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AirBnb and the Generic Vacation

Last summer we had a corporate retreat at the Captain Morse House. The “suggestion” from the stay coordinator was that we put away all of the personal items in the house and make it more generic. I thought that was an odd request but then I thought that perhaps she had a point. You see I reflexively try to satisfy guests requests and always seek to learn from their feedback.

Now today, courtesy of a site for VR owners, comes an interesting pushback to this aesthetic. The long and the short of it is that this request is actually beginning to destroy what was good and pure about travel to other places. In other words, if everything is furnished out of the same catalog then where do we go for truly interesting and challenging experiences.

The experience you get at the Captain Morse House is unique and I will work to keep it that way. Otherwise, you can just book a hotel to get a place to stay.

Read the article in the Verge for the full story here

Martha’s Vineyard vs. Nantucket

Martha’s Vineyard vs. Nantucket: Small Contrasts, Fierce Loyalty

Click for video
View of house from air

8/3/2017 9:00AM

The islands off Cape Cod, Mass., are famous for their beaches, New England charm and affluent summer residents. But many Martha’s Vineyard loyalists say they’ve never been to Nantucket, and vice versa. Courtesy: The Wall Street Journal

Link to Video Here


Lawn Blues – surviving the tenants

A few notes on the lawn

The lawn got abused by a party held July 15th and we are trying to repair it. You might see some newly seeded areas that should be marked “out of play”. I don’t have out of play signs but perhaps you can imagine some from watching the Invitational at Augusts.

Lawn Damage July 2017
Lawn Damage July 2017

I would really appreciate your cooperation in saving the lawn as doing a repair mid summer is very difficult.

I would request and suggest that the anyone using the lawn and especially lawn game players play barefoot. There are numerous health benefits to that and it would also help the lawn quite a bit I think.

If your feet get dirty our outdoor shower next to the kitchen door is available.

I am trying to find a Thai foot massage service that could be on call. I hope to have more news on that soon.

The Management

Replacing the lawn May 2016

In the spring of 2016 after a very hard winter we finally realized that there was going to be no way that our lawn was going to be ready for the season.

We chose to install a Johnathan Green “Black Beauty” sod lawn from Sodco of Rhode Island
John Keene Excavating charged us $2,480.63 for the sod delivered.
There was 3,500 sq ft. on 7 pallets. Each pallet covers 500 sq. ft.

The total cost of the lawn was almost $8,000

Black Beauty Sod $2,480.63
Labor to Prepare Lawn $3,503.25
Labor to Install Lawn $1,885.00
Total $7,868.88

We are obviously loath to repeat this episode so will be taking a hard look at the lawn’s condition and whether it can handle any events.

We recently had a tenant who was very happy with the house. The only sour note appears to be the party on the lawn which, in retrospect, I should probably not have allowed as it was organized at the very last minute. The lawn can only take one or two of these events over the course of the season and it really showed hard use after this event. The lawn just can’t handle the traffic, especially when there is dancing. The Daniel Fischer house now charges $10,000 for an “on lawn” event and requires a wooden protective floor which is very spendy.

We will be putting in some thought to the topic of events on the lawn as we want each guest that arrives at the house to have wonderful lawn to view.


Communications during a busy summer season

Here at the Captain Morse House we do everything we can to make sure our guests will be happy and that the house is prepared for their arrival. In order to meet everyone’s expectations I thought that I should give a little perspective on what it is like from inside the house.

Since 2008 we have been renting out our family home to around 15 families a year. As of 2017 that is around 150 different rentals. Everything from a small family to a huge wedding to a corporate retreat. In that time we have learned a thing or two about how to run the house and manage the rental. The biggest thing to realize is that with a Home Vacation Rental you are basically renting a house. It is not a hotel and it has no customer services built in. In other words a person that rents a vacation rental needs to be somewhat self sufficient.

It is always interesting to see how different guests interact with us and the house. The majority of guests come and go with barely a peep. We figure they want to have some privacy as well and won’t bother them with “how is it going” questions. For awhile they have the experience of really living in the home as if it is their own. Then there are the smaller percentage of guests that want everything figured out ahead of time. Some guests call us up and write us as many as 30 times with various questions about the house. Most of these are already written up in the manual or on the website. As the owner of the house I don’t necessarily mind this but it often leaks into the rental period as well and then it becomes a bit of a trudge. Don’t get me wrong, we would love to assist wherever we can BUT the facts are that this is not a hotel and does not have a full time staff. Finally there are the small percentage that want to waited on. I would love to have a customer service representative on island but the fact of the matter is that anyone in service on the island is absolutely flat out during the summer months. Our very nice and calm and happy cleaner runs from house to house and gets frazzled. Our caretaker is busy up island with actual home owners and not vacationers trying to get their bearings. Both of these people do not need the hassle of caring for a vacation home when there are plenty of people who don’t rent their houses out and are a lot more chill to deal with. The simple fact is unless I can make their life easier they might just decide that the Captain Morse House and our valued summer visitors are simply more trouble than they are worth. Needless to say that would be a disaster because there is simply a very limited supply of great cleaners and caretakers on the island.

The silver lining to all of this varied experience has allowed us to put what we have learned into our Welcome Page, our FAQs and our House Manual. Our guests can search these documents and find the answer to whatever question they have. If it is not in these documents then we have established an email address that is monitored by several people. We have decided that email is the only way we will communicate during a rental so that we can respond as soon as possible. It is a new system implemented in the middle of 2017 and I hope that it will work out well for all. Of course in case of Emergencies we are always just a phone call away.

In the meantime if you know of anyone who wants to be an on call customer service representative for the Captain Morse House in Edgartown Ma we are accepting applications. It could be the perfect job for someone who only wants to work a few hours a week, meet some awesome people (our guests) and manage the island’s very best vacation rental home.