Meet Our Members: The Lai Family
This week, the Summer team traveled up to our Ford Hill Cabin in Hunter, NY to visit the Lai family– Jeff, Emily, and their two awesome children– to get a firsthand peek into their experience as Summer members. We were so excited to finally meet our very-first members face-to-face, and to revisit the beautiful Cabin, one of the first homes to be brought into the Summer network. While the smiles on their faces said enough in our book, we asked Jeff to give some more detailed insight into his and his family’s new life as Summer members. If you’ve been considering joining the Summer family, read on to discover why you’ll be glad you did (and how the process is simpler and far more enjoyable than you'd think).
As a self-appointed experience director and activity curator for my family, looking for places to go– with interesting things to do– is a constant task. Before I even think about everybody else’s needs, I scratch my itch for beautiful residences, scenery, touches of grit and character, good food, and athletic activities to get us moving. Once I have a rough plan, I begin the slightly trickier task of step two: selling the ideas to my wife and two kids.
For all of us, these getaways break up the routine of our (very blessed) suburban life. While always worth it in the end, it’s a lot of work, and, for a while, I’d been searching for ways to both go on more getaways and not have to start from scratch each and every time.
"Our daydreaming was, ultimately, always clouded by the reality that it’s already a pain to manage our own house."
Each time Emily and I would travel down the could-we-be-second-home-people? rabbit hole, we hit a wall at the same checklist and points of friction every time; how could we…
- Be within 2 hours of our primary residence?
- Have a sense of escapism but be close enough to “civilization” and conveniences?
- Find something large enough to host friends and family, but not too large to the point of being unmanageable?
- Find someplace conducive to both summer and winter activities?
Our daydreaming was, ultimately, always clouded by the reality that it’s already a pain to manage our own house. On top of that we’re both ultra-busy professionals and parents; would the house end up just sitting there for the majority of the time? What if we end up not liking it? What if the maintenance involved– cleaning, landscaping, etc. – spoils the experience?
In January, we began our search near the Berkshires, but, with the area having low inventory, started exploring the Catskills. We spotted a log cabin in Hunter, NY that immediately grabbed our attention; it was set back in beautiful dense woods, large enough for three families, and was five minutes away from Hunter Mountain for skiing, a favorite ski-spot. Already a prospective home on which Summer had its eye, the stars began to align!
"Summer spent ample time with us to fully map out the finances and the short-term rental income potential, as well as the risks and how they’d mitigate them."
As with all novel, disruptive concepts, it was a bit stressful at first making sure we fully understood what we were getting into. These hesitations not being lost on them– as we’d be their first official members–, Summer spent ample time with us to fully map out the finances and the short-term rental income potential, as well as the risks and how they’d mitigate them.
Long story short, we closed the deal in March! We chose the “try before you buy” path to gradual ownership; it’s an enormous comfort knowing that we have a partner that’s taking the financial risk, is invested in our overall experience as a family, and is committed to ensuring that we have an income-generating property for years to come.
"It’s an enormous comfort knowing that we have a partner that’s taking the financial risk, and is invested in our overall experience as a family."
We booked four, one-week stays this summer, prioritizing feeling out our ability to work remotely, having friends and family stay, and exploring the Catskills and all it has to offer.
So far, here’s our list of favorites and go-to spots and favorite adventures thus far in the Catskills– and there’s so much still to explore!
The Lai Family’s Guide to the Catskills
Hikes and walks:
- The Sunset Rock trail at North South Campground was a big hit. Epic views facing East over the Hudson River.
- Diamond Notch Trail ends at a nice waterfall.
- Windham Path is a beautiful 1.5 mile flat loop through meadows. We run while the kids bike.
- Phoenicia Diner
- Mill Rock in Windham
- Scribner’s Lodge and Fellows in Hunter has the best cinnamon rolls in the game (and you can quote us on that).
- Mama’s Boy burgers in Tannersville (our son’s favorite).
- Tanner’s Boathouse in Tannersville is next to a lake and a big park for good eats plus views.
- Swimming and kayaking at Colgate Lake.
- Mountain Top Arboretum was a memorable visit for us.
- Lazy river rafting Schoharie Creek, where we rented a couple $5 tubes and floated up and down (the water is shallow and calm!).
- CD Lane Park in Maplecrest is the perfect spot for swimming and kayaking.
Still on our list:
A major thank-you to Jeff Lai & family for opening up their (new!) home to our team this week, sharing their experience and recommendations, and– most importantly– for being the founding Summer members!
Have question for the Summer team? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.