Since Airbnb launched in 2008, short-term rental homes have become a popular way to travel or take a staycation. Tucson has also become a popular travel destination, with its saguaro cacti and boundless blue sky, encircled by mountains.
Among Tucson’s busy roads and vegetation sit short-term rental properties, which provide safe and welcoming spaces for guests. The following Airbnb hosts discussed their experiences with renting out local homes and detailed the importance of their location for the widely reviewed properties.
La Casta de Agave
Airbnb host and Tucson native Teri Geunther owns a property five miles north of the University of Arizona. After three years, 182 reviews and just barely below a five-star rating on the Airbnb app, Geunther said, “People book it for the views, and come back for the views.” Her property, La Casita de Agave is on a hill overlooking both the city and the mountains and surrounded by the desert scenery of the Catalina foothills.
Hosting has become a full time job for Geunther, who said her listing has been “completely successful and a little surprising.” The home started as a renovation project. Then, the people that came to redo the house’s flooring casually recommended that Geunther rent it out via Airbnb.
After the remodeling, Guenther “hit the streets” to shop at yard and estate sales. “We found two lovely blue chairs … that triggered the whole entire design,” she said. After three years, since-updated furniture and hand built kitchen cabinetry, the blue armchairs remain a staple of this classically styled casita.
Cleanliness is something Guenther has been “super picky” about, even before the pandemic hit the U.S. in the spring of 2020. “I want [the guests] to think they are the first person that has walked in here,” she said. Guenther twice hired professional house cleaners, but said they “failed miserably.”
Providing toiletries, extra linens, fresh fruit and customized surprises for the guests, Guenther said, “hosting is kinda my personality,” as someone who’s lifelong dream was to own a bed-and-breakfast. Airbnb, which stands for “Air bed-and-breakfast,” has given Guenther that opportunity, minus making breakfast in the morning.
Increasingly personalized, Diane Kramm, artist and mother to Teri Guenther, hand-paints rocks for each guest with their names and southwest landscape scenery.
Southwest Urban Tucson Adobe
Adam Lundquist, a realtor and founder/owner of Southwest Urban, does general contracting and took on a rental property in Dunbar Springs as a “personal project.” With degrees in Business Management and Regional Development from the UA, Lundquist said that “per month, [a short-term rental] makes more rent.” After renting out properties to long term tenants, Lundquist said that Airbnb tenants are “higher quality” and take better care of the property.
The property was built in 1899 and still maintains its white mud adobe framework. Lundquist renovated the space to make it more functional, while showcasing its charm and character.
In his work, Lundquist said he tries to use sustainable or locally sourced materials. In this Airbnb’s case, the renovation featured cork flooring throughout, utilizing a renewable resource.
Lundquist described the adobe house as “cool and clean” with lots of natural light and decor that he feels gives off a “Tucson vibe.” When Airbnb introduced their COVID-19 cleaning policies, Lundquist said he was “well positioned” because he had already been following many of the protocols, in addition to contactless keypad access for travelers.
Beard and Braid: Desert Homes
On a journey for self discovery, Erin Warren set out on a van trip across the country with her husband, Kassidy Warren. During this time, the married couple reflected on the “idea of providing cool homes in cool places.” Warren explained that on their trip, the van broke down in Tucson, which was not on their list of places to stop.
Being from the Pacific Northwest, Warren was stunned by Tucson’s “magic.” After moving to Tucson, the couple now have become Airbnb entrepreneurs, under the business name of beardandbraid.com. After touring an estimated 30 houses in Tucson, the Warren’s now rent out two Tucson homes, a Tucson casita and a property in Cleveland, Ohio.
Even before their van adventure, the Warrens rented out their spare bedroom in a Kirkland, Washington condo. Warren said that starting small on Airbnb served as “research, in a way,” as they were able to host, communicate with travelers from all over the world and realize what it takes to provide a meaningful guest experience.
Desert Vibrations, located in the foothills, encapsulates the natural beauty of the “Tucson experience.” Through her interior design, Warren wanted to provide a warm and welcoming experience, while adding personal touches she described as “subtle southwest.”
Desert Hues, ironically located in the eclectic midtown neighborhood of Sam Hughes, was inspired by the warm tones of the desert sunsets of Tucson. Featuring a newly remodeled pink-tiled bathroom, Warren described the interior design as “fun and fresh.”
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Warren has noticed that the way people travel has changed. Guests have begun booking longer trips, traveling with their family and pets or looking for a new space to work remotely. “People will always want to travel, it will just look a little different,” Warren said.
As 2020 was a difficult year for people across the globe, traveling became a highlight of the year for many. Warren said that “especially during the pandemic,” hosting providing guests with comfort has been a rewarding experience during what was otherwise such a taxing year.
What rental-house hosts Guenther, Lundquist and Warren all have in common is a gratitude for the Airbnb hosting experience: fulfilling creativity, finding joy in making guests happy and doing what they can to provide safe travel accommodations amidst a pandemic.
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