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Stay Zen Retreats | Buffalo, NY & Austin, TX


In this exciting edition of Cozy Cabin Chats, I am thrilled to take you on a journey to the heart of Buffalo, NY, where I had the privilege of meeting the exceptional Airbnb hosts Christina and Patrick. Together, we dive into their experiences, insights, and the secrets behind their four properties.


Christina and Patrick share with us expert insider tips for optimizing your travel experience to Austin and Buffalo. These recommendations are bound to enhance your overall trip and allow you to make the most of what these destinations have to offer.


 

Airbnb | Stay Zen Retreats Interview | Christina and Patrick





Tell us about yourself! 


I'm Christina O'Reilly, and along with my husband Patrick, we are the proud owners and operators of Stay Zen Retreats, a vacation rental business based in Austin, TX, and Buffalo, NY. Our shared passion for travel and hospitality and the desire to connect with people from around the world led us to fall in love with short-term rentals.


Our journey began in 2018 when we started by simply renting out our own home while traveling. 


The experience ignited a passion in us, and we decided to fully commit to the world of short-term rentals. Fast forward to today, and we're thrilled to have four doors across two incredible cities. Over the years, we've had the privilege of hosting thousands of guests, forging meaningful connections, and creating unforgettable experiences along the way.


How did you come up with the name Stay Zen Retreat?  


The name Stay Zen Retreats emerged organically as a playful fusion of 'stay zen' and our affectionate nickname for our first rental – our 'little zen retreat' featuring a dedicated yoga room. 


The term encapsulated the serene and tranquil atmosphere we wanted to offer our guests. It started as a simple play on words and as it perfectly captured the essence of our spaces, it naturally became the name that stuck.

Where is your property located?


We have places in Austin, TX and Buffalo, NY!



What keeps you motivated to keep renting out your space to strangers? 





We are motivated by our passion for creating a haven of mindfulness and mindful living for our guests. At Stay Zen Retreats, we take pride in offering more than just accommodation – we provide an immersive experience that nourishes the soul.


Our homes are meticulously curated and fully stocked, inviting guests to settle in effortlessly. We believe in the power of creating spaces that contribute to the well-being of our guests, allowing them to unwind, connect with each other, and embark on a journey of self-discovery. It's incredibly fulfilling to know that our dedication to mindfulness enhances the travel memories of our guests, turning their stay into a transformative and unforgettable experience.



Can you tell us where exactly you are hosting from?


I currently operate our rentals from Austin TX; however, I can do most everything remotely, if needed.



How do you facilitate hosting 4 different short-term rentals? 


At Stay Zen Retreats, managing four different short-term rentals is a harmonious blend of meticulous planning and a commitment to guest satisfaction. Our hosting philosophy revolves around providing a seamless experience, from booking to check-out. 


Organization and attention to detail are paramount to facilitating the hosting of multiple properties. We utilize advanced booking management systems to streamline reservations, coordinate cleaning schedules, and ensure each property is well-maintained. Clear communication is key, both with our team and our guests, to address any queries promptly.


What advice do you have for other hosts who have multiple properties?


For fellow hosts managing multiple properties, my advice is to prioritize guest comfort and satisfaction. Consistency in service and amenities across all properties builds trust and loyalty. Implementing efficient systems for property management and maintenance helps in handling the logistics seamlessly. Additionally, staying attuned to guest feedback allows continuous improvement and enhances the overall hosting experience.


'Remember, hosting is not just about providing a place to stay but creating an environment that enriches the guest's journey.'


By infusing each property with the essence of our brand, Stay Zen Retreats, we strive to make every guest feel at home and foster a sense of tranquility during their stay.



What extra amenities do you provide that guests have appreciated the most? 


At Stay Zen Retreats, we understand that it's the little things that make a stay truly special. Our guests appreciate the extra care we put into providing a diverse selection of coffee and teas, allowing them to start their day with a touch of comfort.


Additionally, we go the extra mile by offering thoughtful amenities for those 'just in case' moments. From toothbrushes and toothpaste to a sewing kit, we ensure our guests have everything they need for a stress-free and enjoyable stay. These small details create a sense of warmth and hospitality, turning a visit into a cherished memory.





Have you noticed an increase in bookings since establishing a strong presence on Instagram?


At the moment, we haven't directly attributed bookings to our social media presence. However, we recognize the value of maintaining a solid Instagram presence as it serves as a valuable reference for potential guests.


Our focus on social media goes beyond bookings; it's about building and nurturing a community. We've established a wonderful connection with past guests, and it's an honor to stay engaged with them.

Do you currently manage your own social media? What motivates you to produce content for your social platforms?





I personally manage our social media accounts, finding joy in the creative process of showcasing our properties. It's not just a promotional tool for us; it's an artistic outlet.


Creating content allows us to share the unique atmosphere of Stay Zen Retreats, fostering a sense of connection with our audience and providing a visual journey for those considering or reminiscing about their stay.







Do you offer yoga or zen experiences for guests in Buffalo?


Yes, at Stay Zen Retreats, we tailor experiences to enhance the well-being of our guests. For those staying at Zen Retreat Buffalo, we provide access to our private yoga room, which is equipped with all the tools and props for a mindful practice. It's a serene space designed to promote relaxation and self-discovery.


At Opal House, we focus on fostering connections within families and groups. We offer an array of games and family-centric activities to create memorable moments together. Additionally, we provide curated suggestions for mindfulness and nature-inspired activities in and around the Buffalo area. 


Whether guests seek tranquility through yoga or family bonding through engaging activities, we strive to curate experiences that resonate with their unique preferences.



What would be your ideal way to spend a weekend in Buffalo during summer and winter?


During the summer in Buffalo, our ideal weekend is a perfect blend of outdoor exploration and cultural experiences. We'd start our day with a scenic stroll along the waterfront, perhaps at Canalside, enjoying the refreshing breeze of Lake Erie. In the summer, Buffalo comes alive with various festivals and vendor events, like the Elmwood Art Festival or Chicken Wing Fest, so we would definitely be checking those out!


In the afternoon, we'd indulge in some local culinary delights, exploring the vibrant food scene that Buffalo has to offer. A visit to a farmers' market for fresh produce or a food festival would also be on the agenda. To unwind, we might take a leisurely bike ride or enjoy a relaxing yoga session in one of the parks.


As the sun sets, a waterfront dinner at a place like Buffalo Riverworks or Hoak's Lake Shore, with views of the sunset would be the perfect way to end the day. Buffalo's summer evenings often feature outdoor concerts or movies, providing a delightful way to embrace the warm nights.



'Winter transforms Buffalo into a snowy wonderland, and our ideal weekend embraces the charm of the season.'







We'd kick off the day with a visit to a local café, like Dog Ears or Undergrounds, for a comforting cup of hot cocoa or coffee. Buffalo is known for its winter sports, so we might spend the morning ice skating at Canalside or hitting the slopes at a nearby ski resort like Kissing Bridge or Holiday Valley.







In the afternoon, a visit to the Albright Knox Art Gallery and Buffalo History Museum or exploring the city's architecture, like the beautiful Richardson Olmsted Campus, would offer a dose of cultural enrichment. If you like the more tropical vibes, visiting the Buffalo Botanical Gardens should be in order. ;) Winter weekends are also perfect for attending a Buffalo Sabres hockey game for some thrilling entertainment.


As evening falls, we'd cozy up in one of Buffalo's quaint pubs or restaurants, like Blackthorn or Pottersfield, savoring their delicious hearty comfort food. Buffalo's winter nights often feature festive lights and events, making it an enchanting time to explore the city's holiday decorations or attend a winter festival.


Speaking of snowy winter days, our readers love coffee and hot cocoa; what's the best place for coffee or hot cocoa in Buffalo?










There are so many good ones! I'd have to say Daily Planet coffee is the top choice for us in Buffalo :)










What does your ideal weekend in Austin look like?


In Austin, our ideal weekend is a vibrant mix of outdoor adventures, live music, and culinary delights. We'd kick off the day with a morning hike along the trails of the Barton Creek Greenbelt, reveling in the natural beauty that surrounds the city.


As midday approaches, we'd head to one of Austin's famous food truck parks for a diverse culinary experience. Tacos, barbecue, or gourmet dishes from local vendors would satisfy our taste buds. After a satisfying meal, we might explore the South Congress district's quirky shops and art galleries, soaking in the eclectic atmosphere.






In the afternoon, a visit to Zilker Park offers opportunities for paddleboarding on Lady Bird Lake or simply lounging in the sun. Austin is known as the Live Music Capital of the World, so our evening would be dedicated to catching a live performance at one of the iconic venues on Sixth Street or in the Red River Cultural District.






Dinner would involve savoring the diverse flavors of Austin's culinary scene, perhaps at a trendy restaurant or a local spot with outdoor seating. To cap off the night, we might explore the city's nightlife, from rooftop bars to intimate jazz clubs, ensuring our Austin weekend is filled with unforgettable experiences.



Many of our readers enjoy finding destinations that offer both relaxation and a bit of excitement. Do you prefer a well-planned itinerary or a more relaxed travel experience when traveling with Patrick? 


We find joy in maintaining a mindful approach to travel planning, striking a balance between a carefully curated list of must-see attractions and leaving room for spontaneous discoveries. Creating a list of the top things we don't want to miss provides a mindful framework for our journey, allowing us to immerse ourselves in the essence of a new place.


Mindfulness extends to the way I embrace spontaneity, being present and open to unexpected activities that add a touch of surprise and delight to the travel experience. This approach not only ensures a stress-free exploration but also fosters a deeper connection with the destination. 



'By weaving mindfulness into our travel routine, each moment becomes an opportunity for connection, discovery, and appreciation of the beauty and uniqueness of each place we visit.'


Have you been to a place that you absolutely loved? If so, what made it your favorite?


Absolutely! Two places hold a special place in my heart: Thailand and Hawaii. What made these destinations truly unforgettable for me was the warmth and kindness of the people. Their genuine hospitality made me feel not just like a visitor, but like I belonged – a sense of being 'at home' in a foreign land.


'It's this feeling of welcome and connection that I strive to create for our guests at Stay Zen Retreats' 



I believe that the heart of any memorable travel experience lies in the people you encounter, and I am dedicated to ensuring our guests feel that same sense of warmth and belonging during their stay with us.



Let's talk about your stay at other Airbnbs! I'm curious to know what amenities you usually look for.


When I search for Airbnb accommodations, my primary considerations revolve around cleanliness and proximity to the locations we plan to explore. While amenities like saunas, cold plunges, pools, or hot tubs are undoubtedly appealing, our travel style is more centered around experiencing the destination itself. 



'We love to hit the pavement and immerse ourselves in the local surroundings, so the emphasis is on a comfortable, clean space that serves as a convenient base for our adventures.'




Do you have must-visit spots like coffee shops, cafes, pizzerias, or breweries when traveling?






One thing we always prioritize when traveling is immersing ourselves in the local culture. This involves exploring the vibrant local coffee scene, savoring unique brews, and discovering cozy cafes.


Additionally, delving into the art scene is a must for us, whether it's visiting classic art galleries or finding immersive art experiences that provide a deeper connection with the destination. These experiences allow us to not only taste the local flavors but also appreciate the creativity and uniqueness that each place has to offer.







Is there anything else you would like us to know or what to share with our audience? 


I'm thrilled to have had the opportunity to share a glimpse into the world of Stay Zen Retreats and our passion for creating memorable travel experiences.


Whether you're considering a stay with us or simply exploring the joys of travel, I encourage you to embrace the beauty of each moment, connect with the local culture, and find your own 'zen' wherever your journeys take you.


Happy travels, and we look forward to welcoming you to Stay Zen Retreats!



 


Christina and Patrick, thank you for sharing your wonderful Airbnb and travel experiences with us! 


We had a fantastic stay at the Opal House, and your home was perfect - it had everything we needed to enjoy our trip. Your recommendations for exploring the area were spot-on, and our family had a great time together during the holidays. We can't wait to check out your Airbnb homes in Austin!


Stay Zen Retreats offers a plethora of hidden gems with each of their properties. You can enjoy the peacefulness of nature and the vibrant nightlife of Buffalo, New York. Or immerse yourself in Austin's art, music, and indie scene while keeping it weird! 


Follow Stay Zen Retreat on Instagram for mindful travel tips, updates on availability, and on-the-go inspiration.

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