Overcoming Challenges as a Vacation Rental

Our August blog post was intended to talk about the latest travel trends, as people have begun to venture out to safe destinations. Longer-term stays are more popular as families and close social groups seek safe accommodations with very high cleaning standards and best practices, and lots of indoor and outdoor space to relax and enjoy new views. We have seen an increase in reservations at Emil Bach House, as well as at Lang House Chicago next door. We are grateful for the increased business in these difficult times in the hospitality world.

At Emil Bach House as the pandemic evolved, we moved spring and summer events to next year, hosted much smaller wedding celebrations when allowed, learned about ZOOM, and issued a lot of refunds for vacation stays. Our revenue projections have had to be adjusted, and like all hospitality venues, we have had to cut expenses and take a hard look at what is absolutely necessary to do.

Balancing expenses and revenue is challenging in the best of times. For a historically significant home like Emil Bach House, which is an active part of the Chicago architecture scene, the particular challenge for us is to ensure that we are properly maintaining this beautiful home so that it can be enjoyed by our guests and by those who attend our tours, hosted by the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust. Each year we budget for necessary repairs and maintenance, as well as upgrades or material changes that sustain the home for future generations.

We are dedicated to the integrity of the home, especially the preservation of the original elements designed by Wright for the Bach family. This year we have planned roof repairs, a front door repair and restoration, and landscaping improvements to surround the home with beauty and color. We have also had to manage unplanned expenses. Last week the region was impacted by a derecho, which moved very swiftly through this region, causing extensive damage on its way. The Rogers Park neighborhood, home to the Emil Bach House, was hit by an F1 tornado that traveled 3 miles through north Chicago. While only 300 yards wide, this tornado took out trees and power lines in its path, and it hit our yard next to Emil Bach House before making its way to Lake Michigan, where it became a waterspout.

Luckily, this beautiful Frank Lloyd Wright home was not affected, but the tornado took down a very old silver maple tree which was completely uprooted, missed the house AND the Japanese tea house in the back yard, and fell directly onto our event tent. There were no injuries to our staff, and no guests were on-site at the time.

After the tree came down, we have had swift response from our team and our contractors. The Tawani Property Management crew responded to the fallen tree immediately, ensuring that the site was secure and that work could begin as soon as possible, to clear the yard for our guests. Marquee Tent Rental responded right away, as did NightLight, our new landscape lighting company. Spring Rain, our sprinkler company, turned off our sprinklers and then hauled off the tree, and the tent was then dismantled. Just two weeks later, Emil Bach House is back in business as a vacation rental, and host of small events in the fall months.

It has been a tough year for us all. We have learned to count our blessings and to truly enjoy these beautiful homes and all that they have to offer.

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