Winter Park, CO Level 1
I'm very excited to announce this Community Spotlight. She has an eye for beauty and a talent for arts, as you'll see in her photography and listings in the gorgeous land Down Under. I'm of course talking about @Gillian166 !
When did you start your journey as Host and why?
We dabbled in hosting before the pandemic, but for many reasons we didn’t take it seriously. I was busy raising 3 kids, we had many farm animals and our 5 dogs were a handful! We’d previously had experience as STR “hosts”, but this was pre-Airbnb. We had a long term tenant on our farm signed up in 2020, and shortly after that fell through as well, and we started to consider STR again. My daughter was studying hospitality in Sydney and for the 2nd year her uni was only offering courses online so we encouraged her to move down to our farm in Sth Australia, continue her studies remotely, and reboot the listings. At that stage we had 2 stand alone cottages on our farm, in addition to the main house, and then during 2022 we also converted half of the main house to another guest suite.
What is your hosting style like, and what would you consider your strong points?
We hope to offer our guests a way to experience our rural lifestyle, our lovely old home, the quiet farm life and the food/wine region we are in. I try to offer my guests as much information up front, and in the manual, so they can have an uninterrupted stay. We aren’t natives to South Australia, and we tend to be more parochial about the food/wine because we know it’s the best in the nation. We often have a different take on what is special about SA due to us being “outsiders” and we find even locals comment on how passionate we are about the region.
How has the Community Centre helped you in your journey?
It’s my go-to place for information on everything, how to build my listing, how to find things, what are the best settings, and of course, how to avoid troublesome guests and how to manage difficult situations. And it’s great to be able to connect with other hosts from around the world. There can be some tough love from time to time, and I think I value that the most, because it’s real.
What’s your most favourite and least favourite thing about your listing(s)?
I love the history of my home, the grand size of the rooms, the fireplaces in bedrooms, and of course the serenity of farm life. I love sharing the local region and its wonderful food and wine with guests, and hearing about where they went and what they experienced.
Least favourite is probably the maintenance and unpredictability of an older building. There seems to be constant little things that need repairing, and normally this is fine but I’m a bit more on edge about judgy guests not understanding that older homes come with a lot of quirks. Our homes are also harder to heat and rising energy costs are a big concern.
What’s the strangest epiphany/shower thought you ever had?
Perhaps it was when we decided to turn half of the main house into an airbnb.
If you had all the money you needed to realise your dream listing, what would it be like?
It would be another farm, but in NSW (much better weather!), a blank canvas for us to start over and build new buildings, where we want them, and set up small self contained cabins.
What do you like doing when you’re not hosting?
I’m also a photographer so I squeeze that into my life when I can, I love to cook and learn new things (this summer holidays when we have time my daughter and I are going to tackle a Russian Honey Cake), and I also love thrifting (we call it “op shopping” in Australia), oh and when I have a lot of free time I also like to paint.
What are you most proud of in your career and life?
I struggle with the notion of pride/bragging, but in my other career as photographer I was the top selling Australian artist at the agency I worked with. I’m also pleased that myself and my girls have road tripped around the whole country, they’ve been to every state, and capital and a bunch of interesting places in between, and hopefully in some way this helps to make them broad minded people, or at least have a passion for travel and an understanding there are many different levels of living standards and experiences to be had.
What movie, tv show, play or other fantasy story/world would you like to see as reality and why?
Given I love dystopian films this is a tricky one! Any reality where I get to be a time traveller would be epic, otherwise I think we live in the best times ever (no era is perfect but the levels of equality, and access to health, education and wealth is highest now).
Anything else you’d like to share with us?
We are all in a shared experience, but are all so vastly different, not just in our listing offerings, styles and situations, but also in our various nationalities and life experiences. I value those who share their wisdom, and even those who disagree are a valuable part of every discussion, and I’m sure we’ve all been on far spicier forums (if you’ve ever dipped your toe into Reddit you’ll know what I mean) so I wanted to say thanks to everyone here for contributing and sharing your wisdom for free. I feel like this year between hosting and this forum I’ve done a Masters in STR!
I hope you all enjoyed getting to know Gillian as much as I did. As always, please don't hesitate to say Hi and ask any burning questions you have. Thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule @Gillian166 , and could I come with you on one of your time travels? 😉
I'll see you all at the next Community Spotlight!
@Gillian166 Really enjoyed this whole story!
100% agree with your sentiment that "we live in the best times ever." It makes me sad that so many people don't know how freaking awesome the world really is right now.
This general realization you have is undoubtedly the wind-in-your-sails which is probably why I've appreciated a lot of things you contribute on the forum over the months.
Great photog and art too!
@Richard531 thanks, and yes i'm sure we share quite a few opinions about many other things! I also love your tough love approach.
Hello @Gillian166 ,
Thank you for your interview, it's always a pleasure for me to discover other hosts point of view and experience! You should definitely print some of your photos, they are gorgeous, I easily believe that you were the best in your agency.
And I envy your painting talent!
@Sybe I generally do abstracts as i'm not trained or skilled naturally in the art of drawing (I wish!). This one I did in art class, a study of Georgia O'Keeffe abstract flower
and this one is an abstract playing around with copper foil:
@Gillian166 These are gorgeous, I love how they give a tranquil vibe and really add to the place. I'm usually not big on hanging paintings in my own home (they can get quite expensive), though I'd love to hang one of yours!
@Sybe thank you. the beauty of doing your own paintings is that you can choose the colours precisely to match your space. And if you get bored you can flip them and hang them in a different orientation and get a "new" painting. I've got another one i've done that has a lot of weird shapes in it and we often sit and stare at it and talk about what shapes we can see.
I actually have very few of my photos hanging because that is SO expensive (printing and framing) and it's really hard to choose and commit to something and spend the money (for this reason I could never get a tattoo!). It is a goal of mine to get some of my images up on the walls, although I think I've made that promise every year for the past 10 years...
@Sybe yes! usually we call it a peacock, but there is a bird in there for sure. on the bottom left there's a headless victorian lady with an umbrella. I can't even see it now but there's also a koala in there, maybe it needs to be flipped. anyway, that is the really cool thing about abstracts, finding these weird shapes that you didn't actually put there.
This is like looking at the clouds you see something and and doesn't. It was a game that my mother taught us to observe and play.
@Laurelle3 who needs TV? open a bottle of wine and just stare at this for an hour, it's quite therapeutic. the cloud game is the perfect explanation. 🙂
Great article! This is one of the things that I love about the CC. Even though we are literally on the other side of the world, I feel like @Gillian166 and I share a lot in common: hosting in a beautiful but high maintenance old home and a love of thrifting, photography and even dystopian films, which is probably why the two of us often go completely off topic on some of the threads!
It was really interesting to learn more background about her hosting experience.
yes, @Huma0 we def share a lot in common and it's always wonderful to find another similar soul in an online forum. I can also be a bit of an Anglophile, and I still hope that one day I can do 6 months living in England somewhere, and your listing (and your humour) reminds me of why I like the UK so much.
@Gillian166 great photos, the first one looks like a style of painting from Hans Heysen German born, Australian artist who painted in the Adelaide Hills. Thank you for sharing your experience with Airbnb in your patch of Australia South Australia.
I have to agree with you that the Community Forum is place to go to. To find information, ask questions, to weed through the answers and take the best answers that suit you and your Airbnb.
Dreams we all have them of what if. We tend to plan, design, draw up lists to change things to add things. Oh to dream! Keep on dreaming Gillian.
@Laurelle3 thank you, I often describe that photo as "painterly", the gum trees around here have a very special quality and it's easy to see why Heysen was so inspired by them. That photo was taken on a school run in the morning in the Adelaide Hills. My kids are used to me stopping the car randomly to take photos.