So, 2016 ended with us completing construction and opening up all 10 Casitas, a fairly amazing feat in only 8 months of construction. But that was 2016…..
In 2017, we learned how to manage 10 small houses and will host almost 300 reservations before the years end. WOW! July and the fall months were the busiest. August was slow as expected, but then Hurricane Harvey deeply impacted our September. Our Houstonian friends were either flooded or helping those flooded, it seemed. We were grateful to support several Houstonians who could not return from vacations as expected and parked themselves at the Casitas to wait it out. Even our DFW friends stayed home and hunkered down. It was a weird month. We continue to pray for a full recovery for Houston and our coastal communities, especially Port Aransas (my happy place!) and Rockport.
Our luxury one bedroom Casita #1, The Pauline, was the most popular in 2017. We named this Casita this year, along with two others, after friends and family for very special reasons. You can read the blog post here. We installed the metal cuttings of the names on these three Casitas: The Pauline, The Polly Ann and The Gina B. (#1, #7 and #2 respectively).
We also added metal numbers on the Casitas and a sign up by the road – all beautiful metal work designed and installed by our good friend Robert McKay (Mac Design Build), a true artist with metal and our Assistant Project Manager throughout Casita construction.
At the end of February, we finished the Pavilion. We knew at that moment, some of our guests’ most precious life memories would happen there. In July, we hosted a wedding group comprised of international guests. More than 100 enjoyed a rehearsal dinner with Tex Mex and Ethiopian food representing the cultural backgrounds of the groom and bride. The party guests traveled from more than 11 countries! In October, a local named Renee celebrated her 50th birthday in great fashion with a 5 course wine pairing dinner with close friends.
In July, we completed our chapel and named it La Capilla, Spanish for chapel (so they tell us; we don’t speak the language!). We had a professional photo shoot in August from the great talents at Silverthistle Events and our first wedding in early December.
Erica and Ryan were our first couple to get married at La Capilla. Her decorations were simple yet elegant. It was all so special and intimate for the young couple and their family and friends. (Ashley Eubanks Photography)
In November, Ron completed the Oak Grove, a clearing around a bunch of beautiful Oak Trees down by the creek where we installed several hammocks and chair swings. More development will come in that area, including a picnic area. It is peaceful and relaxing down there for sure.
We also hosted a couple corporate groups for staff retreats/planning. In December, the sales team from YETI Coolers were with us – they were so much fun! We are ending this holiday season drafting plans for a corporate retreat center on the grounds at the Casitas. Lions and tigers and bears oh my!
For the few hours this past year that we weren’t working at the Casitas…., Ron and I celebrated our 60th and 50th birthdays. Whoa, that’s a lot of years! We then celebrated with our oldest son, Deron, as he married his college sweetheart in August in Lynchburg, VA. We then traveled to Europe for a friend’s wedding in England – a true English garden wedding. What an experience! And most recently, we partied with our youngest son, Cortlandt, who graduated from Texas A&M Corpus Christi this month. And he has a job too! Hence, the party.
So, after just over one year in business, and experiencing some of our life’s and our business’ biggest milestones, we are doing OK. In reflection, it is our guests who make it all worthwhile. Like everyone else, we watched the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” recently and to quote Clarence, “No man is a failure who has friends.” I think we make friends with almost every guest. Just yesterday morning, I saw some of our guests packing up after their family Christmas getaway at the Casitas, and she hugged me with gratitude. Their time was so special that she felt that connected to me, a person she had never met, but knew had provided for her special family time. That hug was special to me too. We made a difference. And at the end of the day, we are doing OK if we make a positive difference in people’s lives.
Ron and I hope your holiday season was special too and that this New Year brings you good health, happiness, love and some much needed Casita Time!