From Yacht to Airbnbs- You can't make this story up.

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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

Fast forward again with much learning and growing pains, we branched out to help other property owners with their own short-term rentals.  Thus, Southern Illinois Vacation Rentals was born.  While all of these things were taking place, I was climbing my own career ladder in government administration. I had spent time in my college degree career field- utilizing my Master’s of Public Health as Assistant Administrator of Southern Seven Health Department and then as Regional Health Officer/Administrative Law Judge for Illinois Department of Public Health. By 2018, the career trajectory made a hard right turn as I filled in as director of the Illinois Procurement Technical Assistance Center and then recruited to be Community Programs Director for the City of Marion. Little did I know that my little “side hustle” of co-hosting other properties would grow like a wildfire. By the end of 2021 I was standing in front of the proverbial fork in the road. I could stay with the city and stop adding properties (8 with 2 on the horizon) or see if I had what it took to be a true small business owner. That leap of faith proved itself by doubling in size every year since then.

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. 

Safe Travels,

– Allison