The Hosts: The Li-Gloege Family
Jing Li is originally from Beijing. Now based in New York City with her husband Gabriel Gloege and their 2-year-old son, Tristan, she and her family visit Beijing every summer and frequently stay at Airbnb properties when they travel. They were also hosts until earlier this year, when Airbnb became embroiled in legal disputes with the city of New York. Though their listing is currently offline, Li fondly describes her experience as a host.
Li and Gloege first started using Airbnb in June 2011 and hosting in the fall of 2012. Li had just given birth to Tristan and her parents were living in a separate apartment in New York. Gloege often travels for business, so Li had the idea of having her parents stay at her apartment for a few days at a time in order to rent out theirs.
Li is unequivocal about her experience as an Airbnb host. “We’ve been really lucky that we’ve liked all of our guests – maybe some more than others – but we’ve met some wonderful people from Europe and Asia,” she says. “We have had some return guests and some recommended by past guests, so I guess that’s a good sign.”
As travelers, she and her husband enjoy being able to have a more authentic experience when they stay at Airbnb properties worldwide. “We are not travel agency types, so I love being able to at least pretend I’m a local,” she says. “When we have been guests, our hosts have all been kind enough to give us their ‘top 10’ for everything.”
Li says she loves being able to give visitors an “insider’s guide” to New York despite Airbnb’s legal troubles in the city. “There’s a lot of support locally for Airbnb, so we are hoping we will be able to list our apartment again soon.”
The Travelers: The Halliday Family
Aussies Lyndal and Stephen Halliday have been living in Beijing for two years and have two kids: 5-year-old son Leo and 6-month-old daughter May. Leo attends kindergarten at Beijing International Bilingual Academy, where Stephen is the elementary school counselor. Lyndal splits her time between parenting, teaching online, and running Beijing-based flower studio Flowerley.
“We like organizing everything ourselves, taking things slowly, and living like locals,” says Lyndal. “That usually means eating lots of yummy food, hiring our own transport, and renting self-contained accommodation away from touristy areas.” The family started using Airbnb when they moved to Asia four years ago and found that renting a villa or a house gave them more flexibility with a young child than a hotel room.
The Hallidays prefer beach holidays in tropical destinations, especially now that they’re living in Beijing. Stephen’s work affords them long breaks, which they like to have a goal for. For example, Stephen taught Leo how to snorkel during a trip to Boracay last year. This summer in Bali, Leo got to indulge a newfound fascination for religion, volcanoes, and the ocean.
In Boracay, the Hallidays rented a one-bedroom Airbnb apartment in a quiet area called Baling Hai for USD 65 (RMB 400) per night. “The best part was the huge balcony with 180-degree views of the ocean – perfect for yoga, sunset dinners, and storm watching,” says Lyndal. The property also came with an outdoor pool and a “lovely” helper who cleaned and helped the Hallidays with arrangements. “Our favorite part of the island was Pukka Beach in the north, where we taught Leo how to snorkel, played with local children, and developed a mango smoothie addiction,” she adds.
The Hallidays resorted to Airbnb again for their recent trip to Bali, renting a three-bedroom villa owned by a French family for USD 122 (RMB 750) per night. Though simply furnished, it was large enough to fit both sets of grandparents, Stephen’s brother, and a friend from China who all came to stay with them. A cleaner and a gardener came several times a week and the house was located in Canggu, about 25 minutes away from noisy Seminyak and Kuta. “We lived among rice paddies and gentrified eateries, woke to Buddhist chants and Islamic calls to prayer, and saw skies filled with traditional kites,” says Lyndal.
“The beauty of Airbnb is that you can have almost any style of accommodation for any budget,” continues Lyndal. Renting through Airbnb is often cheaper than staying at a
hotel, especially if you’re sharing the cost between multiple families.
The trade-off is that families must be independent and forbearing of any issues that may arise. “You can’t just call up the front desk to fix a problem or book a tour,” says Lyndal. “You also need to remember you are in someone else’s home and treat their things accordingly.
“Airbnb perfectly fits the movement towards bespoke experiences in today’s’ globalized, hipster world,” says Stephen. “The same sociological forces behind craft beers are driving people towards craft holidays. They are seeking a more genuine experience through Airbnb-type services, which traditional chain hotels can’t offer.”
This article originally appeared on p64 and 65 in the October 2014 issue of beijingkids. To view it online for free, click here. To find out how you can obtain your own copy, email email@example.com.