Alamosa News | Freshman Superhost Hooper tops Colorado

HOOPER – After moving to a property near Hooper and fixing up the house with her husband, Brenda Larsen thought she would decorate the 19th-century cabin behind it to create a playhouse for her grandchildren. Her children convinced her to consider becoming an AirBnB host instead. She discovered that she had a talent.

“It took off like nobody’s business,” Larsen said of his early success. “I never thought it would take off. It just bloomed. I love being a hostess.

In her first year in business, Larsen achieved Superhost status with AirBnB and was selected as Colorado’s Best New Host. Even though she didn’t have her first record until March and they used data through September to determine the best, Larsen still had the most records in the region (142).

Larsen achieved Superhost status within months. AirBnB tracks hosts with ongoing quarterly ratings based on certain metrics. Superhosts must make a minimum number of visits over 100 nights. They must also maintain a response rate of over 90%, a cancellation rate of less than 1%, and a favorable review rating.

Larsen and her husband Jeff moved to the 10-acre Sanford site 20 years ago, although they continue to raise cattle on their Sanford operation. Some of their work horses spend time at the Hooper property during the year.

“The house was a total fix,” Larsen explained.

With the house under control, they tackled the cabin in 2021. The building has more miles than most mobile homes. It was originally built by “the Twin Billies” – Billy Wells and Billy Merkt – in the former mining town of Duncan in 1876. The village takes its name from John Duncan, the Indiana man who l ‘founded in 1874. The town grew to support its own newspaper – The Duncan Eagle – a local school district and regular mail delivery. Today the townsite sits south of Crestone within the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.

In 1900, George Adams acquired the land and mining rights and forced the settlers to relocate. The Twin Billies uprooted their log cabin, moved it a quarter mile, and joined a small group to found the town of Liberty. Liberty Road runs south from Crestone and reaches the park and reserve boundary. Liberty’s population has grown to about 1,000. The new town supported a school with 40 students, a crushing and processing plant and a new newspaper – The Golden Eagle.

Liberty languished and the Twin Billies moved their cabin again. With recurring bankruptcies in the mining industry, Wells and Merkt decided to try farming near Hooper. The men are long gone today, but their cabin remains where they left it. It’s now an AirBnB destination, Colorado’s Best New Place for 2022.

AirBnB started in San Francisco in 2007 and now spans the globe with lodging options in over 100,000 communities. In the United States, according to AirBnB statistics, a typical host earned nearly $14,000 in 2021. Collectively, new AirBnB hosts across the country earned more than $1.5 billion between January and September 2022. In Colorado alone, new hosts brought in more than $45. million.

“I met people from all over the world,” Larsen noted, citing New Zealand, Germany and France, among other countries.

For people considering becoming AirBnB hosts, Larsen said it’s hard work, but encourages people to stick with it.

“It was a lot more work than I thought it would be,” Larsen said.

Once she decided to give AirBnB a try, Larsen estimates she spent four months researching the company and its competitors. Repairing the cabin, they removed the old stove and installed a highly efficient propane heater, refrigerator, bathroom and basic kitchen features.

“Most of the guests don’t cook,” Larsen observed, “and I come from a big family, so what are there still a few plates to do for dinner.”

Clean accommodations are a given. An occasional home-cooked meal is a bonus.

“I’ve been blessed,” Larsen added, noting a long string of good guests and help from her husband and sons Jed and Thad.

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