By Tyler Massas
Co-Owner of the Rusty Fork Ranch
March 30, 2018
So what is a spectacular Bed & Breakfast experience?
Is it spending the night in a Victorian house on a river with a view of snow-covered mountains? Waking up to song bird harmonies and shuffling across the rug-covered oak floors in your slippers? Dressing up in your preplanned ensemble for the day, having a nice omelet and toast with English breakfast tea while appreciating the fine silver in an old dining room draped in the 1890’s. Something like that, perhaps?
Maybe it’s not that predictable anymore. As much as I love a beautiful pastime adventure, the modern AirBnB concept, as well as other online vacation home facilitators, have turned tradition into a framed photo on the museum shelf. Things have changed drastically since the late 2000’s and the bed and breakfast experience might never resemble what was the standard for so long when you are thinking of places to lodge.
One big difference between an AirBnB, in contrast to a traditional B n B, is that AirBnB's usually don’t serve elaborate breakfasts. But how much of a concern is this for guests these days? I'm sure some people still seek the big breakfast served in the house they're staying at. Others might really prefer targeting one of the best restaurants in the neighborhood.
Maybe coffee or tea is just the right cure for a morning awakening?
Before I go on, please take this as absolute fact – I am in no way getting paid by AirBnB or any affiliate to write this content. I promise. This is completely my 3:00 AM obsession tonight. Couldn’t sleep.
The free market usually creates better, or at least more interesting products and services than monolith industries. The recent AirBnB concept completely rearranged all of our minds and the ability to envision a vacation accommodation. Not to mention the entire travel experience, but that’s for another article.
The hospitality industry is still trying to absorb the metamorphosis of AirBnB. Or are they changing too, as a reaction to the AirBnB phenomenon? We will have to see.
According to expandedramblings.com, since AirBnB’s launch in 2008, AirBnB has facilitated four million listings, supports 640,000 hosts, and services 150 million users.
It’s difficult to find precise non-AirBnB statistics regarding how many traditional bed and breakfasts or boutique hotels exist worldwide, but it’s pretty easy to observe in most geographical locations I search, there are many more AirBnB listings available than there are traditional bed and breakfasts. An old article in 2006 by Tnooz guestimates range between 200,000 to 400,00 hotels and around 100,000 B&Bs. Here are some additional stats regarding hotels world wide.
I won’t turn this post into a large statistical analysis, but I think you get the point, AirBnB is all around us. There are other players such as HomeAway and VRBO, but generally speaking AirBnB is the larger mountain amongst the hills. And Priceline Group Inc. and Expedia Inc. are catching up.
There are a number of causes and effects in regards to why AirBnB adventures are so different than bed and breakfast encounters. Not to get too scientific, but if you aren’t running strict randomized control trials with good methodology, then there is no way to get to the real truth about what exactly the causes are.
So I stick to speculation based on Marjori and my own expertise in AirBnB hosting at the Rusty Fork Ranch in Temecula Wine Country, California where many of our guests visit one night, and others prefer an extended stay.
Bed and breakfasts are old fashioned. We know this, and it’s a good thing, but there is more room for diversity.
Personally, I love an old fashioned experience from time-to-time. I like it in a chilled glass with a twist of orange and lemon squeezed on the rim.
But really, I do enjoy stepping into the past once in a while to visit a museum or sift through old patinated books, or to watch a black and white movie. These are fun options. In fact, my favorite bar in Old Town Temecula is Thompson & Twain, an 1840’s themed whisky bar speakeasy. But that’s another story.
The entire bed and breakfast industry for so long has felt old and historic, in a beautiful way. The problem though, B and B’s don’t offer a large gamut of artistic expression. Yes, that's a generalization, and it's not totally accurate, but I think there is a lot less variety among B and B's or Hotels versus AirBnBs. You sort of know what you’re going to get with most Hotels or B&Bs, even if it’s fantastic, it’s still fairly predictable, which is a perfect fit for some.
We didn’t know what we didn’t know, until AirBnB came along and provided the portal to the fourth dimension. The door has been opened and we can never force the new universe back into the old world. We are here in 2018 now, and almost everyone considers AirBnB as an option when traveling, whether they use the platform or not.
Here at the Rusty Fork Ranch, we have hosted about 500 guests since we opened our doors and rooms in May of 2017. We’ve experienced first hand, the guest demographics, the personalities, the strengths of our experience, and most importantly – the weaknesses.
So what makes staying at an AirBnB so different than bed and breakfasts?
Gigantic numbers of smaller operations in the AirBnB universe mean extraordinary and diverse possibilities for travelers.
AirBnB has so many hosts that have such unusual points of view and quirky personalities, and the fact that many hosts are running such small enterprises, it all equates to travelers having a large selection of unique options to choose from. It reminds me of the whisky fanatic that would prefer a single barrel, corner of the warehouse, 12-year bourbon – and not be interested in the big blended batch at the same distillery. It’s all about small-level, unique characteristics versus the big industry standard, normal option.
This is not to say there isn’t a full range of bed and breakfast options. It’s just that there is a larger spectrum in the AirBnB community.
Here in Temecula Wine Country there are a few BnB’s. But they don’t outnumber the AirBnB’s.
A quick scan of the AirBnB.com website – try typing in various cities in the world, and you might see an igloo listing, a glamping option, a room in a residential house, or something more wild like a treehouse or a castle under a rainbow.
Would you have ever imagined these types of options in the Bed and Breakfast community? I realize that travelers have never been totally confined to B and B options, perhaps they’ve preferred a hotel. And that’s another future post, so I won’t go into details of what a hotel experience is like today. But, hotels commonly have an old school industry way of thinking as well. I worked at the Hyatt Regency La Jolla when it first opened in the early 1990’s, so I gained some insight into the hotel business.
Ironically, Marjori and I, still to this day, have not stayed at someone else’s AirBnB. That will change soon, but it’s part of what helped us design, plan, and execute an original and distinctive result. Without being exposed to others' AirBnB setups, we simply created what we believed would be a cool experience for travelers to Temecula Valley Wine Country.
Everything we did was designed around what we would want when we travel. It’s a very simple idea, yet everyone has a different way of solving puzzles. Ours turned out well enough to help cause our guests to have fun and memorable experiences. However, we were not sure if we would like the AirBnB hosting experience, since we never had done it in our past, so we also made sure to create the house for solely our own use in case we decided to end the hosting endeavor.
After almost a year of accommodating visitors through the AirBnB platform, we have thoroughly enjoyed our interesting and diverse guests, and plan on continuing on this path.
We were inspired in 2014 when we visited a themed trailer park in Joshua Tree, California. Look up "Hicksville" – they were not on AirBnB, but they had it all. We loved our overnight stay there and immediately started brainstorming our own life adventure, finding the right real estate in the right area, designing, drawing, planning, building, and eventually hosting amazing people from all around the world.
The Rusty Fork Ranch has 4 guest rooms and provides coffee in the mornings. Nothing too complicated, right? The devil is truly, truly in the details. It’s a lot more complex than that really.
Designing is an alluring nightmare, sort of. It’s fun and it can cause you to jump off a bridge. Our endeavor was well worth it.
Our basic approach for design and architecture started with honoring the history of Temecula and Temecula Valley. In my mind there are a few fitting avenues of architecture style that best represent our surroundings, the regional narrative, and the people.
There is a rich backstory in Temecula, first called Temeku by Native Americans.
Spanish influence swept through the region in the 18th and 19th centuries with the most prominent local composition at Mission San Luis Rey.
Still today, at the Santa Rosa Plateau, there, still stands the oldest adobe structures in the County of Riverside which were built in 1864.
The late 1800’s brought the old west, cattle ranches, and cowboy culture stylings to the area, and eventually Vail Ranch in 1905. At one time the Vails owned 87,500 acres in the Temecula region. They sold all of it in 1964 which races us forward to our modern and present history.
Vincenzo and Audrey Cilurzo kicked off the new era of Temecula Wine Country when they planted the first modern vineyard here in Temecula Valley in 1968 on land now occupied by Maurice Car’rie Winery.
Temecula Wine Country is now a household name in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, County of Riverside, and San Bernardino County. With approximately 22 million residents in Southern California, and just an hour or a bit more to visit a developed wine country type of experience, Temecula is a go-to instant getaway for thousands weekly.
So back to architecture, which style did we choose?
Old west farmhouse fused with Dwell-like, modern, open views of vineyards, and a panorama of Southern California.
We feel our contemporary barn style helps reflect part of the genuine story about Temecula. Vail Ranch, along with others in the 1800’s, produced a number of structures that explain our look and feel from the outside viewpoint. Take a peak at the 1859 Wolf Store at Vail Headquarters or other old west farm houses and you will see some correlations with the exterior architecture of the Rusty Fork Ranch.
At the Rusty Fork Ranch, we have ranch house rooflines juxtaposed against vineyards and huge mountain backgrounds, setting the stage for AirBnB guests when they arrive on Madera De Playa Drive. The 20-foot wide modernized old west ranch gate greets guests before parking and walking in through our 8x4 foot ranch dutch style front door. Guests enter, we welcome them, and immediately they are drawn toward the back deck through the large opening on the other side of the high-ceiling great room.
Scanning a dozen farmhouse coffee table books, a few modern Atomic Ranch magazines, and thousands of online images at Houzz and Dwell helped us to distill our ideas.
Our intention was to have people feel emotion triggered by the vast views and serenity of the land. It is fun to see people gravitate toward the view that stopped Marjori and I in our tracks a few years ago, inspiring the final purchase of this lot.
The back deck, made of Ipe wood, and covered by high ranch style corrugated roof patio covers on the north side of our great room, help awaken the comfortable zen everyone is looking for.
Although we are not done developing our 2.5 acre property, we love sharing the latest developments with guests and friends. We often place stones around the yard to mark off new plans for landscaping or other propositions. Marjori and I go through long processes of debating and finalizing before we make our next moves. Yet everything will fall into our original theme, color and texture palette, and other experiential inducing algorithms in order to stay on track in efforts to maintain cohesiveness forever.
Perhaps diving into some of these details helps those that are involved in a design project and looking for outlines of how to get where you want to go. Ultimately we never feel like we are totally successful, but we give it a serious attempt to get things right.
The design esthetics go hand in hand with the design of the overall experience for guests and ourselves. It all needs to work together. No one element is separate from another. A sort of homeostasis is one of our primary objectives.
Designing the end result is really the main puzzle. The basic pieces of our life are self happiness, our guests’ enjoyment, and community well-being. How do all of these things function together? Lots of focus, many conversations and great brainstorming is critical.
Part of the tranquility we strive for in our neighborhood is based on the fact that we do not host commercial events, such as weddings, that would contribute to the noise level and bring in large amounts of cars. Our decisions about what we do here is key.
We pushed cutout cardboard pieces around on a kitchen table for months trying to figure out how to make best use of our rectangle ranch property and to achieve the experiential objectives. This room next to that room, and hey that room is too big and that room is too small. Before we submitted plans to the county, we pushed those cardboard shapes around for a long time on the table like it was a chess game.
We settled on splitting the house into the master side, where Marjori and I live full-time, and then there are shared spaces all throughout the middle of the ranch house and property. Then the guest rooms situated on the other side of the house. The house is all connected, but there is a sense of privacy with every room – with each its own bathroom. When guests want to be social they can stroll into the common areas.
This layout provides great flexibility for guests that come and go as they please, and have the option to mingle or retreat, and don't forget that we are in the center of wine country, so just about every destination is a rock-skip away. When viewing a MAP of Temecula's wineries, restaurants and other attractions are within a 5-minute Uber or Lyft ride. Old Town Temecula is 8 miles.
We want guests to feel exactly what they want to feel. And we, the owners, want the same options, to mix with our guests from time-to-time, or seclude in private on our side of the house and property. The best of both worlds.
There was never a certainty whether we would eventually host AirBnB guests or not. So we needed to envision a home that worked for a family if we never listed our house on AirBnB. It all needed to work.
This entire house design brings people together and helps spark social interaction, balance, fun conversations, enjoyable moments, creativity, and provides solitude. It seems to work.
Our guests compliment the physical design and décor here at the Rusty Fork Ranch, but that’s not the only thing they mention. It’s the social time they talk about just as much as the look of the place or the serene vineyard views. It’s the hours they spend laughing, sharing, and storytelling with other guests and us. This is the impact of design.
We are not architects by trade, but both Marjori and I have spent our careers in art departments and design. Me in design, art and creative direction in advertising and marketing, and Marjori in movie and décor industries. So we had a head start into imagining what might work before we were inspired by Hicksville.
The bed and breakfast industry will never go away. Just like the radio did not disappear when television showed up on the scene, bed and breakfasts will never leave us. I love a great bed and breakfast from time to time.
Now that AirBnB has redefined our new reality, we all have many more options when we plan our weekend sneak-away or month-long trip to Europe. Options are king.
It does not end with AirBnB accommodations.
AirBnB recently rolled out their “experience” platform. Wow. Cook a meal with a famous chef? Ride around Rome on a horse? You don’t need to spend a week searching for phenomenal options for your next adventure. Just go to the AirBnB.com website and browse the many possibilities.
As one reads through reviews on AirBnB, all accommodations and experiences are not always great. Sometimes they can be lousy. Or they can be spectacular. And that is truly the beauty of AirBnb. You get what you get.
Life is not perfect and neither are people’s homes or bed and breakfasts, or hotels and motels. Partly it’s about your chemistry and how you interact with the environment, in this case, hosts and their accommodations.
What’s best about this modern way of surfing around the world is that we have so many more choices than ten years ago. For better and for worse. You can read reviews about each host and their home, or take a chance on a newbie and roll the dice.
The competition amongst AirBnB hosts is healthy and encourages excellence.
I see it locally here in Temecula. AirBnB hosts are looking around and wondering how to make theirs a little better. Great for everyone!
So enjoy your next traveling adventure, and take a minute to search the AirBnb listings before you book a traditional accommodation. You have a lot of unique options!
Think how far we’ve come in just a decade. The alternatives to hotels and bed and breakfasts are abundant.
And if you’re looking around Temecula specifically, check us out at www.rustyforkranch.com. You can view our rooms and our ranch house. When it's time to book a room, the link takes you directly to the AirBnB transaction page which provides our house rules, guidelines, and other important information along with suggestions that are our local favorites.
Cheers and happy adventures!
View our Favorites Page and checkout Marjori and my local choices for wineries, breweries, restaurants, and more.