The Dusty Rose Interview! Learn some invaluable hosting advice and the design story behind ‘The Dusty Rose’ Airbnb in Georgia! A modern boho escape in the heart of Saint Marys, GA!
I was lucky enough to be the Airbnb Ambassador for Anna and Dustin’s beautiful Airbnb in Saint Mary’s, Georgia: The Dusty Rose! They are such a fun hosting couple with some really amazing advice about how to host remotely, impress guests, and stock up your Airbnb!
Interview: The DUSTY ROSE
Firstly, tell us about yourselves! How did you come up with the name The Dusty Rose?
We met at Georgia Southern University before moving to the Bay Area 5 years ago, so that Anna could be closer to her family on California’s Gold Coast. But the moss-covered oak trees and the sunsets that blanket the marsh always seem to pull us back to St. Marys. Plus, all of Dustin’s family lives in Georgia’s Lowcountry and having a vacation rental there makes it easy to stay connected.
When not hosting Anna is a History Professor and Dustin is an Actor and Screenwriter. We love spending our time exploring national parks, dive bars, and hole-in-the-wall taquerias. When not off gallivanting we can be found either at an Oakland A’s game, spending time with our families, or playing cornhole on Lake Merritt.
As for the name, it’s based on our names (said in Nick Kroll voice from Publizity). Dustin + Anna Rose = Dusty Rose.
What was your vision when creating The Dusty Rose?
St. Marys will always be incredibly important to us. Not only is it Dustin’s hometown, but it is where we realized we were soulmates.
We stayed together in St Marys for two weeks before we drove across the country to start our lives together in Oakland. Those few weeks meant the world to us, and looking back felt like a honeymoon. We’d spend our days lounging in the sun, fishing, hiking, and exploring every inch of the area. At night we’d watch the sunset over the river while having drinks, waxing poetic about the bourgeois and our place in the universe. We saw the beauty of St. Marys and we were determined to get more people to see it as well!
Our vision for the Dusty Rose is to bring a younger and more inclusive demographic to experience the beauty of the area. It’s got everything you’d want on vacation: hiking trails, water sports, and beautiful beaches. Honestly, if Stars Hollow from the Gilmore Girls were a real place, St. Marys would be it!
What was your favorite part of the design process?
Finding a cohesive style that showed off our personalities. We both have strong opinions about design and don’t always see eye to eye. Dustin loves everything mid-century modern and would happily live on the set of Mad Men if he could, whereas Anna prefers the boho aesthetic and thinks there’s never enough macrame in a room.
We had the hardest time agreeing on a style until we found a quirky piece of art that captured the whimsy and natural beauty of the Low Country. When you walk in our front door you’re greeted by a large print of a 1960s postcard featuring a woman in a bathing suit riding an alligator.
With that as our inspiration, we made sure to incorporate elements of mid-century and boho in every room. It turns out that the clean lines of mid-century furniture pair really well with the softness of the natural elements found in the coast like rattan, palm leaves, and pampas.
Don’t be afraid to be a little eccentric in your space. It’s these small touches that people will always remember!
You host remotely, from the other side of the U.S. What advice do you have to successfully host remotely?
The online blogs and estimators are great tools, but can only teach you so much. Some things you learn the hard way!
Bulk is Bliss: Anticipating needs is key because you can’t just drive over to the rental and bring extra linens or toilet paper when a guest needs them. To save money and avoid headaches, buy in bulk and stock your space with several months worth of supplies. We created a locked storage space and bought all of our cleaning supplies, toiletries, and linens in bulk, which helps avoid the frantic phone calls about running out of supplies. If you’re buying in bulk, consider looking into wholesale options.
Trust & Delegation: If you feel comfortable managing everything remotely, go for it! There are lots of apps to help you schedule cleaners and handle correspondence with guests. When we got started we wanted to make sure we had eyes on our property, so we decided to hire an in-town property manager. Depending on how involved they are, property managers will charge anywhere from 10-25% of your nightly rate. If you want to be hands-off and let someone else take charge, a property manager is probably worth the money. If you want to be involved and don’t mind scheduling cleaners, it might make more financial sense for you to do it yourself.
Plan for the Worst! In our first six months of hosting we had to replace a broken dishwasher, leaky faucet, and an unfathomable amount of stained bedding. Guests are expecting a pristine and functioning space and these things need to be fixed asap. Unfortunately, when remote hosting, that means hiring someone to do it for you and that can be pricey. Be sure to have an emergency fund to handle these expenses that will inevitably come up. On more than one occasion we priced out the cost of a plane ticket to see if it would be cheaper for us to fly across the country and fix something ourselves!
Any advice for hosts who plan to remotely host?
Where to begin? Here’s a quick rundown of some our initial concerns and how we remedied them:
- Does the house work? Live in the space. We think our home is so well stocked because it’s where we vacation. We notice when we’re missing something like a pizza cutter or need to get another side table for people to set drinks. Spending time in the space with guests is even more helpful! If your sister can’t understand where the recycling is, your guests won’t either.
- Do we need a backup? Yes! Have backup people to help out. Care.com or TaskRabbit are great places to find people who can help with all sorts of tasks at reasonable rates.
- Is this the right insurance? We learned after buying our initial home insurance that our plan didn’t work for a vacation rental! Speak with your insurance provider to find a plan that works for you. The company Proper Insurance specializes in vacation rentals, and have been wonderful to work with.
- How can we be sure things are running smoothly? The technology available today can make your life a little less stressful. We use a Nest thermostat to make sure a guest doesn’t leave the AC set really low after checkout. A Ring doorbell helps provide security and gives a better idea of the general happenings on the property. A Schlage smart lock helps our guests check-in safely and contact-free!
What extra amenities or design touches do you provide that guests have appreciated the most?
There are three things that guests always write about in their reviews.
1) Pre-stamped postcards: We leave out a pile of pre-stamped postcards for our guests to send their friends and families. We designed and printed them online using Canva. The front is the picture of the vintage alligator lady that hangs in our living room. The back includes our logo and contact information. Vacation is about slowing down, and what better way to slow down than to send some snail mail!
2) Record player: We bought the record player because we love listening to vinyl while cooking dinner or having a glass of wine. It turns out that our guests love it as much as we do! It evokes a sense of nostalgia of a simpler time before smartphones and smart speakers; a time when you had to flip the record to hear more music. One of our guests even bought us a couple of new albums for our collection!
3) Outdoor projector: What’s better than sitting by a fire pit and roasting marshmallows? Sitting by a fire pit, roasting marshmallows, and watching a movie with the outdoor projector! If you’ve got the space outside, we highly recommend providing your guests with a projector and stand!
What does your ideal weekend spent in Saint Mary’s look like?
- Friday night– Walk over to Brackish Brewery, enjoy a couple of locally brewed beers, and listen to live music.
- Saturday– Drive the golf cart down to 401 West for brunch and have bottomless mimosas and the biscuit and gravy board. Wander around downtown and check out the antique stores, Cottle & Gunn, and Southern Saint Boutique. Grab an afternoon pastry and coffee at Spouses Bakery. Watch the sunset at the waterfront park and then grab dinner at Southern River Walk.
- Sunday– Take the ferry to Cumberland Island and hike the 4.3 mile Southend Loop where you can roam through the Dungeness ruins, walk along moss-covered trails, and lounge on isolated white sandy beaches. After a long day of exploring, we’d come back home and grill, roast s’mores, and watch a movie outside by the firepit.
What advice can you give to new hosts looking to decorate an Airbnb in a boho and fresh way?
With boho decor, more is more. But that’s not always the case with a vacation rental. Guests are on vacation to unwind, and that can be hard to do when a space is cluttered. Boho is a laid-back vibe that embraces being eclectic, mixing textures and patterns, and incorporating the nature around you. Just remember to be intentional with every piece you choose. Guests need spaces to set down their laptops or makeup bags, so clear off your woven baskets or moroccan lanterns and make enough space for your home to be functional.
One of our favorite ways to bring boho style into our home is by embracing the nature around us. For us, the coastal marshlands are a constant inspiration. We scavenged our backyard for dried grasses and palm leaves, and incorporated natural materials like bamboo blinds, seagrass baskets, and rattan furniture throughout the home. Bonus: foraging for things like palm fronds or pampas grass is free!
What If? What If? What If? There will inevitably be a litany of concerns and problems that arise. The most important thing your property needs is a good and reliable team. Be sure to not take these relationships lightly. Developing trust with your team can be paramount to not only your success but your sanity!
Thank you Anna and Dustin for your nuggets of hosting gold, you are both such inspiring hosts!
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