads and web site. I also plan to offer babysitting service for any couples etc who maybe want to go out to dinner etc with out the munchkins. lol I think if they dont have anything to hide they wont mind that much.
I do plan to be as invisible as we can while we have renters. I will tell them that if they need anything we are here but otherwise they wont have to see us. Even out 18 yr old is going to be told he cant park in the front anymore since he has a loud suv and is going to have to park behind the house.
We have 2 owners that live above their holiday rentals. It is very clearly explained to each enquiry that the owners are 'on site' and are there to help if needed, but not around unless asked. They have their own private entrances.
In each case, guests have been delighted to be able to ask them for assistance and advice. So as long as it is made clear before a booking, I would go ahead. My sister has a vacation rental in Vermont which is the end section of their home, and they have made some lovely friends who just keep returning! Lizzie
As a renter I just returned from a stay in Napa CA in a converted barn. The property itself was gorgeous and very clean: HOWEVER, it was not made clear that it was located within feet of the owners house. The private entrance was facing the other way but we looked right out of the kitchen window and the deck into the owners bedroom. The main door however was facing their main yard with the kids trampoline and toys. It was very very uncomfortable and I didn't like it at all. They had 2 kids that played right outside out door, the family dog kept coming up to our door and barking, the chickens squacked in the yard non-stop. The main door was pure glass so we ended up putting up sheet up so they couldn't see in.
Everytime we left or came home they wanted to talk to us to see what we doing, etc. I only wanted privacy
It a was a supposed romantic anniversary weekend with husband and we felt like we were always watching over shoulders for someone to come knocking on the door or looking through the windows. We didn't even sit on the deck because they were so close you could hear conversations.
I will never rent another property that was in such close proximity to the owners.
Amyg, I agree with you 100%. I paid a small fortune for this property and I wanted privacy with my husband away from kids, noise and prying eyes watching my every move.
I feel for you, this sounds like such a let-down, what a bummer!
Did you write a review and post the information, just like what you wrote for us here?
If not, I think you should!
If the owner doesn't make it clear how things really are on the listing, your review will make it crystal clear for potential renters.
Also ... I think it's really important for there to be a variety of reviews .... ones that highlight the good and potentially negative aspects of a listing. Sophie, I think what you wrote is very constructive stuff that every potential guest should know about. I don't think it would be mean-spirited at all for you to post the review. Interestingly, some guests might actually be ATTRACTED by your review, because maybe they have noisy rowdy kids of their own, or maybe they prefer the security of being near another family, who knows? But I'm sure there are people who will read your description of a vacation nightmare and say Eureka! This is what I was looking for! So in the end, it will help that vacation home owner find the guests who are more appropriately suited for the space.
For all of these concerns, the key is that the layout of the building and the proximity of the owners, etc, should be explained very clearly in the listing.
Before you completely write off the idea of staying in another place with owners in close proximity ... consider our place!
We have a 2-unit apartment building on a 100 foot by 25 foot lot. Our apartment is upstairs, the vacation rental apartment is downstairs, and we have a shared backyard and patio area. Compared to some of the situations described here, these are very tight quarters. And yet ... for the majority of our guests, we barely ever see them.
If you look at the reviews on our page, nearly all of the guests recommended our apartment for a "romantic getaway." To be more precise, I just counted: we have 13 guests who filled out the "recommended for" section in their review, and 11 of these listed it as "romantic getaway."
And yet ... we are in very tight quarters, much tighter than anything else described here.
My point is that every situation is different. Just because one guest apartment with an owner living on premises is "too close for comfort," doesn't mean that all of them are.
I think, if we are fully honest in the description, and if we explain the situation when we talk on the phone with the prospective guest (because many people DON'T READ), we will find guests who will want to rent our places, no matter what the situation is. As long as the price and/or location is right (and the situation is fully explained), the guests will be happy. If they wouldn't be happy with that situation, they wouldn't book it. Or at least I hope they wouldn't!
SF, I agree, some people may love the idea of it if their particular situation lends itself to having kids and dogs around. We unfortunately were looking tor something romantic, quiet and private! I actually felt like I could have been at home having to watch for my kids, etc! Maybe when we are back in San Francisco we will look at your place. I can't believe the weather you guys had last week. It was gorgeous there!
p.s. I just looked back at the vrbo ad of the place we stayed at and it says absolutely nothing about the owners on site, etc.
I respectfully disagree with my buddy SFVacationhut that you should NECESSARILY write a review. Do remember that this is a "community," and though the Napa Valley folks may not have been attuned to, or even sensitive to the ways you were feeling "crowded" and disappointed, if you cut and pasted your comments made here into a published review, you could kill their business. It may not be so that they are bad, or deficient, or even careless people. Napa Valley real estate ain't cheap, and they must have done something right, and you yourself said the setting was beautiful and the place was clean.
Please understand that I am by no means in favor of "censorship," nor a Pollyanna approach. I also agree with the comments made to the effect that an occasional "less-than-stellar" review thrown into the mix can be a net positive, for a couple of reasons: (1) if they're all glowingly positive, people will just write them off; and (2) every stay, especially in the context of a unique property like that you described, is simply not going to be everybody's cup of tea. Ever. But I am of the belief that it's only fair that a distinction be made between actually inadequate facilities or service, and a different style of living, or doing things. The latter does not necessarily at all suggest that they don't really, really care.
Don't get me wrong; I understand your disappointment completely. In fairness, though, you would have to agree that it is not ALWAYS the primary goal of every traveler to have privacy. Some folks might figure, "That, we can get at home." Again, I don't want to sound insensitive to your concerns. And not that this should necessarily be your burden, but maybe it really should: to at least try to communicate your desires to your hosts, either before-hand or (at least) once you are in the middle of it. To take an active role in changing the outcome, instead of nursing a resentment. And I'm not talking about a big huge conflict, it could be as easy as "Mr so and so, might I have a word with you?" And I would expect they would listen, attentively and respectfully.
(If they didn't, and were knowingly disrespectful, I would say "Fry their backsides in a review right NOW, and start sharpening that pen and bringing out the poison ink!!"
But that is not the situation here.)
Think about it: most hosts are VERY interested in their guests having a positive experience. And maybe here, though there was a divergence of styles, you essentially got upset that they were not mind-readers. You don't know (and I certainly don't know these people), but the way you were treated might be exactly the way they treat their most honored and beloved guests. I can easily see that for (presumably) urban folk who have chosen to return to farm living. At least they didn't ask you to help milk the wine cows! : )
So, if your first demonstration of your discomfort (of which I make no joke) was your hanging up the bed sheet to block the view of your private space, if you asked my opinion (which is admittedly very unlikely : ) ) I would say "Go easy on them." You'd already basically had it, the experience had gone sour, and that might have been their first indication that anything was even "off," a little.
My suggestion, the golden rule (sort of): don't tell the world first, and possibly cripple their business by making them sound like something out of the Mormon compound on "Big Love," or even "Deliverance, Family Style." Instead, be as civil as you can (as you'd appreciate were the shoe on the other foot,) and give THEM the gift of the honest expression of your experience, and overall appraisal. I'd bet $10, for starters, that they'd have closeable curtains up before you could say "Home Depot." Other changes could easily be made, once they know what the problem is.
I would still counsel this even though it MAY be a waste of your time and they MAY be jerks, because 99 out of 100 hosts would be deeply grateful that you'd had the passion and kindness to share your honest opinion of exactly where they were "off," and why.
OK Sophie sorry if I got up on a rickety soapbox, but I guess I did. Part of my reaction is larger than your specific situation. This forum is (in a way) just getting really started, and I would be saddened if we failed to give our fellow owners at least a shot at redemption, first, before throwing them to the dogs.
I also believe it is a very good thing, perhaps an indispensable thing, to have an entire spectrum of views expressed honestly here, from A-Z, in an atmosphere of tolerance and mutual respect, even if we occasionally 100% butt heads. That's why I was bending over backwards to not make light of your complaint even as I made suggestions encouraging you to go "beyond the story" as you so sadly know it, and actively begin starting to re-write the script. Because you cannot change what has happened, but you can make the "big" choice, and see if you can't make something more positive out of the whole experience.
And so this being Saturday morning (at last!) I am out of here to go and paint. In signing off I say. Thank you, Sophie, for sharing (and I mean that.) And thanks to the rest of you. Personally, I am proud of this community. When was the last time you came upon an uncensored online forum with so much offered so freely, by so many fine people? I am excited by the possibilities here. I've not posted a question here yet, but I know when I do it will yield a reasoned, seasoned harvest. Au revoir
Hey Paul, you can call me SFVH for short!
I also think this forum is great! Am very excited about so many people sharing opinions.
And I appreciate a spirited debate. I enjoy hearing and pondering the many sides to an issue.
Also to clarify ... I think it would be great if Sophie writes a review and brings up these kinds of concerns ... but I never meant that she "necessarily" needs to do that. Sophie is free to do whatever she wants, however she wants. I was just giving my opinion that I think this kind of input would be very constructive for the host / owner. And if the host / owner is secretive and not putting the appropriate info on the listing, then this would be a good way of making sure that the potential guests do know about it.
And don't forget that Homeaway / VRBO allows the owner to respond.
So if a guest responds with something that you can fix, or with something that you just need to clarify better in the listing ... you can simply reply back with "Yes, thanks, for the feedback, we have now fixed this by doing X, Y, and Z."
That shows potential guests that you are a real person and that you listen and respond to feedback.
Also, assuming the vacation rental has some other good reviews ... having this one not-so-great review helps so that the reviews, as a whole, look more honest.
Another thing ... I like that Sophie said the place itself was gorgeous and very clean. If she highlights that in the review, and perhaps elaborates on that a little bit more, then people will see that it really is a good place. It's just that you have to be okay with the owners nearby, and the potential sounds of chickens and dogs and children etc outside in the yard.
I really do think there would be people who would actually LIKE THIS. And ... if there are people out there who wouldn't be liking it, then they need to know about these particulars. Otherwise, they might book this place, and it would be totally wrong for them. Like what happened to Sophie. This is what we are trying to prevent.
Another tack that Sophie could take is that she could e-mail / call the owners and tell them what her experience was. She could say that she wants the owner to change the listing / web site to specifically clarify the real situation at the place. Sophie could give the owners to show that they care about this. If they do update the listing to make it more accurate and honest, then she could write a review that is perhaps more watered down ... since the things she's highlighting (owners living next door, chickens / dogs / children in the yard, no privacy through the glass door, etc) would already have been addressed by the owner (e.g., drapes or privacy film added to the glass door) and the other things would be highlighted in the listing.
As I've said before, the important thing is that the listing is as accurate and as thorough / complete as possible. This will help attract the right people to that particular vacation rental.
I provided a very nice gas grill at one of our vacation rentals. Each time guests would leave, I would have to clean it. I posted a sign on the deck not to leave unattended. One of our guests completely burned it up right on the deck. It was a terrible fire hazard and now we won't have a gas grill again. If, while they are visititing, they don't keep it clean, there's a definite fire hazard.
We do have a charcoal grill, but now we ask the guests to do their grilling off the deck. No matter what way you look at it...there's a fire hazard with a grill if left unattended.
The configuration of the units may make a big difference. At our place we have the carriageloft.com, which is above the garage and attached to the Main house in the corner. It has a separate entrence with a door bell. The cottagepoolhouse.com rises above the pool and is made private by trees. The pool and spa are fairly visible by both and shared by all. We find that we have some guests who pull all the blinds and stay inside. We have other guests that open their doors, get in the spa and start grillling on the barbecue. Some people actually invite us to come and have dinner with them. They may be lonely or are just friendly and like to speak to others. We really care that our guests have a wonderful time and do our best to occomodate their wishes. Sometimes we have families with young children who we find ringing our doorbell and asking our son to play, for which our son is more than happy to occomodate. My wife and I really enjoy people, so our guests have the best of all worlds. We give them privacy or friendly smiling faces.
We traded into a vacation home. It was the cutest little cottage. The owner was a sweet old lady that was constantly coming by to see if we needed anything. I am sure her intentions were just to be helpful. However, as a guest, it was...well creepy. We had her phone number we would have called if we needed her. I think most guests prefer their privacy.
I would make it very clear that you are going to be onsite and I would consider contacting them directly so that there wouldn't be any misunderstandings. We used to rent the house we now own and the owner would sometimes appear and stay in the apartment above the garage which was right near the house. We were a bit miffed that the owner showed up without any warning - he introduced himself, etc., and was perfectly friendly,but we didn't particularly like having him nearby. We felt that we rented the property for ourselves and we really didn't want to have to socialize with anyone else - this was our family time. That said, the owner was very nice and more or less kept to himself - although now and then (when he had friends visiting or if he dropped by for a chat after a beer or two, we would begin to feel like we were his guests instead of paying customers).
I think if your place is advertized as a "get away from it all" sort of place, you need to be sensitive to that. Hope this helps.
We have a small vacation rental cottage next door to our home in Gulf Shores, AL and always let potential renters know the owner lives next door. My feeling from the start has been if it bothers anyone, there are plenty of other places to stay.
We've made many new friends and always have many new and returning guests every year. Oh - and our guests always take very good care of the property, too!
Gulf Shores, AL
Our rental is an 1100 sq ft pool house with a pool table and spiral staircase up to the bedroom. It sets at the opposite end of our Pool Deck from our rear entrance. So we share the pool deck. We also offer a gas grill. So far we have only had three renters and all seemed comfortable with us being there. One lady had three kids. I told them if they would help me gather dead wood from out back we would build a large fire and roast hot dogs and make smores. They loved it. The tractor rides were a big hit too.
On the other side of the coin, if the renters seem like they would rather be left alone, that's what we do. You certainly don't want to push yourselves on them.
I read everyone's comments and it sounds like it really depends on the guests. In my situation, I was living in my 4/2bth vacation cabin because I was unemployed and looking for work. I also manage my own properties, which include this cabin, and a guest cottage appx. 150' away. I was actively marketing the cabins when I got a booking. So I moved out of the cabin, taking all personal belongings with me, down to the guest cottage for the week that the guests would be here. I didn't mention it to them; I just told them that the guest cabin would be occupied while they were there and not to be surprised. And I gave them my cell phone number--they didn't have to know their neighbor was me. Everything was fine until the 2nd day when they called me that the dishwasher broke. So, I had to call the repair guy and meet him there. Well, then my cover was blown, but they didn't seem to mind. Once the repair man left, I went back to my business, and they theirs. The next booking I remained anonymous next door, and never met the guests in person and they never knew it was me.
Personally, I think when guests come out to my cabin, because of its seclusion, they expect privacy so I would think they would NOT want anyone else near them, unless the owner explains up front that they need to be there. I was lucky and able to get away with it, but if the shoe were on the other foot, I think I'd want to know that my neighbor is the homeowner.
I am a home-owner and me and my family live in part of the premises that we rent. Perhaps it is because we are in italy and so our guests appreciate the help that we give them with booking restaurants and letting them know the best places to visit, but we have never ever had a problem with being around when we have guests. In fact quite the opposite. It is more often than not the guests that come to find us to let us know how their day of exploration went, and is very often them who come round as ask us if we would like to have a glass of wine with them. Most of our guests say that they arrive feeling like they knows already through our e-mail communication and it feels like we are old friends by the time they leave. I think this is a complement to the way that we take pride in looking after our guests. Agreed, some like to left alone, but even when we try to remain completely invisible they can't resist coming and chatting whilst we are mucking out stables, collecting eggs, working in the kitchen garden ...
Our house is very big and two of our apartments make up part of the house; there is plenty of space for everyone both in and around the house, and in the garden, nobody spies on anyone and no body gets in eachother's way.
We have many repeat guests, which to me says that they like spending their holidays at our home. We also get a lot of reccomended bookings through previous visitors. Word of mouth speaks volumes I'd say!
My husband and I live on-site of our Mayan Rivera (Cancun/Playa del Carmen) Beach villa rentals. We have lived on-site for 12+ years my husband is a chef and prepares meals if requested by our guest. We have found that here in Mexico it is a PLUS to be an on-site owner. Our visitors feel Safer, there is no language barrier, and we are 300 feet away if there are any issues...my husband just walks over with his tools himself.
However we do NOT go into the villas except for the arrival greeting unless asked, the maids and staff enter the villa to service the guest but we do not. We have a PBX system and have an extension, if our renters want something they just pick-up the phone. Our Policy is that the villas are the "RENTERS' home while they are renting "NOT OURS", I wouldn't want people in my home uninvited. Some renters want to hear all about us and the area.... some rent our villa just because it is on a secluded beach and they are independent and what to be left alone.
I also find that our renters a lot of the time just want a question answered or extra pasta pot, a spice or ingredient for a recipe they are making or some restaurant advise, they do not really want a conversation.
Suggestions if you are going to be on-site privacy owners:
1st. Try to be available but invisible....
2nd. Love you Rental Home but not too much!!! (Keep it in tip top shape it's your business ...."Rarely" you are going to have to bite your tongue when you see stuff like kids jumping on furniture, bath towels being used to apply sunless tanning products, people eating spaghetti in bed...because you do learn that people DON"T all live like you do!... so it's best NOT to be in the rental to see this stuff... just BUY lots of stain remover!! Remember just because your careful and can use a set of sheets for 3 years or a set of pots and pans for 5 years doesn't mean your renters will.. REPLACE stuff it's part of business... don't be nick picky about security deposits... I find making someone pay for a broken plate of or broken washer machine knob can leave some bad feelings...however not making an issue of it makes for a repeat customer... stuff will break.) FYI: Most all renters keep very good care of your property.
3rd. Never "Talk" money with renters... I give them a written check-out bill and tip envelope with tipping suggestions for the staff the night before they leave (I use a restaurant check out receipt holder), if they have questions they phone me. I have just found it kind of "ruins" the vacation mood talking about money or settling up in person. However if they want to talk I'm always available.
Anyway that is my 2 cents after 12 years!!!
We usually rent in Stone Harbor and Avalon New Jersey every year. 1 year we rented a half house with the owner in the other half...now he's not always there just happened to be there the week we were. We had no issues with him whatsoever and when our one stair had a nail pop out he came right over and fixed it. Last year the owner's lived a block away and when our toaster didn't work they went out and bought a new one for us. Again we never really knew they were close by. Last year though they gave us recommendations on where to buy our crabs and even let the kids take a ride around the bay on their boat which the kids loved. We've had owners tell us nice places to eat and fun things to do with our small kids and its always been a plus
As for us we are getting ready to buy a vacation home in Florida but we have to pay a property manager because we live in Pennsylvania and we won't be relocating to be closer to our vacation home.
We have a one-bedroom apt on the first floor of our home, and rent out the top two floors. We have a separate entrance, and are not always here. We have repeat guests who ask if we are going to be there, because they have become friends and want to see us. Occasionally we have guests who don't want to interact. We stay out of their way, don't have guests when they are here, and leave the house for the day if they don't leave. We just had a party that didn't expect us to be here because I had told them we aren't normally here this time of year. Well, I had to have a medical procedure done so we came unexpectedly. They weren't happy. We stayed out of their way. Might mention that the wife had just had a hiking accident and was in the hospital with a broken leg. That probably colored their vacation in general so I won't take it personally. But it was uncomfortable. You just need to let your guests know and try to read their mood. As with some other posters, we have guests who have us up for drinks or dinner, and want to talk about their days. Others quietly come and go with little conversation. Everyone is different. In the future I will be telling all guests we may be there, because there's always a chance such as the emergency I experienced this trip. BTW, medically all is ok, so it was a good trip for me.
For 3 years I offered the third floor of my home as a vacation rental through HomeAway and VRBO. I listed the property with a "shared kitchen", and tried to make it clear that it was ONLY the third floor. Often times I would get inquiries from folks, asking for confirmation about the living arrangement. For some, having me there on the second floor was completely not going to work for them. If I suggested it was something like a bed and breakfast, just no breakfast - some liked that even better than the traditional B & B; and it helped them to understand what I was offering. But for the majority of people who had read the listing and understood I was probably going to be there - it worked out fine. In fact - it was SPENDID. Many of my neighbors happily had their own overflow guests stay with me. I found that the travelers willing to move in with me were more worldly travelers. Sometimes when I came home from work - they offered me a glass of wine, and invited me to join them for dinner. It was like having a built in conceirgce for many guests. I provided dining and travel tips. Made suggestions for things to do. Mostly, I would retreat to my locked off 2nd floor, where I had my own private bed/bath/porch suite. But in a surprising number of times - there would be a knock on my door, asking me for something - whether it was more help with travel/vacation plans, or to join them for a meal. I think it was a wonderful experience. I've moved on now, and that house was sold - but I'm guessing that some of my past guests will continue to be my friends in the future. And I wouldn't be surpirsed if they come visit me at my new home, even though I'm no longer providing the vacation home rental..
Being "Live On Property Owners" has its benefits for us and our renters. Our motto on our registration for is.
"Our house is your house" - "Mi Casa Su Casa". We are located in a crater mountain in Panama, two hours from Panama City, in a small community calle El Valle. (vrbo.com/162797) Our property sits on 3.8 acres with the house(attached office) in the front and our cabins and grill area in the back.
A lot depends on what the clients needs are. Since most of our renters are from North America and Europe they love the special attention we give them while they are here in Panama. The clients from Panama like their privacy but like to visit with us. That is just what Panamanians do. The rest appreciate the special attention we give them during their visit to Panama. We open up our house to them to use our kitchen for cooking and eating, our living room to watch TV, our office to use the internet and our bathrooms to our campers. We provide a map and list of things to do while visiting El Valle or the country of Panama, we help them choose good restaurants to eat and their menus and costs, we provide transportation to areas within the community or to the beach if they are backpackers/walkers and translation from English to Spanish in case of an emergency with illness, injury, reservations, credit cards etc. and provide them security here at our cabins or within the community. Finally, we invite them to join in family or group activites we are having for their entertainment. Sometimes, we even adopt them, depending on their youthful age, for their short visit here with us.
If they want their privacy, we give it to them as long as they are respectiveful of our property and our other clients. (99% of them are). But most of our clients appreciate the extra time and special attention we give them while they are visiting Cabanas Potosi and many return for another visit or they have friends who come and stay with us because of what they have heard about us.. And, we love having them and helping them have a great visit.
Wenny, your cabins sound like a true paradise! I can't wait to book my next vacation to Panama! I would definitely appreciate staying in cabins attended by such kind and considerate hosts.
I looked at your web site, such beautiful pictures. I can imagine the birds, and flora and fauna one could see on a vacation to your cabins. I love the image of spending time in a hammock reading a book, and in the morning, letting the blue parakeets of the valley be my alarm clock. Wow!
Don't be surprised if you hear from me later this summer.
We have a large log home that we converted to a vacation rental this past year on our seven acre property. We moved into what was the MIL home. So we are onsite owners. We advertise on Home Away as #296927 and on VRBO#350532. We are located between Forks, Washington and La Push, just three miles from the beaches. We get fisherman, site seers and those that just want a romantic retreat. We also try very hard to make this on out of the ordinary experience, with local hand made soap and French roast coffee and grinder. We enjoy our guests but like to give them as much privacy as they want. We have found some guests really want to interact and some are here for a very private vacation. Our private guests rarely see us unless they need supplies or want to even on our trails it is very rare for us to see our meet on the trails as we have many back trails too. We have had some guests recently from Australia that came over and wanted to visit in the evenings and help feed our ‘bummer’ lambs. We have chickens and offer all our guests a dozen farm fresh eggs. Since we advertise this in our ad we have had no complaints even about our confused rooster that occasionally crows at two am…
Our log home will sleep twelve guests so we get a lot of family groups and they love the farming experience and want to put on their boots on to help gather eggs for their breakfast. Our bottle fed lambs are a delight to the adults and the children.
We also offer a very private get away that even honeymooners have been thoroughly pleased with. If our guests want to see us, hear about the recreation, the best fishing holes, beach trails, or even the Twilight hot spots we are available but our property is large enough that they need never see us if they truly want a private vacation.
Since our ad is very clear on what we offer we get both types of vacationers. We have only been open for a year but it has been a blast. We have one group that has already returned three times. Two of the ladies in the group were expecting and they even made plans just incase to have their midwife travel to the cabin for the delivery. No, we did not have a baby born here but just a week later. We have four new lambs this year though and three a bottle fed babies. So after reading all the other posts on living onsite I thought I would add ours. We have found due to the size of our property we can easily add both options; privacy or a bit of farming community. And even city dwellers love the fresh eggs. We love being onsite owners and we like have our privacy too.
Wow lots of comments... There was a time when I stayed at many B&Bs, so I often was in a bedroom of a large house. The very best was the ones where the owners are invisible. They provided excellent customer service for example, when we left for dinner, they went in and changed the towels! Super nice. The worst was a beautiful house on a huge property in the mountains. The phones rang none stop. The owners were loud and seemed put out that they had guests. At night they had a TV blasting loud. There was no escaping their busy lives, so we left early and found a hotel. They of course refused to refund any portion of our rental money.
So, I think owners on property can be fine. Make sure the renter knows ahead of time. You will only have one chance at a good impression, so consider that when providing customer service.
I manage several vacation properties where I live and from my experience it appears that vacationers really like their privacy.
One of my units is a side by side duplex with the owner living on one side and renting the other. Each side has their own private backyard and patio. The unit rents well because it is a 3 bedroom and can sleep 6. Even though the owner is very close it doesn't seem like it because of the residential area it is located in with houses fairly close together.
Another property is a refurbished heritage-style home. The owner lives down the basement and rents the attic area to a long term local person and the main floor 3 bedroom unit as a vacation rental. In this scenario it is difficult to get a vacation renter because the yard is shared by all 3 units and visitors do not feel private.
So it kind of depends. Guests renting a larger acerage outside the city limits would also probably not like to feel they are sharing the space with someone else even the owner.
Just my 2 cents
We are following this with interest because we do live onsite. Our rental is the bottom floor of our home, essentially. http://www.vrbo.com/229936 (or on another site http://www.flipkey.com/utila-condo-rentals/p268525)
We had initially wondered how that was going to affect our bookings, but have found it to be non-existent or unimportant aspect of the equation.
All of our guests are well aware that we are onsite before they book with us. The majority of our guests have had between 5 and 20 correspondences with us prior to their arrival. They know that we are onsite. We have as much or as little contact with the guest as they desire; we pick them up at the ferry dock or the airport and return to that location when they depart. In between it is up to them.
Our rental is the lower floor of the home and has a separate entrance. We built it specifically for that purpose and furnished it to be "homey" (we even include a guitar) ~ unlike like a hotel, but we also have no personal effects in the rental. The single most "selling" aspect of the rental is the custom pool we built. When we have guests that pool is for their use only, as are the rest of the grounds. None of our friends use it or the grounds when we are booked and they all call ahead to make sure they don't interrupt a guest. Even Jo and I don't use the grounds unless invited by the guests. This is their vacation.
That being said, we are somewhat well known for hosting dinner parties on Friday nights where 8 - 25 people come for the afternoon/evening. Those dinners are suspended when we are booked. However, Laguna Vista is perfect for that and many of our guests have read or heard about it. (We also get a number of bookings through Facebook, which lends itself to personal interaction between past guests and potential guests). We have had a number of guests actually request that we do have a Friday night dinner, and often use the occasion to show off their own cooking skills by preparing their specialty for the guests. Some of our guests like to meet island "locals" with their unique linguistic lilt, or patios, and this gives them an opportunity to do so in a marginally controlled environment; the guest list is tailored to the kind of guest we have. (One dinner hosted for a Danish couple consisted of 25 people representing 17 different nationalities).
The other end of the spectrum is the couple that flew in from NBC in New York for a few days and wanted no interaction whatsoever, which is exactly what we gave them. They wanted only to enjoy each other and some down time. We spoke to them only upon arrival and departure, with them actually "seeing" us only when we went through the front gate. They were a joy to have with us and took zero effort or time from us.
My point here, I suppose, is that it has worked very well for us because we are up front about it. We do not spring it on our guests; they are well aware that we live on the property. An upside we have discovered from this arrangement is that we have had people choose to NOT stay with us because they knew we were onsite, and then heard from our friends that did book them that the guest(s) was a drunken, doped up, belligerent pain in the ass. We would not have tolerated that behaviour. (Drinking is of course expected, and our guests are met with a glass of wine upon arrival; they have previously been informed that no dope is allowed on the property)
My final thought would be to not be overly concerned about being an onsite host. Just let your potential guest know and then give them what they want... as much or as little interaction as they might desire. Our reviews have inspired many of our bookings.
Tony and Jo
Hello there, Tony and Jo:
I read your post a few days ago, and something about it touched me deeply and inspired me. I’ve found myself thinking now and again about the place and the experience you describe, ever since. I cannot tell you why, because I have no idea. But I did feel to tell you that it had, and to thank you for that mysterious gift. I am sure that the vacation rental experience that you offer is something more than just that.
You sound like simply wonderful people, and as much as anyone I've heard of lately, seem to be leading the truly "sweet life." ( I say "truly" because it is genuinely yours, and also because it seems that you enjoy most of all sharing the bounty you've received, with others.) I thought, "These people have brought down to this troubled Earth a small taste of Heaven now, when we most need and hunger for it." In today's mean world,even a touch of Heaven can send some beautiful ripples very far indeed.
And you are not the only ones! No one is participating in this forum because they have to. We are not seeking "green shamrocks" for our windows (remember those?), or accreditation. We are sharing because we are all learning upon the way, and have much to offer one another, and because (fundamentally) we all want to give our guests (and ourselves, by the way, for the two seem to rise or fall together) a better and richer experience. I have been so impressed, generally, with the true quality and caliber of people as revealed under trying circumstances. I have heard voices of clarity and gentle kindness. I feel it a privilege to be part of this community. I suspect that there is no other group exactly like it, anywhere.
But speaking of trying times, I will bring this sincere song of praise to a quick end, as I sit pecking away by dim candle-light in an oven-hot house now mostly without power. Aaaargh. Our 1937 electrical wiring started acting strangely last week, and only got worse. Thankfully, the Cottage behind (also dark) is not rented at the moment, and neither is the Mission next door. (Lounging about in Florida heat without air cond. is a state of affairs usually reserved for the aftermath of one or the other great Hurricanes. Not generally recommended.)
But I just wanted to hop on and offer a heartfelt Thanks to all.
Warmly yours : )
Paul... what a lovely message. We who have the privilege to own beautiful homes and enjoy sharing our little pieces of paradise with others will appreciate your words. We are not just in this for the money... we actually really enjoy having guests in our home and I would say that 99.9% of them leave as firm friends and return again and again and continue to communicate with emails, letters and phone calls to further develop relationships with us. Our children make new friends from all over the world that they would probably not have the opportunity to do if we didn't open our house to guests.
We feel utterly fortunate in every way to be in position to share our world with others.
Our permanent residence is the top floor of a duplex; we rent out the bottom floor. In the "tell us about yourself" section of our listing, we say that we live here, but there are many people who don't read carefully or thoroughly enough to pick up on that. About 10 days before their arrival, we email them with written directions, instructions for key pickup, a couple of links to info about the area, and this sentence: "We live upstairs and would enjoy meeting you, but we don't want to intrude on your vacation." That's worked very well. As others hae stated, some do and some don't. BTW, this idea might not have originated with me. I probably got it from this blog, from which I have learned a LOT. Thanks, everybody!
We live onsite when in town as well and although most of the times we are not in town, I still purposefully put it on the ads that 'owners live in the building'. I use this to weed out people who want to do crazy things in our property. There was this guest whom we met before and seemed like a nice guy. The first question he asked when he met us: you guys live in this building? And we said, no, we don't. Just before they left, other guests in the building reported that they partied all night long, getting drunk and making all kinds of noise until 3am. After he left, my cleaning lady reported a few bedsheets were missing and one of the (brand new) lounge chairs had a cigarette hole in it. And the entire place smelled like cigarette. Later on, a neighbor told us she saw a few guys in that unit with all kinds of filming equipment in the veranda, partying and looking drunk.
So lesson learned now. It's better for the guests to think that we are around, or in close proximity. Those who have no bad intention would be ok with that. I rent other people's places and never had a problem with homeowners living nearby as long as they respect our privacy.
My husband's family had a family reunion (I couldn't go) and we rented a VRBO in Montana and unfortunately, while the house was absolutely wonderful, the constant contact with the owner, who joined family conversations around the fire pit, and brought over fresh eggs in the morning, etc. was a little uncomfortable for my husbands family who only wanted to spend time with the family. He believed that they are so isolated that the only social contact that they may get is during guest stays and so I wouldn't book another property with on-site owners again. While they were not rude, in fact very very nice, it was an intrusion into the privacy of the family time.
If you are an on-site owner it is important to "know" what type of interaction your guests want with the owners. They may not want you to come over for any reason, even if it is a nice gesture like farm fresh eggs for breakfast..
Personally, I don't think he should have to "tell" the owner to go away, that would be rude! On-site owners need to understand, and I think most of them do that guests are not there to visit with them and would rather only have contact with them if they have a problem. I don't go on vacation to spend time talking with hotel clerks, it is the same with VR's.
there is only behaviour "best" is what you choose it to be. again, i've known many lodging owners and they have all been welcoming and non-intrusive and available - as long as no property damage is done any knowledgeable person recognizes that people all have their own journies and they are all "best"
In response the the "rude" conotation of a guest politely being empowered and saying to the hosts "we appreciate your willingness to interact and we are ok on our own" would get the message across.
I always had a six sense about who wanted and didn't want company and any good lodging person knows to simply inquire if the guests need anything and take it from there.
My guests usually did seek my out and my knowledge.
My point is that guest shouldn't put in the position of saying anything to the owner about his presence during their vacation time. Of course, anyone can ask suggest to someone that they don't need any further assistance, but that should be a given and owners should understand. You are expecting many people who may not feel comfortable asking the owner to have less involvement to be assertive. I would avoid that home like the plague.