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Value For Dollar, Air bnb

March 13, 2017 1 Comment

I was a travel agent for many years, and have not lost my love of hotels. There is nothing like a stay at a first class establishment to make you feel pampered and rested. I prefer to save up for a special stay if I want to stay in a hotel. When they converted the Waldorf-Astoria to apartments last week I was really happy I had stayed there a couple of times. Once I talked the sales representative into giving me a two bedroom suite for the price of a double room. It was spectacular, and I will never forget it. The Sunday brunch was also to die for.  Five star hotels are memorable, but they are not the only way to have a special vacation.  Since air bnb started I have used it for particular locations. Sometimes the most important aspect of the stay is the exact location.  Air bnb has expanded my choices when I travel to include a large and growing number of private homes, guest houses, and rooms for rent to paying customers.  I used to rent private flats in other countries, and it was tricky.  Now this has become easy and safe for all involved parties. Air bnb connects renters with exceptional spaces to rent.

The company carries insurance for both the renter and the property owner.  There is a vetting process, and the reviews are made public.  If a guest is undesirable and is reviewed as a bad prospect, other owners will not want to rent to him.  Conversely, if an accommodation is reviewed as less than perfect, prospective renters can take this into account when deciding on a rental.  I have only had one property that worked out well for me but I declined to review because I thought it was not appropriate for most travelers.  I have been around the world and have a pretty wide range of tolerances, but this is not the case for all clients of air bnb.  The base of customers and rentals is growing, which means there are new places on the rental market all the time. I keep some wish lists of properties for future reference.  This helps me check certain cities for my dream accommodations quickly. There are many choices, and trip planning is a sport for me.  I can get lost in the air bnb site for hours, just doing research on new locations.

I go to Tempe, Arizona at least once a year for a weekend.  I like to live like a regular person in the neighborhood when I am there.  I don’t always cook, but I like the option of a kitchen for flexibility.  This is one of the major advantages to hotel life in my mind.  Each host is different, but generally the renter is given free use of the kitchen, and normally the outdoor barbecue, if there is one.  If nothing else this allows me to store any produce I pick up at framers markets, and gives me a place to make my coffee in the mornings.  Hosts almost always provide coffee and tea.  Some go all out with gifts of food and wine for the traveller. I have moved in to find a case of fizzy water and other goodies left by the previous tenant.  The host describes what is provided so there is little chance of surprise.  Being accurate in the description is an important issue to the company.  I find they are all good at that.  Obviously, some personalities will fit better than others, and staying in someone’s home is intimate.  All my hosts have been just right for my tastes, usually leaving the premises, and leaving me alone.  Many will leave a key or a lock box for convenience checking in while they are at work.  My recent stay at Larry’s place in Tempe worked out very well for my needs.  I would recommend his property for anyone.  He is friendly, but low key.  His very well presented guide book helped me navigate the area when I arrived.  It was  very helpful.

Larry's yard

Larry’s yard



The referral and vetting system is similar to Uber or Lyft.  If you use my invitation link to sign up , you will receive a discount of $40 on your first booking.  I will be rewarded with $20 in credit after you take your first trip.  It is a win/win situation. Have you tired using air bnb, gentle reader?  It is becoming much more popular all the time.

Biblical Hospitality in Sonoita, Arizona

February 9, 2016 1 Comment

I took a trip last week with my Swiss visitors to discover nature and culture in southern Arizona. I shopped extensively for the right location to make our headquarters for exploration.   I was rewarded for my effort by spending two nights at the Hetrick’s Cozy Wine Country Retreat in Sonoita. It is situated on 16 acres of land with spectacular views in all directions.  As with all air bnb listings, the hosts provided everything we needed.  They have three cute dogs that have the run of the house, which made me very happy. The dogs are friendly and playful.  The large fire David built for us in the evening was a focal point for conversation and some local wine sipping.  Our hosts retreated to their offices and gave us the living room for our conversation.  The Hetricks provide exactly the amount of privacy the guests desire.  They are available for guidance and local knowledge, but allow the guests to use the kitchen, dining room, and beautiful patios of the home to their hearts’ content.  We arrived on the two coldest days of the year, so we did not enjoy any patio time.  We were very pleased to see the roaring fire in the living room to welcome us.

The Hetricks are involved in a Christian congregation and have a unique viewpoint on hosting.  They practice biblical hospitality.  They are both proud of this philosophy which honors every guest as a special gift.  The home is filled with very tasteful Christian art, including a wall of crosses collected from around the world.  There is no attempt to convert or even to discuss religion, but when I brought up the subject they explained their special mission within the hospitality industry.  The attitude is palpable.  We felt like part of the home, if not related to the family.  The labyrinth was the last place we went before we drove home to Tucson.  The site is incredibly scenic and moving.  To walk the pattern into the middle and back out is symbolic of inner and outer life.  The meaning is always personal and takes some contemplation.  For me the sunny morning labyrinth meditation was a strong message of spiritual intention.  Our trip had been blessed by the practice of biblical hospitality.  If you are in Arizona looking for a very good deal on some biblical hospitality do check out Cozy Wine Country Retreat.  It is a special place.





Air bnb vs Hotel Throwdown

July 27, 2014 3 Comments

I came to Austin to attend a reunion party that was held yesterday at the Drury Inn. Although I am very happy in my Air BnB Airstream I decided to check into the hotel for one night to have the best experience at the party. I am glad I did because the festivities were extensive and the crowd big. By staying there I was able to visit and enjoy the group, drink alcohol, and then just fall asleep in my hotel room. I brought my bathing suit thinking I might go in the pool, but the party was the focus, so I never unpacked the suit.  I had a wonderful time and ate some amazing food that was brought to the giant potluck.  Someone even imported white cheese from Venezuela for the arepas.  I got so full I could not taste all the goodies, but I was impressed with the creativity of all the cooks.  There was a giant paella prepared, then some music and dancing after dinner.  All in all this was one of the best organized and entertaining parties to which I have been invited.  It was really fun to see friends from 50 years ago.

Today it took me less than 5 minutes (because it is Sunday) to move back to East Austin to the Airstream.  I like both hotel and Air bnb, but for different reasons.  My love for hotels will never die, but now I have a choice when I travel, so I do look for availability in the rental market to compare prices/value.  It all comes down to one thing for me..or, or if you are a real estate professional you could say three things..location, location, and location.  If I can situate myself in the exact spot I want to be I consider the Air BnB option to be the superior one.  You will be exposed to the local culture, have a chance to live like a native wherever you are when you rent a space from a private owner.   I have found my hosts to be very attentive to my personal needs, offering much information and guidance that makes the stay more individually crafted.  This time my host is out of the country and two very local managers handle anything I need.  My full of organic food and drink kitchen saved me both money and time upon arrival.  The two fancy bottles of wine for which there is a $15 charge if I decide to drink them are a super nice touch.  I have laundry facilities and plenty of parking off the street.

I liked my hotel stay because:

  • It was convenient, clean, and well managed
  • The staff was very helpful and friendly in every way
  • The internet was the fastest I have had in any hotel (often this is a problem)
  • They serve good coffee at breakfast (this is not always true)
  • The bed was excellent, providing full comfort when I crashed
  • There was room for our big party and they let us make paella in the parking lot
  • They have bathtubs and unlimited hot water (this was my favorite part..I took 3 baths during my overnight stay)

I am happy to be home in the Airstream because:

  • I am integrated into this neighborhood and know my way around
  • I have total privacy
  • I have a full (tiny) kitchen and lots of storage space in general
  • I am not right next to the freeway
  • My rent is about half what the hotel costs
  • My managers are on hand to answer all my questions and give me good advice
  • I live here as a part of the community rather than a pure tourist. I meet people who live here.
  • Now I can say I have stayed in an Airstream

I am not sure how you like to travel or what your priorities are, but check out Air BnB for the fun of it.  You can start a wish list if there are properties that strike your fancy.   Depending on where you want to be it may or may not be the best choice, but I think it is worth investigation.  The Airstream has no TV.  I do have Hulu, but I can only see the evening news 24 hours after it is broadcast.  These days there is so much tragedy in 24 hours, and all the news comes on twitter anyhow.  Being spared the ritual of news watching at the end of every day at this particular time has been a blessing.  At breakfast in the hotel the television was large and looming. CNN was showing us all the freaky horror going on in the world…over our morning meal.  This, I can certainly do without.  Home sweet Airstream, for 3 more days!


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