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The story of an old-fashioned bed and breakfast in the age of Airbnb

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Lori and Bruce Howard in Yosemite National Park in 2018. Until recently, the couple operated a full-service bed and breakfast in Oakhurst, California.

Lori and Bruce Howard in Yosemite National Park in 2018. Until recently, the couple operated a full-service B&B in Oakhurst, California. Courtesy Lori and Bruce Howard

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During a vacation in 2005, Lori and Bruce Howard visited Oakhurst, California, near Yosemite National Park. 

“About a week later, Lori says, ‘Hmmm, what do you think about getting into the B&B business up in Oakhurst?’” Bruce said. “I’m a little bit of a troublemaker,” said Lori. 

At the time, the Howards weren’t quite ready to retire but looking to start a new phase of life. “It sounded interesting, and lo and behold, we found a one-bedroom, two-story bachelor pad on top of a mountain and decided that was going to be our bed and breakfast,” Lori recalled. 

“B&Bs were getting to be more and more popular at that point in time, so it was an attractive time to do that,” said Bruce. 

Selling their house in San Diego enabled them to purchase that “bachelor pad” for $315,000 and remodel it into a four-bedroom, full-service bed and breakfast. “We were able to build the rest of this B&B for a little over $100 a foot, which, in this day and age, is absolutely amazing,” said Lori.

One of their favorite things about running the business was interacting with guests. “We would have dinners or we would have breakfast and sit around the big table and find out so much about life and so much about other countries,” Lori said. 

But in the years since the Howards opened their B&B, another type of lodging — short-term rentals through services such as Airbnb or Vrbo — has become popular, altering the local economy in places like Oakhurst. More recently, travel trends fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic have further accelerated demand for short-term rentals.

To hear what happened to the value of the Howards’ property, click the audio player above. Tell us your housing story using the form below, and you may be featured on a future edition of “Adventures in Housing.”

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