Esther’s Amish Country Apartment is among a growing number of short-term rentals in the Kidron area that stay busy through vacation rental websites.
By JACQUI HERSHBERGER
Short-term rentals can offer more flair than a hotel room and more privacy than a bed-and-breakfast. Come summertime, many short-term rentals in the Kidron area will be booked solid.
Using vacation rental websites such as Airbnb or VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner), people can search online for places to stay.
Some locals have decided to be hosts, sharing the serenity of the area with out-of-town guests.
Unlike a bed-and-breakfast, most short-term rentals don’t serve breakfast. In fact, many don’t even meet their guests in person. This growing market is something that is profitable and in demand.
Esther’s Amish Country Apartment
When Henry and Julie Beun’s mother, Esther, moved into assisted living, they decided to turn her apartment into a short-term rental. They have stayed in Airbnbs, and they wanted to offer the peace and quiet their property offers to others. On their second year as hosts, they have found all their guests to be respectful and appreciative of the space.
This past summer, when one family came from the city to stay, the father told them that he could feel all of the stress draining from his body within five minutes of being out in the country. Guests enjoyed their flowers, garden, and the beautiful views. Some sisters that came liked sitting on the front porch and just watching the Amish buggies go by.
Esther’s Amish Country Apartment has been a profitable endeavor so far. The owners said they hired cleaners, but feel that the rest of the work is easy since most of it is done online through Airbnb.
“Airbnb is an expression of the spiritual gift of hospitality,” Beun wrote. “We are enjoying the journey so far.”
The Dawdi Haus in Amish Country Ohio
Tess Yurik came across the home located near Preferred Airparts when she worked in the foreclosure business. Her first thoughts were: “Wow! This is a nice setting and a nice area.” About seven years ago, Yurik started off having long term tenants but they moved on.
She thought outside the box and asked Preferred Airparts if they needed a place for missionaries or short-term rentals to stay. They did.
Yurik also advertised in magazines and her first couple came from Kentucky for a horse auction.
“It turns out I was doing this (short-term rental) thing way before Airbnb!” Yurik said.
Once she heard about Airbnb and VRBO, she listed her home and “It just took off!” Yurik recalls, “It was kind of amazing.”
In the seven years it’s been a short-term rental, the home has had renters from all over the United States, Canada, Ireland, and England. Weekends in the winter are usually booked, and March through Christmas, there is a constant stream of guests.
Many people come back to stay at the Dawdi Haus. Every year, a mom and daughter come to take a break from city life in Boston.
But, perhaps the most memorable time was a guest that came for a funeral. With Yurik’s permission, the family brought moss from their deceased father’s land and planted it under a tree on the property. They come back every year.
People have been respectful and take care of things. She used to own some long term rentals, and when tenants left, you had to put in new carpet and paint everything. Short-term rentals are a lot of work, too: cleaning, keeping the property in top shape, communicating with guests, and anticipating their needs and wants.
But Yurik advises others to consider short-term renting. “If I had a house in a good location, I would pick short-term rental 100 percent of the time. It’s more work but more reward. You get to meet people from all the US and the world.” Yurik said.
Hosts must have attention to detail and communicate quickly and professionally with guests.
During the pandemic last spring, March through June, all her bookings were canceled and people didn’t start booking again until July 2020. Yurik was thankful she had set aside a fund for emergencies like last spring.
“This has been a good business that I hope to continue through retirement.” Yurik said.
Since opening their property to guests in June 2020, Duane and Verda Detweiler have already had guests from more than 12 states.
“We use Airbnb when we travel and we thought it would be interesting to host tourists who come into our community,” the Detweilers wrote in an email.
Verda recalls driving by the “For Sale” house every day, and she kept on thinking what a cute place it was. When they looked into it, they decided to buy it.
“My wife can just look at something and see its potential.” Duane Detweiler said.
Lucky for them, they were able to buy it right as the world was shutting down and before the cost of houses skyrocketed. Since the work was mostly cosmetic, preparing the home became their “COVID project.”
“We were here all the time.” he said.
Decorated with soothing tones and a modern yet comfortable feel, the home is just what guests need to feel welcome.
Located just west of Ten Thousand Villages and Lehman’s Hardware in Kidron, the Village Bungalow has a nice backyard and easy access to Kidron’s attractions. In fact, Lehman’s Hardware used to own the home. Customer service representatives used to take phone and online orders in this quaint house. Besides the layout, everything on the main floors has been updated. For a time, Kaufman Realty also used the home as an office.
When they bought the house, they tore out the cupboards in the kitchen and repainted areas. All the furniture, bedding, housewares, etc. were purchased online since it was during the shutdown.
Now that it’s ready for guests, one of the main jobs they do is keeping it clean.
“We do a complete cleaning after every guest leaves to prepare it for the next guest. We monitor our sites and respond to questions people may have and then after a booking send information
that the guest will need while staying at the Bungalow,” Detweiler wrote.
The Kidron Quilter’s Home
The Steiner family—Aggie, her brother Bruce, and Bruce’s wife, Sherri, inherited two condominiums from their parents, Lester and Irene Steiner, who had built them in the early 1980s as an investment property. For several years, they rented the four separate apartments as long-term rentals. But, they started getting phone calls from people inquiring about staying for less time. Enough people asked that they saw the demand for it, and they changed one of them to a short term stay.
Going on their third year, they’re enjoying the hospitality industry with their short-term rental, The Kidron Quilter’s Home. The fully furnished home is decorated in a quilt theme in honor of their parents. In her lifetime, Irene pieced over 500 quilts and Lester cut the pieces.
But it’s not just people who like quilting who want to stay there. Reasons vary but some have stayed because of local music festivals, the College of Wooster, auctions, and people who are in between homes. Some want to be among the Amish or have the peace and quiet of the country. If their guests are interested in quilting, the Steiners suggest they go to MCC Connections to watch people quilting and knotting blankets.
Amenities include a deck out back with a fire pit and other special perks they don’t advertise.
In two years, they’ve had no bad experiences. Everyone has been respectful of them and the property.
To be a host, Steiner suggested a flexible cleaning crew and maintenance person. Also important are bookkeeping and marketing skills, and a familiarity with the area.
“If friends or family coming, consider the Kidron Quilter’s Home for a great place to stay!” Steiner said.
An October 2020 review on Airbnb noted the family appreciated “being provided with helpful stuff for our baby (high chair, pack n play, etc) and there were toys for our little boy to enjoy!”
When people search for Kidron, Ohio, on Airbnb or on VRBO, they have several places to stay available to them. However, if they are booked already for the dates you’ve selected, they will not show up. Many guests want to return, so next time, their place might be open.
When asked about other short-term rentals, Sherri Steiner said she welcomes the competition.
“This is good for our area and our community,” Steiner said.