Superhost Marianne suddenly found herself alone in the craftsman she and her late husband renovated together. To pick herself up, she launched her own business, opening her California home to guests from across the world. In her own words, she shares how hosting gave her life new meaning and what it means to be a female entrepreneur:
There was something beneficial about having life, having humans coming back into the house.
When I lost Mike, there was such a huge sense of loss, emptiness, a void. He had gone into surgery in May of 2017 for what was supposed to be a standard procedure, but there were complications and he didn’t make it. Four days before this, we had just celebrated 26 years together.
My daughter had moved home to stay with me. Almost a year later, she moved away and all of a sudden, I found myself alone in the house.
I don’t remember a specific incident or reason why I started hosting. It just kept showing up in my awareness. And then I took a trip in September of 2017 to see friends in Oregon, and I stayed in an Airbnb there. The host was a lovely fellow, and I explained what had happened. It started to dawn on me that being a host could be a possibility for me.
With my husband’s death, his pension ended and that was a big loss of income. I work for myself as a teacher, writer, and landscaper. I just wasn’t in a place where I could focus.
In my imagination, Airbnb was a source of easy-peasy cash flow. But it is work. And definitely being a single woman, I did have concerns about safety. I bought locks for the guest rooms and my room, but I think I’ve only locked my door once when there was a fellow checking in very late at night. A friend of mine who is also a host suggested I write the description of my home to attract the people I want here, and so far it seems to have worked. Maybe it’s naive, but I have a certain trust that for the most part, people are good.
Hosting became a way to be a little less of a hermit. It became a reason why I had to keep the house clean, a reason why I put on a brave face. You have to pick yourself up a little bit. Those were all good things.
I remember Mike with each person who comes in. It’s both saddening and empowering.
He loved working on this house. He was a carpenter. When we bought the house in 1995, it was trashed, a fixer-upper, and he made it such a beautiful place to live. In some ways, I get to experience his spirit, his energy when people come into the house, notice the woodwork, and say, “Oh, wow.”
I feel so proud. I feel it for both of us. How lovely it is that I can share that.
In the beginning, I would tell guests I had just lost my husband. Then bit by bit, it was no longer the first thing I shared.
I’ve been incredibly blessed with the guests I’ve had. Since I live in Santa Monica, they wanted to go to the beach, to the pier, and to Venice, so I didn’t really see them. I still needed lots of space and lots of quiet, so it was perfect.
Occasionally, we would chat over a cup of coffee or sit out on the porch swing with a glass of wine and the ocean breeze. Some of the guests were just lovely people to talk to. It was a reminder that life goes on, as cliche as it sounds.
One guest was a young woman. I hadn’t mentioned that Mike had died, but maybe she noticed his pictures around the house. She told me that she had lost her boyfriend a few months earlier in an accident. So I found myself in this incredible place of being able to open up not just the house, but a space for her to talk about her loss with someone who understood. And for me, she was someone I could talk about Mike with. There was common ground, an incredible synchronicity. We’ve texted a few times. She may or may not come back, but for a little while we touched each others lives.
As hosts, we share space, but sometimes it’s a place where we share so much more.
In opening up my home, I was able to give something even when I felt so depleted.
Now I have my own business. And there is so much to be said about being your own boss and having complete say over how your life evolves. There’s a real sense of power a woman feels when she’s running her own business.
It may sound a little woo-woo to people, but there’s something so sacred about welcoming a stranger. As hosts, we serve as guides to weary travelers. And when we are aching, hurt, and lonely, that interaction and connection provides a little bit of healing.
Photos courtesy of Marianne
@Airbnb this is a touching spotlight of Marianne - I am so glad she is doing so well and she is remarkable indeed. She is so much more trusting than I am able to be. We each have to find healing in the best ways possible and it is wonderful that she can do it with being a host. I guess it was important to keep her private because we don't have a link to chat with her or see her listing.
I suppose that's why the others haven't commented on this spotlight.
Many blessings Marianne,
happy hosting, Clara
Thank you for sharing your story. It resonated in so many ways. And similarly, I have had such positive experiences with guests, that at times, it has been therapeutic. May your life continue to bloom.
Dearest Marianne, 🌸🌿🙏🏻✨ I so loved reading your story, what you had lost with the sad passing of your beloved ~ but what you describe here is beautiful in the way that your life now has gained such pride, beauty & yes it is very therapeutic to be busy & pamper guests to lovely exciting memorable stays in your home 🏡
i myself have a special place which I am hosting again (ran as bed & breakfast through Airbnb when first bought after renovating this gorgeous cottage) SHABBY BEACH COTTAGE ~ Vintage charm on the Coast, in Victoria (our Famous stunning Great Ocean Road, SURFCOAST 🏖 🇦🇺 AUSTRALIA, Victoria ...I invisaged doing something like this for many many years, thought it was just a dream I’d always wish I could do) but...I made it happen 4 years ago, passionate about collecting pretty, vintage, second~hand, op shop finds & treasures...always adored Rachel Ashwell’s gorgeous shabby chic style...passionate with anything vintage, I also ran an interior decorating shop (Biggie Best) 18 years ago, so...have always loved colour, style, & helped friends & family do up their homes etc...so, fell in love with my weatherboard 1930’s cottage by the coast, renovated & became exactly how I had pictured in my mind...since then I hosted for 6 months...travelling back & forward from 2 hours away from the beach where I lived, prepared & attended to all the little details, including champagne & chocs on arrival for my guests, full cooked breaky for next morning & lots of little extras....loved it, but got rather tired making & unmaking 6 beds etc...so needed the income plus a bit of a break, then rented out permanently to rental tenants almost 3 years, who only moved out before Christmas.... so, back to the beach, my happy place & my passionate dream of sharing it all with guests & people who appreciate the charm & character of what I’ve created! My darling dog Tiffani & I spent all of January this year here & she frolicked in the surf as I walked in the sand... pondering & thinking of what lies ahead with all this. I now have it listed back in Airbnb, I have bookings, I want to create experiences, vintage styling events, garden & beach soirées here & maybe hire out & style etc. as well as treating my guests to a little pampering too (as I’m a Reiki Therapist & have set up my massage table in my little shed at SHABBY BEACH COTTAGE with my RASBERRY ROSE REIKI HEALING, & incorporating my RASBERRY ROSE COLLECTIONS tea~parties, beach picnics etc...with my pretty china sets, silverware, glam chandeliers (at the beach! ✨) hope it’s all going to take off ... so I can make an income doing what I love 💕 & sharing the love & light 🙏🏻🌈✨🌸🌿🦋xx so good for the soul, rewarding too in so many ways...connecting with like minded souls is as I mentioned & you know how it’s helped you too to heal, love & find happiness & fulfilment by doing what we love....take care Marianne, who knows ~ maybe you’d like to travel to our beautiful country one day, & stay in your own little home away from home @ Mine & maybe I @ yours...life is beautiful, precious & short! Blessings to you, love Kassy xo
What a wonderful story... it would be lovely to have a link to the places of the people you feature .... i couldnt help myself wanting to see what Marianne's place would look like 🙂
What a great story. I started air bnb to help pay for my son's rent when he went to study in USA. Money in, money straight over to him! My other two children left home the same year and it was hard.
But in a very short space of time I was filling my home with lovely, interesting people from all over the world; many needed help of one sort or another. All the energy I had put into my three children went into helping my guests.
I have loved hosting and like Marianne believe that most people are inherently good. In 5yrs of hosting I have never had a problem.
I just hope Air BnB doesn't lose its original raison detre. Last night I went to book a room in San Francisco where it all started with Brian selling an air bed for $10 a night. I couldn't find a room for less than about $80 last night 😔
Love your story and your quotes.
As hosts, we share space, but sometimes it’s a place where we share so much more.
My last guest had had an accident and ended up in hospital. I have been tranporting his partner from my Airbnb to the next, as another guest was checking in, plus the hospital to see his partner.
We are friends for life now.
Love Airbnb and the opportunities it has provided me and the people I have met from around the world, both hosting and travelling.
Cheers Allan 😀
What a lovely story about your hosting experience. Sometimes the tragedies in our lives make us more understanding and empathetic towards others.. I really enjoy being a home host and derive great pleasure when guests arrive and seem delighted with the accommodation I offer.
your tale also resonates with me as my husband has had a number of health scares in recent years and I worry that I may find myself in your situation. Well done you.
Thank you Marianne for sharing such an uplifiting story!
It resonated with me in so many ways too...and similarly, I have had such positive experiences welcoming guests, that at times, it has been therapeutic and healing. I have loved hosting and like Marianne believe that most people are inherently good. I may be naive, but they say that you attrack what you believe in, and in 4yrs of hosting I have never had a problem. I love Airbnb and the opportunities it has provided me and the people I have met from around the world, both hosting and travelling.
I too hope AirBnB doesn't lose its original raison d'etre.
What a beautifully touching story Marianne. My story mirrors yours somewhat. My spouse passed also leaving me with no income. I started hosting to supplement income as well and now its a pleasure to host people from around the world learning about other cultures. May you continue for find satisfaction in hosting Marianne