Fluvanna Faces: Melanie and Rob Lewis

Harvey J. Sorum,

Tell us about yourself prior to opening The Road House.

In 1994 Melanie’s parents bought the house and 11 acres adjacent to our property, Rill Cross Farm, in Bybee.  The Road House was built in 1860. Until the early ‘70s, it was also the home of the Bybee General Store and Post Office.  Melanie inherited the property when her parents died in 2015. Melanie retired in October 2020 after working in administration for 32 years for the UVA Physicians Group.  Rob is a retired chef.  We had rented The Road House a couple of times to long-term renters.  Those did not work out too well.  In early 2021 we updated the house and decided to try Air BnB.

Why did you consider offering a rental house for those looking for a temporary place to stay?

Long-term renters did not work out well for us. We did not feel the house was taken care of properly. We had used Air BnB for ourselves several times and loved it.  So, we decided to try it with The Road House.

When did you open The Road House and how has it been accepted by travelers?

We opened The Road House in June of 2021.  It has been pretty consistently full unless we have blocked it out for our family.  Our reviews have been mostly excellent with an overall 4.9 out of 5 rating. We are starting to get repeat guests.

How do people find out about renting houses?

The Road House is listed with Air BnB.  People who are looking for a place to stay in the area would search their website to find it.  While there are other rental sites, we have been very happy with Air BnB.

What are the main differences between a house rental, a hotel, and a bed & breakfast?

With a rental, guests typically have the use of the whole house.  It is like a home away from home. It is usually more private than a hotel or bed & breakfast. 

What features and preferences should a traveler consider when looking for a temporary place away from home?

Guests should look for location, cleanliness and check out the reviews.  Although different people have different perspectives on what each rental should offer.  For example, we had one person who was disappointed that there was only one television and not one in every bedroom.

The Road House is located between Charlottesville and Richmond with easy access to either.  It is close to many historic homes. 

What assurance is there for a traveler the rental locations are monitored by an outside source from a health/safety standpoint?

The locations are not monitored by an outside source.  As a host, Air BnB offers certain cleaning requirements.  Air BnB also handles all the financial aspects of the rentals.  This protects both the guest and the host.  Air BnB also has the ability to remove a listing if necessary.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

We have enjoyed being hosts.  Having the extra income has allowed us to minimize withdrawals from our retirement accounts and the house is occupied.  Old houses do not like being unoccupied.

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