A Rustic Airbnb in Cape May Promises Simple Pleasures

After three successful years listing her garage apartment on Airbnb, Robin Salasin Metz built a cozy, 140-square-foot cabin on the edge of her private lake, about 40 yards from the main house. It wasn’t long before Airbnb hosting became her full-time job.

Metz believes her Airbnb—located in Cape May Courthouse, close to the Cape May beaches— is “a real benefit to the community. We thrive on tourism in this area, and there’s enough to go around.”
Metz believes her Airbnb—located in Cape May Courthouse, close to the Cape May beaches— is “a real benefit to the community. We thrive on tourism in this area, and there’s enough to go around.”
Photo by John Bessler

Robin Salasin Metz was a single mom with five children and 32 acres in Cape May Courthouse Township when she became an Airbnb host. “I had this gigantic house, and I didn’t want to disrupt their lives,” she says.

Faced with a hefty mortgage, she started sporadically renting out the loft above her garage for some extra cash. Then her sister introduced her to Airbnb, which was new at the time. “I tried it and loved it,” she says.

After three successful years listing her garage apartment on Airbnb, she built a cozy, 140-square-foot cabin on the edge of her private lake, about 40 yards from the main house. It wasn’t long before Airbnb hosting became her full-time job.

The cabin is no-frills. Built by Amish craftsmen from Metz’s own design, the tiny, single-room structure has a sitting area, sleeping nook, and a compact bathroom with a composting toilet. The shower is outdoors. The bathroom sink is gravity fed from a 10-gallon holding tank above the ceiling. There are no cooking amenities.

“It’s off the grid,” Metz says. “There’s no TV, no WiFi, no running water.”

And that’s exactly the point. The lure is the peace and quiet, the lake view, sunsets, and the starlit skies. “My guests are so impacted by this cabin,” she says.

The lake is suitable for swimming and boating; Salasin Metz provides six paddleboards, four kayaks, a rowboat, a sailboat and a canoe. There’s hiking around the lake and additional trails in the neighboring nature preserve. Best of all, the Cape May beaches and resort attractions are a short drive away.

Most of Metz’s guests are couples looking to unwind for a weekend, including a significant number of professionals from Manhattan. There are international visitors, too. “I get a lot from Norway, the Netherlands, China, Korea.” Her rates range from $63 a night in the off season to three times that in summertime.

Metz is an on-site host, living in the main house; all but one of her children have grown up and moved out. She re-married five years ago and now has husband Eric to help with maintenance. She does most of the cleaning of the two spaces herself—she still rents the garage loft—but gets some help during the busy summer season.

Despite the hard work, Metz loves being a host. “My kids have met people from around the world,” she says. “My daughter swam with a little girl from France. They couldn’t speak, but they enjoyed each other.”

She continues, “This has been a huge blessing. For me, Airbnb has been a way for me to express my gift of hospitality.”

Metz’s Top Tips

Go Keyless
Robin Salasin Metz has a keyless entry system for her Airbnb units, so there are no key exchanges, no lost keys or late-night lock-outs. Each guest is assigned a simple key code to gain access to their rental.

Keep It Clean
Metz personally scrubs her cabin between visits. “No hair, no sand. Ever,” she says. “It’s a no-brainer.”

Respect Your Neighbors

“Remind your guests that they’re a guest in someone’s home,” she says.

Take the High Road
“I always assume the best from difficult guests,” she says. “I won’t ever argue with a guest. I ask myself, ‘What would Marriott say?’”

Encourage Feedback
“There’s high accountability on both sides, host and guest,” she says. “If you want happy guests and good reviews, the guest is always right.”

Contact Metz at [email protected].

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