FROM YACHT TO AIRBNBS- YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS UP
The story behind Southern Illinois Vacation Rentals
From Deployment to American Shoreline
This is the story of how we went began in the hospitality industry with a yacht and ended with a full fledged property management company for Airbnbs. We moved to southern Illinois in 2005 from a few hours north from a little farming community of Newton, IL. This move was on the cusp of my (Allison’s) return from military deployment to Iraq. We had a rough year with 5 casualties and 30+ severe injuries in our unit of 128 soldiers, mostly made of college students from nearby farming communities like myself. We’ll save that story for another time, but you can read more about that here.
In 2008, with our first child on the way, Michael quit his job and started American Shoreline a barge company for residential shoreline improvements. Our own starter home was on Lake of Egypt and was in desperate need for shoreline revetment. Too dangerous to drive heavy equipment down to the shoreline, Michael realized that we weren’t the only ones with this dilemma. Michael designed the barge with a hopper for low center of gravity and compartmental hauls for safety. He sent his plans to D & M Manufacturing, a trusted welding company from our home county to build the barge. The business grew quickly and Michael made a larger 2nd barge system. Fast forward to 2015 and much success later, he sold the business and we sold our lakefront home.
From American Shoreline to Kentucky Lake Boat Charters
We took our first installment from the business and purchased a 50 ft. Silverton motor yacht on Kentucky Lake as our next business venture: Kentucky Lake Boat Charters– the first and only privately owned pleasure boat chartering company on Kentucky Lake or Lake Barkley. As you can imagine… it was a fun and exhausting season of our life. We chartered bachlorette parties, birthday parties, family reunions, and even a couple of weddings right on our boat. While it was not being used for chartering (or for our own enjoyment), we put the vessel as on Airbnb as a unique place to stay.
From Kentucky Lake Boat Charters to Dam Near Lake of Egypt Cabins
We learned 2 things from that venture: 1) We love the hospitality industry. We love sharing the best of our own experiences. 2) We can offer the same high end hospitality standards A LOT closer to home. So, we decided to sell the yacht and focus on our cabin venture. As I researched, I learned most neighboring VRBO’s fall into 1 of 2 categories- “cabin/lodge/dark/cozy/dark” or Victorian bed and breakfast- old/historical. Neither of which I was interested in copying. After deciding on “tiny house” style cabins, I pledged I will only build a business I would be willing to spend my own money staying in- chic, modern, comfortable. Thus, Dam Near Lake of Egypt Cabins, LLC was born. A cheeky name for a surprisingly delightful experience.
From Dam Near Lake of Egypt Cabins to Southern Illinois Vacation Rentals
I definitely have more learning to do as we continue to grow. Belief in myself swings like a pendulum most weeks, but every day I wake up loving the new challenges I face. I can officially say that I have created a life that I don’t need a vacation from.