SIOUX CENTER—Seventeen Sioux Center properties have one feature in common — they all offer a place to stay through Airbnb.

Of the 17 options listed, there are four apartments, two suites, one condo, two private room spaces and eight whole homes. There’s one more whole home that I know of to be added to the list in the spring.

Take a look at five of these options and why each homeowner dived into offering this amenity.

Private room

Airbnb is a vacation rental company founded in 2008 that offers an online marketplace for short-term homestays and experiences.

Private room Airbnb option in Sioux Center

Nolan and Dorenda Van Gaalen of Sioux Center offer a private room through Airbnb.

Nolan and Dorenda Van Gaalen of Sioux Center enjoyed having the option in their travels as it often was a less expensive alternative to staying at a hotel. Their first experience was an Airbnb option in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. They went on to try options in the Twin Cities where one of their three children lives.

“We really enjoyed that experience and part of the original focus of such rentals was to utilize a space in your home for guests as a form of hospitality,” Dorenda said. “We had good experiences and knew of parents and grandparents coming to the area because of the colleges, we thought it could be something we could do.”

No other official Airbnb options were on the map in Sioux Center when they opened up a room in the basement of their home on Fourth Avenue Southeast to be rented out in 2015.

Because there’s no kitchen, they limit stays to a maximum of four days.

“We’ve been pleasantly surprised at who’s chosen to stay,” Dorenda said. “In fact, we listed it in March of 2015. The first person to stay wasn’t connected to a college. He was a photojournalist from Korea, traveling across the country taking pictures of national parks. We took him to the Tulip Festival.”

While they’ve hosted plenty of family members associated with Dordt University or Northwestern College students, they’ve also had many people traveling across the country or others coming to town for business choose to stay for a night or two.

“While it’s nice to have that little income, we keep our price reasonable because for us it’s about showing hospitality,” Dorenda said. “It’s a wonderful way to support friends and others who want to come. Perhaps, too, some of the people who stay would not have come to the area if it wasn’t for our space so it’s been a fun way to show hospitality to some people who are new to the area as well.”

Prairie Rock Suite

Questioning how they could show hospitality led Dale and Ruth Landegent of Sioux Center to see potential in the formerly unused 600-square-foot basement of their home on Eighth Street Southeast. With the help of a local contractor, they designed and finished the space six years ago to be a one-bedroom, one-bath space with kitchen and living room.

Prairie Rock Suite Airbnb option in Sioux Center

Dale and Ruth Landegent of Sioux Center own the Prairie Rock Suite available through Airbnb.

They were one of three Airbnb options in Sioux Center when they opened in 2017.

“Part of the reason for the Airbnb idea was because we’d get phone calls from friends saying, ‘My sister, brother, etc, would love to come for this or that, do you have a space?’ They would ask because often hotels were full so we felt having an Airbnb space would help fill a need in the community,” Ruth said.

“We debated whether to rent it out as an apartment or be Airbnb hosts and Airbnb felt like the perfect fit,” she added. “We thought it would be fun. We’re social people. We’re not freaked out about having others in our home. The entrance is completely separate, but with it being a suite, we can block dates off to use the suite when we have missionary friends, a guest pastor or family coming to town. It’s really been wonderful to have this fabulous space to offer. In fact, there are days in the last six years when I’m down there and I’m getting it all ready that I wish I lived there.”

The suite also includes a washer and dryer, which Ruth says guests love — especially college parents.

“We expected college parents when we started this, but we have been pleasantly surprised at who has been our guests,” Ruth said. “Those college parents have come from Australia and Brazil. Yet, we’ve also had people going cross country and need a night to stay. Sometimes the reasons are so precious why people are coming to town — they have a friend in the nursing home, they’re here for a funeral, a wedding, a family reunion. One guest was simply driving cross country and loved the openness of the Midwest, they wanted to stay for a few nights.”

Ruth often treats her guests to warm freshly baked almond patties from Casey’s Bakery in Sioux Center. One or two of her many returning guests have commented on appreciating that specific touch offered through their rental, called the Prairie Rock Suite.

“Our hotels fill such a need in our community, but I’m also proud to be an Airbnb superhost,” Landegent said. “Airbnb offers a completely different kind of experience, sometimes more affordable and is a unique way of bringing people to the community. In fact, I have a guest who’s become a friend as they’ve been repeat guests so often, but they keep coming back because they love the community and they’re considering retiring here because they love it so much. They probably would have never known about our small beautiful slice of the world if they hadn’t stayed here.”

Family home

With four children, Laurie and Chris Van Groningen of Manteca, CA, typically need two hotel rooms for overnight stays whenever they travel.

Family home Airbnb option in Sioux Center

Laurie and Chris Van Groningen of Manteca, CA, provide a house option for rent in Sioux Center via Airbnb.

“Having a son playing volleyball at Dordt and knowing we may have a few more children choosing Dordt in the future, we knew we were going to be traveling to Sioux Center frequently and were interested in having a place to stay instead of being a hotel each time,” Laurie said.

While they do have family in Sioux Center with whom they have stayed, they looked into purchasing a home.

“We had stayed in Airbnb options before and as a family, prefer places that we could have all to ourselves and were interested in a space we could invite college students over to,” Laurie said.

The couple said they knew other college parents would be interested in such a space, too, so they looked around and purchased a Sioux Center home on 12th Avenue Northeast in March 2021.

“We understand that we took a home off the market, but this home had been on the market for a few months already, it needed some work,” Chris said. “We also feel there’s a need to have this kind of rental space and have been pleasantly surprised at just how used it is.”

After remodeling the main floor to be an open concept as well as adding a full bathroom and bedroom in the basement, they listed their whole home option by November 2021 and had guests stay within a week of being available. Since then, their space was booked solid April through November 2022. They block some dates for family use, including some winter dates to see their son, who is a sophomore, play volleyball as well as move-in day at the beginning of the school year.

They have another son coming to play volleyball next year as well.

“We’re going to keep coming back, potentially for the next decade or so to the community,” Chris said. “We feel it’s a great investment for us and filling a need. We’ve even had people doing extended stays for business, such as three pilots who stayed for six weeks last summer.”

Guests have also come because of weddings, reunions and birthdays.

“We wouldn’t consider doing something like this in California but Sioux Center is a wonderful community that we feel comfortable doing something like this,” Chris said. “While we do have a local property manager, we also have great neighbors who help with snow removal, mowing the lawn and taking out the trash as needed. One neighbor often texts us even when people are here to make sure we know about it. It’s a wonderful neighborhood and community. We’re excited to be a part of it in this way.”

Old Town Inn

Though one of Sioux Center’s newest Airbnb options, the Old Town Inn is one of the community’s oldest homes. Built in 1914, the home on the corner for Third Avenue Northeast and Second Street Northeast allows guests to walk through rooms and hallways that have seen the community — “Old” Sioux Center and the railroad-planted Sioux Center — grow together to form one thriving community in the past 100 years.

Old Town Inn Airbnb option in Sioux Center

Jason and Tamara Lief of Sioux Center offer the Old Town Inn as an Airbnb option.

Preserving that history and providing another community gathering space are two reasons Jason and Tamara Lief of Sioux Center turned the home into an Airbnb space.

The couple were familiar with Airbnb options as they purchased a Minnesota-based cabin in 2019 for family use.

“We’re not independently wealthy so the idea of listing that on Airbnb was to have others help pay the mortgage while we’re not there,” Jason said. “That helped us learn the ins and outs, what to do and not do, with such a rental.”

Meanwhile in Sioux Center, the couple often observed the Old Town Inn property from a friend’s porch.

“We enjoyed the historical charm of the home,” Jason said, noting the outside of the home showed lots of wear, making them wonder just how much work was needed on the inside when the home went up for sale. “For the longest time we put it off, but seeing the home on the market for a while and having an interest in providing more community gathering spaces, we set up a time to look inside.”

The floors needed some sanding. Some kitchen cabinets needed to be removed. A slight repair was needed in the bathroom.

“That was it though,” Jason said. “It was fairly nice inside and had some great character. Even the main floor bathroom has tile that’s original to when the house was built.”

Because the house was in such good shape, they moved forward with the Airbnb idea. They bought the home in September 2021, worked through their checklist of improvements and furnishing needs, then listed it online in March 2022.

While all the mattresses and kitchen appliances are new, they worked with Cailan Matthews of Sioux Center to find decor and home furnishings that were in keeping with the home’s older style. All such items were found via thrift stores or online swap sites. Matthews also takes photos and manages the home’s Instagram page.

Another key feature of this Airbnb rental is that it can be rented for an extended stay or just one night or for an afternoon, depending on the day of the week. As a result, guests have included college student families and business personnel for the overnight stay option but also by community members seeking a space for family reunions, bridal showers, Christmas or anniversary parties and even photography sessions.

“We feel that concern, a little bit, about taking a home in Sioux Center for this idea, but the reality is that this house was on the market for a long time. It needed work,” Jason said. “We said ‘no’ a few times. We were outbid once and were surprised when that fell through, so we didn’t run whole hog into this idea. What we saw was a house worthy of investing in because it is a historic part of the community and the nature of this space and location lends itself to be a good gathering place for the community.”

University View

On the corner of Fourth Avenue Northeast and Fourth Street Northeast sits a 1920 Craftsman style house purchased in December by Brent and Lori DeJong of Sioux Center, who have the goal of opening it up this spring under the name University View on Airbnb.

University View Aibnb option coming in to Sioux Center

Brent and Lori DeJong of Sioux Center are sprucing up 1920 Craftsman style home to become University View, a whole home option slated to come to Airbnb this spring.

“From the front porch you can see the university across the street, so we thought that would be a great name for the property,” Lori said. “We also felt having a name helps those who haven’t been to Sioux Center have a quick idea how close it is to campus.”

The Craftsman style home with its original grand staircase and its proximity to Dordt made this home feel like the perfect investment property.

“Even though Sioux Center is just a little town, our interest stems from knowing there are a lot of visitors who come here,” Lori said. “A lot of people are looking for a VRBO/Airbnb-type of setting as opposed to a hotel and having the whole home option is appealing to families.”

Because a portion of the main floor did not have any of the remaining Craftsman features, work is being done to restructure those rooms to recreate the Craftsman feel in those spaces. The upcoming listing will also have a 100 percent updated/remodeled kitchen, honoring the 1920s era in the design, a new full bathroom with modern amenities on the main floor and access to washer and dryer as well.

“Hearing from others in the community that there are Airbnb properties and they are booked for much of the year, we see it as filling a need and a desire in the community,” Lori said, “and we felt it’s worth our time offering that amenity.”


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