Why did you choose to buy a property in Austin?
For a couple of reasons. Austin is a very popular place to visit and it is recognised as being one of the top US cities to live and visit. And I was looking for employment.
When did you buy the property?
I bought this property in February 2006 and to this day it has remained my valentine. It has loved me back in so many ways, bringing in much needed income, allowing me to diversify my portfolio, introducing friendships from four corners of the earth, putting me in the best real estate market for growth which is the hip, desirable South Congress entertainment district. I invested before the SoCo boom and the property has probably increased in value to the tune of 25-30%. Not bad for five years.
Why did you decide to make it into a holiday home / rent it out?
I knew there was a market for my business model because I know my customer so well, ME! I can remember when I was deciding to invest, friends and family doubted my decision. "You think someone is going to pay $500/night to stay in your house?" Absolutely! You see my family and I lived as expatriates for many years. And with that came a lot of travel and extended hotel stays while waiting weeks and weeks for the boat to arrive with our furnishings, taking leave for a month at a time to visit family in the US, and I can tell you that even the grandest hotel suite becomes tiring after a week. Mini fridges are not made to keep the milk bottle cold, coffee in the morning can add $70/week and forget about what that breakfast of two eggs for $19 can do to a budget. On the road one longs for a sense of home, a HomeAway from home. And my efforts paid off immediately! My first guests came for a month and stayed for two. Guests come and they don't want to leave whether they are staying for three days or weeks. Request for extending their reservation happens up to 20% of the time. And my repeat business is very strong. That's the best review we can get when they come back for more.
On average, how many weeks do you rent out per year, and during which months?
This year we are completely filled for 10.5 months consisting of both weekend and long term stays. Last year I believe we were just short of that number. Every month is popular in Austin because our weather is so great. If I would have to pick a season that a vacation homeowner might see a lull it would be our hot season July, August and the beginning of September. But not for us.
Why should people come to visit Austin?
Most often they come to see what's so special about Austin and experience it for themselves. It seems to be on everyone's radar because we are splashed all over the news. We have an incredible outdoor environment, lots of nature, rivers, springs, hills, hike and bike trails, Universities, sports, art and entertainment venues.
We also have festivals like Austin City Limits Festival, SXSW Festival, Film Festivals (check out our Fantastic Film Fest), city parks, clubs, some of the best restaurants in the US, Longhorn Football (100,000 plus stadium seats), clubs, probably more food trailers than any city in the US (except for maybe Portland, OR), an incredible array of entrepreneurs, neighbourhoods that have real people in them and with all age groups, ethnicities, and income levels living side by side and a fine example of people living a healthy, creative lifestyle. One thing I always hear from my guests is how nice the people in Austin are. And we are!
What are your top three tips for ‘living like a local’ in Austin?
Eat trailer food; it's inexpensive, available and some of the best food served in Austin. Even some of our most expensive, fine restaurants and best chefs now have trailers, take Hudsons on the Bend for example, they have The Mighty Cone located on South Congress.
Go dancing in Honky Tonks and not just the popular Broken Spoke, try Jovitas, Opal Divines and the Highline.
Take in a movie at The Alamo Drafthouse, seat in large comfy seats and order dinner and drinks even during the movie to be delivered while watching their eclectic and popular mainstream flicks.
What is you favourite place in Austin?
That would have to be The Irons Austin luxury holiday home.
What is your favourite local dish and the best place to enjoy it?
I suppose it would have to be something from the menu I prepared with NY Chef Bobby Flay on his TV show called 'Grill It! with Bobby Flay. If it was good enough for him to call me a Master Griller of the US then it's good enough for anyone. You can view the recipe here
. And then there would be Huevos Rancheros at El Sol y La Luna, Pork Belly at Uchi and a whole fried catfish from the Springhill Restaurant.
What’s the best thing for travellers to take home as a souvenir from Austin?
Austin has the most incredible array of local food products in the nation. Rubs, sauces, salsas, pancake mixes, seasoned salts, herbal teas, jerkies, spices, agave syrups, tequilas, vodkas, beers, Hill Country wines, chili mixes, the list goes on and on. Take a look at The Irons Austin complimentary pantry on our website to wet your appetite www.TheIronsAustin.com
How would you describe the local people in Austin ?
Fun, creative, healthy, intelligent, happy, smiling, well read, buff, good looking, open minded, animal lovers, young, passionate, multicultural and interesting, eclectic.